Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Interview with author Kelly R. Michaels

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Kelly. I’m 23 years old and I live in Tennessee. I’m currently going to college to be a high school English teacher, and I should be graduating by December 2016!

Q ~ What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I read and play video games. I also enjoy designing web graphics (my book covers included) and collecting various Pop! vinyl figures. I’m almost to a 10.

Q ~ If you could have lunch with one person, dead, alive, or imaginary, who would it be and why?
The first person that came to mind was Tom Hiddleston, an actor. I first saw him as Loki in The Avengers and Thor, and I fell in love with that character and subsequently, the actor as I researched more of him and his roles. I find his genuine kindness to be quite inspiring and it holds a very real charm that’s apparent in all of his interviews and roles.

Q ~ What are you currently reading?
I am actually re-reading THE DARK WIFE by Sarah Diemer, a self-published novel and lesbian myth retelling of the Hades/Persephone mythology that features Hades as a genderbent goddess and Persephone as a consensual romantic partner.

Q ~ Are there any new Authors that have grasped your interest recently and why?
Actually, I have recently become fast friends with an author who is rather local to me. My friendship has afforded me the opportunity to read her book (and its upcoming sequel), and she also plays to the young adult, fantasy audience with a more contemporary style. Her name is Arbor Winter Barrow, and her book is KINETICS: IN SEARCH OF WILLOW.

Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?
Well, my journey to writing began with a penchant for storytelling. I had a bit of childhood insomnia, and my dad would read to me until I fell asleep. But I had a younger brother who also had trouble going to sleep, and he often took precedent. So I would tell myself stories every night until I could go to sleep without problem.

I realized I wanted to write when I was in the eighth grade. I had just finished ERAGON by Christopher Paolini, and I discovered that Paolini was only 15 when he wrote his first book. Being 14 at the time, it really clicked something within me and made me realize that I wanted to write. And so I did, of course. I started out with some wild tales, moved onto fanfiction when I was in high school. After high school, I struggled for about a year to write, as writing fanfiction didn’t really hold the same appeal to me.

Then a year after graduating high school, I received my book idea that became Archer of the Lake. And I finally found my inspiration. I haven’t stopped writing since.

Q ~ What’s the best thing that’s happened since you began writing? The worst?
As far as writing goes, I feel like the best thing and the worst thing is really the same thing. As in, the best part about writing is finally *finishing* something, but that’s also the worst part because finishing something can take a LOT of time and energy. But it’s also indescribably satisfying when you finish a big project, such as my two books. My first book took me two and a half years to write. I finished the first draft in a year and a half. And going through many edits, I realized I would have to rewrite at least three quarters of the book, and that was an extremely discouraging moment, perhaps the worst point of my writing career. I finished rewriting it a year later, and I’m glad I did. My second book took less than a year to complete. And while I am quite chuffed at having completed, published projects, it’s also incredibly frustrating to produce books at such a slow pace.

Q ~ What are your biggest influences in life? Who are your biggest supporters?
My biggest influences are often personal experiences I’ve gained throughout my life, as well as the stories that I grew up with—Tolkien, Gaiman, Miyazaki. My biggest supporter was my mother, definitely. My significant other, Donovan, also supports everything I do in his own quiet way. He does his best to read through my books, even though they aren’t his cup of tea.

Q ~ Why did you choose to write fantasy as your primary genre?
Fantasy is my genre, and I didn’t know it until after I had completed my first book. There’s a quote by J. R. R. Tolkien that describes it as ‘escapism,’ and I can agree with that to an extent, but fantasy also applies realistic problems in fantastic settings that still make them relatable to readers. We may not have to worry about fighting werewolves, but I think anyone can identify with the struggle of proving yourself or dealing with other people’s perceptions about yourself, to an extent. It’s a way of enjoying magic even though we know that magic doesn’t exist.

Q ~ Do you prefer to write in a small town or big city setting? Why?
I live in a small town, actually, and I’ve never had a chance to write in a big city setting (other than the rare occasion that I’ve passed through some on various trips, and there hadn’t been much time to do writing in those instances). Honestly, I write whenever I get the chance, and that’s usually on my lunch break or in between classes, or sometimes when I’m at home at night, if I have the energy. I wonder what it would be like to write in a big city setting.

