Hello all you fabulous Dames, and welcome to Coffee Shop Conversations!
On this segment of the blog I will be conducting interviews with Authors, Bloggers and anyone else relative to the literary world and willing to answer my questions. Coffee Shops are great places to just relax, let the hair down and talk about life, love and good books! So without further adieu, let's get to chatting with my special guest:
Author: Michelle Willingham
She married a rocket scientist, and they live in southeastern Virginia. When she isn’t writing historical romances, she loves to cook, read, and avoid exercise at all costs."Source
Michelle Willingham on the web: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Michelle's Latest Release:
'Surrender To An Irish Warrior'
Morren Ó Reilly—she has known pain and shame, but holds her head high, even though she shrinks from a man’s touch.
-Read an excerpt from 'Surrender To An Irish Warrior': here
Get Your Copy Today:
RJ: Hey Michelle! Thanks so much for stopping by for a little chat. Firstly, congratulations on your new book, 'Surrender To An Irish Warrior', in stores as of 09.01.10! What have the past few months been like; with finishing the book and anticipating it's release? What have you experienced emotionally as well as professionally with the completion of this new book?
MW: I completed Surrender to an Irish Warrior last January, and usually there are about 9 months before an accepted book goes through the publication process. Often, you’re so busy working on the next manuscript, the release date sneaks up on you! But this book was particularly challenging to me because I had to write darker than I’d ever written before. I’d never written characters like these before, and it was terrifying. I even wrote to my agent and asked, Am I taking this story too far? Should I pull back? She gave me the encouragement to be true to the storyline and trust that my heroine was strong enough to handle the worst. And so far, I’ve received some amazing reader feedback that made me feel like I made the right decisions.
RJ: Why don't you tell me and the readers a little bit about 'Surrender To An Irish Warrior' from the author's point of view?
MW: When I set out to write Surrender to an Irish Warrior, it was a book that caught me completely off-guard. I had written the story of Ewan MacEgan (Taming Her Irish Warrior) and I knew I wanted to bring in Trahern at the end of the book. In the previous books, he was a bard who was well-known for his storytelling and was a giant of a man. He had a teasing sense of humor and liked women.RJ: This newest book is the latest story in The MacEgan Brothers Mini-Series. Who are the MacEgan Brothers and what inspired their series?
But when Trahern arrived at the end of Taming, he was completely changed. Not only had he lost his teasing spirit, but he'd become a man consumed by grief. He shaved his head and was driven by vengeance. He no longer cared if he lived or died after losing the woman he loved. That image, of a man who had lost everything, became the inspiration for Surrender.
I always envisioned Trahern as a saint, type of character. He's a man who would give you the shirt off his own back if you needed one (and having a look that that chest and back, I'm thinking that he's already given that shirt away.). J I wanted to do a sinner and saint type of story, but Morren wasn't quite the "sinner" I'd expected. I had originally thought I'd write a bad girl sort of character, but I realized that it wouldn't fit Trahern. The best sort of heroine for him, would be a woman who would force him to openly face his worst fears.
Trahern believes that it's his fault that the woman he loved is dead. And Morren is a woman who survived the absolute worst conditions of war. In her, Trahern sees what might have happened to his betrothed wife. Morren is his second chance at redemption, and by saving her, he will save himself.
MW: They are a group of five brothers, living in a fictional region outside of Waterford, Ireland. Patrick is king of their province Laochre and is the eldest. Then it’s Bevan (the stoic), Trahern (the storyteller), Connor (the flirt), and Ewan (the tormented youngest). I was inspired by Ireland, particularly after my visit to the country, and always wanted to set a romance there. The intense green land, the mystical quality of the country, gave me so many ideas!RJ: Where did the inspirations for your plot, characters and setting for this particular book come from?
MW: Truthfully, the story unfolds without any sort of plan. I knew Trahern wanted vengeance, and the heroine’s story emerged when he rescued her from nearly dying. Writing, for me, is like watching the movie running through my head. I never know where the ideas come from.RJ: What challenges or difficulties did you face with the writing of this novel?
MW: It’s the first time I ever wrote about a rape survivor. I went to an online bulletin board and read some of the stories of women who have survived that kind of tragedy, and it broke my heart. But I wanted to give a voice to a character who has endured the worst and who has a courage unlike anyone else.RJ: 'Surrender To An Irish Warrior' is not your debut novel or the first book in a new series. How is it different from the previous novels you've done so far? What were you trying to achieve with this book, and also, do you feel like it's "mission accomplished"?
MW: I always try to write a stronger book than the previous one. I’m so glad I was given the chance to finish up stories for all of the heroes, because it was important to me to give a happy ending to each man. Surrender was different for me, because of the darker themes, but it also pushed me to write a more emotionally-driven story. It’s the most difficult book I’ve ever attempted, and I hope I did it justice. I’ll leave it to the readers to decide if it’s mission accomplished. JRJ: Let’s talk about your Hero and Heroine (Trahern & Morren). What are their flaws and what are their redeeming qualities? Also, why are they attracted to each other (aside from physical attraction)?
