Joining us today is author and scientist, Michelle Muckley. Michelle has published three novels and her latest is the medical thriller, Identity X. Like many Indie authors, Michelle lives in a dual world – a day job in the medical field and night and weekends as an author. Unlike many Indie authors, however, Michelle has moved from England to the Mediterranean isle of Cyprus to pursue her writing on a more full-time basis. And because who doesn’t love a British accent ( a real one, not me pretending to be British), I’ve left Michelle’s responses in the King’s English.
WIDW: Michelle, before we jump into the latest book, let’s discuss the author behind the works. I read that some British guy named Roald Dahl, I think he starred in Willy Wonka, was one of your early inspirations. Seriously though in what way did Mr. Dahl inspire you?
Michelle: Roald Dahl was one of the first writers that I loved. I have always been a cross breed of confident and introverted, and as a child I loved reading whenever there was a quiet moment. I was a member of book club, always going to the library, and had my books lined up nicely on my shelves like little paper soldiers! Roald Dahl was the writer that made me realise there was a world beyond the fairytale, and I loved him for it!
WIDW: I find it interesting that many writers love for writing is inspired by a certain author, but those writers go on to pen stories in completely different genres. Is there anything in your writing that you can point to and say – “that’s Dahl right there?”
Michelle: No, and children definitely wouldn’t get anything out of my books like I did his! I think when a writer first starts out they might write in the style of particular writers that they like, but eventually you find your own way, and that’s how it should be.
WIDW: Now you pursued a degree in the field of science, although you could have studied English and equally found a paycheck. Why did you choose science?
Michelle: I happened to be good at biology, and I really enjoyed the practical side of it. At one point I wanted to be a pathologist, and actually did some work experience in the mortuary when I was sixteen.
But I was drawn into the idea that by working in healthcare I could make a difference. That sounds a bit ‘Mother Teresa’ I know, but when you get a glimpse of seeing people at their best and their worst in hospital it is a huge lesson in the value of life. The first time I watched somebody die I was sixteen and working part time as a nurse’s aide around my studies. I worked alongside her preparing the body, and at the end she placed a flower on the top of the shroud and opened the window. I asked her why and she said that she believed that it helped the soul find its way out to wherever it was supposed to be. I knew that by working in the hospital I could make a difference to somebody that needed it, even if it was after they had died, and it felt like something worth my time and study.
WIDW: I’m fortunate in that I write stories about things that go bump in the night, so I can make most of it up. Science obviously plays a big role in your stories, do you think you’d write different content if you didn’t have a background in science?
Michelle: Perhaps. I love the discovery of science. Everybody experiences science in everyday life, sometimes without even realising it. What is research today is a fact of life in a few years time.
WIDW: As a writer, with three books under your belt, any regrets in not choosing a writing degree? I know I wish I had paid a little more attention to grammar when I was in school.
Michelle: To some extent I do wish I had studied English. I would have really enjoyed it, and perhaps I would benefit now as a writer. But I don’t think not having a degree in English has prevented or hindered me, and I wouldn’t trade my previous life in a hospital for it.
WIDW: The general, if not American reading audience, is still a little iffy on the Indie Author thing. Can you lend any insight on European opinions on the pursuit of self-publishing?
Michelle: I think it is probably more closed to the idea than in America. Generally the feeling is that indie authors represent poor quality. But slowly I think the opinion is changing, and a greater degree of acceptance is developing. But traditional publishing has the monopoly at the moment, and it will take a long time before that changes. Traditional and indie publishing are like two parallel worlds which are so similar and yet have striking differences. Slowly they are merging, but it will take a long period of evolution before they are considered the same species.
WIDW: Richard Laymon, one of my favorite horror writers, was an American author who made his entire career in the UK after the US horror market died in the 80’s. Do you think UK readers have different expectations than the US audience?
Michelle: I think so. America readers have enjoyed my work, but often comment on the ‘Britishness’ of it. There are distinct differences to the way the Brits and the Americans use English, and this shows in books. But I think most people are aware of this fact and allow for it. I know when I read an American writers’ work I spot things that seem different, but I go with it because I know they are American. I don’t see it as a negative. I like it, actually.
