Michele PW - Twisted Thrillers About Sisters
Michele PW used to specialize in copywriting only, but when she finally came out of the "fiction closet", readers were raving about her work. Her first two books, Mirror Image and The Stolen Twin, are dark thrillers that center around sister relationships, with twists and turns that keep readers guessing until the very end. As our author of the day, Michele gives us behind-the-scenes insights into The Stolen Twin, reveals how she taught herself to read when she was only three years old and talks about a brand new series she is working on.
Please give us a short introduction to The Stolen Twin.
On the surface, Kit Caldwell has it all. A senior in college with her future ahead of her, lots of friends, lots of parties…not to mention also having the eye of Tommy, the star quarterback of the football team.
But underneath, Kit's life is a charade, built on a foundation of secrets and lies, including one so dark it threatens to tear her world apart: her twin sister, Cat, was kidnapped when they were both seven, never to be heard from again.
That is, until one dark Halloween night.
But is it really Cat? Or is it someone else, someone playing a sinister and deadly game?
To save herself from imminent danger, Kit, with the help of Tommy and her friends, is forced to go back in time and confront her own personal demons, as she finally discovers what really happened to Cat, all those years ago.
Your bio says that you taught yourself to read when you were only 3 years old. How did that go about?
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to tell stories. Before I could read and write, I would create stories with characters I called "happy faced spiders" (although they looked more like suns with faces than spiders). I remember getting so frustrated trying to tell my stories with pictures, I wanted to master words so I could capture the specifics of my stories rather than try and remember them based on pictures.
I would sit for hours in the living room with the book "Old Hat, New Hat" trying to connect the letters with the words I had memorized. Eventually, I cracked the code and started to actually read.
The Stolen Twin was your first published novel. Tell us a bit about what the experience was like.
I was terrified. When I started my copywriting business in 1998, I had gotten some "advice" from a retired copywriter, who basically told me no one would take me seriously as a copywriter if my clients found out I was also writing fiction. (That wasn't the only bad advice she shared during our time together; she basically spent the entire time trying to talk me out of becoming a freelance copywriter, which didn't work, but the idea my clients wouldn't take me seriously stuck for some reason.)
Coming out of the "fiction writing closet" was really scary for me. However, I'm pleased to announce rather than scaring my clients off, they think it's pretty cool.
What inspired you to write about twins?
I think it was more writing about sisters than twins -- having them be twins fit the plot better than simply sisters. My other book "Mirror Image" also delves into a sister relationship, although that one is far more twisted. (Yes I do have two sisters and unlike what I write about, my relationship with my sisters is pretty good.)
Why the psychological thriller/mystery genre? What is it about the genre that fascinates you?
I love exploring the theme "nothing is what it seems." In real life we encounter that all the time, but in this genre I can really push the limits of it, which I really enjoy.
The backdrop of this novel is consistently dark (seasons, weather, time of day). Was that intentional?
You know, I never thought about that until you brought it up. It wasn't consciously intentional but it does fit the themes I was going for. As usual, my muse is smarter than I am (thank God).
The Stolen Twin contains a lot of red herrings. How hard is it to keep readers from guessing the resolution before they get to the end?
I've always liked complicated stories and when I was writing The Stolen Twin, I remember being surprised it was easier than I expected to balance all those story lines and red herrings. But yeah, you definitely have to think outside the box to stay in front of your readers and not have them guess the ending too quickly.
Kit is a character with a lot of flaws. What appeals to you about using a flawed protagonist to tell your story?
I personally get a little bored with perfect characters who don't have flaws, plus I don't find them terribly relatable. Everyone has flaws — I certainly have a lot of them, and it's weird (for me) to be reading about a character who doesn’t.
It's funny you ask this because while yes I knew I was creating a character with flaws, I didn't expect her to be quite so polarizing -- people either love her or hate her. On the other hand, that's when a character is memorable. If there's any advice I would share with budding authors is don't be afraid of the hate. Hate means passion -- and if you don't have passion, you've probably created a really boring character.
Do you find writing fiction harder or easier than doing copywriting?
They both have their pluses and minuses. While I can certainly get lost in a story easier than writing copy, I can also get more frustrated that the novel doesn't match my vision. Plus, it's feels way more personal to put a work of fiction out into the world. Writing copy is a lot simpler -- no angst or wanting to pull my hair out if it's not going well. Sometimes it's nice to write something I'm not so emotionally attached to.
Which character in this book did you find the hardest to create?
Creating characters is pretty easy for me and in this book, all the characters pretty much wrote themselves. I try and step back and let the characters talk to me and tell me their stories and how they want to be seen. If I let them drive the bus (so to speak) it's amazing how effortlessly it all comes together.
Tell us a bit about your writing habits - do you have a favorite writing spot? Do you stick to deadlines?
I am VERY deadline driven -- which is probably why I've been able to build a successful copywriting business, so giving myself hard deadlines is always a smart move. I do have an office set up and I've arranged it to make it as fun for my muse as possible -- I have toys, stuffed animals (yes, I realize I'm a grown, adult woman) candles, beta fish and inspiring books. Regardless of what writing project I'm working on, I want it to be as inspiring to my muse as possible.
What are you working on right now?
I'm working on my very first 3 book series! I'm pretty stoked about this -- it IS still in the psychological thriller/suspense/mystery genre but I've figured out a different way to create a series than what you normally see. It started out as a haunted house story (but is it really a haunted house?) and then I realized the main story thread ran a lot deeper than just a house. It's actually a town full of secrets. First book will be out in 2017. Woot!
Where can our readers interact with you or discover more of your work?
My fiction writing website is MicheleParizaWacek.com, which has a lot of links to my social networking sites. I love hearing from my readers so most definitely reach out and say hi!