Morning morning! It’s so nearly the weekend! Today the penultimate author on Meet the Author this week is the lovely Michele Kwasniewski. We’re talking about believing in yourself, dolphin mafia (!), her reputation as an alien, superpowers, her most recent book, Burning Bright and more…..
How many books have you written and published?
I have written and published two books so far – RISING STAR and BURNING BRIGHT. Both are books in my young adult trilogy THE RISE AND FALL OF DANI TRUEHART.
What is your favourite time to write, and why?
I love writing in the morning after I’ve gotten my family out the door for school and work. I usually take myself for a walk so I can clear my head and get in the mindset to write. After coming home and eating breakfast I have my first cup of coffee while I write. At the beginning of the day, my mind is clearer and I’m better able to focus on writing than at the end of the day. I find if I try to write when my family is at home I get distracted by finding lost items, helping with homework or household chores and my writing gets put on the backburner.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
I’d tell myself to just start writing. When I was younger, I dabbled in short stories, but the idea of writing an entire book was always so intimidating. I felt that I didn’t have enough life experience to write a book and that no one would care what I had written. I wish I hadn’t wasted so many years not writing. As I got older, failure scared me less and less. I began to realize that I’d rather write a book and have it be a total pile of crap than wonder if I would have ever been a success or a failure because I never dared to try. Now if something scares me it’s usually a sign that I need to face it. Being scared isn’t a good enough reason for me to not try. Failure passes, embarrassment fades, but believing in yourself enough to try something new or face a fear is something to really be proud of. Whether you succeed or fail is really beside the point. My grammar is still atrocious, by the way, but that’s what editors are for.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It totally depends. My first book, RISING STAR, took me seven years to write, but the sequel, BURNING BRIGHT was written in under eighteen months. A lot of the delay comes down to scheduling – if I’m not very motivated to write or there’s a plot point I’m having trouble with, I find excuses not to write like cleaning the house, errands, etc. When I am very focused, it’s hard to tear me away from the computer and my poor family often ends up eating left overs and stepping around the laundry piles in the house. When I was writing my first book, I was still grappling with idea of whether I could be a writer and actually finish a book, so I had many stops and starts along the way. I was also a new mom and had lots of excuses to set my book aside. But around the five-year mark, I decided I wanted to give it a shot and see if I could make a go of it and I treated writing like a job, showing up for five hours a day, four to five days a week. It made all the difference.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a police detective and a marine biologist. I’m not sure how I saw these careers melding together but I definitely saw myself carrying a gun, arresting criminals, driving fast while scuba diving and studying dolphins and sharks. If there turns out to be some sort of dolphin mafia that takes over the oceans, I’m really going to regret not pursing these careers.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
Before I wrote, I worked for over fifteen years in entertainment. When I finally put aside my childish dreams of being a police detective marine biologist, I decided to pursue a much more stable career in the movie industry. I started out as a production assistant which is really a glorified gopher – copying scripts, shuttling celebrities who didn’t like to drive and performing crucial tasks for my bosses like getting their cars washed and picking up their dog from the vet. But I worked my way onto film sets and then into television production, slowly picking up skills and making contacts along the way. It was a wonderful career to have when I was younger – lots of glamour and fun along with extremely long hours and hard work. I was able to travel for work, meet some amazing (and crazy) people and learn more about human nature than I ever thought possible. But as I aged I decided that for me, spending time with family was more important than producing television shows and I decided to get out of entertainment. I’m grateful to have had such a varied and wonderful career that has allowed me to become a member of the Producers Guild, appear in a blockbuster film, meet more celebrities than an ordinary person should and experience what it’s like to work in a New Jersey MacDonald’s at midnight. If you’re going to survive in the entertainment business, you need to think on your feet, be up for anything and know where to draw the line. I’m proud to say I have been able to do all three.
I also spent some quality time in my career working at Hot Dog on a Stick, stage managing an independent theatre production in Hollywood and slinging desserts in the bakery at The Cheesecake Factory. All of which, I have no doubt, prepped me for my time in Hollywood!
Describe yourself using three words only…….
Honest, optimistic, hard-working
What is your favourite genre to read and why?
