Saturday, 21 November 2015

On her way to owning the night - author interview with Michelle Venn

Part of parcel of having become an author is moments and opportunities such as these. Though I have the amazing privilege of speaking to amazing authors such as Karen Long (who was here last week) and Steve Alten, I also love speaking to not only my fellow BNBS colleagues but all those whom I have been met on this exciting, rollercoster of a journey so far. 

This lady is currently halfway through her BNBS campaign for her debut novel. You all know the quality of the stories they publish (some dude on there wrote a halfway decent thriller and there is a dancer with them who writes pretty awesome fantasy novels) so please take the time to check out Michelle's interview and if enthralling love stories are your thing, please show your support and pre order her novel. you won't be disappointed. 

Hi Michelle! Thank you taking the time out of your busy campaign to join me for an interview!! You have joined the growing BNBS family and it’s a pleasure to have you here. So, ‘We Owned The Night’ is your first novel. Tell us a little bit about it.

Hi David, Thanks so much for having me! I am super excited about being interviewed! I feel like a celeb! Haha. I should probably say now that I am the most indecisive person in the world! So if any question requires a decision we might have some problems! I’ve just scanned down the page and seen ‘Favourite colour!’ now that’s going to cause me some trouble! (There would be a monkey with hands over eyes emoji here!)  

So… ‘We Owned the Night’ is based on the notion that a single moment can completely change the course of your life. The main characters Millie and Dex are living completely different lives, on different sides of the globe, he has no idea she even exists! When one moment crosses their paths. The story then follows both their separate lives over the course of a summer where they coincidently end up in the same places but keep missing each other, until after months of him searching for her and trying to find out who she is, they finally meet! Which is pretty epic!
J and then there’s the end…. Which I can’t mention because it’s the best bit and I don’t want to ruin it!

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

I actually didn’t ever intend to write a book! There was certainly never a point when I thought ‘I’m going to write a book’ it just sort of happened. I had a really great dream, one of those where you wake up in the middle of it and wish you could go back to sleep and carry on where it left off. I had dreamt part of the story and really wanted to know how it ended, I tried to go back to sleep in the hope it would continue but my then baby daughter was having none of it! It stuck in my head for days and I thought to myself this is a story I would really want to read and I remembered someone once saying to me, to be a good writer you should write what you want to read, so I started writing a first chapter but as I expected (I’m a self confessed quitter!) I got bored and put it away and forgot about it for about 6 months. When I decided to look at it again I started writing and got so into the story that I couldn’t put it down and wrote it to the end. I didn’t have any intention of it ever seeing the light of day! It was just something I got stuck into, enjoyed and wanted to finish for myself.

What was your inspiration?

Since I didn’t intend to write a book there was no real inspiration for writing it but I guess the story itself is inspired by my love of music, singers, bands and going to gigs and music events. The atmosphere and the feeling of being in a crowd at a big music event made for some fun writing.

I know you started out as a graphic designer. Did it feel like a big transition?

It did actually. They feel like two very different things. As a graphic designer, my work is visual, I’ve never had to ‘promote’ myself because people can see what I can do and it speaks for itself. Design is pretty universal, it’s either good or its not whereas books, music etc are subjective, different people like different styles, have different tastes and therefore I know this isn’t something everyone will like and I’m not fully prepared for the criticism that may follow. Writing a book is alien to me. I’m not a writer; this is completely unknown (and scary) territory for me. I’ve gone from a confident professional designer to an amateur writer but in saying that I wouldn’t be pursuing this and (uncomfortably) putting myself out there if I didn’t think the story was great!

How do you create your characters? Dex and Millie…are they based on real life people you know or completely fictional?

They are completely fictional. The only character based on a real person is ‘Sophie’ who’s the receptionist at the office where Millie works.  She is based on a real person I used to know but other than that all the characters are fictional.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the story to life?

I quite enjoyed the research side of it. I think I spent more time Googling things I didn’t know than actually writing! But I really wanted it to be believable and as true to life as possible. I can relate to Millie and her life but I obviously have no idea what it would be like to live Dex’ celebrity lifestyle, so that was a challenge to gather enough info and relate enough to be able to write him. I have a couple of ‘celeb’ friends so I was lucky in that I get a bit of an insight into their private lives which made writing Dex’ story a little bit easier and there are a few band members I follow on Twitter and talk to a little bit so they got bombarded with questions too! I guess the only other challenge was forcing myself to attend a music festival so that I could accurately write it in the story, I love going to gigs but I can’t stand festivals, I hate everything about them but I went during the writing of the book so the atmosphere was fresh in my mind to write.

Was it challenging to be creating something new and original in the busy genre? It seems to be channelling the zeitgeist in regards to what readers are looking for which is a little romantic escapism ala Helen Fielding and Cecelia Ahern.

I wouldn’t say it was a challenge as such because when I was writing I didn’t ever have a reader in mind, I was only writing for myself so my only intention was to write exactly what I wanted to read. Cecelia Ahern is one of my favourite authors so if I’ve written anything remotely similar to what she does I’ll be more than happy!

Is ‘We Owned The Night’ a stand-alone story or part of a series?

Currently It’s a stand-alone story but it ends on the perfect start for a sequel. I have started a sequel but I just can’t get into it at the moment so I’m torn between continuing or writing something completely new. The problem I have is that I love my characters I’m not sure if I can tear myself away from them and start from scratch.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

Yes, the only time I can write is when I go to bed at night. My days are hectic! I have 3 daughters 5 and under so my house is always noisy and chaotic, I run my design studio from home so once they go to bed I sit down to work from 7pm-11pm, so the only time I get to write is when I go to bed but that seems to work well for me, It’s silent, I’ve done everything I have to do that day so my mind is clear of everything else and it’s the only time I can properly focus. So when I was writing I tried to write 1-2hrs every night.

