Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I interview author Michele Shriver. Michele stays busy as a lawyer during the day, but in her spare times she’s managed to write several novels. After Ten, Sixth South, and Aggravated Circumstances fall into the category of women’s fiction. On Book Review Friday, I’ll be reviewing After Ten.
Michele, I am so pleased to have you on Author Wednesday today. I’m always curious about an author’s voice. When did you first discover your voice as a writer?
Actually, that is something I am still working on and trying to improve all the time. Last year, I had an opportunity to attend a writer’s conference and one of the classes I went to was on finding and strengthening your voice. It was an amazing class, and it left me with a keen awareness that my voice was not yet as strong as it could be. I’ve taken a lot of steps in the past year to strengthen it, and I think I’ve had some success, but there’s still work to do. I think writers should always be actively trying to improve at their craft.
I couldn’t agree more with that philosophy. Describe your current projects.
I’ve got two that I am working on. The first is about a woman in a long-term marriage who wants to start over, so she files for divorce. She finds herself embroiled in a custody battle and then ordered into family counseling, forcing her on a journey of self-discovery. The second is a contemporary romance which is actually a sequel of sorts to my first book and will finally give one of the characters her happily ever after.
Your books fall into the category of women’s fiction. Are you planning to continue writing in the same genre?
Yes, I definitely plan to continue writing women’s fiction. It’s where my true passion lies. Lately, though, I’ve had an idea come to me for a book that might fall in the New Adult genre, so that is something I may be looking at in the future as well.
What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?
That they truly felt as if they knew my characters and considered them friends. The most important thing to me is crafting believable characters that readers like and root for, because if people like the characters, they will want to read to the end to see what happens to them. If readers are able to connect with my characters, then I feel like I have done my job.
What’s your one sentence pitch for your newest release Aggravated Circumstances?
A family can be torn apart in an instant. Putting it back together is a harder task.
How did you choose the title? Has it been the title from the very beginning?
The book started out with a working title of The Line, which could have been either a reference to drug use or a reference to the line between right and wrong or ethical and unethical that sometimes is blurred. I was about halfway through the book, when the court case began to take center-stage with the pivotal question whether Devin would get another chance or not, when I began to think about maybe changing the title. Aggravated Circumstances is a legal term for one of the exceptions to the State’s obligation to provide reasonable efforts to reunify a family. With an aggravated finding, reasonable efforts are waived, effectively making it impossible for a parent to regain custody of their child. I asked a few of my critique partners, and their opinions weighed in favor of changing the title, so I did.
What is the message conveyed in Aggravated Circumstances?
Overall, I think it is a message of hope and second chances and that people can change. Sometimes they just need someone to believe in them.
One of my favorite fantasies is to host a dinner party with several of my favorite authors.If you could invite two other authors over to your house for dinner, who would you choose and why.
I’d choose two famous authors who are always at the top of bestseller lists. Jodi Picoult, who writes upmarket women’s fiction and who I consider one of my inspirations. When I grow up, I wish I could be one-tenth the writer she is. It’s a dream that one day my books might be on a shelf next to hers. The second would be James Rollins, who writes in a completely different genre, but whom I had the chance to meet at a conference, and simply found him to be a wonderful person, down to earth, and very inspirational. And funny as heck!
Michele, after reading your first novel, I feel safe in saying you stand a good chance of having one of your books (or all of them) on the same shelf as Ms. Picoult. Thank you for stopping by today. It’s been my pleasure to host you.
About Michele: Michele Shriver lives in the Midwest U.S. where she maintains her law practice, in addition to pursuing a writing career. In her free time, she enjoys Zumba fitness, bicycling, and the NFL and NHL.
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