Michelle Jean Marie, worked for years in the Health Information Management field. She became a stay-at-home mom to raise two adorable daughters and took advantage of her time at home to pursue a life-long passion—writing.
After ending one marriage, seeing her daughters through college, opening her own business, and finally happily marrying her soul mate, she opened those old computer files and did some serious editing. She signed her first publishing contract with Soul Mate Publishing more than twenty years after writing the manuscript.
She self-published "Researching the British Historical: The Victorian Era," "101 Organizing Tips for Writers," "I’m Moving!! Now What?" and co-authored "Nine Journeys: Stories of Women Who Found Their Own Paths to Success."
Read on for my interview with Michelle Jean Marie:
1. What made you decide to become a writer? I’ve always been an avid reader. It started in childhood with my dad reading to us every night before we went to bed. He had such an expressive way of reading that he really captivated our attention and sparked our own imaginations. Then in high school, my friends and I started writing what is now called ‘fan fiction’ just for fun. We’d only share it with each other. There wasn’t the internet back then. Throughout college and marriage/motherhood, I kept reading – mostly romances. One day my sister told me about a program at a local library about writing romances – which was my favorite genre. After attending the program, put on by a Chicago-North RWA member, I joined RWA and started to learn the craft. It took years and years to polish up those manuscripts, but it finally paid off when I finaled in the Golden Heart Contest with TEMPTING FATE – my first published novel.
2. Who are some of your favorite authors and why? For historical romance authors, I grew up on Kathleen Woodiwiss and Barbara Cartland. You can’t get much more polar opposite than that! KW’s books were new on the scene. I loved the descriptive narrative that accompanied the story line. I felt taken away into the scenes. BC’s were quick reads when I wanted to get through a book in a day, but I still learned something from each one about British history. For current historical romance authors, I like Kimberly Cates and Blythe Gifford. They really know how to tug at the heartstrings and make you wonder how the hero/heroine will ever get together, even though it’s a romance and has to have a happy ending. As for English authors, I love to read Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope. On the contemporary side, give me a Ken Follet novel any day – either historical or contemporary. I love the way he is able to tie everything together at the end of the book or series.
3. If you could be any character in any book, who would it be and why? I would have to say Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Like her, I make hasty judgments sometimes, and have come to regret some. She eventually learns to use reason and experience rather than first impressions to form her opinions. And she does it with humor and grace. Besides, who wouldn’t want to end up with Mr. Darcy?
4. Do you have any hobbies you would like to share? Working full time and writing offers little time for hobbies. In what spare time I have, though, I love to walk during the summer months and do Sudoku puzzles when it’s too cold to be outside. I also enjoy helping hubby in the yard. He’s the gardener in the family. I enjoy working beside him – but only on warm, sunny days! And when I’m not doing any of these, I do volunteer work for the Midwest Akita Rescue Society. It’s always rewarding to find new, loving homes for abused and neglected animals.
5. Tell me about your first kiss? Was it magical or not so magical? Haha! Not so magical! I was in high school, and went to an all-girls school. So the only boys I knew in my early years were from grammar school. I asked one of them to a turnabout dance because he wasn’t dating anyone and neither was I. Well, that turned out to be our first and last date and our first and last kiss. Neither were very magical! I’ve learned not to date out of pity.
6. Do you have another career besides writing? If so, what is it? Yes, I do. By day I am a Professional Organizer and Virtual Assistant, which may seem odd when organizing and writing novels use opposite sides of the brain. But being organized helps me track all the details of an historical setting, and my creative side helps me come up with some unique storage solutions for my clients. Being a Virtual Assistant for authors keeps my pulse on the industry.
7. What’s an item on your bucket list that you haven’t done yet? My husband and I would like to buy a home with a large piece of property so we can take in senior dogs to rescue/foster. But that will have to wait until at least one of us is retired and able to be home with them. Or we win the MegaMillions jackpot.
8. Tell us the best vacation you have ever been on. I have to preface this by saying that I write historical romances set in Victorian England. That right there should be a hint! My favorite vacation was returning to London for a reunion trip with the students from my college exchange program. First, because I wasn’t in school and having to study, and second because I was mature enough to use common sense and appreciate the sights more. It was enjoyable not being under the pressure of schedules and itineraries.
9. Where do you find the inspiration for your books? Because I write historical romances, much of my inspiration comes from history itself. I’m an avid reader, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. When I read about events in history, I often wonder, “What if..?” and the story builds from there. TEMPTING FATE grew around the Great Exhibition in London. TEMPTING PASSION is the sequel, and uses Britain’s military campaigns as a catalyst for the plot.
10. Is there anything else you would like to share with your fans? I am not an overnight success. I worked long and hard to get where I am today. In fact, my first book, TEMPTING FATE, was published 25 years after I started writing it. I like to believe I am an inspiration to those who are just starting out and getting frustrated. For some, it does happen ‘overnight.’ For others, like me, it takes hard work and perseverance.
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