Hi Michelle, glad to have you on my blog. I hear you have a new book titled Leatherback out and it's free today. What's Leatherback about?
Well, it's about a woman who sees a leatherback turtle nest on the coast of Wales and while experts don't believe her, a story of survival, travel, betrayal, nature and family unfold.
Why wouldn't experts believe a turtle would make a nest in Wales?
Leatherback turtles nest in the Caribbean, Africa, the US - warmer climates - in real life... this book toys with the idea that the climates are changing so a weird thing might happen like a turtle nesting in the most unlikely place, like Wales!
Oh, so the appearance of these turtles is unusual then. What does Margarethe (the name of the lead character) remember she is preparing the beach for the hatching of the turtles?
Yeah, Margarethe reminisces her childhood, growing up and her life in London before her holiday in Wales... it all comes to a head...
Life on the beach isn't so simple either: a lot of characters enter the place, she's not totally alone.
The beach is a beautiful place, especially in the early morning hours. How important was imagery in the book?
I think the imagery that formed when writing it ended up giving it its meaning.
So about you then. How did you get into fiction writing?
I am pretty much the typical story of enjoying Creative Writing when I was 8. I remember writing a heap of unusual stories about my favourite toy being locked out in the cold or what living in a charity bin would be like. It was a sad day when I got too "old" to write stories for school but a lot of fantastic books to read were introduced: Salinger, Fitzgerald, Plath, Heller.. the list go on and the love of reading stays for life.
But in the name of love for writing, I was first published for a magazine (in Perth Australia where I'm from) at 19, then became a published music reviewer/interviewer for years after that, then moved to London and brought my music writing to the rags and net over here, became a science writer, and then started writing fiction again - like originally planned...
Ah, an Aussie. Nice. So how did Leatherback come about?
I was a fulltime science writer at the time and I was looking for a field of science I would enjoy, and after toying with the idea of cell biology, technology I just surrendered to the popular field of marine biology... and being West Australian it was easy to think of nature playing a central role.
Yes, so much variation in animals and plants there. Do you have any advice for writers just starting out?
Sure, it is a long slog writing a full novel so if you are to invest this time make sure you are writing about something you would enjoy and want to tend to over the years that it will demand. Yes, write about what you know but if that fails write about something you really would love to know.
You speak about having Multiple Sclerosis in the introduction to the book, how has that been a hindrance?
Yeah, I was diagnosed with MS in 2006 and I was working for an engineering charity (writing science news) in London at the time. In those early days MS wasn't so much of a hindrance to writing, although I had MS fatigue to contend with, but it really gave me the kick to write that novel as soon as possible in case the MS progressed (as it does)... so I wrote Leatherback in 2008 before my MS progressed and am selling it now that I'm too ill to work.
Any plans to write in the future anyway?
I do have plans and although the MS fatigue is heavier than ever before I am using the glimmers of a productive state to get some writing down. The glimmers might only be an hour a day, only a couple of times a week but if I can get a story down, I will be doing so... just slowly...
Slowly, but surely. I admire your determination. So, in the meantime Leatherback is out and self-published?
Yep, I'm so proud of it. I am so thankful I have Leatherback out there and the feedback I'm getting is so positive.
Amazon is promoting Leatherback for free between September 8 to September 12, 2012. Pick up your copy today! Please leave a comment for Michelle if you downloaded it. She'd love to hear your feedback.
Twitter (book): @leatherback_ebk
Twitter (author): @MMmmwa