WIDW: Yes, most Americans would not know how to find the boot on a lorry even with a torch. Do you have any strange writing habits?
Michelle: I am fairly normal when it comes to strange habits. I like a cup of tea or coffee, and usually silence, although lately I have been listening to piano music whilst I write because a character listens to it in my WIP. It helped me write those scenes. I have strange habits in other areas of my life though!
WIDW: What’s the most difficult part of the writing process for you?
Michelle: The first edit because I am really hopeless at planning. I have to find all the inconsistencies!
WIDW: I don’t publish anything before I read it aloud to my wife. Although she pretty much loves everything, when she does raise an eyebrow I know I’ve gone off the rails – do you have a first reader?
Michelle: One of my closest friends is my first reader. He is great at it. He is an engineer and has an eye for detail, so he picks up all my mistakes. My husband hates to read and hasn’t read a single thing that I have written, but he is still my biggest champion, so I let him off!
WIDW: Your book Identity X is a medical suspense thriller involving conspiracy. The idea for that, as I understand, came from your days selling black market body parts correct?
Michelle: Absolutely. I was in cahoots with a pathologist. He would remove organs for me from people who had just died and I would sell them off. I am living the high life in Cyprus as a result of this.
WIDW: I write about a lot of things I don’t believe in, (well except zombies cuz that’s gonna happen). Do you think there are high level conspiracies in the world or is that just good fiction? I mean I’m not suggesting that you are wearing an aluminum hat, I just mean big orchestrated things the public is unaware.
Michelle: Of course there is. I don’t even believe that the leaders of the countries know everything that happens, so there is no way that I know! I just took off my aluminum hat.
WIDW: Although both female authors and female readers own the book market these days, female authors seem to like writing a story involving a male protagonist. Now I know you’re going to tell me it’s because you were the youngest sister behind four brothers and understand the male perspective…but I don’t like that answer so can you choose another reason?
Michelle: I’m secretly a man.
WIDW: Yeah, me too 🙂 Writing books is easier than selling books. What are your marketing and promotional plans for your books?
Michelle: Make friends, use twitter, have a blog, get on facebook. Best bit of advice, don’t just write books, write brilliant books.
WIDW: So other than sunning yourself in the Mediterranean (Americans believe that people who live in Florida, Hawaii, Australia or the Mediterranean spend all day on the beach) – but other than finding you on the beach, where can readers find you on the web/social media?
Michelle: Americans are pretty much right. If not the beach, the cafe, at least about the Mediterranean. But you can always find me in the following places.
Michelle, thank you much for visiting with us today. We certainly wish you the best of luck with the book and the writing career. Michelle’s new release Identity X is available on Amazon and I hope each of you will consider supporting a fellow Indie author by picking up or downloading a copy.
Paperback: 298 pages
Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (June 13, 2013)
How are you supposed to survive when you are already dead?
Ben Stone has one aim; discover the cure for genetic disease. He watched his father die and promised himself that it would never happen again, especially to his own son. After his appointment as lead researcher in Bionics Laboratories he begins his desperate research. It takes four years, but he succeeds. He discovers NEMREC, a serum able to reconstruct DNA and cure the diseases that have driven him. It should be the beginning of a new future, but by changing the face of the world, he has unwittingly destroyed his own.
His world falls apart
After arriving at his laboratory to find that it has disappeared, he is sucked into a world of conspiracy and betrayal. The Agency wants NEMREC and will do anything to get it, believing it to be the most powerful scientific discovery in decades. But it wasn’t just NEMREC that they wanted. The Agency wanted Ben dead, but somehow he survived. His best friend, his wife, and Ami, the beautiful scientist who he has fallen for at work all offer to help him, but each has a different version of the truth. They all have their own agenda, only one of them wants what he wants, and in a world where you are already dead, how is it that you are supposed to survive?
Categories: IAI - Indie Author Interviews