Thursday, 12 February 2015

Q&A with A. L. Michael

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1.   Did you always dream of being a writer?

Absolutely! It’s been my aim since I was 11 years old. I’ve been writing stories since I can remember, and I went on to study creative writing at university, then writing and business, and therapeutic writing.

2.   Your newest novel is coming out on Valentine’s Day, can you tell us more about it?

It’s called ‘My So Called (Love) Life’ and is about a group of friends in their twenties who are completely stuck. The main character, Tigerlily, is dealing with the fact that her childhood sweetheart, who dumped her on Valentines Day last year, just sent her an invitation to his wedding! She and her friends have all been sinking in depression and having ‘Misery Dinners’, a monthly get together to moan and drink margaritas. But now it’s time for a change!

3.   What was your inspiration for the book?

I had a clear idea about the Misery Dinners, and I guess I got thinking about this episode of the Gilmore Girls where Lorelai says wallowing is important. What happens if you wallow too long? I think as well, I wanted to express a group of friends who are all dealing with their own stuff, but don’t really know how to move forward, however much they want to.

4.   Driving Home For Christmas was published last year, what is it about?

One of my favourite things I’ve ever written! It’s about Megan, a young woman who ran away from her little village when she got pregnant at seventeen. She goes back for Christmas with her daughter Skye, for the first time in ten years, and is overwhelmed with all the memories.

5.   Where and when do you write your stories?

A mixture. I bought myself a nice desk, but I never use it. I’m either sitting in my big armchair or on my bed at home, or I’m working in a cafe/bar in a local hotel.

6.   What do you do and enjoy when you’re not writing?

I’m into fitness, I love going to the gym. I like cooking, and baking, and reading as much as possible. I like listening to TED talks online, and meditation and yoga. And dancing around the kitchen to some old school R’n’B. A little bit of everything.

7.   The Last Word, is another one of your books, tell us more about the story.

This was my first novel with Harlequin (Carina) and is about a struggling writer, Tabby Riley, whose blog gets picked up by a newspaper and heralds her return to real journalism. Except her editor is kind of an arse. A really attractive one. Tension and sarcasm and adventures ensue.

8.   If you could switch places with a characters from a book, who would it be and why?

Anyone in a Neil Gaiman book. The adventures and travel and strangeness! I’d love to wonder around the settings in Neverwhere, or meet the characters in American Gods!

9.   In 2013 Wine Dark, Sea Blue was published. An interesting title, how did you come up with it and what is the book about?

This was my first novel, and it was about the effect of grief and loss on a young twenty something artist who wasn’t really sure how to get her life together. The title came from a description I read from Homer, who described the colour blue as ‘Wine Dark’. I thought it was an apt description considering the anxiety and addiction in the novel.

10. What books have most influenced your life most?

I was crazy about everything Beat as a teenager, Jack Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg. I loved how emotional and rhythmic it was. So full of excitement and love! When I was younger I was all about Jane Austen, and now I like things with a little bit of edge, love stories with spark, like Ask the Dust.

11. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

This one, I’d started before the Christmas book, and then I had to return to it afterwards. Getting back into the momentum was difficult!

12. How would you describe your style of writing?

I don’t like being cutesy and sentimental, I’d rather be sharp and funny and sarcastic. I would say romantic but funny, intimate but non-sentimental.

13.  You are running workshops in creative wellbeing, can you tell us more about that?

I’ve been studying for an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes, how writing can be used in therapies and for wellbeing and mental health. Some of that work has been with carers or mental health groups, but I’m currently working on using writing in relation to nutrition and self-esteem, especially in young people.

14. What do you enjoy most about writing?

That I can create my own world, and discover a story as I write it.

15. Imagine one of your books would be turned into a movie, who would you cast for the main characters?

For The Last Word, Tabby would be played by Gemma Arterton, and Harry would be played by Paul Nichols.

16. Coffee or tea? Tea
17. Paperback or e-reader? Both!
18. Mountains or the sea? Sea
19. Summer or winter? Summer

20. Sweet or salty? Sweet!

A.L Michael is a writer and workshop leader from North London. She has a BA in Creative Writing with English Lit, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship and is starting an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She likes learning and hates essays.

She's a fan of cheap wine, expensive chocolate and still wants to be a secret agent when she grows up, but she'll settle for lying on the page.

My So-Called (Love) LifeAmazon UK

Meet Tigerlily James: romance cynic, North Londoner and die-hard margarita fan.

Tigerlily James has been a member of the Young and Bitter Club ever since she was dumped on Valentine’s day. By her fiancé.

Surviving on a diet of cynicism and margarita-fuelled ‘Misery Dinners’ with her best friends, she’s become a romance free zone…and that’s the way she likes it. Until an invitation for The Ex’s wedding arrives. Suddenly in need of a plus one, Tig has little choice but to bin the takeaways, ditch the greying underwear collection…and start pretending to view the opposite sex as something other than target practise.

Then, she meets Ollie – ie. the perfect solution. No sex. No strings. Fake boyfriend. The only catch is that she has to pretend to be his girlfriend for three whole months.

Dating without the heartbreak: the best idea Tig’s ever had, right? Wrong!

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