Hi, we are Aurian from Boeklogboek and Maia from Boekenlijstjes
, and today we have best selling author Michelle Styles visiting us here in Utrecht, Holland.
Of course you want to know, what is LLC 2013? It is short for Autoren Love Letter Convention 2013, which takes place in Berlin, Germany, on May 25 and 26, 2013. Michelle Styles is one of the British romance authors attending. We had a blast this summer, so we immediately bought the tickets once they became available for next year’s convention.
Our guest is Michelle Styles, author of numerous historical romance novels, written for Harlequin. And thanks of her generosity in giving away some of her books to us last year in Berlin, we both have read some of her work and really enjoy her books.
And we still remember the gorgeous red shoes she wore!
Aurian: Welcome to Utrecht, the Netherlands, Michelle. Have some hot chocolate and some Dutch cookies.
Michelle: Thank very much for having me. I adore hot chocolate and Dutch butter cookies.
Maia: Can you tell our readers who might not yet know you or your books, a little about yourself? Something that is not in your official bio (which is at the bottom of this post).
Michelle: Last May my editors and I decided that I should once again focus on the Viking period so my next novel An Ideal Husband? which comes out in April 2013 is my last Regency/Victorian for awhile. I am very excited about the change as I had been lobbying for it for awhile. My maternal grandfather was half Norwegian and half Swedish so I like the period. Unlike my sister, I don’t speak Norwegian though.
LL Convention questions
Aurian: Could you tell us why you are attending the convention in Berlin, Germany, Europe, again? I know we had a blast last year, but how was it for you as an author? What are some of the differences with American conventions?
Michelle: I was very impressed with the Berlin conference and had such a good time last year and so I knew I had to go again this year. The big difference for the authors is that the readers are so friendly and that there was such a good atmosphere. The authors are worked hard but are also encouraged to meet the readers who were lovely and welcoming. At some US conferences from what I understand, there is a very different vibe.
Maia: The convention is in Berlin, a beautiful city. Are you planning to do some sightseeing? In Berlin or even in the rest of Europe?
Michelle: Last year I got to see a little of Spandau but I am hoping to see more of Berlin. It depends on how tired I get. As my youngest will be taking his A level exams, I will have to go straight back home to the UK.
Aurian: There's a lovely group of authors coming this year. This year another British Harlequin author is attending as well, Annie Burrows. Do you know her personally? Or any of the other new authors?
Michelle: Annie Burrows is a friend and a truly lovely person. I am so pleased she is attending. I also know Jane Porter and Sharon Kendrick very well. They are both lovely people. Really fun and very approachable. All three will enhance the conference.
Maia: We both read Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife. Beauty and the Beast is my favourite trope, but I loved how she stood up to him. Do you characters manage to surprise you?
Michelle: My characters often manage to surprise me. They become real people to me and sometimes like real people they are less than cooperative. Sometimes they hide things from me and don’t tell me why they are behaving like that. Sometimes I have to threaten them with being fired...
Aurian: I’ve really enjoyed Miss Hattie Wilkinson meets her match. It was a nice change of pace reading something not taking place in the “ton”. Are your characters more often members of the gentry instead of the haut ton? Do you have a preference, or do their “titles” just fit the story?
Michelle: With my Regency/Victorians I have set them in the North East and I like having people who are not in the charmed circle but the age had so much more to offer. It was such an age of change.
Maia: You write all kinds of historical romances, Regency, Vikings, Romans. We do miss some hot Highlanders in a kilt on your covers. Don’t you like them, or do you think there are enough of those already? What is your favourite time period?
Michelle: I haven’t written any Scottish books. At the moment, my editors want me to focus on the Viking period and there were no kilts then. If I came up with a good idea for a Scottish Highlander, I would write it. I do have Scottish ancestory...
Aurian: Would you like to venture into other genres, like paranormal or Young Adult, or are you happy writing historical romances?
Michelle: I like writing historical romance as it gives me a chance to hold a dark mirror up to today’s society. However, I am slowly venturing into contemporary so it is a sort of watch this space.
Aurian: What is next on your writing schedule?
Michelle: I am currently writing my next Viking which is due 1 April.
Maia: We both have enormous TBR mountain ranges, how big is yours? And what do you plan on reading next?
Michelle: At the moment I have to do my reading for the Rita judging. I have to get those read first. Unfortunately I am not allowed to talk about them but several look very good.
Aurian: What would you be if you could not be an author?
