Today, I’m pleased to introduce Michelle Davidson Argyle, author of Monarch. She has also written a novella, currently available on Amazon, called Cinders.
T.Hello, what is the name of your book? Genre?
M. Monarch is a spy thriller, but is a bit offbeat as it is told from three points-of-view and is very character driven.
T.What is it about?
M. Nick’s life as a CIA spy should be fulfilling, but it has only given him unhappiness—a wife who committed suicide, and two daughters who resent everything he has become. Now, stuck in the Amazon on the last mission of his career, he must track down Matheus Ferreira, a drug lord and terrorist the U.S. has tried to bring down for years. If he succeeds, he’ll have the chance to start his life over again.
Just when Nick is on the brink of catching Ferreira, he’s framed for a murder that turns his world upside down. His only chance of survival lies in West Virginia where Lilian Love, a woman from his past, owns the secluded Monarch Inn. He’s safe, but not for long…
T. Where will it be available?
M. Monarch will be available in bookstores and online retailers on September 15, 2011.
T. What inspired you to write this book?
M. I wrote Monarch when I decided that my current writing project needed a break. I had never before tried National Novel Writing Month, and since I needed something intense to get my mind off my current book, I decided to dive in. I had always wanted to write a spy thriller based on three short stories I had written in the past.
T. How did you choose the title?
M. It has always seemed obvious what I should title the book. The title Monarch implies many things on symbolic levels, which is how I like to layer my stories as well. Since the book centers around the emergence of realizations within the characters as well as actual monarch butterflies, the title seemed like a natural fit.
T. Who is your favorite character in your novel, and why?
M. I think Catarina is my favorite character. She is one of the villains, but she is also one of the characters with the most interesting character arc. I love the choices she makes at the end of the book, and while the book is not told from her point of view, I believe looking at the story from her eyes gives it a unique spin.
T. Who is the ideal reader for your book?
M. I honestly have no idea. Adults, probably, but other than that I’d say anyone who likes action and romance and drama told from a unique perspective. Monarch is an exciting, page-turning spy thriller that can also feel like a family drama. I think it appeals to a wide audience.
T. Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?
M. I learned so much that it’s impossible to get into it here in one answer. Mainly,Monarch taught me how to be a better writer. I learned some intricacies of writing I had never seen before. I believe Monarch is the book that taught me the discipline of precise storytelling and only including what is necessary instead of anything that strikes my fancy.
T. Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
M. I am working on two novels at the moment – The Breakaway, a thriller about a young woman who is kidnapped, and also Scales, the last novella for my omnibus titled Bonded.It will be released by Rhemalda Publishing in 2012. The Breakaway is currently without representation or a contract. That will change in the future, but I can’t say more than that. I’m very excited about both projects!
T. Tell us something about yourself. (Where are you from, what is your background, how long have you been writing and anything else we might find interesting about you.)
M. I am a mother, artist, and writer living in the Rocky Mountains with my sword-wielding husband and energetic daughter who will turn five in September. My husband is currently going to school for theater.
I’ve been writing since I was ten years old. I’ve always wanted to write books, and I’m making that dream become a reality where I actually get paid! I graduated from Utah Valley University with a Bachelor’s Degree in English/Creative Writing in 2002. I’m also an editor/publisher of “The Literary Lab Presents…” series of anthologies, an annual non-profit publication that donates all proceeds to charity. To submit to “The Literary Lab Presents…” anthology, visit: http://www.theliterarylabpresents.com/
Oh, and I like peanut butter and tomato sandwiches.
T. What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Favorite book? Why?
M. I read everything from literary classics to science fiction. I’ve recently been enjoying young adult literature. My favorite authors are F. Scott Fizgerald, Annie Dillard, Dostoevsky, Tom Clancy, John Grisham, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Truman Capote.
T. How do you approach a story? Do you start with outlines or something else? Planner or pantster?
M. I’m a planner and a pantster. That might sound crazy, but that’s the only way I can write. I have to know what’s going to happen, but I don’t. What happens is I will create a very loose outline. I’ll know where the story is heading, but how I get from certain points to other certain points is usually a mystery. Some of my best writing comes from things I never saw coming in the outline. This writing is where my true creativity seems to lie.
T. Is writing your main creative outlet, or do you have other talents/creative pursuits?
T. What is the best advice you can give other writers about writing?
M. Read. A lot. Write. A lot.
There is honestly nothing else you can do that will impact you more than reading and writing. Classes and books and conferences can fill in some gaps, but nothing replaces those two things and doing them with every ounce of passion you have.
T. What genres do you write in? Why?
M. I write contemporary, literary, and fantasy fiction. So far. This may change. I might take up epic fantasy. I might take up straight science-fiction or young adult. I write stories, not genres.
T. What is the best advice you could give other writers about publishing?
M. Everybody’s publishing journey is different. There is no right way to do it. Some writers need an agent. Some don’t. Some writers are cut out for self-publishing. Some need a big publisher. Some need a small publisher. Some need lots of readers. Some are fine with only a few. There is no one right way. Also, I think it’s important to stress that once a writer has published one way, this does not mean they are stuck on that path. Like most things in life, publishing is a fluid journey. Enjoy every step of the way, even that long path leading up to your debut novel.