Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Interview with Michele Shaw

Today, we are going to introduce a good friend and colleague, Michele Shaw. Welcome, Michele. Congratulations on getting an agent. It couldn't have happened to a better person. Can you tell us how this all came about?

Thank you, Draven! I appreciate the chance to be here. I don’t know if there is a “typical” journey, but here is mine: 1. Attended a few conferences and pitched agents. 2. Won a writing fellowship in 2010. 3. Entered some contests, winning one and finishing well in another. 4. Started querying agents who I thought might be a fit. 5. Had some partial and full requests, plus my share of rejections. 6. Went through a rewrite after a revise/resub with one agent. 7. Sent out more queries. 8. Karen requested my full the day after I queried her, and a few emails plus one phone call later, I had an agent! We really meshed personality-wise and I immediately felt comfortable with her, which is important to me.

Sounds like you really hit it off. Reading a bit about your book, it sounds like the type of creepy thrillers I love. What inspired you to write this book?

It came from a combination of things. I’ve always been very interested in true crime. For a time, that was all I read. I drew elements from situations I had read about, added my spin, mixed it with a romance, and came out with my book!

Can you tell everyone just a little about Scatter?

It falls under the umbrella of YA Romantic Suspense and is about a girl’s journey to stay hidden while taking a chance on all she’s missed out on in her life. She’s a teenager trying to find herself when she can’t even tell anyone her real name, and she has to calculate every move she makes.

That sounds like a really good movie. Have you thought about writing a screenplay for this book?

I really hadn’t thought about doing a screenplay, though I do think it could be a great movie. A lot of YA books are being optioned for movies right now, but so few ever make it to the screen.

When you write your books, do you ever try to address issues you want people to discuss? If so, what issues do you want people to talk / think about?

I really don’t set out to write “issue oriented” stories, although some might be considered that. I do pour emotions, thoughts, and feelings into my characters that I want people to feel. But, I want them to be entertained, forgetting their own cares for a few hours as well. My life has been so joyful in the time I’ve spent in someone else’s world, meeting their characters, and being a part of their story. Whether I’ve laughed, cried, or shivered, it’s always exciting. That’s what I’m hoping to give my readers.

What kind of day job does a writer like you have? Has anything in your real life filtered through to your work?

Right now I have two jobs: full-time mom and full-time writer. I used to be a social worker, which put me in daily contact with so many interesting people. They had problems, some of them quite severe, and this has definitely trickled into character traits, reactions, and knowledge about the desperation in some people’s lives. My eyes are open to situations I didn’t experience in my personal life.

Could you tell us about some of these 'situations.'

Well, I couldn’t relay specific situations, but I can say that many people live on the edge of or directly in things that others may not realize when they pass them on the street. Things like homelessness, abuse in all forms, mental and physical disabilities, severe family dysfunction, reorienting after incarceration, deadly drug and alcohol addiction, the list goes on and on. Usually, it’s not one, but a combination of several of these factors they face, and their day to day survival is stressful. I met some amazing adults and children as well.

Going off subject, I like to ask what people would change about today's education system. What would you like to see changed?

Ah, so many things. If I had to pick one, I’d say I’m quite passionate about school libraries. The cuts being made in them is an outrage. I volunteer in an elementary library, and it is vital for so many students. Our librarian was cut, then suddenly reinstated, but year to year we don’t know what will happen. She has no money to purchase new books. There have been cuts in the RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) program, and some children have no personal books other than what they receive from RIF. Many of their parents don’t take them to the public library, so without school libraries, where will we be?

That is a good question. Do you see any future school libraries that deal with ebooks?

It’s a possibility, but the schools have to have funds to afford the technology. I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

What are you writing now, aside from edits?

I’ve been working on two other books, another YA romantic suspense, and a YA paranormal. I have a YA horror idea on the back burner, waiting until I have more time. (Tell me, when does that happen? I’m still waiting for more hours in a day to come around.) I’ve also started on an idea for an MG (middle grade) book with a male mc. I write poetry for fun. It’s what I do when I need a break.

Could you leave us with a short poem?

Here is a poem:


Ashes blow
Catching flimsy waves
Willowed and feathered
Floating into the never

Gone is the glow
No spark saves
Charred and weathered
Waiting now and forever

Echoes carry in the plume
A last fleck of singed giving
Wafting away in lies
Fueled by self and more of the same
Heated promises, soiled in fume
A half beat from living
A failed hand dies
Fire out, end game


Jessica Lemmon said...

Hi Michele! Man! I miss our email hobknobbing... hobnobbing? Anyway- great big, huge congrats again. Your hard work paid off! :) Jess PS - about that drink... ;)

Summer Ross said...

Draven- terrific interview you always ask such fascinating questions.

Michele- The poem you posted at the end has terrific imagery and is very thought provoking I found myself trying to piece it all together and relate it in someway to my life. The words you choose went well with the idea I found in the poem. thank you for answering Draven's questions.

Draven Ames said...

Thanks for stopping by, Summer and Jessica. I thought Michele did a wonderful job with this interview. The poem is sad and beautiful, if you can find beauty in the sadness. Thanks for being interviewed, Michele.

Anonymous said...

Great interview with some very good questions. Was interesting hearing about Michele's road to an agent and her view on education. And the poem... love it. Such a great use of words.

Michele Shaw said...

Jess! TYSM! Yes...that drink;)

Thank you, Summer. Poems aren't my main focus, but I do enjoy writing them. Glad you liked it:)

Draven, I can't thank you enough for having me. You are such a supportive friend.

Richard, thank you for reading and commenting. I'm glad you liked the poem!

Jeff King said...

Thx for the interview… Michele rocks; I wish her and her book the best.

Her advice has helped me a great deal, and she is an inspiration to me.

I love her blog as well, (as I do this one) she is a very interesting person and her book will be on my must buy list.

Jeffrey Beesler said...

Another awesome interview, Draven, and excellent poem, Michelle!

Paul Joseph said...

Another great interview, Draven! Michele, I really enjoyed reading about your career as a social worker. I don't think I knew that already, but it sounds like a great job for feeding writers with character traits and plot situations. Direct experience is one of the most valuable writing tools. I also enjoyed your comments on education (obviously) and reading your poem. Thanks to both of you for a great read!!

James Garcia Jr said...

Draven, thanks for the interview. Very interesting! Michele is one of my absolute favorite people on Twitter, so I just had to stop when I saw that she was being featured here.


Michele Shaw said...

Thank you, Jeff! Always great to see you:)

Jeffrey, nice to meet you and thank you!

Yes, Paul, I know how passionate you are about education. Can't wait to see how that feeds into your book! Thank you!

Jimmy, you make tweeting fun, too. Thank you, my friend:)

Pk Hrezo said...

Great poem! And congrats on the agent! Best of luck with the book... sounds really great!
Awesome questions, Draven!

Michele Shaw said...

Thank you,PK! Much appreciated:)

Draven Ames said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. I appreciate the reads and know Michele does. She did a great job with this interview. I'm glad everyone liked the questions. All the success is wished for you Michele.

Draven Ames

Anonymous said...

Love the poem at the end! As always, great questions! I really liked to hear her mention meshing well personality wise with her agent. I think that's something that's easy to forget about when querying.