Courteously willing to sit down and be interviewed by Dragon Soul Press, please welcome Author Jo Michaels for the blog post this week. You can learn more about her on her website and Amazon page.
- So when did you realize you wanted to be an author? Have you just always had stories you wanted to tell?
I wrote my first (really scary, according to those who read it) short story when I was in fourth grade. It was about death. I’ve devoured books since I was very young, and when I went to design school, my goal was to end up with a publishing house in the book design department. Writing novels was a logical next step. I’ve always loved to read, write, and draw.
- If any, what literary pilgrimages have you gone on? Did you enjoy yourself?
When I went to Chapter.con 2017, my husband and I took a trip over to Paris for a few days. I’ve always wanted to use it in a book, but I wasn’t familiar enough with the city to write about it. Now, I have a book coming that’s set there. It’s truly a beautiful city and made me miss Louisiana. We had a blast!
- What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
This is one hell of a loaded question! I’m friends with SO many authors that I can’t possibly list them all, but I’m really close with about ten of them. Tia Silverthorne Bach is my best friend and editor, and I’d have to say that she’s the one who keeps me on track with my stories. I’ve co-written with Tia, Kelly Risser, N.L. Greene, and Casey L. Bond, and that experience has brought us all closer together. I live near Bella Roccaforte, S.J. Pierce, S.F. Benson, and a bunch of others, and we all get together for dinner or brunch now and then. They’re AMAZING for bouncing ideas around.
- What kind of research do you do, if any, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Oh my… I really get into my research. Everything you read in my books is plausible (except the magic stuff—and really, who knows?), and everything you read is set in real locations. I’ve either lived in or visited all of them. My characters and worlds are fully fleshed out before I ever begin the story, the characters becoming more like people I know than just words on a page. I spend a ton of time on bios, maps, and loose plots—probably around sixty to eighty hours on each—before I write. So, weeks and weeks can be spent just in prep.
- Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I read every single review, and I love most of them. There’s only ever been one that ticked me off, and it was only because the person slammed my editor for something perceived as a mistake that was NOT. That detail was intentionally skewed; it brought about questions in the reader that should’ve been there. It’s the moment you realize something isn’t quite right. Ha! Oh well. I feel like good reviews are welcome and needed, but I also like to read the bad ones. They’re honest feedback on what I can improve upon.
- Do you believe in writer’s block? If you experience it, how do you deal with it?
I don’t. I think writer’s block is just because the writer has lost where the story is going (maybe that last paragraph needs a rewrite?) or has no motivation to write it. When that happens, a writer needs to think about whether the story actually needs to be told. If it’s boring to the writer, it’ll bore the pants off the reader.
- What is your favorite childhood book?
I have three that I love: “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London, “A Dog Called Kitty” by Bill Wallace, and “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C. S. Lewis. I read them all before fourth grade, and they’ve all stuck with me in some way or another.
- Who has been your biggest inspiration when it comes to storytelling?
Honestly? Stephen King. I used to read the hell out of his novels and wanted to be just like him, but when I first started really doing this thing, I wrote because I had a story to tell that needed to be told. Achievement one unlocked. Level up! Then, my goal was to change the way ONE person looked at the world. Achievement two unlocked. Now, I write to entertain people and help them escape. Period. It’s fun, and I’m back to my Stephen King days. LOL!
- What was your hardest scene to write?
That scene in “I, Zombie” where Jack… Well, I can’t say more. Spoiler. But I can say I sat at my keyboard and sobbed for a full ten minutes after I wrote it. Ugly crying. It was quite the moment.