Hello Michelle McGriff, how are you?
I’m doing great. Busy, but that’s a good thing.
1. Tell us, what led you to write Swerve?
I have been working on the series that this book will be a part of for years. It seems really fun at that time (1991) to show what it would be like to have spies among us. Not just any spies but those with special talents and abilities. I know since that time other great minds have come up with similar ideas for TV shows and many other writers have gone there. As you know there is nothing new under the sun, nonetheless my story is original to me and I can’t wait to see what the response will be to the new direction of storylines.
2. What genre is it?
It is action, suspense, dark comedy and a little romance. It’s got a little drama, touches on the paranormal (very slightly) and oh did I say a lot of action?
3. What is Swerve about?
Swerve is about a woman who thought she had an normal life but the sins of her parents are about to come back in the form of a horrible haunt that she cannot avoid. Haunt, not meaning ghostly but, what I mean is that often as parents we don’t stop to think what our actions will do to our children. Well Romia (using my literary license) inherits an ‘ability’ that her parents had and she doesn’t even know she has it until someone from her past (a past she didn’t know she had) brings it to her attention. It quickly becomes a matter of life and death now, to use what comes naturally to her.
4. Are any of the characters you or someone you know?
Every book I write has either a characteristic or name of someone I know. I can’t tell who it is but yes… someone I know is in this book.
5. Introduce us to your characters and what do you like most about them?
Romia: she’s beautiful and cool, smart and extremely talented. She’s fearless and when put in a situation where fear is an option she works her way around it.
Keliegh: He’s sexy and passionate. Not afraid to stand up for the woman he loves even before he realizes he loves her.
Tommy: She is a good cop and a terrific friend. Beautiful and funny she’s just someone good to have around
Jim and Lawrence: they are my returning characters. They are cops and appear in several books. They are funny and usually pretty crude but you gotta love em. They may bumble a little but they get the job done.
6. You have another book coming out also, West End Girls 2, let’s chat about that
This book is coming out under my pen name. The publisher exposed my pen name with the release of West End Girls 1 so it’s safe to say that Lena Scott is me. She is my Urban Side and her books are urban and a bit more gritty and down to the elements of ghetto living. I’m not a ‘street’ writer from a ‘living the life’ view point but more from the observation seat. I’ve done my time below the poverty line.
West End Girls is about three sisters who make all kinds of normal mistakes trying to find their way to their dreams … that of getting out of the ghetto into a better life. They make the common mistakes many girls make. They think finding a man is a solution. For them, it isn’t because their choices in the ghetto are limited and those men are also just a tad up from down and some of them not even that much. In book one, one of the sisters suffers a great loss and in book two before they can even get over the grief more drama strikes.
Tangueray is the oldest she’s a sex kitten who has learned how to use her body to get a man even though she’d rather find comfort in a dollar bill and a blunt. In book two we see just what happens to her because of her chase of the dollar.
Unique is the middle sister. She lives on welfare and has more kids than anyone young woman her age should… without a better way to support them. Her house hold is unstable and she runs from man to man looking for love and comfort, which often puts her and her children at risk. In book three we’ll see again her family is facing repercussions of her actions.
Sinclair is the baby and her life is actually in a holding pattern. She is innocent and smart yet stuck in the ghetto cocoon which could possibly damage her wings leaving her unable to fly. In all the books we watch her with nervous eyes wondering which youthful mistake will be her last.
7. What were the easiest and the hardest parts to write? Of which book....? Of Swerve it was the action scenes. I am working on being more scenic in my stories. I am a character writer but I want to have my stories be more of the type where readers can taste the scene, smell and feel it. So the fight scenes were hard for me, but they were fun too. In West End Girls, I think it was the language. I’m not a big user of profanity and so I had to really try to think back to the speech patterns of those angry folks around me, frustrated and tired of being broke all the ‘damn’ time (*wink). The easiest part of a book to write is the character’s dialog. I try to get to know my characters so well to where I know what they would say next under any circumstance.
8. Has writing Swerve given you any AHHH HAAA moments?
Most definitely… while writing it, I became convinced that a good story MUST be written. Even if it’s not popular… one day it will be so write it anyway.
9. Has a fan, ever realized a point in your book, that you failed to realize?
They do it all the time. When I wrote For Love’s Sake, a fan realized that I was not a romance writer and that my books were not romantic. I was like, wow… until then I thought I knew what romance was.
10. Has your journey been what you expected?
No, and I think I should just leave it at that *wink.
11. How many books have you written?
I’ve written many, many books and short stories and all kinds of stuff… writing is my life. It’s hard to say how many books… a hundred …. Now in print… no I don’t have that many in print yet.
12. Not calling any of your babies ugly, but which was your favorite?
Oooh I have an ugly baby… Deadly Tease… but it was a HUGE seller… people are scare to read it because it’s so dark and ugly but it’s a read and a half… but my favorite oh mann…. I guess my first one... Majestic Secret.
13. As a writer, what has been your epiphany?
That I have to write. No matter what people THINK I should be doing, I should be writing… everyday.
14. Have you ever written anything that left a bad taste in your mouth?
Most definitely. I have written scenes that turned my stomach…
15. What else do you have brewing?
I am also finishing up my academic paper. I’m writing my dissertation. It will complete my journey as a scholar practitioner. I will have PhD in organizational management
16. Who are some of your favorite authors?
Shelia Goss and others like her who write mainstream stories that are clean and family friendly but with an interesting storyline. Ed McBain. He’s passed away but his stories are rich in character development. He was my mentor (unbeknownst to himself). I have more favorite books than authors. I loved The Money Changes by Sidney Sheldon. I loved That was Then this is Now by TS Hinton. Seventeenth Summer, and Body of a Crime, Lightening, and Nothing last Forever, Let the Necessary Occur (Gayle Jackson Sloan. The perfect Shoe by Kimberly Matthews.
