This week, we have an interview with the prolific Michelle L. De La Garza, author of The Lost Chronicles Books 1 and 2. She also writes under the pen name, April A. Luna, where she has written Kensington Cove, The Sarah De Luz Files (book 2 & 3 in progress), Book of Light & Shadows.
Michelle took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions regarding her writing process, about her writing life, and her work including some upcoming books!
Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I am a wife and mother of three living in San Antonio, Texas. On most days, I may be found upstairs in my office heating up the keys of my laptop (or rubbing the letters off the keys from use). For downtime, I enjoy sewing, gardening, reading, hiking, walking the dogs, and jogging.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? How long have you been writing?
In my teens, I wanted to be a poet and spent many hours writing (it was a way of expressing myself—I’m extremely introverted). However, as I grew older, life happened and my days were full of raising children and supporting a family. But even back then, the writing bug had a hold, and I spent countless hours making up stories for and with my children to pass the time. So in short, yes, I’ve always wanted to be a writer but never had the confidence to push forward.
We know you write Paranormal romance. Do you now, or have you ever written any other genres? If so, which? What makes PNR different than other genres?
I do write in other genres: science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, poetry, scripts, plays, and psychological thrillers. I don’t see PNR any different than other genres when writing because world building is still part of the process. However, I enjoy the creative liberties one may take in PNR because one is only limited by his/her imagination.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? What kind of research, if any, do you do for your books?
Hands down, I’m a plotter (to the core of my being). When writing, I create bios of my characters, flowcharts, tables/spreadsheets, and even have content up on my chalkboards (no kidding). What kind of research do I do, well, I do the kind of research that has me looking up unusual keywords on the Internet. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to view my search history. And I’m pretty sure, I’m on a few watch lists because one can only search keywords like bombs, AKA 47s, Stem Cells, Cloning, Unisex, Beretta, army tanks, torture devices, BDSM, drugs to sedate or kill and White Sands, New Mexico so many times before being flagged—or so I’ve been told.
Therefore, in a nutshell, I spend countless hours researching. For instance, for The Tudor Dockets, I interviewed a research contact, who is vision-impaired to broaden my understanding. Plus, I have worn a mask (that blocks out all light) on numerous occasions to help me write realistically from the perspective of a vision-impaired (legally blind) protagonist’s point of view.
From start to finish, how long does it take you to write a book? How many rounds of revisions to you go through before the story hits the shelves?
When I actively write, without breaks, I can finish a full-length novel (85k – 95k words) in about four weeks (give or take), and a 12k – 25k word novella in two or three days. However, writing the novel/novella is the easy part, it’s the countless hours of editing and proofing that eat up time. But I must say, over the months/years, I’ve learned the benefit of allowing a body of work to sit for several days before performing a final read. This ensures, I view the content with fresh eyes. Otherwise, I will miss content because my brain auto-corrects without telling my hands what to do. And for perspective, I read a manuscript on the upward of 70 to 100 times, at least.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Do you have any writing rituals or habits that others might find a little odd?
Writing rituals . . . I tend to follow some of the same processes when mapping out the arc outline of a new project, which is where bios, charts, graphs, spreadsheets, song themes, and research trips come into play. As far as quirks, when actively writing, I must have my black tea and creamer (all day long) and I tend to jog a lot. So my family and friends know when I’m actively writing because during that time, I am physically fit and always jogging. For me, jogging gives me that quiet place to go where I work out scenes and plot out the finer details of what I will write. However, if you ask my husband and kids, they will tell you, I have no concept of time when I write. They often coax me away from my laptop with sweet bread (not kidding—just ask my son, Joshua).
What’s your favorite genre/sub-genre to read? What are you reading now?
I don’t have any one favorite genre/sub-genre to read. For the most part, I tend to like it all. What attracts me is the world building and character development. I want to be taken into a world (familiar or alien) and feel as if I can see it, feel it, smell it, hear it, and touch it. I want to read with all senses. Currently, I’m reading Parasite by Mira Grant; however, it has been a slow process because I have a lot of writing deadlines that cut into my reading time these days.
Tell us more about your current series, The Sarah De Luz Files. Is each story a stand-alone book, or is this a serial where we will follow the same characters throughout?
