I would like to welcome Jo Michaels - author of The Abigale Chronicles to my blog.
My review of the book will be posted later this year. I am honoured to have Jo over here today. Jo's blog can be found here. I urge you to check it out.
You mention that you fell in love with literature when you learnt to read aged four. Was there a particular story that inspired you?
I remember turning my Little Golden Books over and over in my hands and feeling like there was some huge secret in the words that only privileged people would be able to understand. I was determined to become one of those people. I could spell so well by the time I was three my parents started speaking a different language when they didn't want me to know what they were saying: Iyay aidsay eshay eedsnay an athbay!! I figured that out pretty quickly as well.
Did you have any of your writing published whilst in school or college?
No. But my writings were some of the only ones returned with very little red ink. I had an offer to write for a publication while in college but my major was too demanding of my time and I wasn't sure I could deliver what they needed so I declined.
It was during history class that the idea of your forthcoming historical fiction Yassa was formed.
Why did you choose to write about the relationship between the Emperor Genghis Khan and his wife Borte?
I chose that relationship because it blows my mind that they lived through what they did and still managed to stay together until the day they died. I stayed as close to actual Historical events as possible while spinning my tale and only the coveting of Borte by Jamuka is fictional. In truth, I have no idea why the rivalry between Jamuka and Genghis began but it seems possible that it was over a woman. Jamuka never married.
Your current book which is available on Smashwords, written for young readers titled 'The Abigale Chronicles'. (I will be reviewing this book at a later date). This book is about Abigale Fontenot, a twelve year old girl living in Louisiana. Is this your first published novel/chronicle?
It is but I have a slew of books slated for release over the next year. A surprise for my blog readers and anyone that purchases Yassa: there will be a coupon code in the back for a free copy of The Abigale Chronicles - Book One that will be good for three months. Book Two of Abigale series is due out at the end of July, 2012.
You studied and gained a degree in graphic design. Do you work in this field as well as writing?
Sometimes but not for money. It allows me unique flexibility to conceive a design for a book cover and put it into action. I'm grateful for my education because I understand CMYK/RGB colour spaces, printing standards, and typography and won't have to rely on someone else to bring vision to my life. I do trade design work for editing work. Right now I'm working with author Crystal Lee on her Canopy series. I don't want to reveal too much but the first one is due to release end of June and she should be doing a cover reveal very soon.
You have four children and a little dog. How do you find the time to write?
I actually have five children (one that doesn't live with me because of his choice of educational institution) but they attend school from 8am to 3.30pm and I write every day from 9 to 3. Just like someone that leaves their home to work, I go into my office and work for six hours Monday through Friday. A good day shows me with 3k words in one story or another. After the kids get home I hang it up for the day and go to cooking, cleaning and laundry. The work of a mother is never done.
What piece of advice would you give to new writers trying to get published?
Never stop trying. If you give up on yourself, how will you get someone else to believe in you?
I guess the graphic design is useful for covers and artwork for your fiction, both via the web and mainstream publishing houses. Do you design all illustrations for your book?
Yes. I do the illustrations, photography, and typography for them all. I love the freedom it provides. On the cover of The Abigale Chronicles, I used hand lettering done by a 12 year old girl who lives nearby. It's very personal.
How do you spend your downtime? What activities do you enjoy?
I am a voracious reader and consume books like they are my life-force. I don't have cable or satellite in my house because I'd rather be reading or writing. My library is huge and grows everyday. I also enjoy photography and drawing/painting as hobbies. I LOVE to swim. I can't wait for the weather to be warmer so I can work by the pool.
For fun - music. What is your current hot listen?
I listen to almost everything but I prefer songs with meaning. Katy Perry's "Firework" always makes me cry because it's so touching and Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" always makes me smile because it reminds me of my boyfriend, who inspires my writing every day.
Jo, thank you so much for sparing your time to share some of yourself with us here today.