Monday, 3 September 2012

Author Spotlight - Q&A with Michelle Levigne

STEPH: I don't know much about "Accidental Hearts." What's it about?

MICHELLE: Tyler Sloane, who we first met in COMMON GROUNDS as Xander's college friend and new roommate, has come to the rescue of his sister Tanya, whose marriage just imploded. He has her and her two children, Danny and Pam, come live with him.

Abby Morgan, who we first met in THE SECOND TIME AROUND, is the cousin of Dr. Daniel Morgan of Bulter-Williams University's theater department. She is helping her widowed brother, Al, raise his children, Chad and Candy.

They meet at summer camp, when, after dropping off their nieces and nephews, Tyler's Corvette breaks down and blocks traffic. Abby, who happens to be a pilot and has some mechanical skill, steps up to help. They're both interested, but with jobs to do and kids to help raise, who has time? Somehow, accidents keep throwing them together -- and when the accidents start pushing them apart, they realize they want to be together.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

MICHELLE: I can't remember how long the first draft took, because it was so long ago, but I spent about 2 months, on and off, doing the revising. Boring answer, huh?

STEPH: How much research did you have to do?

MICHELLE: Not that much. I had to look up some things like if there was an airport in Davenport, Iowa, and a little terminology for small aircraft, but the rest was taken from experience and all the things I had already established for the Tabor Heights books. For instance, where Tyler gets his hand smashed by the knucklebuster on the theater curtain ... *sigh* ... that was ME!

STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story within?

MICHELLE: I love Corvettes. What else can I say? I always give Jenifer such a challenge for my cover art, because I'm not a very visual person, but she always comes through. It's a great cover. I think the hood being propped up on a Corvette, signalling something is wrong ... that says it all.

STEPH: Abby is the heroine. What are her strengths? Weakness?

MICHELLE: She's responsible, reliable, dedicated, has a slow fuse -- but she's so used to putting herself last for the sake of her family that she feels guilty when there's something she wants and she feels resentment and frustration because it seems eternally out of her reach. Meaning a relationship with Tyler.

STEPH: What does Tyler find appealing about her?

MICHELLE: Maybe unconsciously, he likes that she doesn't seem to need rescuing, like his sister. Even though Tanya is strong -- she has to be -- she let her jerk-face husband scam her and then steal from her and her children. Tyler likes that Abby is independent and takes care of others. It helps that she's pretty, but she's not a glamour chick. And it helps a LOT that she understands the world of theater, because Morgan is her cousin. You can't believe the conflict and stress that can form in a relationship where one person doesn't understand the world that the other one lives in. (Well, maybe writers with spouses can understand -- especially the spouses/kids/parents who don't understand that when the fingers are moving across the keyboard, or you're staring into the distance, yes, you ARE working and interruptions about anything less important than blood or fire will destroy that scene you're building in your head.)

STEPH: What is the theme of the novel?

MICHELLE: Life gets in the way -- but you gotta decide what's really important to you and go for it. No matter what. No matter who.

STEPH: As a writer, where do you draw inspiration from?

MICHELLE: I HATE this question. Because honestly, ideas come from everywhere. Some stories come from dreams that stay in your head long after you wake up. Other stories come from watching a TV show or movie or reading a book that you hate because you KNOW it should have gone a different direction. Or the old standby: "I can write better than THAT!" You get images in your head, or someone asks a question, or you have a favorite story you'd like to see from a different angle. A friend dares you to retell an old story. Or, in the case of some of my SF, I made a world so "real" and secondary characters so solid that they developed lives and histories of their own, and I knew I had to tell those stories, too.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

MICHELLE: I started with a Palm Tungsten, then ordered one of the first Nooks. When my Palm died (temporarily!), I needed another MP3 player, so I got an iPod Touch, which lets me load e-reader software, so I have Nook, Kindle and iBooks on my iPod and my iPad. I have too many gizmos and too much luggage! But I would be lost without my iPad -- I can read in the line at stores or riding in a car (NOT driving), check my email without having to go through the fuss of logging in online, keep notes and lists and iTunes University is proving to be incredible for research purposes.

STEPH: Fun question: Are you a candle fan? What's your favorite candle to burn? Any autumn scents you'd like to gush about?

MICHELLE: I like scented candles, but don't really take the time to burn them. I have a Bath & Body Works 3-wick candle sitting on my desk, half-burned, that I got last Christmas. It's called Winter Night. I really like it, but as you can guess, I haven't burned it in a long time. And I keep it sealed to preserve the scent. Maybe when the cold weather comes back and I don't have my windows open for fresh air anymore, I'll start burning the candle.

But you know, I'm hoping to get my own place soon, so maybe I'll start getting candles and burn them regularly ... READERS? Any suggestions from you?

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