What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Michele Poague. Born in Newman Grove, Nebraska. Currently living in Aurora, Colorado (Metro Denver)
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
Although I enjoyed writing when I was young (I wrote my first short story when I was in the 10th grade; a paranormal romance about the ghost of a man’s first wife trying to kill his second wife), I really wanted to be an interior designer.
I wanted to remodel old mansions and throw fabulous parties so in the 1980’s I bought a 100-year-old house in a very bad neighborhood and began one of the most memorable adventures of my life. I gutted the house and replaced all the wiring and plumbing. I tore out all of the lathe and plaster and put up new sheetrock. It was a wonderful experience and the basis for my next book, a paranormal romance about the ghost of a 1920’s Jazz singer haunting a house our protagonist is trying to remodel.
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
During the 1980’s and 90’s I wrote training manuals, ad-copy, and convention brochures. I really didn’t think of myself as a “writer” then, because whenever I heard the word “writer” I would think “novelist”.
The idea of The Healing Crystal came to me when I got my first Macintosh SE. In the early years of the twenty-first century the story’s theme became even more relevant, and I desperately wanted to know what Kairma was going to do. I began writing Heir to Power for myself, and it was the encouragement of friends and family that prompted me to publish.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
I tried traditional publishing houses for about a year, but what science we understand today changes rapidly. Over the course of concept to penning the trilogy, new scientific discoveries forced me to make several adjustments. While the theme never changed, the details did.
It was the fear that a traditional publishing house would buy the work and sit on it too long that prompted me to check into self-publishing. I was able to get book one into print within a year. That said, there are many things that I would do differently now. I would have written all three books before publishing the first. I learned so much about the art of writing that there are things I would have arranged differently in book one. I also find, while writing book three, I’m having to check book one to make sure I don’t contradict something I said previously, and it limits what I can do.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I currently work as something like a Girl Friday, doing everything from accounting to event planning for Shotgun Willies, and until I have a few best sellers under my belt, I’ll have to keep the day job.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
The Healing Crystal trilogy explores how religious and political philosophies are affected by technology.
Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
The Healing Crystal Trilogy is being self-published through IUniverse.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
I had the concept for The Healing Crystal many years ago and spent about a year fleshing out the idea by traveling to the area the book takes place and developing the characters. Twenty years later, when I sat down to write book one, Heir to Power, it took about six months to write the actual story. The re-writes, editing, and proofing took about another year and a half to complete. While working on book one, lots of scenes came to me for book two, Fall of Eden, so I was able to finish the first draft and the edits in much less time. About one year from start to finished product.
The next two books I have planned are being written now, as I finish Ransom. I wrote two peaks for The Candy Store, the opening and the ending, in one night, but I expect the fleshing out of the story may take another year. The re-writes, editing, and proofing take about another year and a half.
Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
The third book is proving to be much more difficult to write than the first two. Sometimes my characters want to go off and do other things while I’m trying to tie up loose ends. I actually had one character I introduced in an earlier book but she wouldn’t cooperate. I was forced to kill her so someone else could do what she would not. The finale should always be your best work so I feel a great deal of pressure to ensure that Ransom doesn’t let my fans down.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
After The Healing Crystal Trilogy, I am writing two novels in the paranormal romance genre:
Last Kiss is fully outlined with opening and ending chapters written. The jazz singer can't remember anything about her former life so a cocktail waitress tries figure out who the ghost is, how she died, and why she is haunting the house. Taking a page from popular murder mysteries where the sleuth inserts recipes or banquet menus, my sleuth will tell readers how to change a bathroom faucet or cut drywall.
The Candy Store begins in the mid 80s. A girl is working in a candy store across the street from the Oxford Hotel in Denver where she had been abandoned as a baby seventeen years earlier. During a fire in the store, she is hit on the head by a falling beam and wakes up in 1928. This story is in its first draft. I’d love to get back to it because it's got a fantastic twist, but I have to finish Ransom first.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Heir to Power and Fall of Eden, Books 1 and 2 of The Healing Crystal Trilogy, are published and available now. Ransom, Book 3 of the trilogy, is finished and heading toward editing and proofing. I expect to publish Ransom next Spring, 2012.
What genre would you place your books into?
The Healing Crystal Trilogy is adult science fiction but is appropriate for young adults.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? and why are they your favorite?
I like several characters for different reasons, but the character I most identify with is Collin. Even though Collin is male, his carefree and adventurous streak reminds me of myself at that age. He’s a logical thinker who refuses to take anyone’s word for anything. He needs proof. You might think he has no respect for authority, when really, he believes it’s the person who must earn his respect, not the title.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
My first inspiration was music. My first memory of lyrics touching me somewhere deep inside was while listening to Hank Williams sing I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry.
"The silence of a falling star, lights up a purple sky, and as I wonder where you are, I'm so lonesome I could cry." The image of that silent falling star has never left me. It might be my favorite line of any song and I think it's what made me want to write.
