Please welcome Michelle Hauck
to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge
is published in digital format on November 17th by Harper Voyager Impulse. On December 22nd, the Mass Market Paperback of Grudging
will be published. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Michelle a Happy Digital Publication Day!
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?
Michelle: Hi! Thanks for having me on The Qwillery! I started writing about five years ago after a semi-serious illness. Once that health problem healed, it’s like my life and imagination came flooding back that had been missing for years. All of a sudden I had all these ideas. My husband said why not write them down (not that he imagined it would ever get this far), and I spent the next years learning how to do that. I think for writers you are always learning more.
TQ: Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?
Michelle: If you’re talking never write anything down beforehand and never making any outline, then I’m a complete pantser. I do, however, have very basic plot structures in my head, sort of like a midway point direction I’m aiming to reach with the story. I almost never have any ending in mind and rarely much besides a basic concept. The rest all evolves as I go along. I’m often surprised by characters who were supposed to be tiny instead taking on a life of their own and getting their own perspective. It’s also neat when a small detail you included on a whim can become a plot point down the road.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Michelle: I write very slowly. I often hear of writers churning out a book in a few months and feel some envy. I wish I could be speedy and finish a book faster. It takes the better part of a year, probably because I conceptualize as I go. Though, I have to say what I end up with is usually very close to the finished draft. Taking so long does mean that it’s not a rough draft, but a fairly polished one, which saves a lot on time in the editing process.
TQ: You've written YA Epic Fantasy. What are the differences for you in writing adult versus YA Epic Fantasy?
Michelle: Tone and voice are a big part of the difference. Also, the audience you have in mind as you write. Adult characters have a lot less to do with the story in a YA. That was my goal with Grudging. Unfortunately, pantser. The adult characters in Grudging took on a life of their own and my YA ending up selling to an adult publisher in Harper Voyager. So there’s a lot for both age categories in Grudging. You have the main characters being teens, but several perspectives from adult characters with adult voices.
TQ: Describe Grudging in 140 characters or less.
Michelle: I’m a big fan of twitter. Lemme see?
Enormous army. Desperate city. Father sends his sons for help from traditional enemy. Will the witches' voice magic save or destroy? #honor
TQ: Tell us something about Grudging that is not found in the book description.
Michelle: There’s so much about this book that isn’t in the description. Despite the dark tone and themes, the characters have a real playful side. They kept breaking out into jokes and banter, and I couldn’t seem to stop them. I guess that’s how you know you’re really feeling the characters—when they do as they please.
In many ways the story is about a family and honor. Julian, the father, is the mayor. He sends his sons, Salvador and Ramiro, to find a witch to save the city. Most of the scenes involve at least one member of this family.
In this society I created, becoming a “man” is important and it takes the form of earning your beard. So the way they wear their beards is a way to express personality, much like today with tattoos. Watch for that and it will tell you more about the characters.
And there is a whole side plot about loyalty involving some pretty special horses.
TQ: What inspired you to write Grudging? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?
Michelle: The truth is I had finished a project and needed a new idea and found it in a song: “Come Along” by Vicci Martinez and Cee-Lo Green. Most of the main plot ideas come from lines in that song. Friends, foes, God only knows, led to the title, Grudging, and the main theme of uncertainty between traditional enemies. Trespassing, this is their land is the arrival of the Northern army. Truthfully, that’s the first time I ever used a song for inspiration.
Fantasy has always been my obsession. It’s the only thing I will ever write, I think. I love the freedom to explore so much because any situation you can dream up, you can do in fantasy. This genre just gives you so much room to explore and create and build not only characters, but whole worlds and societies. And you don’t have to have just one. Grudging has multiple societies and explores the way that those clash.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Grudging?
Michelle: The main society in Grudging is based on Spain. I did a lot of online research on medieval Spain: what they ate, what their houses might look like, the sort of names they might use. I also studied much more about early saints in the Catholic Church and based most of the details on real saints. I looked at pictures of armor.
But I also visited the desert in Tucson to get the setting and see the real plants and animals that live in that environment. There’s nothing like feeling the weather firsthand. ☺ I went to a Mission-built cathedral in Arizona and used that for my description of the church in Grudging. So some parts of the world in Grudging is built on reality, but most of it came from my imagination. It’s great you can do that in a fantasy world.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Michelle: They were all easy at times and incredibly stubborn at others. I think it depended on the day. But my easiest and hardest characters to write turned out to be secondary characters. There’s a priest called Father Telo who started as a detail and grew to an important role and his own point of view—totally unplanned. He could be hard to write because I had to research his words more as he was a priest. How would a priest react to this? What sort of platitudes would he say? That’s pretty far out of my comfort zone.
Ramiro’s mother Beatriz was very fun to write and probably the easiest, because she just said things. She blurted out truths. They say there’s a little of the author in every character and that’s so true. Beatriz is a little flaky, yet so full of heart. I think readers will be drawn to her perhaps most.
TQ: Which question about Grudging do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
Michelle: You mean besides where can I buy it and how soon will it be a major motion picture? Hmm. Tough one.
Part of the story takes place in the desert and the other part in a swamp. A character has a close encounter with quicksand. Did you ever experience quicksand for yourself?
Why no. I can’t say as I did that research first hand. That came from watching the process on tv and staying well away.
TQ: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Grudging.
Michelle: How about two quotes from the mothers of the main characters.
Beatriz the hero’s mother says this: “But what does one pack to venture into a swamp and meet with a witch?” I think that’s a question we all should ask when we get up in the morning.
On the other side of the equation, we should hear from the mother of a witch. “Everything in nature is given for a purpose. The wolf doesn’t kill for sport. The blackbird doesn’t fly for show. We don’t use magic except to defend.” Keep that in mind when you suddenly find you have the ability to use magic.
TQ: What's next?
Michelle: What’s next for a few years will be writing the rest of the Birth of Saints trilogy. The second is tentatively titled Faithful. Of course things get considerably worse for the characters. The description of what makes an enemy will get skewed and a little fuzzy. There might be some romance. Out of the chaos, a saint will be born to save them all. Or perhaps destroy, because pantser. ☺
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Michelle: Thank you for inviting me! That was a lot of fun answering questions and being able to ramble on about my favorite subject—
myself writing. Grudging
Birth of Saints 1
Harper Voyager Impulse, November 17, 2015
eBook, 432 pages
Mass Market Paperback, December 22, 2015
A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.
The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.
On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.
The Women of the Song.
But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out.
A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.
Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.
She is a co-host of the yearly the writer contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, New Agent, PitchSlam, and Sun versus Snow. Her Birth of Saints Series from Harper Voyager starts with GRUDGING
on November 17, 2015. Her epic fantasy, KINDAR’S CURE
, was published by Divertir Publishing. Her short story, Frost and Fog
, was published by The Elephant's Bookshelf Press in their anthology, Summer's Double Edge
. Elephant’s Bookshelf Press also published another of her short stories, The Unfinished Task
, in their winter anthology, Winter’s Regret
. She’s represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary.
Blog: Michelle4Laughs: It’s in the Details
Facebook: Michelle Hauck, Author
Goodreads: Kindar’s Cure