Q ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release Prince of the Vale and what inspired you to write it?
Prince of the Vale is a sequel to Archer of the Lake, which was inspired by a dream I had, where a group of elves shunned an outcast elf. Prince of the Vale follows the adventures of Caelfel from Archer of the Lake, an elf who journeys to the human kingdom with her friend before being attacked by werewolves. The werewolves pose as the main antagonists in the story, but there is some political struggle back at home in the elf empire that presents itself in the form of a Rebellion.

I was inspired to write this because the first book was mostly about a romance involving a love interest that was the typical tall, dark, and handsome loner. It was cliché, a trope basically. Some of my readers were disappointed that Archer didn’t have the desired ending, but I saw an opportunity to show something that I believe as a more realistic approach to romance. Plus, I had the opportunity to further develop my fantasy world and introduce new characters!

Q ~ What was the most difficult part of the process while writing Prince of the Vale?
In a lot of ways, Prince was much easier to write than Archer. Everything was better planned and it went a lot faster and smoother. There was more action and exciting bits to not make the transitions boring. At the time of writing it, I was editing the audiobook chapters of Archer with my narrator, and I had some anxiety about a few things. Several people complained about my elf names and how difficult they are to pronounce/spell/remember. Several people complained about not having their desired ending in Archer, and I knew that Prince wasn’t going to satisfy them in that aspect. So there is something to be said of an expectation anxiety.

But also, the most difficult part of writing Prince of the Vale was that, in the middle of writing it, my mother passed away expectedly. It was a rather devastating blow that took me a while to recover from (and still does). My mother was my biggest fan. She read my first book in a single day, while I was touring at a college campus. When my dad and I met back up with her after my advisement session, she was already finished and excitedly waved my book around, exclaiming how much she enjoyed it. Caelfel’s mother is based largely off of my own.

Q ~ What characters did you find yourself especially drawn to and why?
Caelfel is, in a way, based off of my own introverted and passive personality. After reading plenty of stories with heroic protagonists that are confident, aggressive, and assertive, I wanted to throw something into the pool that could prove passive people could be just as great heroes.

As far as new characters, Brenin is someone that I was endeared to the moment I started writing him. I was not torn between him and the previous love interest. To me, there was no competition. I believe Brenin embodies all that charismatic and genuine charm I spoke of earlier with Tom Hiddleston.

Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?
I’ve started the initial works on the third book in The Silver Crown Chronicles, which is titled Queen of the Pyre. But I’m trying to take somewhat of a break from that series by working on a new project altogether. I’m calling it The Midwinter Fairytale so far and it’s written entirely in lyrical/verse form, like a long poem. The setting is inspired largely off of medieval England and medieval ideas of magic, elves, and fairies, and so we have our Fairy King with his penchant for conditional bargaining.

Q ~ What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
An aspiring writer knows they want to write and how they want to write. My biggest piece of advice is to write as much as you can and never stop. Even if you take break that last weeks or months. Just wake up each day and attack it. Think to yourself, when will you have time to write? I do that every morning. I know how much time I’ll be able to devote to actual writing within my busy schedule. I don’t set word counts or deadlines for myself, because I know I’ll just shirk them. Really, you have to go at it each day and plan that you’re going to do it, like brushing your teeth. Sometimes I do well, sometimes I miss my mark, quite a lot. Just look to the end, and know it will all pay off. Don’t let yourself get discouraged.

About the author:

Kelly is an independent author who publishes under the name Little Owl Publishing. You may find official updates and releases from Kelly Michaels on the Little Owl Publishing blog and website. Her first book Archer of the Lake was released May 23, 2014. Her second book Prince of the Vale was released December 11, 2015.

She resides in a small town in southern Tennessee where she graduated with her A.A. in Foreign Language in 2013. She continues her degree by working on a B.S. in Secondary English Education, but also occupies her time with her part-time job and her obsession for writing stories.

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