Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Author Interview: Michelle Jackson

Happy publication day to Michelle Jackson with her new book 4am in Las Vegas.   I've read all three of Michelle's previous books so cannot wait until my copy of this book arrives from Amazon so that I can start reading it.

I was able to ask Michelle a few questions about how she comes up with the ideas for her books, what books would be her choice for a desert island read etc. so over to Michelle...

How long did it take you to get your first book published?
I started my first novel in 2005 and was first published in June 2008.  I feel that I have been very fortunate but there is a huge amount of work required and determination to persist in the publishing industry. 

Do you have a set daily writing routine?
I don’t write everyday – that would be a luxury that I hope to enjoy in the not too distant future – my children are eight and eleven and it’s a very busy time for my family.  But I am constantly researching and listening to people and observing.  Every lunch and gathering is an opportunity to hear a funny story or interesting tale that may be used at a later date in one of my novels.  I have been writing one novel every year for the last five years and I try to take breaks between the creative six months of crafting the book – followed by the three months editing and allow myself some time just to ponder and research what my next novel will be about. 

Have any of your characters in your books been based on people you know? If so, did they recognise themselves?
There are always characteristics of people that I might have met but that is because people tend to fall into personality categories.  There are only so many types of people and it is funny to observe how people see themselves – they are usually totally off the mark when they suggest they are like a certain character but that makes the process more interesting for me as a writer. 

How hard is it to keep coming up with fresh ideas for new books?
I think there is a never ending supply of ideas and stories all around me and it’s called life. I set each of my novels in different countries with the characters always returning to Ireland.  It is exciting going to a place and finding new inspiration.  I will never get to see the entire world so there is always some new place to be discovered.  Themes may repeat in some of my novels but as the social and economic climate change I like to reflect that in my books too – so life makes it interesting for me to continue working with fresh ideas for each new book.

If you could write another style of genre, what would it be and why?
I would like to write books for my children – especially for the age that they are now. Unfortunately they are a difficult audience to please and I am not sure that I have the ideas for their genre yet but maybe when I have observed their worlds for longer I will be ready to write for them.

After writing four successful novels, how do you manage to keep yourself motivated?
I love to write – for me it is the same buzz that a lot of people get from going to the gym or running a marathon.  I am an art teacher by profession and writing is an ideal process for me to comment on the world around me.  Story telling helps me to use my observational and visual skills in a different way that I could not do using the visual arts.  A lot of artists, musicians and actors like to overlap using different creative processes and writing books has become my favourite method.  

Have you got a favourite out of all the books you've written, if so, which one and why?
I love Two Days in Biarritz as it was my first novel and was a very personal book to write.  The process of writing it was almost cathartic and as it was my first published book it will always be special.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
This is one of Maeve Binchy’s quotes but I believe that it is really important to ‘Write about what you know!”   I visit the places that I write about and interview people who have experienced the same dilemmas as my characters.  I hope that this makes it more believable for the reader and easier for them to be transported by my novels.

Are you able to give us a hint about what your next novel is about? And when is it likely to be published?
I have just finished the first draft of my fifth novel and it has been the most fun of all my novels to write.  I spent some time with friends who have emigrated to Australia and visited them in Perth with my husband and children.  Emigration is a big theme for the Irish historically and now it is back in the news so I feel that it is the right time for this book as it is touching so many people’s lives and it is nice to reach out with your words to the reader who may be experiencing the same emotions as my characters.  The book is called 5 Peppermint Grove – which is one of the most exclusive suburbs in western Australia and due for publication in October 2012. 

Do you have much spare time to read books? If so, what was the last book you read or what are you currently reading?
I read all sorts of different books and authors – I like books set in the first half of the twentieth century but not necessarily with the world wars in the theme.  I love all Joanna Trollope’s books.  But for my next book I am about to tuck into Something from Tiffany’s by Melissa Hill!

If you could have any of your books made into a film, which one would you choose and why? Who would you cast in the leading roles?
I think possibly One Kiss in Havana would make a good movie as it is set in a Unesco Heritage city!  It would be a dream to shoot the scenes down the side streets of the old town in Havana.  Ideally someone like Anthony Banderas would be an excellent Felipe and Julia Robert would be a lovely Emma.  The naughty Sophie would have to be a stroppy red head so maybe Kirsten Dunst. Jonathan Rhys Meyers would make a yummy Jack Duggan! 

If you were going to be stuck on a desert island and could only take 3 books with you, which ones would you choose?
My favourite book is Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh which is an epic saga about one man’s relationship with a family of Aristocrats and set in one of my favourite cities Oxford – where I spent a year in the 1990’s.  I would also take 100 years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller.  And I doubt I could find three more contrasting authors!!!  Oops - Can I squeeze in the ‘Time Travellers Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger too?

Can you describe '4am in Las Vegas’ in 20 words or less?
A rollercoaster of emotions in the city of sin. Lives are gambled - but who will win? 

I'm looking forward to reading 4am in Las Vegas as it's the one setting from Michelle's books that I've actually been to so hoping that some of my favourite hotspots might make an appearance in the book.

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