Michael is a Mississippi boy but has been fortunate to live in Switzerland and France and other stops around the US. He has been back in Mississippi for 7 years now and is glad to be back on the home turf. Michael lives in a 135 year old home it took him three years to renovate and he is glad it’s over.
Sierra: When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
Michael: I started trying to write when I was about 29, after some years of reading that led me to try it myself. My novella, The Hands of Strangers, came out in the spring of 2011 but it was done around 2009. I started Rivers in January of 2010.
Sierra: Tell us a little bit about Rivers.
Michael: Rivers came along because I wanted to write a big hurricane story, but didn’t like the idea of using a real event for a novel. So I kept thinking about it and decided instead of writing a hurricane novel, write THE hurricane novel. Make it as big and bad and devastating and possible, and then see what happens. It was natural for me to use the Mississippi Gulf Coast as a landscape.
Sierra: How did you choose the genre you write in?
Michael: I don’t think much about genre or things like that. I just try to write the best story I can and it falls wherever it falls.
Sierra: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write?
Michael: That’s a tough. I really like the opening chapters because I got to explore this kind of wet, apocalyptic land and see it for myself the first time. But I also liked writing the scenes where Cohen and the group are fighting their way north and dealing with crazy people, wild animals, and Mother Nature.
Sierra: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Michael: It’s pretty much imagination though I think it’s natural for things you know or characteristics you’ve found in other people creep into your work. But I try not to use my own life or experiences or relationships as fuel for fiction. Imagining is more fun.
Sierra: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as
Michael: My biggest influences have been Hemingway and Mississippi writer Larry Brown. I read Hemingway seriously for the first time when I was living abroad and I’d been to the bullfights in Madrid, sat in the cafes in Paris, so I felt a connection to both his stories and the places. I also found that you can write directly and economically and make a strong impact on a reader. Later, when I read Larry Brown, I got the sense of what a contemporary Mississippi writer was doing and it gave me the notion that I had things of my own to explore.
Sierra: Do you ever experience writers block?
Michael: I’m not sure. I have tough days like everyone else but they usually don’t last long if I stay at it.
Sierra: Is there an author that you would really like to meet?
Michael: Not one in particular but I think it would have been very cool to be in Paris in the 20s and go to Sylvia Beach’s bookstore and mill around with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce, and maybe Picasso would’ve walked in, too.
Sierra: Will you have a new book coming out soon? If so, can you tell us about it?
Michael: Rivers just released in September of 2013. Hopefully we’ll see an ebook release of The Hands of Strangers in a few months and in the meantime I’ve begun a new novel that I won’t say much about so as not to jinx it.
Sierra: If you could go back and do it all over again, is there any aspect of your first novel or getting
it published that you would change?
Michael: No, not really. When I think about all my frustrations that came along the way, I realize that I was growing and maturing as a writer during that time and that’s what makes my work what it is.
Sierra: Do you have any advise to give to aspiring writers?
Michael: Read a lot. Write a lot. Listen to feedback from editors and others who read your work.
Sierra: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Michael: Rivers has had a great response and I’ve met so many cool people the past few months while I’ve been out and about with Rivers. I’m grateful for all the support and look forward to making more new friends along the book trail in 2014.