CAFE: A gathering place. A place of refreshment.

Thirsty for the latest releases in Christian fiction? Ready for a peek into the world of publishing and writing conferences? Hungry for spiritual and real-life nourishment? Pull up a seat; you're in the right place, and I'm so glad you've stopped by.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

WELCOME to Debut Novelist, Michelle Sutton

Today I have a treat for you--an interview with the famous "chocolate lady" from ACFW conferences, now a published novelist.

Welcome, Michelle! And congratulations on your debut young adult book It’s Not About Me. I know you are very excited and ready to tell the world about your novel. So pull up a chair here at the Café and let’s talk. Where did you get the idea for It’s Not About Me?

I had written two prior books (Women’s fiction) and the prior story had a pastor in it who visited a woman in the hospital. I thought it would be fun to write a story about his two sons. In my mind I saw Annie as a pretty girl, yet somewhat innocent and naïve, but very concerned about being good and what people thought of her. So her inner conflict is wanting to please her boyfriend, Tony, who is the pastor’s son, but wanting to not compromise her morals at the same time. So I make him pushy. Come to find out he has a problem with porn which changed the dynamics of their relationship, but she doesn’t know this. Anyway, she has a horrific thing happen to her (no, she doesn’t get raped) and Tony bails on her. His older brother Dan steps in and comforts her in his brother’s absence, and the drama begins.

Can you give us a teaser about the book?

How’s this for a short one.

Two brothers…One choice.

Short, but nice. How long have you been writing?

I started writing in August 2003.

Tell us your reaction when you found out your book had sold.

I kind of knew it ahead of time so I wasn’t surprised. It wasn’t until we started designing covers for the book that it really hit me. I was ecstatic that people were going to read my story. People I didn’t know.

A wonderful and scary feeling, I'm sure. What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a seat-of-the-pants writer?

I just sit in front of my computer and out comes the story. I’m not kidding. It’s like I’m watching a movie in my head and typing what they say and do as I watch it progress.

How do you develop characters? Charts? Interviews? Or do you just start writing?

I always know them very well before I start any book. I mull them over in my mind until they become real enough to carry the story.

Tell us about your writing space.

I used to write at the computer in our bedroom but we moved it out. Now that I primarily use my laptop, I do pretty much everything from the living room couch.

You have an outside job, manage an impressive website and Ning group, edit an online magazine, and serve as the ACFW Volunteer Coordinator. How do you find time to write and balance your life?

Who says I’m balanced? Hehehe. Here is my motto…To everything there is a season, to every time a purpose under heaven. I just go with the flow. That way I never freak out.

Not too many writers are balanced, but you have a great motto.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Read Stein on Writing. It literally transformed my thinking and helped me find my unique writer’s voice.

The worst?

Contradictory opinions from critiquers. That used to make me crazy.

I don't think you're alone with that. So tell me, what works for you? Coffee? Tea? Sparkling mineral water? Or . . .

Sparkling mineral water. If they are out of Perrier, I’ll go to Starbucks.

I wish you the very best with your debut book. What other book projects are you working on? Any exciting news you’d like to share?

I am just editing existing stuff. I continually get requests from publishers (yeah, my agent is great) but then they always decide I’m too edgy. I’m trying to tone it down. Really.

You, edgy? Come on--LOL! It’s your turn. Any closing thoughts?

Nope. Thanks for having me on your blog.

Thank you so much for being my guest here at the café. You’re welcome to stop by anytime.

Closing Notes: Michelle's book releases in September and is available for pre-order here. You may also visit Michelle on her blog where the first chapter is available.


Michelle Sutton said...

Thanks Carla, for having me on your site. I like your conversational style of interviewing.

D.C. Stewart said...

Great interview, and congratulations on the new book!


Gina Conroy said...

I can't wait to read this one!

Trish Perry said...

Thanks for the interview, Carla and Michelle. I just don't get the big deal with "edginess." I've read Michelle's book. The weaknesses of the characters make them believable, not shocking. I hope your follow-up books get out there, Michelle.

Myra Johnson said...

Great interview, Carla & Michelle! Congratulations on the book and wishing you much success!

carla stewart said...

Thanks, Michelle, for coming to the cafe so we can learn more about you and your book. Along with DC and Myra, I offer my congratulations.
Trish, you've made me curious with your comment about edgy. I love flawed characters who take me to new places, edgy or not. So, I'm with Gina - can't wait to read the book.

Victoria Gaines said...

Great interview, Carla & Michelle, and I pray much success for you both.

Carla, I LUV the Cafe header!


cathikin said...

Good interview. I adore Michelle, and I can't wait to read her book. Even more, I'm anxious to put a couple of copies in the hands of some teens