Welcome to Author Wednesday and an interview with author and editor Michelle Josette. She stops by today to tell us about her new novel After Henry.
Hello, Michelle. I always love learning about the moment when my fellow authors first discover there voices. When did you first discover your voice as a writer?
I didn’t find “my” voice; I found Emma’s. Emma Jenkins is the protagonist of After Henry. One reviewer described her as “smart, artistic, vulnerable, searching for answers,” but to me she’s just like a close friend. It took a while for me to find her and figure her out, but once I did (through character interviews, “test” scenes and lots of contemplation) her voice came through quite organically.
That’s a great thing. I remember the first time it was suggested I interview a character. I didn’t understand it, until I actually conducted the interview. Tell us about your writing rituals.
Coffee, coffee, and more coffee! And did I mention I love—LOVE—to drink coffee while I’m writing? It has a kind of Pavlovian effect on me. When the coffee is poured, so may the words be poured. (This might, embarrassingly, show up a tad too often when the protagonist of After Henry—my beloved Emma Jenkins—sits down to have yet another cup of coffee.)
That’s funny, but I can absolutely relate. What is your vision of yourself as a writer?
I want to write stories that both inspire and entertain, that evoke emotions and allow the readers to view life and people with, perhaps, a new perspective. Sue Monk Kidd has done this successfully and is the author who has most influenced my own writing. Her prose sings, and her stories truly strike a chord. I may not churn out a novel a year, and I may not ever gain mainstream popularity, but I will always have a work-in-progress that I aim to share someday, and as an editor, I hope to always be involved in stories that are both poignant and entertaining—stories like the ones I’d like to create.
What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?
Rich Marcello, author of The Color of Home and The Big Wide Calm, described his experience of reading my novel as a fellow writer. He said: “Her prose is filled with poetic elements that will draw readers in. As a writer myself, I often stopped to re-read and admire a beautiful passage or two, and say, ‘I wish I wrote that.’” I have thought the same thing while reading his novels!
That is perfect. Is the book traditionally or self-published? Why did you choose one over the other?
I chose to self-publish After Henry for one simple reason: self-publishing is FUN! I loved having the freedom to choose my editor, cover designer, and marketing coach. I had full creative control over all aspects of the publishing process—not just the content of the novel itself, but the way it’s priced and marketed, too. The story and the cover are exactly as I envisioned them, and I feel proud of the final product. I must also admit that patience is not a virtue I have been blessed with, so the speed at which I could get the story “out there” through self-publishing was a major bonus!
I absolutely agree. I’ve gone both routes and self-publishing fits perfectly with my personality. I know you also edit books. How did you decide to become an editor?
In my opinion, every good editor has three qualities:
- A passion for storytelling (that includes reading AND writing)
- Knowledge of language (I’m mostly talking about punctuation, grammar, and syntax)
- A genuine desire to help others
I’ve told you a little about the first one—my passion for storytelling, which I’ve learned, involves both writing and editing. As far as my knowledge of language, that has developed over years of both formal education and practice. When I’m not editing, I’m learning how to do it better—mostly through conferences/webinars, reading, and “testing” myself via online proofreading tests and working closely with fellow editors. Before starting as a freelancer, I worked as a Word Processing Specialist for an oil and gas company in Dallas for two years. My primary task was to proofread all documents, reports and correspondence before anything was transmitted to a client. It was my actual job to be a perfectionist!
The third one came about a bit differently. While I consider myself as having a “natural” desire to help others, I didn’t realize I could have such an enormous impact on other writers until I became a member of peer critiquing groups. For years, I was proofreading for my friends and suggesting big story-level changes for their writing, and they started taking my advice. When some of those friends actually published their books—successfully—I knew I’d found my calling. I stopped critiquing for “free” and became a freelancer in August 2012. The best part is: some of those friends are now coming back to me, on their second or third or fourth books, and hiring me to provide the same service I had offered for free the first time. So, the next obvious step for me was to finish my work-in-progress and publish my own book. The whole experience has been exciting, invigorating, and at times a bit scary and challenging. But now I’m hooked—and I have no plans to stop!
About Michelle: After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2009 with a degree in communications, Michelle Josette moved to Dallas, Texas where she is now living her dream as a freelance writer and editor. After Henry is her first novel. To learn more about Michelle, visit her website at www.mjbookeditor.com.
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