The first real book I ever read was the biography of wild Bill Hicock when I was in the third grade. I was so enamored, I read every biography that author penned. Another book that had a profound effect on me was The Ruling Class, which sent me right into the depths of politics. The Riders of Pern gave me the courage to write because Anne McCaffrey made it look so easy, which it really isn’t. Writing words is easy, getting it right? No, not so much.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?
The Healing Crystal came from wondering what would happen to the human race if it suddenly had to start all over again. What would future humans make of what we left behind?
Last Kiss is based on my experiences remodeling an old house. I was in my late twenties, single, working as a cocktail waitress, and really had no idea what I was doing. The humorous anecdotes are infinite.
The Candy Store came to me in a dream shortly after reading the Time Travelers Wife.
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?
No. I have proofreaders who go through the books, but no real reviewers.
Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
I gift many books and tell the receiver I’d like to know what they think. I hope they will post something on Amazon, Goodreads, or on my website.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I try to. I’m always afraid of what I’ll see, but I have yet to see even a negative comment that I didn’t agree with. Reviewers have made me a better writer.
What was the toughest/best review you have ever had?
I had one 3 Star on Amazon.com, but it was a valid opinion. I’ve had many 5 star reviews and I like them each for different things they’ve said about the book.
How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books? Who designed the Cover of your books?
I designed the Title and Cover. After conceiving a number of concepts, I chose the crystal apple because the apple, as a powerful symbol of knowledge, best represents the story line.
How do you market/promote your books?
I leverage word-of-mouth advertising and the power of internet to reach out to target audiences to achieve both virtual communication and personal contact with readers. Distribution of a variety of printed collateral materials, periodic emails, an interactive website and blog; and numerous social networking sites are utilized to promote conversation and feedback about the books and to announce news and updates including book giveaways and personal appearances. All forms of communication include direct access to book ordering information
Main internet and social sites include:
FaceBook Fan Page: healingcrystaltrilogy
Goodreads Author Page: Michele Poague
What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ?
There are lots of things that go into making a “bestseller”. Sometimes hype has more to do with success than talent, but I think all books that sell well must have good characters. The books that become classic and stand the test of time must be the original work that starts the fad. They have to have a superior story that involves believable characters. Three books that come to mind are Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Anne McCaffrey’s The Dragon Riders of Pern, and J. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
All the time. I usually just force myself to work through it. I usually have to throw out most of what I write that way, but it keeps me from giving up. When I hit a really difficult spot, I bounce ideas off one of my regular pre-readers.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Usually I read to relax, but sometimes I draw or work on images/pictures/art in Photoshop.
Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
Yes, everything I write is based on my own experiences. I don’t believe you can write well about things you don’t know. I start with pieces of my friends and family and as I write they become someone new. The actual situations in the book are created by the characters as they tell me they are doing.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
If there is one it would be that morals are very personal. Each of us must define our own “Code of Ethics” based on what we know, and as we learn more about the world, our perceptions may change.
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
I don’t really have a favorite author. I love Connie Willis and Janet Evanovich for their sense of humor and fun. I love David Brin, Larry Niven, Jerry Pernell, and Orson Scott Card because they can take something as fantastic as being on another planet and make it seem real and believable, almost common place. When it comes to colorful imagination J. K. Rowling is an absolute master.
Which format of book do you prefer, ebook, hardback, or paperback?
I love the weight and smell of hardback books. I love the way they look in my library. I buy mostly paperbacks because I'm always reading and I find lots of good books that don’t appear in hardback, or are out of print by the time I discover them. I don’t have an E-reader yet, but I suspect it will replace my paperbacks when I do.
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
There are too many to name. Each favorite is special for a different reason.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is your favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
Of those done recently, I think Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings were beautifully done. Twilight was more than disappointing. The dialog was so well written in the book, I was surprised that the screenwriter changed so much of it, and I think the casting could have been much better.
Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
Not completely, but they will likely take the lion’s share of the market.
What do you think about book trailers?
As with all forms of marketing, some are good, some are not. I like the overall concept and I'm looking forward to producing the trailer for The Healing Crystal Trilogy in 2012 in tandem with the publishing of Ransom.
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
First and foremost, write several books before you publish the first. Your writing skills will improve drastically as you hone your craft. Although its won awards, I find there are ways I could have made Heir to Power a much stronger book if I had the chance to rewrite it one more time.
The second reason to wait has to do with the amount of time it takes to market what you've written. There are millions of books to compete with, and it's a full time job getting your name out there every day, leaving almost no time to write new novels.
I have drafts of two more books set in a completely different universe than The Healing Crystal, and while I continue to collect research on those, I won't even think about hiring an editor or publishing company until I've finished this trilogy because I still have too much to learn.
Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
My previous name was Michele Bethke, and I’d planned to use the name Sam McBeth. When I married in 1999, my new last name didn’t suggest any fun pen names. I was fairly well known in political circles by my current name, and as a new writer, I wanted my friends to recognize my works.
Where can readers follow you?
FaceBook Fan Page: healingcrystaltrilogy
Goodreads Author Page: Michele Poague
Thankyou Michele, for taking the time from your busy schedule to take part in this Interview. I have to say once again that I truly loved bk1 and bk2 of The healing Crystal Trilogy and am waiting for bk3 Ransom......