Today I'd like to welcome Michelle Garren Flye who chose this date of May 28 because "That's my anniversary, so an appropriate time to talk about love."
In 2006, your first publication was as a horror writer. Four years later, you published your first romance novel. That's an unusual switch of venue! How long were you working on your first book? What drew you to the romance market?
To be honest, I was never a very good horror writer. I love the genre and I have no regrets about spending some time dabbling in it because I met some really talented people and had fun. But shortly after I had my second child, I realized I didn’t want to think about horror and bad things anymore. If I was going to write, I wanted it to be about beautiful things, and the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced is love. Plus, I always loved fairy tales and I thought it would be fun to write a few.
You re-released you self published book on Valentine’s Day after having it initially released on Christmas Day. Was the positioning of this purposeful for you?
Sort of. To be honest, I didn’t actually sit down at my computer on Christmas Day with the intention of self-publishing a book. You know how it is in the late afternoon of a wonderful day when you’ve finished everything you had to do and everybody’s happy and content doing their own thing, though. Well, I had a few hours that afternoon and I pulled up WEEDS AND FLOWERS and read over it and decided I needed to do something with it. I have friends who have self-published on the Kindle and been very successful, so I decided what the hell.
After I published it, I got some pretty good feedback on it, but I also heard about some typos and minor editing mistakes. Lack of a professional editor (or two) is a major drawback to self-publishing in any way. So I resolved to fix the errors and re-release the book. Valentine’s Day was convenient for me, and it seemed like an appropriate day for it, even though WEEDS AND FLOWERS isn’t a romance.
Would you tell us a little about who has been your favourite character to write about and why?
My favourite character is actually in a book that hasn’t been published yet. His name is Will and he is one of the male leads in a women’s fiction book currently titled DUCKS IN A ROW. Long story (80,000 words long) cut very, very short, Will falls in love with the wrong woman. I actually loved Will so much, I’m currently writing the sequel to DUCKS IN A ROW so I can finish his story.
How much time do you dedicate to sheer research for the books you write? I am impressed by how you mix a good deal of medical detail with your story premise in Winter Solstice. How long did it take you to write it? Did you get help with the research or did you do it all by yourself?
I guess I got a lot of my facts for WINTER SOLSTICE from my own experience, and I can’t honestly say how long it took to write because I wrote it and rewrote it several times. The research wasn’t hard, though. My husband is a doctor and I was a medical transcriptionist for a short time after my first son was born. But research is one of my favourite parts of writing. I love exploring things I don’t know about. Before I wrote SECRETS OF THE LOTUS, I’d never been to New York. I watched loads of movies set in New York, explored Google Earth, researched on the internet and finally ended up feeling like I’d spent a lot of time there. THE hero in WHERE THE HEART LIES (to be published by Carina Press this summer) is a physics professor. Believe it or not, I actually learned a few things from that research. Will from DUCKS IN A ROW is a chef, so I had to learn about cooking and watch the Food Network a lot. My current work-in-progress is set in a vineyard that grows scuppernong grapes. You can imagine how much I’m enjoying that research!
Which leads into my next question: can you share with us a little about your writing process? What's the genesis for your ideas? Do you build from dreams, conversations, TV or film influences or other sources? What's your setup for writing? Do you have a dedicated workspace? Do you jot down notes, create graphs; how do you keep track of your characters and narratives as you build up your story? Do you write every day a set amount of time each day?
Well, I’m a mom first, a writer second, so writing can be kind of discombobulated for me. I wrote a good bit of both WINTER SOLSTICE and SECRETS OF THE LOTUS curled up in a leather chair in our living room with my daughter sitting on my legs watching her favourite tv programs. Fortunately, romance is all about daydreams and fantasies, and I can do that anytime. The only trick is, when I figure out an important plot point in the middle of making dinner, I have to get to my computer fast. And sometimes dinner suffers.
And yes, I get inspiration from everywhere! Movies, television, the internet, whatever. Alicia, the heroine of WHERE THE HEART LIES, is modelled from my daughter’s Ariel doll (tall with long, red hair). I named her deceased husband Ty because UNC had just won another NCAA men’s basketball title when I started writing, and I was a huge fan of both Tyler Zeller and Ty Hansbrough. The one thing I try never to do anymore is base any character off someone I know in real life. But yeah, I can get ideas from anywhere.
As for my process, well, it’s a work in progress. My kids are getting older, so it’s easier to make sure they have something productive to do and sneak off for a few minutes to write. I have a desk. A nice roll-top one. Maybe one day I’ll be able to sit at it when I write. But for the most part, I write while sitting in a corner on the main floor of the house where I can referee, help with homework, and just be available if needed. I don’t have a set amount of time to write every day, because if I’m stuck I’m better off going for a bike ride or something, but I absolutely write every single day. Even on vacations, I take my computer. It’s an addiction I have no interest in getting rid of, even when it’s maddening.
You have an upcoming novel with Carina Press, can you tell us a little bit about its storyline and when it will be released?
I would love to! This isn’t the official blurb (you can find that on my website), but it is the story in a nutshell. WHERE THE HEART LIES is a contemporary romance about Alicia Galloway, whose husband Ty, a marine, was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan. Alicia moves herself and her two children to Ty’s hometown, Hillsborough, N.C., to help Ty’s mother and ailing father. She reopens the family bookstore and moves into Ty’s old home. Meanwhile she meets Liam Addison, Ty’s best friend from high school, and eventually starts to develop feelings for him. While trying to balance those feelings and deal with the fact that Ty’s family and old friends feel like she should be his widow forever, Alicia discovers a very important secret about Ty’s old life that may help her figure out not only where her heart lies but also where her husband’s was when he died.
Thanks for stopping by Michelle