I’m excited to post my very first author interview. Ta-da!
Michele Israel Harper was kind enough to be my first victim- uh, volunteer. She’s just published a YA novel in two parts titled ‘Wisdom & Folly.’ I got a chance to throw some questions at her via email, and she was kind enough to answer them all with quite a bit of enthusiasm. Hopefully some day we’ll have a chance to meet face to face, but, in the meantime, I loved finding out a little more about this talented and creative author.
First of all, a great big HUGE congratulations on your new book 😀 How excited you must be for it to be ready to share with the world. What was the first thought that went through your head when you realized today is the day?
Michele: Oh my goodness, I can’t even describe the rush of emotions that hit me when I realized my book was live on Amazon. That people could start reading it. That is was out there. I wanted to give each person a copy and snatch them all back at the same time. “Don’t read it! No! It’s not ready!” But, it is, and I seriously need to chill. I can’t believe this is finally happening!
I don’t think you should chill at all! I think you should enjoy every freak-out moment! So from the title, it sounds like you drew inspiration from the book of Proverbs from the Old Testament. What were some other ideas that sparked Wisdom & Folly?
Michele: Proverbs 8:30-31 NKJV says, “Then I (Wisdom) was beside Him as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in his inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of men.”
That verse alone started this whole crazy adventure. Then I found this verse:
Proverbs 9:13-18 ESV “The woman Folly is loud…calling to those who pass by…but he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol (hell).”
Both verses set my author imagination on fire! I mean, what if Wisdom was a real angel? What if Folly was her sister—a fallen angel? What if they were locked in a fierce battle that spanned the ages? WHAT IF???
Then there are other verses about Wisdom dwelling with Prudence (Prov. 8:12), Wisdom building her house (Prov. 9:1), and Wisdom crying in the streets for a rebellious people to listen to her before it is too late (Prov. 1:20). All scenes that show up in one way or another in my book. J
Oooh! You’ve got a great imagination. What wonderful ideas sprang from those few verses! And I love the cover. You have a different cover for part one and part two! One’s a gorgeous blue while the other is filled with orange and gold. What’s the story behind that?
Michele: My go-to cover designer, Sara Helwe, is amazing. And she puts up with so much from me! I know exactly what I want in a cover and toss a million ideas at her. (I’m so sorry, Sara! I get so excited sometimes!) She takes my ideas, calmly asks a few questions, and voilà. Makes the most incredible cover known to man.
My original idea was a white cover featuring the two angels, with hints of blue dusting it in places. Many versions later, she sent me the blue version that later became Part One, and the sunset version that is now Part Two.
I had no idea what to do. They were both so gorgeous! I asked everyone’s opinion in the entire world—well, it felt like that, anyway—and 92 voted for the gold, and 23 for the blue. I agreed with the masses, I did. The gold is much more gripping. But there was one thing I couldn’t get over. I had originally pictured the blue, and…I’ll tell you a secret. I took the photograph for the blue clouds. I wanted to use that cover!
So I did. Wisdom & Folly quickly spiraled into a massive book, so I broke it into two parts. And I got to use both covers. Day saved!
Oh, you should definitely use your own photograph. And I’m glad the story expanded, so you could use both covers. So did you have a playlist you listened to whilst writing, or do you prefer quiet? And what about favourite snacks?
Michele: Oh no. I must write in complete and utter silence. If I could quiet the clacking of my keyboard, I totally would. I’ve tried to listen to music, but then I start singing along, then my desk becomes a drum set or an air guitar gets involved, then I’m up and dancing around my room like a monkey. It’s not pretty, I’m telling you. Nope, complete silence if I want a single, solitary, blasted word on the page.
Sigh. I can’t multi-task, so I can’t eat and type at the same time either. It. Is. Obnoxious. Especially when there’s hot chocolate involved. Drink the hot chocolate? Or write? It can’t be both. Why can’t it be both? Sob.
Ha! Multi-tasking is highly overrated. I’d rather sit down and savour a cup of coffee (or in your case, hot chocolate) than have to worry about it ending up all over my keyboard as well! Now most of us who love to write have written from a young age. I’m sure you’re no exception. But there aren’t many who make the leap from writer to author. Tell a little about that journey.