My favorite genre is thriller – a little murder, a little mystery, a little gothic ghost telling or haunted history – any and all of those are the kind of thrillers I love. If an author can create a world where I am kept on the edge of my seat and kept guessing until the last page about what is happening…that is a true accomplishment. I love all things eerie, haunted, macabre and foreboding. It is a world so different from my own – I think that is what attracts me to that genre. And if an author can make an ordinary object or situation eerie or haunting, well that’s just about the best thing ever in my opinion. There seems so little that is unexplored or unexplained these days. Thrillers fill that void for me.
What is the best thing you’ve done in your life so far?
Being a mom. I never really wanted to be a parent growing up, but that changed a few years after being married when my husband and I decided we wanted to start a family. But it didn’t happen for us as easily as it does for most and we ended up spending years trying to have a baby. After many losses we were finally blessed with our son. I think because we struggled for so long to have a family, being a mother means so much to me. I wish we had more children, but rather than wasting my time focusing on what we don’t have, I focus on all the wonderful time I do get to spend with our son and try to find joy in all the little moments every day. He’s grown up so fast…he’ll be gone and out on his own before I know it. But having the opportunity to guide this soul to adulthood, being given the honor of protecting him and nurturing him; helping him discover who he is…it’s been the best thing in my life. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time and I’m honored to have been able to have been his mother. There is nothing quite so devastating as not being able to have a child and my heart goes out to the millions of people who struggle with this and who were not as lucky as my husband and I were.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
If I could have any superpower in the world, teleporting would be my pick. To be able to snap my fingers and go from here to there? It’d be amazing – I’d never be late again, I’d never have to sit in traffic and I could skip the security lines at the airport. Sign me up!
Tell us a fun fact about yourself?
There’s a producer in Hollywood who things I am an alien. An actual extra-terrestrial. Years ago, I was telling someone how I once worked on a movie in a foreign country without a work permit. When the director found out, he yelled at me and called me an outdated term used an to describe my working without permits or citzenship in a foreign country. He caused a big scene on set and it was very embarrassing.
A producer overheard me telling this story and proceeded to share her own experience of being abducted and examined by aliens which somehow turned into her thinking I was from outer space. Needless to say, she avoided me from then on as one would avoid an extra-terrestrial disguised as a human in the workplace and the rest of my co-workers thought it was hilarious and kept putting pictures of UFOs on my desk. It took me years to shake my reputation as an extra-terrestrial.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
BURNING BRIGHT is the second book in my young adult trilogy THE RISE AND FALL OF DANI TRUEHART. With the first book RISING STAR, BURNING BRIGHT chronicles the meteoric rise to fame of teen pop singer Dani Truehart as she struggles to trust the slew of adults propelling her career forward while trying not to lose herself or those she loves in the glare of the spotlight.
Here’s a summary:
Fresh off the debut of her EP, sixteen-year-old Dani Truehart is flying high on a string of number one hits. After locking down her first full-length album in record time and furiously preparing for her world tour, Dani is torn between leaving her loved ones behind and embracing her burgeoning stardom.
Dani’s celebrity explodes as her tour moves across the globe. Elated when two of Hollywood’s hottest young actors, Kayla Spencer and Trey Connors, befriend her, Dani finds herself living life in the fast lane and recording her second album as she tours. Constantly dogged by the paparazzi, Dani basks in the adoration of The TrueHart Nation, her loyal super-fans who are ready to follow her around the world and go to war with anyone who dares dis their favorite pop star, whom they’ve dubbed “The Queen of Harts.”
With her ego growing as fast has her fame and fortune, a string of platinum hits and her jealous mother desperate for a piece of her wealth, Dani navigates the glamor and perils of stardom as scandal threatens to ruin her and everyone who helped make her a star.
BURNING BRIGHT is distributed by Ingram worldwide. Support your local indie bookstore and ask them to order it for you. It is also available at Waterstones, Amazon, Dymocks, Target, Walmart, Kobo, Bookshop.org or wherever fine books are sold.
thanks so much michele for chatting with me.
Get in touch if you have any questions or comments for Michele, or drop a comment below.
Make sure to check in tomorrow for our final author….
Have a brilliant day lovelies