Author bio: Michelle Madow wrote her first novel, Remembrance, in her junior year of college. Remembrance is the first book in the Transcend Time Saga, a three part series about reincarnation and true love that Michelle successfully self-published. The series was inspired by Taylor Swift's "Love Story" music video. Michelle's upcoming YA trilogy, The Secret Diamond Sisters, about three sisters who discover they are the secret heirs to a Las Vegas billionaire casino owner, will be published by Harlequin TEEN in Spring 2014.
Michelle graduated from Rollins College in 2010, cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta. She received the Charles Hyde Pratt Award for Excellence in Creative Writing in 2010.
She lives in Boca Raton, Florida, where she is writing more novels for young adults. She loves reading, spending time with family and friends, traveling, shopping, sunshine, Disney fairy tales, Broadway musicals, and spends way too much time on Facebook and Twitter (@MichelleMadow).
INTERVIEW WITH MICHELLE MADOW:
How did you get started writing?
I’ve been a writer forever—I wrote creatively in elementary school, journaled in high school, and wrote fan fiction in my first two years of college. I finally realized writing was something I wanted to do professionally when I was a junior in college. I was taking an Intro to Creative Writing class, and when I turned in my first homework assignment (the first chapter of my first novel, Remembrance, about a girl reincarnated from 1815, England), my classmates and teacher loved it and wanted to read more. I'd never thought I could complete a novel, but I realized I would never know if I didn’t try. So I tried, and completed the first draft by the end of the school year.
Who influenced you?
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer got me back into writing, as it inspired me to give fan fiction a try. The practice I got from writing fan fiction helped me improve my craft before I delved into original fiction. In high school I was also a huge fan of the Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar, and those books definitely influenced the tone of The Secret Diamond Sisters!
Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
My favorite genre is YA fiction! I've always known I wanted to write YA, because it's what I love to read. I've always loved books involving time travel. (My first trilogy, The Transcend Time Saga, has time travel.) I don't have a favorite setting, but I think it's important that the setting becomes a character of its own. Las Vegas was so fun to work with while writing The Secret Diamond Sisters. I love how the city bursts with magic and excitement. Vegas does everything as big as possible, so being there is like entering a fantasyland. My favorite part is definitely all the different hotels. Each one is a different theme, and they all have such distinct personalities. A few of my favorite hotels are mentioned in The Secret Diamond Sisters (Paris, the Venetian, and many implications to the Wynn), so hopefully readers are transported into these magical hotels while they’re reading the book!
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
A writer I know once told me, “You have to write one million bad words before you write anything others want to read,” and that is so true. Writing is a skill, and like any other skill, it takes practice to improve. Experiment with different approaches to writing a novel so you can find what works best for you. I can’t write a book without outlining it in detail first, but some people like to let the story come to them as they write. There is no right or wrong way—only the right way for you.
Most importantly, you have to write. Know what time of day you get your best writing done, and force yourself to write during that time, even if you’re not feeling “inspired.” Writing is work, and it’s not going to be fun all the time. There will be parts you will struggle with, that will frustrate you to no end and make you want to hit your keyboard, but you need to keep your end goal in mind. Set a minimum goal of how many words you can comfortably write per day, and reach that minimum five days a week. Make sure your goal per day is attainable for you—if it’s too high, it will be frustrating and will make you want to quit. And remember that even if you’re having a rough writing day, force yourself to reach that minimum. First drafts don’t need to be perfect, since you will edit it afterward.
Once you draft and edit your first book until you can’t edit it any further, write and edit a second. Your second book should be the first in a new series and not a continuation of the first book you wrote, because this will improve your chances of one of your books getting picked up by an agent. Then do the same with a third, and so on. During this time, do your research on the publishing world and submit your books to agents. If you continue to do this, if you believe in yourself and if you want it badly enough, you are giving yourself the best chance for success. Then be prepared for rejection, and don’t let rejection stop you from pushing forward and writing your next book. Remember: the people who make it are the ones who never gave up!
Where is your favorite place to write?
My favorite place to write is in my room, reclining on my bed. I get distracted easily, so I need to make sure I have no distractions around me when I write. (It also means I don't listen to music while I write, and I wish I could listen to music, because I love it so much!) I don't like writing at a desk, because I find it uncomfortable and stifling. When I was in school I always did my homework on my bed, too!
What else would you like to tell us?
Thank you so much for having me on LitPick, and I hope you enjoy The Secret Diamond Sisters! It's been a really fun book for me to write, because the Vegas setting is so unique and enchanting, and the characters are all so different and get into all kinds of adventures and trouble. I hope you'll relate to at least one of the girls, fall in love with at least one of the guys, and be entertained by all of them!