17. Why do you write?
I write because it’s something I know how to do. It’s what I do, like musician’s play music just because they have to. When my boy was little he said… mama I hear a song in my head and I can’t control it. I fed his muse and he’s a musician today. When I was little I told stories, my family fed that love, tolerated it and now it’s what I do… I can’t help it.
18. What makes your book stand out and entice a reader pick it up?
That’s a very subjective answer *wink. I’m not an A-lister so as far as ‘standing’ out… I don’t know. Um but for those who BUY my books and LOVE them… I’d say it’s the passion and realism that my characters bring to the storyline. Most ‘fans’ want to know what so and so is gonna do next.
19. Where do you get ideas? Where you receive motivation? I’m a people watcher. I’ll go the mall or take a walk or simply dream something that turns into a book. I do not write from my own life, I don’t think my life is fiction-book-worthy… non-fiction maybe but definitely it wouldn’t hold up to a vacation read (smile)
20. What do you do while writing? Music etc? I listen to a lot of music. It moves the story. I write a lot in my head so I guess I do a lot of walking too.
21. When you finished writing Swerve, how did you celebrate? I used to celebrate with Champagne and Kippers but I became Vegan a few years back so now I just have champagne and flat bread… with salsa… yeah baby!!!
22. Which of your books was the most difficult to write?
Deadly Tease and Colored Summer. Deadly Tease because of Content and Color Summer because it was mostly first person.
23. Which of your books has bought the most responses from readers?
24. Do you read you?
Yes I read all my books to see what the editor did so that I’m able to respond to readers when they ask me things about the book (beyond the storyline). Many readers want to know about grammar and covers and spelling and typos and such (I feel bad that they miss the story itself) but I like to know what they’re talking about if in fact there were some changes that I don’t know about in a book of mind. Sometimes I read me just because I enjoyed that particular story and like many writers, we get in such a ZONE when we write we have no idea what we wrote until it’s in print and we go… did I write that???? Hehehe.
25. Thus far what has been your greatest reward?
Seeing my book in the grocery store… and Wal-mart. Being a part of a writer’s panel where I got a chance to speak about writing with the ‘experts’ and A-listers like Mary Morrison, Valorie Wilson Westly and … It was rewarding and validated me.
26. What are a few things you’ve done to promote your work?
I have created websites and interviewed with several people, like you. I network pretty heavily online and just hope for the best.
27. Who are your mentors?
They have changed over the years but Ed McBain (virtually), Evelyn Palfrey, Maxine Thompson.
28. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
To write all the time, love the writing not the fame, not the money… remember only the writing will last.
29. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself teaching in Europe or somewhere in New England at a university
30. What do you want people to know about you?
Not much hahah. Just kidding. But I want people to know what I love writing. I love telling stories and yes it hurts when people slam my books just being mean. This isn’t a game to me; it’s my life and take it seriously. You don’t have to give me 5 stars but to give me one just because you have that power is mean—especially when I’m so available to talk to. Reach out, let’s talk because I write for the reader, not the critic, I write for those who love a story not for those who love to rip a book apart, I love people who look for good not bad because if you look for bad that’s what you’re gonna find… I write to be READ enough said.
31. What are your future plans? Any new books? Upcoming book signings? Other literary events
My future plans are like top secret mannnn. Hahaha. Just kidding again, but seriously my future plans are up in the air right now but just know I’ll be taking notes and writing it down along the way.
32.If you could have been a co-author, with any writer living or dead who would it be?
32. What has been your greatest challenge?
Pleasing my audience and finding my niche market.
33. What do you do for fun?
Dance. I love to dance. Oh and also enjoy playing games online… Farmville whoohooo! I enjoy hanging out with my grandchildren and my friends. Going to plays and shows and shopping… I’m pretty balanced in my personal life. I like doing a lot of things.
**Other than the Bible
1. One book that changed your life: It was a book called Seventeeth Summer. That book totally engrossed me as a teenager. It made me love the young adult romance. I wanted to write one after that and I did. That story was good and it was one of those books that made me say, I could write that.
Also Chances by Jacki Collins, it make me LOVE characters in a book.
2. One book that you've read more than once:
Big Bad City by Ed McBain
3. One book you'd want on a deserted island
Chances by Jacki Collins
4. One book that made you laugh:
So many book have made me ‘laugh out loud’, but I think the late Erma Bombeck’s books are really a hoot!
5. One book that made you cry:
None so far
6. One book that you wish had been written:
Chances by Jacki Collins
7. One book you loved to hate
Anything by J California Cooper. They are so dang hard to read but mannnn they are SOOO undeniably good!!!
8. One book that you are currently reading:
His Invisible Wife… I’m behind the curve on my reading but Shelia Understands.
9. One book that you've been meaning to read:
Crossing over by Jennifer Coissiere
10. One book you've been meaning to finish:
Somebody’s Sinning in my Bed by Pat G’Orge Walker
11. One guilty pleasure:
oooh a big bag of Coconut, dark chocolate chips, dried cranberries all mixed together…
12. What’s your theme song?
Well my friends says it’s I will Survive by Gloria Gaynor…. and well, I’d like to argue but I can’t.
What is your Book and Contact information?
Currently: Blood Relations by Michelle McGriff
Upcoming: Swerve by Michelle McGriff
Pen Name: West End Girls I, II, III
@mdmcgriffm – tweet
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