Today I'm pleased to introducce Michelle Pickett, author of the sci-fi romance novel series Concilium. Book Two, Concilium the Departure, was recently released, and Michelle is here to discuss the book and her journey to becoming an author. Welcome, Michelle!
When did you discover you had a “sense of fiction?”
Since a young child, I think. I've always told stories or immersed myself in other's stories. I can't remember a time that I wasn't reading. My grandma used to take me to the library nearly every weekend and we’d load ourselves with books to read throughout the week.
As far back as I can remember I would make up little stories in my head to pass time when I was bored. It wasn't until I was much older that I actually started writing them down, but they've always been bouncing around in my mind.
What was your favorite book as a child? As an adult? How did those influence you as a writer?
My favorite childhood book was Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. My favorite book as an adult is Olivia and Jai by Rebecca Ryman. Both stories touched me in a way that I couldn't stop thinking of them long after I'd finished reading them. And I find myself going back to them even now. I reread them both at least once a year.
I knew when I first read them I wanted to write—that's all I wanted to do. They made me want to entertain people and pull them into new worlds and experience adventures with characters that feel real and genuine, like I do when I read those books.
I do have to mention that although Olivia and Jai is my favorite book, I have read many good books that have stayed with me long after reading them. One in particular is Easy, by Tammara Webber. It has made my very short "all-time favorite" list.
What inspired you to write this book?
Concilium: The Departure is the sequel to my debut novel, Concilium, so most of the inspiration of the book came from the first book. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to my characters; they still had a story to tell. I'd like to say I had a great epiphany, or a dream or something extraordinary that gave me the idea for the Concilium Series, but I didn't. It started as a "what if" game from something small and snowballed into the story. I just kept asking myself: What if this happened and then what if this happened, and this, and then this…and so on. Eventually I had a sketch in my head of the story.
How would you describe your writing process? What must you always have while writing?
My writing process is erratic. I can't write on demand. I do set aside a time to write and my family tries to respect it, but that doesn't mean I'm always able to get a lot of writing done during that time. Sometimes I spend it working on my blog, editing, or writing in my journal. But creativity doesn't keep to a schedule so I might not get anything written on my work in progress. Those days are so frustrating!
So I write whenever I get an idea. If I'm not at home or near my laptop, I record my thoughts in a digital recorder I carry with me so I don't lose the thought. Then I type up the notes as soon as I'm near my laptop. I've gotten some very odd looks from people in the grocery store when I'm talking in my recorder as I shop or standing in the checkout line!
What has proven to be your most successful marketing tool?
Oh, I suck at marketing. Really, I'm the worst. I'm very shy, which is probably why I've chosen a solitary profession. Even doing a blog interview gives me the sweats! So far my marketing strategy has been blog interviews and using websites such as Goodreads to connect with readers. If anyone has any suggestions for me I'd LOVE to hear them!
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
The best advice I've received is simple but so important: Don't Stop. Keep Writing.
Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.
This particular scene is from the point of view of the male main character, Miller. We don't get to hear from him much in the two books because they're told from the female protagonist's, Leslee, point of view. So I like this excerpt because it gives us a glimpse of what was going through his mind as he left her behind…
I was stopped at the stop sign at the end of the road. The turn signal clicked over the sound of my ragged breathing. I wanted to turn the car around and drive back. It would have been so easy; I could still see her house in my rearview mirror.
I slammed both my hands against the steering wheel and yanked on it, yelling a streak of profanities. Slamming my hands over and over against the wheel, trying to appease my anger, I felt two fingers break on my left hand. It didn’t hurt nearly as much as it should’ve—not nearly as much as I’d hurt her.
With one last smack against the wheel, I jerked the car back into drive and squealed onto the main road. I sped thirty miles over the speed limit, maybe more. I don’t remember. I just knew I had to get as much space between us as I could, as fast as I could. Otherwise I was going to swing the car around and go back.
Screw the Concilium.
But I didn’t go back. I couldn’t. The Council already thought Leslee knew too much. That meant her life could only go two ways.
First, if the Council felt she couldn’t be trusted or controlled, she would be killed. They protected their privacy fiercely, and the life of one person wasn’t too high a price to keep their secrets.
The other option was to join the Council—a lifetime commitment. She’d have no possibility of a normal future, just a life lived in limbo waiting for the next hunt, the next time she’d be ordered to search and kill Imbibo, which was a death sentence in and of itself. I wasn’t letting them have any part of her. Not one single hair. Because once a person was bound to the Concilium, there was only one way out. Whether it was the Council, the Imbibo killed them, or—by some miracle—natural causes, the only way out was death.
I didn’t want that for her. She deserved better.
So, in a final act of love before I broke her heart, I made a third option and argued for the Concilium to spare her life. It took everything I had, every ounce of persuasion, to convince them she wasn’t a threat. She wouldn’t tell anyone what she knew, what she saw, what she lived through.
She didn’t know I went to the Council on her behalf. She would have argued, been angry. She’d wanted to go with me, and would have tried to convince me to take her, tell the Council she wanted to join. Selfish as I am, I might have given in. If she’d pressed the issue I might have let her throw her life away just so I could keep her with me. So instead I didn’t tell Leslee anything.
I’d never denied myself much in my despicable existence. And that lack of self-control is why I was bound to the Concilium.
But this time, with Leslee, I made myself think of someone else. It wasn’t too hard to think of her wellbeing, to put it before my own wants and desires. I guess a person’s outlook changes when they find someone they love. And I loved Leslee.
She didn’t care about the Concilium’s secrets, and she never wanted to hear the name Cruor Imbibo again. She was lucky to be alive. I wanted to keep it that way.
So I left.
Where can readers find you and your book?
I LOVE to hear from readers and other authors!
Links and Contact Information:
Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/in/michellepickett
Great excerpt, Michelle! I enjoyed learning about your journey and thank for being here today!