Interview with Michelle Ridlon

Published 2015-09-17.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I have noticed in passing that some siblings, though raised in the same household, have different coping skills, habits, opinions, and levels of success. Through my years of being a counselor, I have learned that when siblings are abused, their reactions to said abuse can be completely different. This is the observation that inspired my book. I took a case of sibling rivalry and added steroids. The outcome was murder.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I write, it's very similar to visiting a different world. I am submerged in the story and see it as I would see a movie; I lose track of time, forget to eat, forget to grocery shop, and forget to sleep. It's a wonderful world to visit--the author has complete control over what happens. My joy is to visit this world where the characters live and breathe and everything makes sense to me. I get a bit melancholy when reality calls.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans are incredibly important to me!! The fans are the ones who keep me going and I have a file with every saved email fan letter I've ever received. I cherish every one of them.
What are you working on next?
I am currently editing the second novel in my Valenti Series. "The Feeding Path" is already published and available. I try to promote it when I can but am very busy editing my second novel in the series, "The Scent of Death." This book was enjoyable to write but the editing, as with my last book, is the bane of my existence. Ish.
Who are your favorite authors?
Lee Child, Thomas Perry, John Douglas, Stephen King's older stuff.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I try to promote my book, paint in acrylics, write poetry to amuse myself, read, watch science shows, and go to the ocean whenever I can to walk the shoreline and quietly look for pretty rocks or interesting sea shells.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. I was 12 years old and had already been writing poetry but really wanted to, someday, become a novelist. My little book was 20 pages long and was handwritten on notebook paper. I put a decorated cardboard cover on it to make it look more like a book and then gave it to my literature teacher to see what he thought. He read it and wrote "You have a remarkable understanding of the English language." Still not really sure what that meant. . .but I kept writing.
What is your writing process?
I put earplugs in, turn off my phone and television, and begin by reading the previous day's writing. After a night away from it, it is much easier for me to see errors by immediately looking at what I wrote previously. It also helps to work my way back into that world. THEN I begin the day's new writing or editing. I have been known to have a whiskey-coke when I edit. Sometimes two. I hate editing and re-writes. Ish.
How do you approach cover design?
I want something unique and in-your-face. It is important to me that the cover follows the vibe of the book. I am very happy with the cover of The Feeding Path. It is eerie SANS the slasher/ bloody cover that usually comes with a horror/thriller. It is eerie because the book is eerie.
What is your least favorite part of writing and what do you do to overcome it?
My least favorite part of writing is the editing. I am very thorough with my editing process and it takes longer to edit my books than it does to write them. I comb through it for story line errors. Then comes grammatical errors. Then comes trimming the manuscript down and eliminating writing that does not benefit the reader or doesn't move the story forward. When all of my editing is grammatically correct, the structure is solid with everything it needs and nothing it doesn't, then I go to my bookcase and start glancing at my favorite authors' work. I go back and do a final re-write, deliberately breaking some grammatical rules to communicate in a looser, more realistic style. Finally, I read the entire book, cover to cover, out loud. Twice. This final run through catches any last redundant phrases or awkwardly worded sentences. Basically--I sling the storyline onto the page in about 2 months. I spend the next 5 months meticulously editing, re-editing, re-re-editing. . . ad nauseam.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I wanted people to read my book, even if I had to make it free. It's pretty simple. I just think it's a really great story and very entertaining. Since being an Indie Author is no longer the kiss of death, I thought that would be the most painless way to go.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I get up every morning and go to the 50 pound bag of cracked corn that I keep in the dining room. Next to said corn is a case of bottled water. I take a four cup measuring cup full of cracked corn and a fresh bottle of water and then go out back by the pool and sprinkle the corn out for birds/chipmunks/squirrels and the occasional ground hog. I then refresh their plate of water. Every morning. If they're piggy and eat all of the corn, I'll throw out more before I go to bed. I like sitting out back and watching them with my morning coffee and cigarette. I don't cage animals; I leave them alone and just enjoy watching them eat, bicker, get excited, and live their lives.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I ever read was when I was 5 years old. It was hardcover and the cover was red. It was about Jane and a dog. My mother, an incessant reader, taught me to read very young.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Lee Child's "Hard Luck and Trouble". I think this is the one where his former military crew come back together. It was spectacular because he interacted with people who were like-minded and just as ferocious as he was. Awesome.