Michelle: Very bored.
Aurian: Who are some of your favourite authors? Do you still have the books you loved reading as a young girl?
Michelle: I have a lot of favourite authors. They include but are not limited to: Georgette Heyer, Anya Seton, PG Wodehouse, Rosemunde Pilcher and Victoria Holt. Of authors currently writing, I love Julia Quinn, Robyn Carr and a number of harlequin series authors.
And now for some fun quick questions:
Are you left-handed or right-handed?
Utterly and totally left handed (Aurian: yes, finally a leftie like me!)
What is your favourite movie, and which is the last one you saw in the theater?
My current favourite movie is Les Miserables. I saw it in the theatre on the 12th of January and cried all the way through it. It was very cathartic. It has been a long time since I saw anything that powerful. My favourite movie tends be Casablanca when I forced to name one.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
A Morning person
What famous author, dead or alive, would you love to meet and why?
I would have loved to meet Georgette Heyer because among other things she founded the Regency romance genre and she also coped with having a husband who is a barrister!
Although I was born and raised near San Francisco, California, USA, I have lived in Britain since 1988 when I married.
The deal was if he passed his Bar exams, I would quit my job in insurance, and go to Northumberland, see how I liked it for a year and then we would decide where our future together would be. We spent our honeymoon in the Canadian Rockies discussing how and why if he were an examiner, my husband would surely have failed. He flew back to the UK and arrived the morning the results were print in The Times. The first time through, he missed his name but then saw it -- the examiners had not followed his fears, but had passed with him with a high mark. My hand trembled as I hung up the phone. It had come to pass. I was about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. I gave my notice to my manager who was sorry to lose me, made arrangements for furniture to be sent across the Atlantic and started reading Catherine Cookson novels to get a flavour of the area. For although I spent my junior year of college at Lancaster University, I had not bothered to travel to the North East.
After reading about ten novels and Catherine Cookson’s autobiography, I thought -- oh no what have I done here and rapidly checked with my manager I could return to my job if things did not work out. I need not have worried. Northumberland is beautiful, truly a forgotten corner of the British Isles with green fields, stone buildings and a landscape littered with castles, and Roman remains. I fell in love with the North East, and in particular with the Tyne Valley. So after, all this time, with three children, two dogs, two cats, and assort of chickens and ducks, I believe we are settled.
Why do I write?
I write because I love to write. I have always loved books and reading. Before I could read, my mother reports my favorite occupation was to sit and look at books. After I learnt to read, in part using the Richard Scary books with his labeled pictures and wonderful anthropomorphic drawings of animals performing all sorts of tasks, I read everything. My childhood favorites included The Wizard of Oz books, the Nancy Drew mystery series, The Chronicles of Narnia, Lloyd Alexander’s Book of Three series and countless books of folk tales and fairy stories. As I grew older, I read as widely as possible. If I read a mention of a book in another book, I tried to read that book. By the time I was 12, I knew I wanted to be an author, but the one important piece of advice I received was -- authors must have some sort experience of life. In order to write, you must live.
Years passed and while I wrote articles for newsletters, kept a journal, made several starts at writing novels, I was not serious. Then in 2002 I became seriously ill with gall stones. As I lay in Hexham Hospital, I started to re-evaluate my life. What did I want to do with it? I decided I had lived enough to begin seriously writing, and made a promise to myself, I would write a novel (and finish it!) I started one, but then stopped. How could I say anything of importance? Later that summer I visited the website of Slyvia Engdahl, the author of the Newberry Award winning Enchantress from the Stars. I asked her why she no longer wrote. Her reply was that while she could think up themes, she could no longer think up the tent poles to hang them on. A light bulb moment for me. I thought I can think up tent poles. I became determined to write a novel and more importantly to finish.
My First Sale
My First sale did not happen overnight, I have the form rejections and other rejection letters to prove it.
What else do I do?
Other than writing and reading, my interests include gardening (the restoration of the garden is 25 year project), beekeeping, cooking, needlework, walking and traveling. I also am actively involved with my church.
Where to find Michelle?
Michelle’s next book is An Ideal Husband?, which will be published in April 2013.
And now for the giveaway part:
Are you a follower of my blog, are you going to LLC 2013, and do you want to read one of Michelle’s books? Leave us a comment telling so, and I will randomly choose a winner. If you win, you can choose one of the books availably through Bookdepository.com if they ship to your country.
Of course, if you are not going to LLC, you can still leave us a comment, I love them all.