Hi, we've got a great interview today with Michelle Levigne who is the author of the "Tabor Heights" series published by Desert Breeze. Just a little bit about Michelle:
Michelle has been a book addict since picking up 'The Cat in the Hat'.
She started writing her own stories in junior high, when TV shows didn't turn out like she thought they should. Her first rejection letter came the summer after high school graduation, her first published story was in connection with fan fiction, and her first sale was in the Writers of the Future anthology.
With a BA in theater/English and an MA in Communications, focused on film and writing, she has worked for a local newspaper, then in advertising, and now works as a freelance editor. She is published in multiple sub-genres of romance, as well as SF and fantasy. Awards include being a finalist in the Dreamrealms and EPPIE competitions, with an EPPIE win in 2006.
Books by Michelle Levigne at Desert Breeze Publishing - All books are part of the Tabor Heights Inspirational Romance series.
#1 Does your muse have a name?
Honestly, I never really thought about it. If I do have a muse, it's an ensemble cast, not a single one.
#2 Do you cast your characters?
Sometimes. Like a lot of my writing friends, I use actors, especially the characters they've played in specific movies. For instance, in a SF story published quite a while ago, I cast Sean Connery as the space pirate/robber prince character. That helped me nail down how the character walked and talked. I called up images of him as Ramirez in the "Highlander" movies, and Bond (of course). A rogue, a charmer, but deadly. In my Tabor Heights stories, Nick Mancuso is the basis for Daniel Morgan in "The Second Time Around," and Vic, the reformed mobster/owner of Gold Tone Gym who appears in "Common Grounds." (Warning, Gail: Vic is the hero of a future romance, "The Teddy Bear Dancer," which was based on a script I wrote for the short-lived USA Network TV series "Matrix," starring Mancuso. Too much information?
STEPH: You can cast Sean Connery as any of your characters I'll definately show up! hehe.
#3 I don't know much about your "Tabor Heights" series. Tell me more about it.
I wrote a handful of stand-alone books and then realized that "Hmmm, if I borrow this character and have her as a best friend in this story, then make reference to his problems here, and borrow the geography from this story and this character's past and ..." and suddenly I had a town! I think the first story I wrote was "Behind the Scenes," which is scheduled to come out in late 2010. Then I wrote "The Family Way," which is my next release, in February. Then "Firesong." By that time, I was creating the same characters and geography, just using different names. When I skewed things around and slapped them down into a local college town here in Northeast Ohio, and the surrounding suburbs, that's when it all came together. I just changed names to protect the innocent ... whoever they might be.
STEPH: This sounds really cool, Michelle. In a way, that's how I got hooked on Jillian Hunter's Boscastle series. She writes a story, then continues to mention the character in the next book in perfect context to what's happened before. I like stuff like this because you can keep up and feel like you're part of the town, too!
All the stories deal with people who are members of Tabor Christian Church. That's the common denominator, what brings most of the characters into contact with each other -- along with the local university. I have a big map on my wall that shows the street names and the locations of buildings and businesses, and I have a ring binder with printouts of calendars and all the events from the books that are either roughed or written or outlined noted, so I don't have conflicting events, and I don't have someone make a right onto a street that, according to another story, doesn't intersect the first street at all. For instance, Max is supposed to be working at the newspaper in the morning in one book, but she's Downtown Cleveland in another book, or even out of town in another. Or she gets from Homespun Theater to the Mission in five minutes of walking, when I've already established that the two buildings are five blocks away from each other. And it's fun making references to other people's stories in different books, giving hints to things that have happened or will happen.
Warning to the readers: The Tabor Heights stories are NOT being released in chronological order. That's part of why I include dates with most scenes -- to help you (and me) keep events straight!
#4 What inspired you to tackle an anthology?
I had four short stories written for Tabor Heights, and Gail was willing to put them together in one book.
#5 Do you have a favorite character from Tabor Heights?
Ask a mother if she has a favorite among her children! I have different characters that are my "special ones" for different reasons, depending on what I was going through when I wrote them. I have a special place in my heart for Max Randolph and Bekka Sanderson because they're writers, struggling with different issues, for instance.
STEPH: I know, it's not a fair question, is it?
#6 Do you have a favorite book you've written? Why?
See the answer above. It's hard to choose after this many books. I know the one I'm currently working on is "the" book, because it's my focus at that time. There's "Heir of Faxinor," which was my very first book ever contracted and published. There's "The Dreamer's Loom," which was a book of my heart and took 10 years from writing to publication. Besides the fact that I LOVE "The Odyssey" and Penelope's side of the story always fascinated me. And dozens of other reasons why other books are special to me.
#7 Congrats on your EPPIE win. For those who aren't familiar, what is the EPPIE and what did you win for.
The EPPIE (now changed to the EPIC Award) is the yearly award for excellence in electronic books given by EPIC, the Electronically Published Internet Connection -- www.epicauthors.com
I've had 8 books as finalists so far. My EPPIE win was for "Lorien," the 2nd book in my Faxinor Chronicles, a fantasy series. It got the EPPIE in 2006 for Inspirational.
STEPH: Thanks for the info, Michelle. Have fun in Tabor Heights!
My web site is: www.Mlevigne.com