Where do the your ideas come from?

Songs! Randomly. I’m a big music fan and I find my inspiration tends to come from lyrics. For example the title of the book came from a song of the same name and in the song the singer describes a girl and she was exactly how I imagined the character of ‘Millie’ to be. One line from the song is ‘You had me dim the lights, you danced just like a child, the wine spilled on your dress and all you did was smile’ from this I imagined a fun, happy, care-free kind of girl and that was what I based Millie on. The end of the book comes from the chorus of a song too but I can’t say which song because it would give the end away.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I work to an outline for sure; I’m a bit of an obsessive planner! Before I started writing I bullet pointed the whole story, then I elaborated on the points and wrote the story in a paragraph, then I split that into about 20 chapters and bulked out each one. I created a profile for every character with names, what they would look like, how they would all be related etc. (there would be another monkey with hands over eyes emoji here!) The only thing I didn’t plan was the end, it needed to be something amazing and I wasn’t sure quite what that was until I got there.

Who are your favorite authors/books?

My favourite book is ‘Thanks for the Memories’ Cecelia Ahern but I love most of her books.

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I’d really like to say someone really influential or historically important but no, I’m going with actor Justin Long – he’s my ‘weird crush’

If you could meet any of your own characters, who would it be?

I think it would be Ricco, He’s Millie’s best friend and his dad is an Italian millionaire who owns the fashion brand that Millie works for. I’d love to have him as a best friend in real life.

And do you have a favourite character in ‘We Owned The Night’?

I think again it would be Ricco, he’s just very sweet and funny.

If you were going to go out of your comfort zone, what genre would you like to try?

To be honest romance is out of my comfort zone! I do enjoy reading romance but I’m not a romantic person at all. I can’t bare anything soppy so I’m not quite sure how I managed to write a romance novel! I’m not sure about genre but I’d really love to write something that my husband would enjoy reading, he’s supportive of my campaign but he’s not overly interested in reading the book himself, it’s not really his thing! So I would love to try writing something with a more male audience in mind.

‘We Owned The Night’ is your first novel and is currently half way through its pre-order campaign with the publisher Britain’s Next Bestseller (great publishers, or so I’ve heard!!). What have been the high points of getting it onto the page and onto the road to publication so far?

It still hasn’t quite sunk in that it is on the road to publication – as I think I mentioned above I didn’t ever intend to write a book and certainly didn’t ever expect people to read it, publication didn’t even enter my mind! I finished the book about 18 months ago and did nothing with it, I came across Britain’s Next Bestseller website and send in my manuscript on a whim. I didn’t expect to hear anything back, so when I got the email saying it had been accepted it was a bit of a shock!
High point has been the amount of support I’ve had from people, it’s been great! I’m surprised by the amount of people that approach me and tell me how proud they are of me! Even people that I don’t really know that well. I was proud of the fact that I’d written a book but I didn’t expect anyone else to be proud of me…. Except maybe my mum!

And the low points?

Facing a huge fear of mine! Sharing it with the world! I feel like writing a book is a very personal thing, even fiction, as it’s from my own mind, my ideas, my thoughts, my decisions….my story, and that is like letting someone inside of my head which, as a VERY private person is really difficult for me! I like to keep my private life, private, I don’t let the outside world in very often so I feel incredibly exposed to be sharing my work even though the story is not about me, my life or anyone in it, it still feels quite personal. For the first few weeks of my campaign my first thought on waking up each morning was to just delete it all, get it all off of the internet so no one could see it, it took me till about 12 midday every day to talk myself out of it! (One last monkey with hands over eyes emoji!)

Do you have any advice for other writers who may be starting out?

I’m going to just pass on the best advice I was given ‘Write what you want to read’ and don’t quit!

What are you working on at the minute?

I’m still pondering the whole ‘sequel or something new’ thing

Do you have any special message you would like to say to your readers?

Yes! This interview has made me realize that I can’t get through life without the use of emoji’s! …and I think I talk too much!

If you like the sound of my book, please pre-order, it’s awesome I promise!
J (& I send out cake to pre-orderers!)
Oh and one last thing.. Hollywood if you want to make my book into a movie I am totally cool with that! 

And to finish off…

  1. Favourite movie? City of Angels
  2. Favourite colour? It’s actually grey! But that makes me sound super boring! So I’m going with my second fav, pink!
  3. Favourite song? Lady Antebellum ‘We Owned the Night’
  4. Favourite food? Chips!
  5.  Favourite Superhero? Batman
  6. Favourite Doctor (as in Doctor Who though you can go all House if you wish!)? Well, having never watched an episode of Dr. Who in my life I turned to Google! I was going to base my decision on looks, which seemed like a perfectly good way to choose… till I looked at the pictures! Err.. I’m going with Matt Smith based on the fact that I like his bow tie!
  7. Favourite drink? I don’t drink but I am a Pepsi Max addict, does that count?
  8.  Favourite TV show? Friends
  9. Favourite place? Bath city centre, at dusk to be specific!
  10.  Favourite word (swear or otherwise!)? Moron

     Michelle Venn is a mother of three and lives outside the city of Bath in Somerset. A graphic designer and digital artist for 9 years, 'We Owned The Night'is her first novel and is currently available for pre-order at Britain's Next Bestseller and by clicking the link here

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