Wednesday, November 23, 2011

SPECIAL Author Interview ~ Michelle Hughes

Hi everyone :-)
It is another special Wednesday for Mystery Writers Unite because I had the privilege and pleasure of interviewing Michelle Hughes, author of A Night at Tears of Crimson, Volume 1 (see below).
Michelle began her career in the entertainment industry as a singer/songwriter under the stage name Regina Michelle. After years on the road she began her family and turned to writing as a way to combine her love of entertaining with the stability of having a home life. She started out with short stories and fan fiction and then discovered her true niche, writing paranormal romance. She decided to make that her full time career. 
Michelle resides in Rockford Alabama with her husband and five children. New Orleans, the backdrop for the Tears of Crimson series, is one of her favorite travel destinations.
--- Interview
MWU: First, thanks for agreeing to let Mystery Writers Unite interview you! Five kids?!? Wow! You must get asked this a lot but how do you find the time and energy to write? What do they think about mom being a published author?
Michelle Hughes: Thank you so much for having me, it's an honor to be a part of Mystery Writers Unite.  Writing, when you have a household as busy as ours, can be a little chaotic.  During the school year I have eight hours a day to myself so that definitely gives me the quiet time I need to focus.  I honestly have given up on weekend writing unless it's really late at night.  My daughters, who are in high school this year, think it's really “cool” to have a mom writing about things their friends are talking about.  My younger sons, who are four and eight really would rather I never did anything that didn't involve them twenty four hours a day.   My oldest son has been very supportive and even accompanies me on trips to do research.
MWU: How long did it take you to write your first book and now that you have completed one are you finding it easier writing the second? Has anything in your process changed?
Michelle Hughes:  The first book, A Night at Tears of Crimson, took about two years to write.  I honestly had no idea what I was doing.  I had all these ideas in my mind and just started writing them down.  It was more for my own enjoyment than something I wanted to share with the world.  I completed three rewrites before I was finally able to get it formatted correctly.  The second book in the Tears of Crimson series is going much easier.  Having an outline, something I wasn't even aware of when I wrote the first, has definitely given me more structure.  I also chose to work with a co-author for the second book and Sarah's been a huge inspiration on those days when I can't seem to put the words down the way I want them to read.
MWU: If someone approached one of your children or your husband on the street and they asked them what your most interesting writing quirk was, what would they say?
Michelle Hughes: They would probably ask if it only had to be one.  I actually have this strange zone I go into that most people would probably find comical.  Depending on what type of scene my characters are going through I'll choose the music that motivates me in that direction.  Normally I'll have my scented candles lit on the desk because they relax me.  I can't believe I'm admitting this but I have to have a bottle of Crystal light and my snack beside me or I won't even begin.  Once I start writing I usually spend a good two hours, if not more if motivated, and I completely lose myself in my work.  I've often thought I don't write my characters they flow through me.
MWU: What made you decide to begin your writing career with a series rather than a stand-alone book?
Michelle Hughes:  My main characters, Rafe and Cara, have been in my dreams since I was a young teenager.  I'm not sure I decided to write them or the calling was so strong that their story was just pushed out of me.  I can't even imagine writing about a different subject if I'm being completely honest.  The Tears of Crimson series had to come in stages or it just wasn't going to be understood.  Each book is a progression of emotions and depth and in some ways a travel between ages and understanding.  There are so many experiences that have been shared with me in dreams and a series was the only way to bring it out of my mind.
MWU: What books or authors have influenced your writing?
Michelle Hughes:  There have been so many authors that have been influential to my writing that it's hard to only name a few.  I started reading Harlequin Romance novels at eight years old.  I can't remember all the authors from those books, it was the type of service where you received four books a month.  I found the incredible V.C. Andrews later and loved her work.  Anne Rice mesmerized me with her writing as well as JR Ward,  Charlaine Harris and Stephanie Meyers.  Another one of my favorite writers was Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz).  I remember waiting for each one of her books to come out.
MWU: This is a question I ask every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?
Michelle Hughes:  I have had that horrible block and wondered if this journey into writing was coming to an end.  As you mentioned earlier I started off as a singer/songwriter so that worry always finds the back of my mind.  What if the words just stop coming, or the dreams no longer happen?  To answer your question, I have this overwhelming fear when the writers block comes that I will never find my way back to the words again.  If you haven't come to the conclusion yet that I get a little overly dramatic with most things, I'll just go ahead and let you know that I do. 
MWU: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing and how do you overcome the challenge?
Michelle Hughes: I think the biggest challenge for me is finding the structure to sit down and write instead of getting lost in social media.  I love talking to people so when I'm on services like Twitter it's really hard to pull myself away and focus on the writing.  My husband tells me I should be a talk show host because I can talk more than any person he knows.
MWU: What advice would you give to those writers out there that are still diligently plugging away at trying to finish their first novel (me…lol)?
