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:
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