Michele: Actually, I am an exception! (Of course! I had to be the oddball, didn’t I?) I never, ever wrote when I was little, but I devoured books like no other. I loved Anne of Green Gables as a little girl (secretly. We were a Star Wars family. Don’t get me wrong, I am proudly a Star Wars/Star Trek nerd, but I gotta have my Anne fix sometimes too. Anyway. Tangent…) and I remember watching the movie and thinking it was the strangest thing in the world that Anne wanted to be a writer. Why on earth would she want to write books when she could read them? Silly Anne…
And then five years ago at a marriage conference, I sat across the table from a writer who had written six books…six books…and had never shown them to anyone but his wife. I begged, I pleaded—I offered to read them myself!—but he wouldn’t budge. They were for his eyes alone.
God used that strange situation to plant one thought in my head. I can write a book. So I did. I went home, sat down, and wrote a monstrous, 150,000 word tome That. Was. Awful. Seriously. So terrible. But it did the trick. It gave me the practice I needed, and I haven’t been able to stop writing since.
Oh, that sounds like one of my first drafts. No one will ever see it! And I can’t believe you just decided to write without it being a long-time passion. How cool is that? What about your author heroes? Which author (living or from a bygone era) would you love to sit down and have a cup of hot chocolate with, and what would you ask them?
Michele: Anne Elisabeth Stengl, RJ Larson, Christy Barritt, and Francine Rivers. I probably wouldn’t be able to ask them anything, because I’d be a crying, blubbering mess and scare them to pieces. They are my heroes. I would ask them all the questions about everything, and not be able to remember a thing they’d said. I’d be that scared. And I’d prob spill hot chocolate on myself. Not a good idea.
Lol, yeah, I think if I sat down with Francine Rivers, I’d be pretty inarticulate myself! You’ve chosen to self-publish. What made you make that decision?
Michele: Oh, this question makes me cringe, and I’m not sure why! I actually took self-publishing a step further and started my very own traditional publishing company, Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, LLC. I took courses to learn all the legal aspects, then I took design classes to make the interior simple yet stand out.
In fact, after Wisdom & Folly, I am publishing Sinking by Sarah Armstrong-Garner, an ABA mermaid tale that gripped me the first time I read it and wouldn’t let go. I have two other authors tentatively lined up, but I am taking this thing one step at a time.
I want everything to be professional and done well. It’s important to me. And if I can’t do it (such as, cover design), then I am hiring a professional who can!
It has been an overwhelming, satisfactory journey.
Lol, I totally should’ve prefaced that last question with, ‘I admire you for self-publishing…’ 😉 Sounds like you’ve really done your homework, though, and you’re determined to publish not only your own books but other authors too. That’s great. How about some advice for budding writers?
Michel: Just write. Practice makes perfect. Although I’m far from perfect, I’m so much better than I was! And the more I write, the more I improve. And send your manuscript to absolutely everything you can. Publishers, co(ntests, critiques. Don’t be afraid to put your work out there; don’t be afraid to shine. We are His light in this world, meant to be set up on a hill and draw people to Him. He loves us so and has our very best in mind. Serve Him will all of your heart! Hugs!
Great encouragement. And lastly, just for fun, if you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would you choose?
Michele: PARIS, FRANCE. And I would never, ever, ever, ever leave. Au revoir, mes amis! (I answered this before the heartbreaking events in Paris, but I stand by my answer. I love Paris, and my heart and my prayers are with those lovely people. I have every intention of living in Paris one day, and no evil can stop me. Vive la France!)
Paris is an incredible place! I wouldn’t mind living there myself! (And, yes, I agree with Michele and pray the Lord would bless and comfort all those touched by this tragedy.)
Well, thanks so much for letting us get to know you better. And Godspeed with both your new books!
And be sure to head over to Michelle’s Facebook launch party for Wisdom & Folly happening this Thursday November 19th . She’s hosting all kinds of giveaways and would love to connect with YOU!
She’s also made it super easy to see what she’s up to. You can check out her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter, visit her website: love2readlove2write, catch up on Google+, or enjoy her Pinterest boards!
Do you have any questions for Michele? Ask away in the comment section below!