Michelle Hughes: I would say have patience and let the words flow as they will and then laugh because I have no patience whatsoever.  You can't force the words to come until they are ready.  I know that sounds a little lame, but I think when we write there is some inspiration coming from somewhere.  I could give a whole interview on where I think that is but I'll save that for another time.  Back to your question though, just clear your mind and let the words come.  If they aren't coming then take a step back and come back when you feel the inspiration find you again.
MWU: I noticed a link on your website that says: “Step in to the fantasy world of Tears of Crimson Club”. Tell readers a bit more about this…
Michelle Hughes: The Tears of Crimson club is all about fantasy.  When you read the books I want you to lose yourself in the world.  Thanks to some wonderful friends we also have a roleplay group that plays out the characters from the books.  Prior to finishing the first book I was very involved with the True Blood and Twilight roleplay community.  We actively encourage people to interact with our characters and want them to come to life in a way that make you feel like you are a part of the group.
MWU: Did you learn anything from writing A Night at Tears of Crimson and if so, what?
Michelle Hughes: I think the biggest discovery I made with Tears of Crimson is that there are so many talented people out there more deserving than I am when it comes to writing.  I see the dedication from these incredible authors that are struggling to have their material read and I connect with them.  I will gladly promote any author who comes to me for help because without other people helping me I'm not sure I would have continued down this path.
MWU: What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Michelle Hughes:  What most people don't know is that Cara is actually my dream self.  The hardest part of writing the book was sharing a piece of myself.  Cara came to me during some very hard times in my adolescence as did Rafe.  I won't go into the troubles of my youth, but I will say that Rafe and Cara saved me.  When I didn't want to wake up the next day I had the dreams that would encourage me to make the effort.
MWU: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about this book?
Michelle Hughes: The only thing I would truly change about the first book is adding more depth.  I had so many ideas in my mind that I couldn't find a way to organize them.  I think that type of organization comes with experience because I'm finding it much easier to fit everything in with the second book.
MWU: Who is your favorite character in this series and why?
Michelle Hughes: That question is the easiest to answer.  My beautiful Rafe, Rafael Santiago.
MWU: I just have to ask, was the character Rafe designed after someone you know?
Michelle Hughes:  I guess the answer to that question depends on how you define knowing someone.  Rafe came to me the summer of my fifteenth year and I dreamed  about him every night for 365 days.  He still visits me in my dreams today and I consider him my closest friend. 
MWU: If you had the chance to be bitten by a vampire and live for all eternity, would you want that “gift”?
Michelle Hughes:  Only if Rafe comes out of my dreams.  I love my life now and couldn't imagine trading it for a life of eternity without my family.  The irony is that this is how every dream I have about Rafe ends.  He holds out his hand and asks if I'm ready to come with him yet.  I've always said no, but I have to wonder what would happen if I ever said yes.
MWU: I know the second book of the Tears of Crimson series, Eternal Crimson, is scheduled to be released in June 2012. Are you on track for this release date?
Michelle Hughes:  Actually I'm ahead of schedule at the moment.  My editor will probably change all of that though.  My process is that I give her three chapters at a time and she edits and tells me what didn't work for her.  I take those three chapters back and work through them and resubmit them for approval.
MWU: I noticed that you have decided to co-author your second book with Sarah Snyder and I wondered if it a) is difficult to “let go” of your “baby” and let someone else help mold it and b) what was the reasoning behind it? 
Michelle Hughes:  With Sarah it's not hard at all.  I thought that would be a big deal for me, letting go of the people that I absolutely adore and entrusting them to another.  The truth is Sarah knows how I feel about Rafe and Cara and focuses more on the supporting characters and that's been how we manage to work so well together.  Now that's not to say if she reads something that doesn't make sense to her she won't call me on it immediately.  I think you're going to find in Eternal Crimson that there are other characters that also take the lead roles and that's all because of Sarah.  She is able to bring Gabe to life in a way that I would never have been able to do.  The main reason I asked Sarah to write with me is because I was so impressed with her original characters. 
MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
Michelle Hughes:  I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking a chance on A Night at Tears of Crimson.  It humbles me beyond words to know that there are people that think I'm worth reading.  There are so many people who have encouraged me on this journey, and I've made some incredible friends from fans of my work.  I think that has to be the greatest part about writing, getting to know the people who are reading your work. 
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.  This interview has really been a joy to do.  I wanted to wish you much luck on your own book and let you know that I'll be here to support you when the time comes for you to publish.
The synopsis for A Night at Tears of Crimson:
Cara Donovan found the Tears of Crimson club by chance but it seems her entire destiny would be found in one night. Rafe has spent hundreds of years taking what he wanted and devouring everything in his path. The demon in him longed to devour her, what was left of his humanity demanded that he protect her. He was a forbidden desire that awoke her passion. She was an innocent temptation that he couldn’t resist. For thousands of years their true nature had been guarded and now he had drawn her into a world that only existed in myths. Her soul, her heart and her life would be forfeit if she surrendered to his touch. Eternal love and eternal damnation, anything is possible at a Night at Tears of Crimson.

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