Thomas Perry's "Dance for the Dead." I loved this book because I love the Jane Whitefield character but also because this book was more complex than his other books and the person Jane was trying to save was brassy, tough, and nobody's victim. I like that.
Anthony Piers "On a Pale Horse". This is a fantasy book and I normally avoid fantasy like the plague. So happens I was hard up and needed a piece of literature because I was fresh out of books. This book was very clever and personified Death and the problems he has. It was very entertaining.
Lisa Scottoline "Everywhere that Mary Went". This was a crime/legal thriller and the dialogue and fleshing out of the characters was marvelous.
William Peter Blatty "The Exorcist". C'mon. Really? This is one of the best books ever written. His research into the material is absolutely beyond reproach and the ever-building suspense is second to none. It scared the piss outta me.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My phone though it took a minute to get used to. I still like to turn the pages of a book, however. Nothing against ebooks, of course. I mean, I WROTE one. . . I'm just that old school. (shrug)
Describe your desk
There's a candle, a lamp, my sunglasses, my computer. Over to the side is a monstrous thesaurus and at least three novels. There is an ashtray, cigarettes, and a cup of coffee. And tacked to the wall are all kinds of inspirational quotes for those 3 a.m. rewrites. "The first draft of everything is shit," Ernest Hemmingway. "Don't get caught up in rules. Just tell the damn story," Lee Child. "When I write a goddamn fragmented sentence, I WANT it fragmented!" Sorry, forgot who wrote this but it was a famous writer who sent this sentence to his editor.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on the Iron Range in northern Minnesota. This is a very, very tough area of Minnesota. It's a place that is heavily unionized and it's primary industry is iron ore taconite pellets. There have been strikes. I have been on picket lines myself. More than one bag of sugar has been put into cement trucks gas tanks when they've tried crossing the picket line. The people in this area are hard core but will help anyone, no questions asked. They will pull you out of the ditch and call their friend that's thirty miles away to do it. They will never ask your name. I grew up fishing, sitting with my dad in the woods deer hunting, watching as the deer was gutted and strung up and then helped my grandma and mom to process (cut up) the deer. I have milked goats, fileted fish, dug up my own worms, cut and stacked and burned firewood, shoveled snow without end, and walked to school when it was -20. You have to walk backwards or the wind will frostbite your face. These people are a people of few words and the words are somewhat coded. If you're not from the iron range, you will absolutely misinterpret them. "Well, that's one way of doing it." Yeah. If someone from "the range" says that to you, whatever you're doing, you're doing it wrong. This is the culture I grew up in and it's the only culture I know. I talk about it a bit in my second book that I'm currently editing, "The Scent of Death".
What do you read for pleasure?
I sew, make campfires, fish, hike (a lot), feed animals, go for walks, read, paint in acrylics, write or edit, study different cultures and legends, make jewelry, go to the ocean (I've lived in New Jersey now for a year), and work part-time in a psychiatric emergency room counseling families in crisis.
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Books by This Author

The Feeding Path
Price: Free! Words: 107,610. Language: English. Published: March 30, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Crime, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller
F.B.I. agent Joe Valenti and forensic psychologist Vicky O’Connell find another dead body that looks like Vicky. As women die, Vicky’s shocking past is exposed, while the serial killer closes in on her. Joe tries desperately to protect her, but Vicky wakes strapped to a chair in a hotel room. She looks into the killer’s eyes—they are the same color as her own. Sibling rivalry is such a bitch.