In The Sarah De Luz Files, each book follows the same character, Sarah De Luz and what she encounters along the path of her awakening blood. Now, don’t get me wrong here, she’s not a vampire; she doesn’t drink blood or howl at the moon; she’s part of an ancient branch of homo-sapiens Born and raised in the human world, Sarah finds she must forge a path through resistance to ensure the evolution of change, which will either bridge all homo-sapiens or start an all-out war for control.
And now for the silly… if you had to choose one paranormal creature to be, which would you choose? Why?
If I could be a paranormal creature of my choosing, it would a true skinwalker like Sadie Reed from my Kensington Cove PNR series. The ability to shift into not only animals, but to take on the human form of others would be a unique gift. One that I’m sure would require a strong moral compass and wisdom.
Could you tell us a little about what you have in the works that readers can look forward to? Is there another book in the making?
Actually, I have several projects in the making for 2016 and 2017, such as:
Kensington Cove: Full Moon Rising (six novellas)
The Sarah De Luz Files
When Darkness Falls (Book 2)
Under the Light of the Moon (Book 3)
The Soul Mate Tree: Seeking Mercy
The Tudor Dockets:
Jack Be Nibble
The Lost Chronicles
The Lost Chronicles of the 6th World
The Lost Chronicles of the 7th World
Can you share a short excerpt of your newest release?
Sure! This is from my newest release Book of Light & Shadows:
THE OFFICE is dark like his mood. It’s as black as the deep depths of an unknown abyss that conceals the known unknowns of the world—his world. But Aden doesn’t care because there’re things he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt. He knows every square inch of the confines of this room, his place, by memory. The lines and grooves in walls, the pixel-shaped holes littering the ceiling; he knows them as well as he knows the lines on the back of his hands. But what he doesn’t know is why Sophia left.
He walks to the filing cabinet in the far corner of the room then clicks on a small LED lamp. A soft glow washes through the office. Movement makes his ears twitch. His inner gargouille picks up a familiar scent—a known scent. The palatable smell is sweet, intoxicating.
Aden pivots around, slowly on the balls of his feet and scans the room. His eyes zero in on the source of the irresistible fragrance that has invaded his senses. “Sophia. What are you doing in here?”
Even as he asks the question, he knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a partial fragment of the answer that’s waiting on the tip of her tongue. But that’s not to say, he knows all the unknowns. No. All the unspoken truths now wait for him along with the things he doesn’t know. But there’s also the unknown thoughts tucked deep in Sophia’s heart. The ones she doesn’t know she knows—but he does. He knows what exactly the unknown knowns are because they’ve plagued him for eternity.
“I um . . . was waiting for you.” Her eyes flash a hit of anger that matches the scent swirling around her.
His knowing eyes linger on the partially opened drawer. “Do you often rummage through a person’s desk and belongings when waiting for them?”
“No.” Sophia chews on the inside of her lower lip. “I was looking for something.” She swallows hard, levels her chin then holds his gaze.
“I can see that.” He closes the distance between them in just a few short strides. “Care to tell me what?”
Aden slides his tailored suit jacket off then drapes it over the computer chair. He must keep her talking because he can’t consciously accept the known alternative. He mustn’t knowingly allow her to shut down. No. She mustn’t be permitted to retreat deep within herself, not like before.
Sophia clutches a vanilla envelope in her fisted hand. “No. Not really.” She slides the crumpled paper behind her. “I shouldn’t be here. This is a mistake.”
With nimble, perceptive movements, he unties the striped tie around his neck then slides if off his shoulders. The tie. He knows it has an effect on her. It’s the same tie he used when he held her in his arms, kissing her, exploring every luscious curve and dip of her body. Aden draws in a deep breath and drinks in the enthralling arousal swirling around her. He unbuttons the first couple of buttons on his shirt.
“I should leave.” She sidesteps around him. “This was a mistake.”
Aden intercepts hers and pulls her into his arms. Her eyes widen, and her pupils dilate. His inner gargouille hears every erratic beat of her heart as it thumps wildly in her chest.
“Perhaps,” he says, barely above a whisper. His fingers wrap around her wrist. “But not before we discuss what’s in your hand.”
“Look at me.” His commanding voice is deep and rich. He tilts her head back and gazes into her teary eyes.
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