A long while back now, probably a year or so, while overly busy reading and living in the social media world of Twitter I was introduced to a wonderful person. Her name is Michelle Diana Lowe and she was just getting her writing career under her feet. Diana is a writer of romance, which is not what I tend to read or even browse. She knew I was an avid reader and asked if I would give her work a read. Well I couldn’t say no to at least giving it a try, and I’m very glad I did. The story is so much more than just what I think of as “fluff romance”, you know the kind filling store shelves with some “hot guy or gal” on the cover. Her story has a serious message and a serious topic that was at the heart of her work. I was really impressed with what I read and wanted to talk with her and find out what makes her tick and how does someone write this kind of book with such expertise. She was kind enough to take some time from her busy schedule promoting her book and talk with me. Here is what she had to say, I hope you and her fans enjoy and get some insight in to her world.
Michelle can you tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from, what got you started writing and at what age did you start writing?
My name is Michelle Diana Lowe. I live in London, England, and work as an administrator in a children’s centre. I’m also proud to say that I am a published author. From the age of eight, I was inspired by bestselling children’s author, Judy Blume. Devouring many of her novels including – Iggie’s House, Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret!, Tiger Eyes and Blubber, I laughed and cried and got completely sucked into her sensational world, which championed sweet, kind, warm, daring, tenacious and determined young female characters. Deep inside of me, I knew I had a writer just waiting to burst through my veins! And during the summer of 1993, aged nine, I simply picked up a pen and paper, peeled open the door of my imagination and started to write. I couldn’t put the pen down. For hours, I entered into another realm, penning story after story.
That summer, I wrote my first book, Jane and Bon’s Adventures. It was a cute children’s tale of fun and mystery, checking in at around 20,000 words in length and 150 handwritten pages. It thrilled me to think that I had written my first book at this age. But I did, and it felt amazing to have accomplished this so early on in my childhood.
Who are your favorite authors and which, if any author(s) had a significant impact on you growing up?
Zadie Smith was the first author who grabbed my attention during adolescence. Mostly, I was drawn to her characters in White Teeth, because her literary imagination incorporated a spectrum of colour, featuring diverse characters of different races, cultures and nationalities. Growing up in the UK in the early 1990s, there was a serious lack of diverse books, and the literary world was quite devoid of ethnic voices and experiences, so when Zadie Smith’s White Teeth came out in 2000, just when I turned 16, I joyously read this thick book, and loved it! Studying the novel on a deeper level at 19, in college, helped me to appreciate this magnificent piece of literature even more. Reading Zadie’s books gave me ideas, and encouraged me to start approaching publishers, whilst studying. She had a huge impact on me in my late teens and early twenties.
Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved also captured my imagination as a teenager. There was something so haunting and beautiful about Toni’s book, which enraptured my heart and inspired me to pursue a career in writing.
Did you ever receive a great piece of advice from another author and if so what was it?
One of my good author friends told me to work hard to achieve my dreams and never give up. Reaching for the stars with a determined heart, and learning to set aside the fear of rejection, is the best thing I ever learned in this business. This mindset has served me well.
As for your writing process do you devote a set amount of time each day or are you more spontaneous and write when the mood hits you?
I have no set process. Strange, but true. Sometimes I write for less than an hour. Other times, I can write for a whole day, with breaks in-between, of course. No planning or preparation takes place when I go to write. Usually, I turn on my favourite tracks, low and let the writing flow. After each session, I decide which part of the book that section will fit into. My writing process is a little outside the norm. But it works for me.
What do you really enjoy about writing and what you dislike?
I love discovering new worlds in my mind’s eye.
I dislike the harsh realities of life I see and hear, once I’ve left my writing world.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging when writing?
Editing and re-writing! Don’t get me wrong, I adore telling a story, but at the same time, I find re-visiting and revising my manuscripts rather difficult. Sticking to strict deadlines is trying enough. What really ails me though, is that I can’t always decide how best to develop a character and find it hard to change dialogue to something that is completely authentic and believable. I manage it in the end, but it’s challenging for me. During the editing process for my current novel, UnShatter Me, I struggled, at first, to follow my developmental editors recommendations. However challenging a task it was to complete, I understand that it is a necessary part of the process to improve the plot and quality of a novel. What I produced at the end, I was very pleased with.