There is also a connected short novella “Pleasured by the Viking,” which picks up after the end of Surrender. It has a secondary character, Viking Gunnar Dalrata, and Auder O’Reilly, a friend to Morren. It’s available in e-book form in Kindle, Nook, Sony, and all e-book stores.
MW: Trahern’s biggest flaw is that he lets his grief sink into him to the point where he begins to lose his humanity. Morren’s flaw is that she doesn’t believe that there’s a happy ending for her—she lets her life revolve around others instead of considering her own needs. But Trahern’s storytelling is his unique talent, and his ability to draw people to him. Morren takes care of others, and her compassion brings Trahern back from the edge. In the end, they take care of each other.RJ: How did your writing journey begin and how did you get here? What pit-stops, wrong turns, and perfect lane changes did you make on your road to publication?
MW: I started writing romance in 1996 and failed miserably at it. I stopped writing from 1998-2000 and switched to writing children’s books after that because the length was more manageable. After I wrote four complete manuscripts, I realized that if I put them together, I’d have a full length romance novel. I decided to try again and finished another manuscript in 2003 which, although not publishable, had a solid beginning, middle, and end. I realized that if this was what I wanted, then I needed to focus on what I loved. I wrote another book in 2004, submitted it to Harlequin, and almost 2 years exactly, on September 15, 2006 at 10:03 in the morning, they called and wanted to buy it. I’ve been writing historical romance ever since.RJ: The writing process differs from author to author. Some are planners, and others just jump right in. Some consider themselves night writers, while others need daylight and a park bench or a coffee shop (wink) to set the mood for creativity; what's your writing process and atmosphere like?
MW: I’m a morning person, and there’s nothing I love more than to have my pages written before noon so I can enjoy the rest of the day guilt-free. I usually listen to movie soundtracks when I write (The Tudors, Braveheart, Gladiator, etc.) and I write on my laptop.RJ: Romances has transcended many different sectors of pop culture. I think the Beatles said it best, "All you need is love". This being a Romance Blog, I've got to ask: what are your favorite romance picks of the following:
MW:RJ: What's coming up next for you (book-wise or otherwise)?
Favorite Love Song? When We Dance by Sting
Favorite Scent on a man? Old Spice
Favorite Romantic Comedy? “Date Night” and of course
Favorite Romance Novel? Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer
MW: My next book, Claimed by the Highlander, is set in medieval Scotland just around the death of William Wallace (think Braveheart). It will be released in the spring of 2011.RJ: Do you have anything that you would like to address to your fans and the readers?
MW: Thank you so much to everyone who has supported the MacEgan brothers series and my books. I will be speaking at the Chesapeake Romance Writers conference this November (details at http://www.crwrwa.org/), and anyone is welcome to come. If you’d like to be notified when new books are available, you can sign up for my newsletter on my website.RJ: Final Question: Name something shocking or interesting about yourself that the readers may not know.
MW: I used to work for a German count in a castle (his international business was in the basement) one summer when my family was stationed overseas. I was in charge of proofreading the English translations and handling calls for English-speaking clients. We worked in the dungeon—literally!
Germany's Wartburg Castle
RJ: Thanks so much Michelle, for stopping by and sharing today! I had a lot of fun asking you all these questions, and even more fun reading your responses! I am sure the readers will gobble up this newest addition to the MacEgan Brothers series!
MW: Thanks so much for having me, and I’m happy to offer two giveaways to anyone who posts a comment or question. To be eligible for a signed copy of Surrender to an Irish Warrior or a free download of “Pleasured by the Viking,” just tell me the name of a great romance novel you’ve read recently. Or you can ask any questions you like, and I’m happy to answer.
~*~Giveaway Details~*~Michelle Willingham has generously offered to giveaway a copy of 'Surrender To An Irish Warrior' to (1) one lucky commenter as well as a free download of 'Pleasured By The Viking' for another commenter (Both International)! Follow the guidelines below and comment for your chance to win. The giveaway will end on Friday, September 24th, 2010 at 11:59:00 PM. The winners will be announced and contacted via email on Saturday, September 25th, 2010.
Giveaway Guidelines: To be entered in the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment/question for Michelle and include your email address!
*(NO EMAIL= INVALID ENTRY)
For Extra Entries (do one or more of the following for extra shots at winning):
+2 'Like' Michelle's Facebook Fan Page and/or leave a nice message on her wall. (provide a link to status)
+2 'Like' The 'Not Another Romance Blog' Blog on Facebook
+3 Visit Michelle's website and look through her Photo Gallery. Then in your comment, write about a picture or album that caught your eye.
+4 Spread the word: Tweet on Twitter, Post a Facebook status, or blog about this interview and giveaway (provide a link to where/what you did)
+5 Become a Follower/ Be a Follower
(How-to guide for providing links to a specific facebook or twitter status': here)
IMPORTANT-Tell me in your comment which extra entries you are entitled to and include the necessary links so that I can verify what you did, or they will not count!
*INTERNATIONAL-this giveaway is open to residence all over the world (*wherever the Book Depository ships* You can check if BD will ship to your country: here)
To all the readers, be sure to make use of those 'on the web' links above to better acquaint yourself with this fabulous author! This has been great! Good luck to all of the giveaway contestants and I hope all of you have enjoyed this edition of: