Here’s what Spotlight is about; it’s an interview that promotes you! It will feature questions that are formatted to your needs. Questions will be focused on your work, upcoming work and some personal [but not intrusive] questions for your fans to get to know you more!
Today features Michelle Graves
Tell us about yourself
I grew up the daughter of an Army man moving every 2-3 years. I spent six years in Germany, three in Georgia, three in Kentucky, and 12 years in Tennessee. I was in thirteen different schools before I graduated high school. Growing up that way ingrained a great sense of adventure in every fiber of my being. I guess that is a big part of why I married an Army infantryman. I am once again moving every 2-3 years and passing on that same sense of adventure to our daughter who before she turns five will have lived in four separate states.
I am an artist and a writer. I love to get my hands dirty sculpting, carving, or throwing pottery. Then there is the writing. It was something I had done off and on for years. Just writing poetry here and there and never really committing to it. Not until the characters in my head wouldn’t shut up. Now I am on the path of self-publishing and trying to get the voices down on paper so they will let me sleep.
Share with us some of your interests
I love to travel and see new places. I think growing up the way I did, tromping through ruined castles as a child, I have a thirst for adventure. I love being outdoors, hiking, and camping. But I am terrified of the dark, so there are always chem-lights in our tent.
I love to craft and create new things. My mom once told me I would tear apart magazines as a toddler and try and build new things out of them. So, it only followed that desire would translate into a creative drive as an adult. My friends often call me Martha Stewart because I go a little overboard on entertaining and my daughter’s parties.
Then of course, there is the writing. Which I think as an author is a given.
What makes you the person you are?
I think that I am the person I am today due to the people that have influenced my life.
First, there was my great grandmother. She lived to be almost 97 and mowed her own yard, tended her house, and had a garden up until the last year of her life. She taught me the love of great southern food, how to be independent, and most of all how to be a lady while still standing your ground. When she passed away it left a gaping void in my heart.
Then, there are my parents. My father has taught me what it means to sacrifice so that the ones you love can have what they need. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I truly understood all he gave up so that we could have a roof over our heads, full bellies, and enough money to do the things we wanted. He had to miss out on birthdays, awards ceremonies, plays, and all other manner of things just to ensure our security. And my mom, well there are no words to express what she has taught me. I would not be able to survive as a military wife without her influence as a child. She showed me how to manage a household from repairs, to bill paying, to keeping everyone together.
And lastly, my husband and daughter. My husband has taught me the meaning of unconditional love. He waited for me when I was not worth waiting for. He believes in me when I doubt. He gives me strength when I want to crumble. I absolutely would not be the person I am today without him. I never would have had the faith in myself to publish my book if it weren’t for him. My daughter, well she is my joy. She makes my imagination soar.
There have been many other people along the way that have shaped me, but those are by far the most important.
About your writing;
When did you start writing? I have written poetry on and off most of my life. It wasn’t until about two years ago that I actually sat down and started writing novels.
What inspires you to write?
Honestly, the characters take up residence in my head and won’t give me a moments peace until I get them down on paper. They want their story told and no matter what I do to put it off, it will happen.
How has writing changed you as a person?
It is terrifying to put myself out there. When I write the story becomes very personal to me. So each time I let a new person read it is another chance that they may not like it. I am no fool, I know that there will be people out there that won’t like the story. That is only natural. I guess what I am trying to say is that writing has made me brave. I have to face my fears of rejection.
Adding some fun;
If you spend the rest of your life in a novel or novel series, what novel would it be and why?
Oh, this is a hard one. There are so many fantastic series out there. I think that I would love to be in one of Meljean Brook’s steampunk books. Her world building is phenomenal.
Share a couple of your favorite things and or things you like?
Coffee. I could not survive without it. Reading, which I think is a given for any author. Going on adventures. My husband and I will plan out these elaborate trips to places we have never been. I love seeing new places and discovering new things. I especially love the wilderness, hiking, and camping.
What couldn’t you live without?
My husband and daughter. The two of them are the most important things in my life. Take everything else away and I would still be happy as long as I have them.
In the literary world who do you think is a misunderstood character and why?
Hmmmm, this one is hard. I can’t think of any off of the top of my head. Most of what I read the characters are really well defined.
Have you read anything that made you think differently about writing?
There are several authors that have inspired me to write the best possible books I can. Molly Harper, Rachel Caine, Richelle Meade, Rae Carson, all of these authors write brilliant stories full of humor, intrigue, and adventure. All of their works combined have given me a foundation to work from.
Is there a character that annoys you in the literary world? Or even one of your own?
A character that annoys me. I think in every book there is one character that you just want to throat punch. I read so much that it is really difficult for me to come up with just one.
What do you look for in a publishing company as they will end up representing your work?
I am going the self-publishing route. I think that for now, this is what works best for me.
How do you stay confident in yourself especially by putting yourself out there in the internet world?
I have a really strong support system. I have friends that love me unconditionally, a husband that believes I can do anything, and family that will stand by me no matter what. At the end of the day the most important things to me are my friends and family.
I put my stories out there because I want to share them with the world. I know that not everyone will love them and that has to be okay. I know that for every one good review I get, I may get a horrible one. That is kind of what makes the book world terrifying and exciting all at the same time. Every individual reader has his/her own particular tastes. It is impossible to please everyone.
How do you handle rejection? What advice can you offer to moving past it?
I put on my big girl panties and realize that it is not the end of the world. While it may hurt at first, it won’t last forever. I mope for a moment and then I pick myself up, dust myself off, and move forward. If I sit and dwell on the negativity nothing productive will ever happen. I have never been one to wallow. I am a hopelessly optimistic person. Sometimes to the point of ridiculousness.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Surround yourself with supportive people. The writing world can be a scary place. The most important thing is to make sure you have people at your side that are honest. People that are willing to be tell you that your story is crap and not just pander to you. I am lucky that I have a group of beta readers that are completely honest with me. If something is not working, they tell me.
Featuring your work and or upcoming work;
Tell us about your book [s]
“See How She Runs” is the first book in the Chronicles of Izzy. It is set to be released later this summer. There is also a prequel available on my blog. “See How She Socializes” introduces the readers to my two main characters Izzy and Kennan.
Who is your favorite character and why? [If you can share without spoiling your work]
Oh, this is a hard one. I love them all so much. Izzy is a lot like me. In writing her, I wrote the sort of person I wanted to be.
Kennan, well I just love him. He is strong and dependable. He is what I think every man should be.
Ian, well he is hilarious. I absolutely adore him.
See, it is just too hard to choose one. That is the hardest question for a writer to answer. I can easily tell you what character I don’t like. Xavier.
What character do you hope readers understand?
Izzy. She has a lot of ups and downs. Her whole life gets turned upside down in the matter of a few days and she is left to piece it back together. Her whole life up to this point has been a lie and she has to make her way out of that.
Do you have a favorite part of your own book (s) ?
Oh yes. I will just say that when I wrote it I was like “THIS IS EPIC.” I don’t want to say anymore because it will give away a major plot point.
Choosing a character or even yourself, can you give us a sample playlist of music that would follow said person?
Music really is my muse so here is the playlist I used when writing the book and prequel. This is directly from my blog:
Lindsey Stirling– Okay, let’s just get serious. She is EPIC. How could I not be inspired her awesomeness. Check out her self-titled album or this snippet to see what I am talking about.
Christina Perri– There is something so beautiful and soothing about her voice. It alleviated a lot of the angst I experienced while writing. Her songs are like stories in and of themselves. She helped me to dig deeper and find beautiful ways to phrase ordinary things.
Florence and the Machine– Alright ya’ll, let’s get serious. She is just WOW. Her songs have been featured in a ton of movies for a reason. She inspired me to dig deep and get gritty. I think my favorite has to be Seven Devils.
The XX– I listened to their entire Coexist album working on the first half of the book. It is so mellow and it just made finding the sweet spot easy. The husband kept asking me how I was able to stay awake listening to them. Apparently the album triggers sleepy time for him.
We Were Promised Jetpacks– This song has been on my playlist for the past few years. I can’t seem to get enough of it. I can see it playing out like a movie in my head. Then I heard it again while writing and was floored. It was on repeat quite a bit.
Then of course there were a smattering of other artists I had mixed in. Alabama Shakes, Metric, Of Monsters and Men, Sia, and so many more. The ones listed above are where the big stuff happened. Hearing the songs now makes me immediately think of my characters and their journey. I can’t wait for all of you to read the book and maybe you will come back and listen to the songs in the process.
Have you had trouble writing about any of your characters?
There were parts of the book that I wanted to not write. Parts where Izzy gets hurt in so many ways and I wanted to keep her from having to go through it. It is really hard. I found myself bawling my eyes out from time to time.
What would you like readers to get from your book (s) ?
That we are more than the things that happen to us. We can make our future whatever we want it to be. No matter what cards you are dealt, you alone control your fate. Life is all about choices. The biggest obstacle in this book is whether Izzy lets the bad stuff ruin her future or not.
In your book (s) what had been the hardest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Writing the bad guys portions. I always have to ask my husband for help. I tend to be a chipper optimist so I get stuck when it comes to writing mean people. I am not a mean person by nature so it is very difficult for me to get in that mindset.
How is this world a better place because of your books?
I hope that this book will inspire people to be the best version of themselves they possibly can be.
If you could meet any of your own characters, who would (they / it) be?
Um, Kennan. He is so steamy. I am kind of swoony just thinking about him.
If you had to write a scene for a character of your choice that would put them in an
awkward situation how would it go?
There are loads of awkward situations in my book…. it is kind of easy for me to write them. I tend to be a terribly awkward person.
What do you do for marketing?
Well so far I have been pimping myself out on facebook. I am lucky enough to have several friends that are also authors that have helped me in this department. Belinda Boring and Lacey Weatherford have both given me gobs of information about blog tours, release parties, and everything else involved in promotion. I would be utterly lost without them.
Promote your books in a sentence or less 🙂
It all changed in the matter of seconds. My best friend is a complete stranger, I am God knows where, and I keep seeing things that aren’t really there.
What are you working on now?
I am working on the second book in The Chronicles of Izzy series. “See How She Fights.”
See How She Runs; July 17th release date
Michelle Graves’ Links;
Links to websites that sell your work;
I will be uploading my work to B&N, Amazon, and Smashwords.