Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Noble Captive ~ Michelle Styles

Today I'm very excited to welcome Harlequin Mills and Boon Historical author Michelle Styles to my blog. Michelle and I met back in 2004 at the RNA conference in the UK, shortly before Michelle sold The Gladiator's Honour. Michelle writes about sexy Romans and Vikings and recently added some gorgeous Victorians!

Michelle, thanks for popping over today. Can you tell us a little about your latest releases?

Right now, because of scheduling I have a number of books out or just to be out. In the US, A Noble Captive (Roman set pirate adventure story with a Sibyl’s assistant for a heroine) was out in April and An Impulsive Debutante (early Victorian about a woman who is forced into an elopement and discovers that life is not all that it seems) is out in June and is currently out on pre-publication at eharlequin. In the UK, Compromising Miss Milton (early Victorian where a viscount’s past may destroy the one woman can redeem him) is out. Read an excerpt here

In Australia and New Zealand I have a 3 in 1 out – The Viking’s Captive Princess, Compromising Miss Milton and A question of Impropriety.

How did the idea for the plots come about?

For A Noble Captive, I was interested in pirates and knew the story of Julius Ceasar being captured by pirates. Also the hero of Gladiator’s Honour had been captured and this was how he ended up as a gladiator, so I thought what if... Eric Banna provided the hero insirpation.

For An Impulsive Debutante, my daughter loved the minor character Lottie Charlton from A Christmas Wedding Wager and begged for her story. I had long wanted to do a take on King Thrushbeard where a spoilt princess learns what is important in life and this seemed like an ideal opportunity. I used Mads Mickelson as hero inspiration.

With Compromising Miss Milton, my senior editor’s eyes lit up when I mentioned a governess heroine and then I had this image of a man floating in the water. I also was interested in India. So all these things came into play. And I also knew Jason Isaacs was exactly the right sort of hero inspiration.

Michelle, I love your sale story to Harlequin as an example of never giving up despite your chosen historical period being a so-called "hard-sell". Please share your road to publication and call story with us today!

Oh gosh. I had always wanted to write but kept putting it off until some day. That some day came in 2002 when I ended up in hospital with gall stones. I thought – it is now or never. It took me a little while though and I ended up writing 7 manuscripts before I sold my first piece, a reworking of my first manuscript, to D C Thompson. About a year after that, Linda Fildew of Harlequin Mills & Boon phoned to say that they wanted to buy The Gladiator’s Honour and my career with Harlequin was born. Gladiator’s Honour was the first Roman set historical that they had published and many people in the industry told me that I was wasting my time to even try, that there just wasn’t the market for it! It is why every time I see another Roman set historical or ancient historical on the market, I want to punch the air and say – see, see I was right.

You were right! What's not to love about Romans and Vikings?! And because I'm that kind of girl, here's the cover for The Viking's Captive Princess. Gorgeous!

Do you write every day? Do you give yourself daily/weekly goals?

I try to write every day. And I have fiddle around with my goals. I have started chunking and it seems to work. Basically I am now writing in 750 word chunks and trying to do 4 chunks per day. Between chunks I take breaks.

Panster or plotter?

A bit of both. Without a first draft, there is not a lot you can do because things never come out exactly as I plan but I do try to have a rough outline. A lot of the hard work comes in the editing and revising. It is all about taking a rough idea and making it into something wonderful.

What keeps yo
u motivated when the writing gets tough?

The determination to see the story through. I want to give the reader the best possible story that I am capable of giving them. Having deadline also helps. I also write down every day how many words I am up to, seeing the word total go up is important.

Is there any advice or light bulb moment you'd like to share about
getting/being published?

Desire, determination, dedication and discipline plus a lot of perseverance. The learning of the craft of writing help you understand the why behind certain comments.

Do you have critique partners (CPs)? If so can you tell us how you met up
and your pro

Donna Alward who writes for Harlequin Romance is my main critique partner. The whole critique process has evolved from when we first started and is always a work in progress! We met on eharlquin and the first time I looked at any of her stuff, I made her cry. But then she attributes my support etc to helping her get published. I know she certainly has helped me stay published. It is good to know that I have someone to bounce ideas off, or to lean on. We started off as cp but have become fast friends.


Kaye Manro said...

Hi Michelle! I just love your books. (I also knew Michelle at HQN's Strugling Writers group right before she contracted her first book.) Congrats on so many releases!

Kaye Manro said...

Oh, I forgot to tell you
my SFR Forbidden Love released today-- a week early!

Amanda Ashby said...

Michelle and Christina - what a great interview!!!! And yay for hot Roman heroes! Michelle, I really love your idea of working in 750 word chunks. I'm definitely going to try that!!!!!!!

Helen Hardt said...

Great to meet you, Michelle! Your work sounds intriguing. And I love the idea of "chunking." I've never heard of that before. I think I might have to try it :).

Christina Phillips said...

I'd not come across the chunking method before either - I love the sound of it, too!

Hey, Kaye!! Huge congrats!!

Shelley Munro said...

Hi Michelle. Writing chunks sounds like a great idea. Congrats on your releases. :)

Michelle Styles said...

Thank you all for having me here.

Yes, chunking really works. I found I can concentrate for 750 words. It is not so little that I have to go on the internet or so much that I get discouraged and have to go on the internet. 750 word x 4 = 3,000. It can be done. And it is all about getting the next chunk done. Once I have the chunk, I stop and do something else. I then go back and do the next chunkk

And since I did the interview, my editors have come back to me. (We did lunch on Monday) Once I do a few tweaks, my Roman Undone should be acceptable. Apparently it is v sparkly.

Christina Phillips said...

I love the thought of a sparkly Roman Undone! Congrats, Michelle!

Cari Quinn said...

Great interview, ladies. Like everyone else, I think the chunking method sounds so useful. I've seen Michelle on the eharlequin boards and really enjoy hearing her thoughts. Thanks for having her here, Christina! And congrats on your sparkly Roman Undone, Michelle!