AMERICAN HISTORICAL NOVELS discussion

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Author Interview

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message 1: by Michelle (last edited Aug 27, 2018 05:30AM) (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Hello, everyone! I'm so excited to be this week's host! All week I'm be discussing my series and different aspects of historical fiction, so tune in and be a part of the conversation!

Each day I'll be giving away one book (your choice!) of the series. All you have to do to be in the drawing is comment on that day's post and sign up for my newsletter here: http://bit.ly/2saDWq2 Good luck!

And now....here's a little about me:

What inspired this series?

MC:
That’s a great question! I actually started this series out of spite. Well, not exactly, but sort of…

I had written a different novel previous to the series—a giant, unwieldy, coming-of-age story set in the 1940s—which I couldn’t seem to get published. I queried 200 agents, and not one would even touch it. So I decided, after a year of dead-ends, to start over. To write something short, fast, sexy and thrilling – something I thought would be more sellable and attractive to an agent. I’d show them! I naively (some might say stupidly) thought and scurried off to begin writing “A Girl Like You.” About half-way through, however, the characters won me over, and I decided that I really liked what I was writing and wanted to make it into a series!

Were any of your characters inspired by real people?

MC:
Funny you should ask that because that’s going to be the subject of one of my posts here later in the week! I’ll just say that yes, the character of Henrietta is based on a real woman that I met while working in a nursing home in Chicago. I’ll share more about her and which parts of “A Girl Like You” are really true tomorrow!

What’s different about this series compared to other mysteries set in America’s past?

MC:
A couple of things, really.

The first is that it’s set during the 1930s during the depression years in Chicago. There’s tons of great books and series set during both the first and second world wars, but not so many during those lost years between the two. There’s certainly a lot of themes that can be explored in that era, such as the extreme division of wealth and the limited roles of women. I’m just getting started!

Second, it’s different from other mystery series in that it’s more about the characters than the mystery. It’s not the same set of characters solving a different mystery each time so that the books can easily be read in any order. The character arcs and plots evolve and continue on from book to book, making it more like a saga than anything else. There is a mystery in each one that gets resolved by the end of the book, but each book always ends on a little cliff-hanger regarding what’s happening with the characters themselves.

Third, it’s really a cross-genre series. It’s won a lot of awards for mystery, romance and historical fiction, which shows I think that it can’t really be easily defined. It’s sort of a “Downton Abbey meets Upstairs, Downstairs with a little mystery thrown in.”

Do you have a favorite character (other than the main characters)?

MC:
I have to admit that the character of Stan is one of my favorites. He’s just so funny. Well, he’s meant to be, anyway. I love writing him because he’s so predictable and therefore so easy to write. His scenes usually require very few rewrites; they just come out as is.

He’s meant to be the comic relief throughout the first three books, and then his story takes a different turn, but I don’t want to spoil anything. Let’s just say that he’s there in books 4 and 5, but he becomes a more dramatic character. But I still needed some comedic relief, so I gave that role to a new character, Miss Melody Merriweather, who is introduced in Book 4 – “A Veil Removed.” You’ll see!

What’s your writing routing like? Do you write daily?

MC:
Yes, I write every single day (even on my birthday and Holidays if I can manage to get up before everyone else!). I tend to get crabby if I don’t. It’s a good discipline to develop because if you wait for the right mood, or to be well rested, or have all your housework done, or to have a big chunk of time, etc. (you could make up reasons/excuses forever…), then you’ll never do it. You just have to show up every day and write something. That has to be your first commitment, every single day, no matter what.

If school is in session for my kids, then I get them on the bus at 6:50 am, grab some coffee and march upstairs to write. I allow myself about 5 minutes of scanning through my email (you know—just to make sure I didn’t get a notification that I accidentally won the Pulitzer…) and then switch over to whatever manuscript I’m working on.

I used to write for 1 hour a day, but that’s been steadily stretching into 2 or 3 or sometimes 4 because I’m working on so many writing projects at once. My first task is to work on the first draft of whatever manuscript I’m currently writing—that gets the crispest, freshest part of my brain—and then I move to editing books that are already in the works.

That’s the “writing” portion of the day, and then I spend the next 5 or 6 hours doing promotion and marketing, which includes more writing, such as articles/guest posts, interviews (such as this!), my weekly blog, my monthly newsletter, events, contests, social media, and a ton of other PR tasks.

You've won numerous awards for your fiction. Is there one award that means the most to you? If so, why?

MC:
Thanks for mentioning that! So far the series has won 28 awards, and it’s really hard to believe. Rather than be proud of any one particular award, I think what’s really thrilling to me is the fact that the series continues to win across so many different genres. It’s won for: mystery, romance, historical fiction, romantic suspense, regional fiction, cross-genre, and adult fiction.

