Interview with Michelle Athy

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I think the very first story I wrote after I decided I wanted to write was a "novel" (I think it was about 10 looseleaf sheets) based on Interview With The Vampire the movie, which I saw much too young. So, there was a vampire, there was a journalist. Stuff ensued. I was 9.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in an outer borough of New York City, so I was exposed to theater, museums, art and all the other cultural amenities of the city. I've also been exposed to a very diverse group of people, which is invaluable and definitely influences my writing. I want to read and write stories about diverse people in a diverse environment.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing at 9 years old, but I knew I wanted to be a writer at age 12. My sixth grade teacher used to give us weekly prompts and we were supposed to brainstorm, draft, hand in for corrections, revise and give in a clean copy of a short story every week. I loved those assignments.
What is your writing process?
Well, for a longer, more involved answer to this question, my writing process is all over my blog. It changes with each project, but basically, I start with a character and a situation and go from there. Lately, I've been keeping small notebooks full of outlines, dialogue, and tons of notes for my current projects. It helps keep me organized. I outline, but not so thoroughly that I can't let a scene or a conversation breathe and develop as I write.
What do you read for pleasure?
I tend to read a lot of historical fiction and historical romance. But I also enjoy fantasy, contemporary...if the premise interests me, I'll give it a try.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Pearl: An Historical Novella is the about a slave woman, Pearl, living in 1799 Barbados. Pearl is a lady's maid to Mrs. Keegan, but when Mrs. Keegan dies, Pearl fears that she'll be sold, only to be told that Mr. Keegan wants to free her because he's moving back to his native England. Pearl asks to be taken to England with the Keegans, because her brother was sold to a British naval captain years ago and she's not sure if she can ever find him, but surely, England would be the best place to start.

Pearl was actually a secondary character in a longer novel I wrote. She intrigued me and her subplot had a clarity that the rest of the book lacked. I queried the novel, got a bunch of rejections, and decided to tell Pearl's story instead.
Published 2015-06-12.
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