Well, today I have the true privilege to present to you an interview with author Michelle Diane Lowe.
Michelle is the very definition of an inspirational author, one who works tirelessly to not only bring us entertaining and thought-provking stories, but also who is breaking down the boundaries which sadly still exist in the world today in regards to understanding and tolerance.
So, without further ado and with great pleasure, I shall simply say Hi Michelle and thank you for being the next of my fellow authors to join me for an interview and for taking the time out to chat on my blog.
So, ‘The Glass Heart Girl’… a powerful novel about Alena Pavlis, a young woman trying to move on with her life from a traumatic past. How do you go about researching something so emotive and what were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the characters to life?
Writing The Glass Heart Girl itself wasn't too challenging; however, what I experienced after I published the book as a self-published author, tested my metal and made me question my whole writing career. After some serious thought, I decided to retire the project in August 2014, two months following its publication. The reason for this - bullying - at the hands of a group of unscrupulous cyberbullies, who caused me a lot of upset and knocked my confidence to an all-time low. Releasing books as a self-published author was great, don't get me wrong, and I met many wonderful and supportive authors, editors, promoters, professionals and readers. Nonetheless, as an independent author, I had no protection against vicious attacks on my character and writing.
Luckily, in September 2014, God moved my life in a beautiful and new direction. Out of the blue, I got an e-mail from Murielle confirming that I had been shortlisted for the BNBS platform. Appearing on the BNBS platform completely changed my feelings about writing and built back my confidence and self-esteem. In fact, being selected stopped me from quitting, because I was going to give up writing altogether right before that point. Then, at the beginning of November 2014, I had the inspiration to totally revise The Glass Heart Girl and I retitled it, UnShatter Me.
In late November 2014, I submitted a cover letter and two sample chapters to UrbanEdge Publishing via email. To my surprise and joy, I got signed by UrbanEdge Publishing in February 2015, which was so amazing! Now, as a traditionally published author, I have much more security and confidence in myself. My publisher is very dedicated, supportive, and have helped me produce a novel we are all very happy with.
During the research, development and planning stages of UnShatter Me, I spoke to psychology graduates and did hours of online research, studying national and international websites. Mainly, my research centred around mental illness and psychological disorders and how traumatic experiences such as gender violence, can affect someone's mental health and well being. Not only did I look at the issues and trauma and daily challenges that gender violence survivors can face, but also, I focused on solutions for these survivors - looking at what can change their lives in a positive way, and help them to heal and recover.
What was your inspiration?
There are so many young people who do not have a voice. These are usually young people who are isolated or alienated from society because of - e.g. Mental health issues, level of education, socio-economics, race or gender. I am giving these young people the platform and voice they deserve.
As a child, I also had some pretty traumatic experiences, so I felt it important to tell a young woman's untold story and tackle real social issues that affect young people today.
Furthermore, in my job as an Administrator, I signpost and refer vulnerable clients to services like Family Support and counselling, so it encouraged me to write the story of Alena Pavlis, a young woman on the difficult road to recovery from a traumatic past.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I have always been writing since the age of nine. It was just time to write another story.
Which part was the hardest part to write?
Writing the sections where Alena suffered frightening flashbacks which affected her day-to-day life, really took its toll on me. You have to put everything into those scenes and sometimes I grew very tearful whilst writing them.
On a different note, do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I write when I can. It's funny; I have no structure at all. I usually turn my radio on low and simply write. After I've written, I then decide what part of the novel the piece will slot into. It's a peculiar system, but it works for me.
Where do your ideas come from?
The world around me. An intriguing conversation, a smell, a taste, the sound of a shrilly bird. Anything can trigger an idea for the next book.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
For a start, I managed to secure a publisher will all the odds stacked against me. So on that alone, I think I'm doing well for myself.
Who are your favorite authors/books?
My favourite four authors. Their writing is beautiful and breathtaking.
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Dr. Martin Luther King. We owe him a lot. It would be nice for him to know how much he is still a celebrated international figure, even now, in 2015.
If you could meet any of your own characters, who would it be?
I would like to meet Phillip Gregson, my lead male. He is gorgeous!
If you were going to go out of your comfort zone, what genre would you like to try?
A thriller or mystery. It is good to stretch yourself as an author.
And ‘Unshatter Me’…can you tell us anything about it without spoliers?
I can tell you that the romance between the lead characters, nineteen year olds Alena Pavlis and Phillip Gregson, is deep, powerful and moving. To tell you anymore, revealing spoilers, would get me into trouble. To know more, you will have to read the book.
When can we expect to see it?
UnShatter Me is out in September 2015. Visit my website: www.michelledianalowe.com for further information.
Do you have any advice for other writers who may be starting out?
Never give up, even when you are told it is your only option. You need to follow your heart and your dream and always believe in yourself.
Do you have any special message you would like to say to your readers?
Thank you for supporting me and reading my books. I am truly grateful.
Thank you Michelle for taking the time out of what I know is a busy schedule to speak to me.