Friday, August 31, 2012

A few words with author Michelle Muckley

Today I'm sitting down with the lovely Michelle Muckley. Her first novel, The Loss of Deference was released just last month, so let's get things started. 

Griffin: Tell us a little about The Loss of Deference. 
Michelle: The Loss of Deference is a novel that focuses on the lives of two male best friends. They are inseparable since childhood, after a horrible accident bound them together. As adults, and many years later they find themselves living very difficult but also very different lives.  The novel is set in a poor society deep in recession, where people's previously held beliefs and moral code are really being challenged. William, our main protagonist thinks he knows everything about his best friend, but when he makes a terrible discovery, it challenges not only their relationship but the very basis on which their lives are built. What drew me to writing this novel was the chance to explore how far they might go against their own beliefs in order to keep their own lives on track, and how that’s fits into the limits of friendship and relationships.

Griffin: What are you working on next?
Michelle: My WIP is currently just under the 40000 word mark. I am inspired by events that I hear about in the news, or read on line. I don’t think I am one of those writers who can write two books at once.  Once I have an idea I get completely consumed by it. Starting on another story would end up taking away from the original, I think. I am hoping that this will be released around November time, give or take a bit with editing.  It’s a mystery, and follows a family dealing with life after a tragedy. Ultimately I feel that it's a journey of discovery and relationships.  I like stories about normal people in extraordinary circumstances, learning how to live. That’s what I like to read, and so that's what I like to write.

Griffin: Describe your journey as a writer.
Michelle: A long one! Even as a child I loved writing, stories here and there and an endless stream of imaginary characters. My brothers were all older than me, so being the only girl I would construct whole imaginary worlds to live in. Even as I was applying for University to study something sensible like science, I was still daydreaming about being a writer, and would still be scribbling down ideas on scraps of paper that would have me as the next Stephen King.  When I should have been loaning out books about biochemistry and pharmacology, the back seat of my old fiat was stacked with books about the theatre and writers skills.  Eventually, I had a bit of a revelation that if I wanted to be a writer I actually had to start writing something with some substance.

That’s not to say suddenly I had the whole thing sussed though. There were periods when I didn’t write at all, then period when I didn’t do anything else and took leave from my sensible job in order to do it. Then there were periods when all I seemed to do was collect rejection letters.  But I always figured that was part of the course. Pretty traditional writer’s journey I think!

Griffin: Do you have a writing schedule and if so what is it?
Michelle: I do now! I made the decision to leave the UK about eighteen months ago which personally was a great idea but scientific career wise not so much. I do work still seeing patients in the afternoon, but in the mornings I usually have three to four hours to myself when I am able to write, so it’s a blessing in disguise. In all honestly, I think if I was still doing my old on-call rotation and working fifteen hour shifts in the hospital I wouldn’t have managed to publish The Loss of Deference yet, or be 40,000 words into the WIP. See, Mediterranean life really is healthier!

Griffin: How much planning, outlining and research goes into each of your books?
Michelle: Probably not enough if I am honest. I usually start writing after the idea has been floating around for a month or two. By this point I will know the main characters and therefore will just get into the writing. I usually only have an idea of beginning, middle, and the end. The rest of it I learn as I go along, pantsing my way through it.

Griffin: How do you deal with writer's block?
Michelle: Well up until I started book two last month I had never had it. I think before I was able to write so sporadically, that all my thoughts and ideas would be there stored up, so by the time it came to writing I just had to get them all out. Now however, because I can write everyday, some days just feel tough. The first proper block hit me last week and my solution was coffee and a croissant. This didn’t help much, but I threw the idea out on the and got some great answers back and the advice of the other writers really helped. It’s obviously something that gets people thinking as the thread is still going. I ended up putting up the ideas they gave me on my blog because they were so varied.

Griffin: Any thoughts on the current state of the publishing industry?
Michelle: My thoughts probably don’t tally with many people, but I actually think it’s a lot more open than it used to be if we look at it as a whole in its current form.Traditionally I accept it is still very hard to get an agent and/or publisher for paperback releases, but even if you have one there is still no guarantee that your books will sell. At least now the world of publishing electronically gives more people a chance to try on their own.  I don’t have an agent, or a publisher, but I have a book that is selling. Without the world of e publishing that may not have been possible.

Griffin: What authors inspire you?
Michelle: I think I have to go back to being a child to answer that one. I remember the whole collection of Roald Dahl books sitting on my shelf, being read time and time again and for the first time seeing how magical the world of story telling could be. Second to that I have to say one of the masters.  The first ‘grown-up’ book I read was The Shining by Steven King when I was about ten years old…..that’s when the dream was born.

Griffin: What's the best thing about being a writer?
Michelle: Without doubt the finished product. To be able to see what you have produced and have somebody tell you that they enjoyed your story. The idea that somebody sits down with your book and gets into that world you created is a magical for me as an author as it is when I do it as a reader.

Griffin: What's the worst thing about being a writer?
Michelle: Hand cramps and glasses. And you can add into that a likely lower hourly wage than when I was sixteen. But I intend for that to change.

Griffin: If you weren't doing this interview right now, what would you be doing?
Michelle: Probably sailing past the 40,000 word mark! But then again this is Cyprus and it is 5 pm, so probably more likely to be sat near the beach with a Frappe.

Thanks so much for stopping by! Any last words?
Thanks for having me, great to talk to you. Good luck with Dark Passage

Thanks! And for anyone who hasn't already, go ahead and grab yourselves a copy of Michelle's book. Links are at the top and bottom of the page.

"Michelle was born and raised in a small historical town in the heart of England, but is now living in Cyprus and learning as much greek as possible. She spent many years working in the NHS, doing on call hours that no amount of european laws can protect you against, and is now enjoying the more social and stress free life of the Mediterranean. This has enabled her to (finally) get her first novel, The Loss of Deference published on the Kindle in June 2012, and be over 60,000 words into book two (watch this space!). When she is not writing furiously about the darker side of life, you will find her hiking in the mountains, drinking frappe at the beach, or talking to herself in the kitchen in the style of an American celebrity chef."

Where to find her:

Twitter: @michellemuckley


  1. Great to be appearing here Griffin, really enjoyed doing the interview with you!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. How's the new novel going?