How do you keep a good balance between writing, work, family, friends, etc?
With great difficulty, to be honest. I never have enough time. These days, trying to do a full-time job, spending time with family and friends and working towards becoming a successful writer, is a real juggling act. I’m working really hard to establish a healthy balance in my life.
What activities do you like to do when you aren’t writing, what do you do for fun?
I perform as part of a local choir, which is great; I’ve met many new people, made friends and had fun performing the songs we have learned. Singing is both enjoyable and liberating. Going to the cinema, the theatre and bowling are the other things I normally do for fun. Sometimes I like to stroll in the parkland areas near where I live, which is very relaxing. When I have time, I love watching top U.S. shows like Scandal and Desperate Maids.
I heard you were recently picked up by a publisher, can you tell me who they are and how it all came about?
Yes, this is true. In February 2015, I was signed by US publisher UrbanEdge, who are based in Georgia. I am the first UK author to be published by this American Publisher. It’s quite a story how my deal came about…
Whilst undertaking a book campaign to win a publishing deal on a platform called BNBS, I met one of my now good friends, Julia. A publishing deal did not emerge from my campaign; however, I did continue to pursue my dream of becoming a published author, thanks to my wonderful friends and family. Julia, who I met on the publishing platform, also encouraged me, urging me to keep on going and never to give up on my dream. Listening to her sound advice, and that of my support network, I tried publishers with the novel, The Glass Heart Girl. At first, this did not work, but soon, I had the idea to re-write the manuscript, and I retitled the novel, UnShatter Me.
Conducting a Google search in late November 2014, two weeks after I’d re-written and re-titled the manuscript, I came across UrbanEdge Publishing, a small traditional publisher based in Atlanta, Georgia. Something told me to give them a try. I did; and sent them a covering letter and 2 sample chapters. Within 24 hours, they responded, telling me how much they liked my book’s concept. I submitted my full manuscript within two weeks, and by February 2015, they signed me. I was delighted! Julia, my friend, also got signed by a publisher a few months before I did. A happy ending all round.
Tell me a little about your new book UnShatter Me, can you tell me what was the inspiration or where the idea came from?
UnShatter Me is my first traditionally published novel, which will be released by UrbanEdge Publishing in September 2015. This gritty, punchy, fast-paced novel with a tender centre, tells the story of Alena Pavlis and Phillip Gregson – two troubled teenagers with broken lives, from different cultures, who meet and fall in love at college. Everything is perfect at first, but quickly, tearing them apart is culture, the past, peer pressure, betrayal and jealousy. Fighting to save their fragmented relationship, whilst trying to deal with their own issues and find themselves in the process, the couple don’t have it easy. It is a painful and emotional, but necessary journey, that Alena, the protagonist makes to free herself from the clutches of the past. She overcomes many issues throughout the novel – namely childhood trauma and fears and phobias deriving from her past. Alena Pavlis is an inspirational young woman; a testament to strength, courage and determination.
Teenagers who are going through a tough time, rarely get to tell their story, so I felt compelled to give both Alena and Phillip a voice. It is also very rare to see Mature Young Adult books similar to mine in the UK, which explore ethnic experiences amongst the teenage population. Having traumatic experiences in my own childhood, I felt it necessary to give troubled youngsters a platform to tell their story and find them a path to recovery and healing.
I know you love and write in the Romance genre, is there another genre you ever thought about giving a try?
I love writing romance books but I would like to turn my hand to a thriller series. It’s something that excites and fascinates me. One day, I might actually give it a go.
Now that you have been published what would you say to aspiring writers who want to get published and may be having a hard time?
If writing is your passion, work at your craft and never give up. With hard work, dedication and perseverance, you can achieve your goals. Nothing is unreachable or unachievable, so long as you give it your best effort. Who knows, you could become a bestselling author one day.
David, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to interview me. It has been a pleasure answering your questions.
Michelle, thank you so much for taking time from your busy schedule at this time as I know you are very tied up promoting UnShatter Me. I know this will be a huge success, all the best to you and I hope you will consider stopping by my blog and talking with me again in the future.
Where can you find Michelle Diana Lowe?
Publisher: UrbanEdge Publishing – www.urbanedgepublishing.com
Official Website: www.michelledianalowe.com
You can find Michelle D Lowe on her Amazon Page