That’s testimony to me that it’s a unique series that appeals to many different types of readers!


message 2: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (ej_conn) | 17 comments Loved this interview on the hows and whys of your writing habits and book series. Looking forward to more posts. Write on!


message 3: by Carla (new)

Carla Suto | 3 comments Enjoyed the interview! Looking forward to your posts this week!


message 4: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Elizabeth wrote: "Loved this interview on the hows and whys of your writing habits and book series. Looking forward to more posts. Write on!"

Thanks, Elizabeth! I'm glad you were able to get something out of it! Are you a writer, too?


message 5: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Carla wrote: "Enjoyed the interview! Looking forward to your posts this week!"

Thanks, Carla! Glad you could join us. Are you a fellow writer, reader...or both?!


message 6: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Artson (barbara_artson) | 21 comments Do you ever experience what I call "magical writing," sitting down with a planned narrative and then be surprised because something completely different gets written? I use the passive voice here because that's what it feels like. That happened to me when writing ODESSA, ODESSA.


message 7: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Barbara wrote: "Do you ever experience what I call "magical writing," sitting down with a planned narrative and then be surprised because something completely different gets written? I use the passive voice here b..."

Yes! Great question, Barbara. That does happen quite a lot, actually. I'm definitely an outline type of writer. I know the basic plot or arcs of the book, including the ending, but a lot of what happens in the middle is fuzzy. I have an idea of what should happen, but then, as I'm writing, another thought will occur to me which seems a better option.

This is particularly true with characters. So often I have a vision of who I want them to be, and sometimes it's just not working that way. They evolve into their own people.

I also experience this "magical writing" when I'm working on the details of a story. imagine it's a bit like sculpting - carefully shaving things or adding bits that come to me to make the story all the richer. I'm currently writing a stand alone novel - separate characters and story - from the series, so I am deeply enmeshed in "magical writing" write now.

And for anyone who hasn't had a chance to read Barbara's "Odessa, Odessa," you should grab a copy right away! I absolutely loved it! Great historical fiction!


message 8: by Carla (new)

Carla Suto | 3 comments Michelle wrote: "Carla wrote: "Enjoyed the interview! Looking forward to your posts this week!"

Thanks, Carla! Glad you could join us. Are you a fellow writer, reader...or both?!"


I am a reader only!


message 9: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Carla wrote: "Michelle wrote: "Carla wrote: "Enjoyed the interview! Looking forward to your posts this week!"

Thanks, Carla! Glad you could join us. Are you a fellow writer, reader...or both?!"

I am a reader o..."


Bless you! The world needs more readers!


message 10: by Angela (new)

Angela Sanford | 82 comments I loved the interview. I wish I had the skills and talent to be a writer. I love to see how you all take each step of the writing process.


message 11: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Angela wrote: "I loved the interview. I wish I had the skills and talent to be a writer. I love to see how you all take each step of the writing process."

Thanks, Angela. I think "process" is the right word. Everyone has to begin somewhere, and you grow and evolve from there. At the beginning of this writing journey, I had no social media presence - not even a personal FB page! - and didn't even own a smart phone. I had to learn a lot very quickly!


message 12: by Linda (new)

Linda Bridges (lindajoyb) | 68 comments I love books that are in a series. It is fun to see the characters develop over time and they almost become like family.


message 13: by Chelsie (new)

Chelsie (chelzlou) | 83 comments Great interview! The Roarin’ 20’s, Depression era 30’s and the 40’s decades are so intriguing to me. There were so many changes all around with the wars, women becoming more bold and engineering really coming to existence.


message 14: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Linda wrote: "I love books that are in a series. It is fun to see the characters develop over time and they almost become like family."

Me, too, Linda! They are my absolute favorite. I guess that's why I wrote this series - because I would love to read it! One reviewer commented that reading Book 3 (A Promise Given) was "like catching up with old friends." I really love that!


message 15: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Chelsie wrote: "Great interview! The Roarin’ 20’s, Depression era 30’s and the 40’s decades are so intriguing to me. There were so many changes all around with the wars, women becoming more bold and engineering re..."

Thanks for taking the time to read it, Chelsie! I love all of those eras, too. To be honest, I'm really drawn to the 4os, but because the woman I based the series on had most of her adventures in the 30s (and because I wanted to include her job at the 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair), I shifted the series by a decade. I haven't regretted it, though, because I've learned so much and because there's not as much out there already.

And to your point about women becoming more bold, I couldn''t agree more. They were really beginning to stretch themselves...you'll see more of that in Books 4 and 5 of the series...

Thanks for tuning in!


message 16: by Debbie (new)

Debbie | 78 comments Great interview! I love series too, and mysteries!!


message 17: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Debbie wrote: "Great interview! I love series too, and mysteries!!"

