Thursday, April 26, 2007

AN interview author Michelle Willingham

Michelle Willingham's first book, Her Irish Warrior is published this month. It is a stirring tale set in medieval Ireland. Michelle Willingham has since sold several other books set in the same time period. So everyone will be able to get more of her hunky Irish warriors as she calls them.

What attracts you to your chosen time period?

I visited Ireland several years ago and was drawn to the mysticism of the country. Scottish medieval romances were very popular, and I wondered why I hadn’t seen many Irish medievals. After visiting the castles and experiencing such wonderful hospitality from the people, I decided to research medieval Ireland. I learned that there was an Anglo-Norman invasion in the 12th century, and I could easily envision an Irish warrior paired up with a reluctant Norman bride.

What is about the heroes from that time period that excites you?
There’s a raw wildness to the medieval time period. Men had to be stronger and more protective of their families. And who doesn’t love a sexy hero who can wield a sword?

What is the worst thing about being a writer?
Forcing yourself to sit down in a chair every day whether you want to or not. But it’s also the best thing because sometimes the magic happens and you look back, excited at what you’ve done that day.

Although many writers know they want to be a writer from an early age, was there something in particular that made you decide to pursue your dream?
I wrote my first romantic short story at the age of twelve. It was terrible, but I loved the feeling of looking back on a story I had created. In high school, I teamed up with a friend and we wrote a 90-page romance. We used to critique each other’s chapters during American History class. It’s a good thing we were never caught! I started seriously pursuing publication in 2002, after the birth of my son. I had written four children’s books and was receiving positive rejections from editors. But my true dream was writing romance. I realized that I didn’t want to give up on the dream, and so I decided to go for it.

How long after you first started submitting, did it take for you to have your first book accepted?
It took four years total. I wrote 4 books in two years, and the second book took over two years from submitting the original proposal to the Call before it was bought. I’ve since sold the third book, and my agent is helping me find a home for the fourth. The first book will never see the light of day. It needs to be destroyed, and thankfully it was rejected!

What is the biggest challenge you face when you are writing a book? The beginning, middle or end?
All of them! In particular, when I start getting close to the end, I develop “Fear of the Ending.” My writing starts to lag a bit until finally I bite the bullet and force my way past it. My first drafts are bare-bones, and the second draft involves the most work. I’ve been known to delete 50 pages and add 75 (which is rather frightening!) I love the third draft because it’s mostly just polishing and tweaking.

When you are not writing, what do you do?
I teach sixth grade American History and English during the day, and I’m also the mother of two children, ages 5 and 3. I have to balance family time with writing in the evenings, due to my day job. Thankfully I have a very supportive husband who doesn’t mind me going off into my writing cave while he watches sports.

What are some of your favourite movies?
I like movies with strong, sexy heroes. Last of the Mohicans, Gladiator, Braveheart, and the Patriot are among my favorites.

Who are some of your favourite romance authors?
LaVyrle Spencer is my role model. No one writes emotion the way she does. My other favorites include: Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Julia Quinn, Jude Deveraux, and Johanna Lindsey.

What does your writing cave look like?

I mostly write on my laptop, so I move around the house depending on my mood. My “office” is being converted over to a bedroom, so I am now a nomad. The worst place to write is in the kitchen. You tend to reach for snacks without realizing it!Her Irish Warrior

Can you tell us about your future books?
The Warrior’s Touch is a companion book to Her Irish Warrior and it’s the story of Connor MacEgan. It’s a “wounded hero” story and I have a particular love of this novel since it’s one of those rare medieval books that doesn’t take place in a castle. I’m delighted that it will be available in September 2007. The third book in the MacEgan warriors series is Her Wild Irish Rogue (the title may change). It’s actually a prequel about the warrior king Patrick MacEgan and the arranged marriage he makes to save the lives of his people. It is tentatively scheduled for January 2008

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