Today I’m honored to be interviewing Michelle Muto, the author of Don’t Fear the Reaper and Lost Souls, both perfect for Halloween and All Hallows Read.
Michelle, you published 2 books, which seem to be doing very well, and are making great progress with your next book. I’m sure this was not an overnight process. How long have you been writing and what did it take to get to where you are now?
I’ve been writing on and off since I was a kid. With the indie revolution, I didn’t see any reason not to publish two books I’d already written (The Book of Lost Souls and Don’t Fear the Reaper). Writing takes a lot of time and determination. It takes putting my butt in a chair and ignoring the internet at times.
So many people are choosing to go the indie publishing route instead of traditional publishing. What are your thoughts about this and based on your experience, what advantages or disadvantages do you see with indie publishing?
It was bound to happen. Look at film and music. Both of my current books garnered a lot of praise from agents, and The Book of Lost Souls was with a super agency for a year. When another more well established author decided to write a teen witch story, I was back to square one. Without a day job, I had no reason not to try it. I’m glad I did. I think indie a great platform for writers who are dedicated to the craft. Advantage? You choose your own editor and cover art. You don’t share your earnings with publishers and agents who take the lion’s share. Downside? So many people assume that indie means poor quality and for so many of us, that’s not true. We pay professional cover artists, editors, proofreaders, often the same ones who work for or used to work for large publishers.
Your books have a wonderful sense of macabre about them, while also containing a great amount of humor. Can you please talk about what horror means to you and how easy/difficult is it to integrate horror and humor together.
Horror isn’t easy to write, but then, neither is sex or humor. I like interspersing humor with horror because I think it gives the reader a chance to breathe. Horror can be a lot of things to a lot of people.While to some, horror might usually mean something supernatural, like ghosts or demons, but it can also be an unusually bad situation (loss of a loved one, natural disaster, psychos). For some, a good horror scene is based on a phobia such as spiders or clowns. Horror is the reaction to the human emotion of fear. It’s effectively writing for the emotion that elicits the reaction. You can’t write a good horror scene without it. That said, even the most well-written horror scene won’t resonate or elicit the same reaction in everyone. The same rule applies to humor.
You’re not only a writer, you’re also a photographer, an awesome geek, a wife, and dog lover. How have these multiple roles affected you as a writer?
Every writer brings a piece of themselves and their life experiences to their books. Photography has always allowed me to write richer descriptions. The geek wants me to pay attention to research and details. My dogs and husband are my support system.
Can you please talk about your next book?
It’s an upper YA novel set in a very haunted house in Savannah. Four older teens take part in an experiment in the paranormal and things soon get out of control. It’s like The Shining meets The Haunting of Hill House.
Can you please describe your writing process? How do you start out, plan, overcome barriers, stay on track, etc.
All good questions. I’m still working on ways to better my workflow. I do outline, but revisit that outline every five chapters to see what needs to change – the story, or the rest of the outline. Everything else I’m still figuring out.
Looking back at what you have learned and accomplished so far, what advice can you give to novice writers who aspire to become published authors like you. If you looked back, what do you wish you knew before or what messages do you wish to share about starting out a writing career?
First and foremost, whichever route you choose (trad or indie), write and read. Keep writing. Keep reading. Keep striving to improve your writing skills. Always respect other writers. It doesn’t matter which route you take as that’s a personal choice. There’s no one right way or wrong way, as long as you remain professional. Looking back? Find some way to write faster. I would have not worried so much about promotion and reviews and just focused on writing the next book. There’s only so many hours in a day, and when it comes down to it, writers need to write if they want to make it their day job.
Thank you so much, Michelle, and best of luck with your new book. I’m sure it will be a great success. If you guys would like to follow Michelle Muto on Twitter, her Twitter name is @MichWritesBooks and she always has great advice for writers and news about her books.
I wish everyone a wonderfully scary All Hallows Read.