Thanks for reading, Debbie!


message 18: by Laurel (new)

Laurel (ldhuber) | 27 comments Illuminating interview but no surprise there! I'm still stunned at your prolific output 🙃😊


message 19: by Rina (new)

Rina (rdgirl) | 35 comments I enjoyed reading the interview. Look forward to reading more tomorrow!


message 20: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Laurel wrote: "Illuminating interview but no surprise there! I'm still stunned at your prolific output 🙃😊"

Thanks, Laurel. Sometimes I wonder if I'm obsessed...!


message 21: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Rina wrote: "I enjoyed reading the interview. Look forward to reading more tomorrow!"

Thanks for taking the time to read it, Rina! See you tomorrow!


message 22: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (ej_conn) | 17 comments Michelle wrote: "Elizabeth wrote: "Loved this interview on the hows and whys of your writing habits and book series. Looking forward to more posts. Write on!"

Thanks, Elizabeth! I'm glad you were able to get somet..."


Aspiring author working on a historical fiction novel. I have published in the past - freelance, journalistic - but this is much different, and certainly at a much slower pace. Still, the journey is quite enjoyable.


message 23: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Elizabeth wrote: "Michelle wrote: "Elizabeth wrote: "Loved this interview on the hows and whys of your writing habits and book series. Looking forward to more posts. Write on!"

Thanks, Elizabeth! I'm glad you were ..."


Ooo! Exciting, Elizabeth! What era is your HF novel set? And I know what you mean - writing a novel is a long, long journey. By the time I'm done writing the end, I sort of forget some of the stuff I wrote at the beginning. So it makes for kind of a nice surprise (or a bad one, depending on the writing) when I go back for the first read through/edit. Best of luck!


message 24: by Beverly (new)

Beverly Michelle,
I loved your interview. I am very intrigued by your multi-genre writing of mystery, historical fiction and romance. I can only manage historical fiction. Look forward to learning more.


message 25: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Beverly wrote: "Michelle,
I loved your interview. I am very intrigued by your multi-genre writing of mystery, historical fiction and romance. I can only manage historical fiction. Look forward to learning more."


Thanks, Beverly! My favorite genre is definitely historical fiction. I love a bit of romance or intrigue in books I read, but I'm not that fond of straight up romance or mystery. They lack a little something, in my humble opinion. I like them to be blended all together!

Exciting that you're a writer, too! What era do you write about?


message 26: by Beverly (new)

Beverly I choose to write my first novel after writing non-fiction, based on my grandparents and my grandfather's mysterious life. It takes place in the late 1800's and early 1900's. A time of contrast and great change depending on location. Life was so much more "modern" in the east coast compared to the mid-west where my story takes place.


message 27: by Beverly (new)

Beverly Ooop's Got too many "o's" in the first word in my post above. Should be "chose"


message 28: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Beverly wrote: "I choose to write my first novel after writing non-fiction, based on my grandparents and my grandfather's mysterious life. It takes place in the late 1800's and early 1900's. A time of contrast and..."

Ooo! Can't wait to hear about this, Beverly - about your grandfather's mysterious life. And I do love the fact that during that time period, as you say, things were so vastly different depending on where one lived in the country. That's a neat aspect to pull.


message 29: by Carol (new)

Carol (caroldoscher) | 3 comments Michelle, I loved reading your interview and your writing process. What is the most interesting thing you have discovered during your research?


message 30: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Carol wrote: "Michelle, I loved reading your interview and your writing process. What is the most interesting thing you have discovered during your research?"

Thanks, Carol! That's a really great question. I guess it depends.

If you mean about the city in general, I would say I was fascinated to discover "Dunning," which was at one time the Chicago's insane asylum and that they had "crazy" trains that ran from the city center to the north side, where Dunning was located, delivering inmates. I'm using some of that info in book 4 of the series (which releases next April).

But if you're asking about my research specifically regarding the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series, I think all of the stuff about the burlesque theater I discovered was pretty amazing. So, I'm not sure if you're familiar with the series or have read any of the other posts, but the character of Henrietta is based on a real woman that I met in a nursing home. Consequently, so many things in the novel are actually true! Henrietta's audition at the burlesque theater is almost word-for-word true, which was fascinating to me, as was the "no-touch" policy, and the fact that woman was protected and befriended by a gang of lesbians at the theater. Amazing!!!!

Thanks for asking!!!


message 31: by Angela (new)

Angela Sanford | 82 comments I signed up for your newsletter 💖


message 32: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Angela wrote: "I signed up for your newsletter 💖"

Yay! Thanks so much, Angela!


message 33: by Angela (new)

Angela Sanford | 82 comments I want to thank you for a wonderful week. I have really enjoyed it 💖


message 34: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Angela wrote: "I want to thank you for a wonderful week. I have really enjoyed it 💖"

So glad! I really enjoyed meeting you, too, Angela. Thanks for all of your contributions. It's always more fun when the discussion is lively!


message 35: by Angela (new)

Angela Sanford | 82 comments I believe I could talk forever about this era and Historical Fiction 💖


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