SOME THINGS THAT MATTER TO AUTHOR Michelle Kaye Malsbury: Author of The Swindler, ISBN 978-0-9844219-4-7.
I read a book, or when I’m thinking of reading a book, I find that I would love to know more about the author. What do they think about? Why should I care about what they have written? What insights can they give me about their process, characters, and reasons for even putting their words on paper and sharing with others? Here are some questions I have asked some of my favorite authors. I hope you enjoy their responses as much as I have.
ATTMP: Are you a cat or a dog person?
MM: I have always been an animal person. I love all animals. Ever since I can remember I was drawn to animals especially the strays that had no love or warm place to sleep. (I grew up in IL and the winters there are brutal) I love the spirit of animals. The unconditional love they provide for their favorite humans is second to none. My dog and cat are part of me and intertwined in my genetic make-up. They are part of what makes me tick. I don’t have children so they are not only my pets, but for all intents and purposes my children too. I could never favor one over the other.
ATTMP: What do you like about writing?
MM: Writing is the greatest form of self expression I can reach. It allows me to connect with my inner self and explain that to the world, hopefully in terms they can understand and identify with. If I do not write I feel like something huge is missing from my life.
ATTMP: How do you reach your muse?
MM: My muse, this is a toughie. I have topics and ideas that resonate with me and serve as a guide to some of the things I write about, especially those that inspire action or passion on behalf of the reader. I love the environment, politics, animals, education, business, and peace. These serve as templates for much of my non-fiction writing as I am passionate about them and hope to pass that passion on to others. For fiction I look every where and at all of the people and scenarios I come into contact with as potential muses. I have a very active imagination and I think that helps too!
ATTMP: Do you listen to music while you write, or do you require total and utter silence?
MM: When I write seriously I require silence or only instrumentals. I want to only hear my words because I want to accurately describe actions and characters in my head while translating them to the keyboard. At those times music with words can be a distraction to me. Instrumentals however do not add words to my already wordy brain and can sometimes serve to spur me on in my writing, especially if the music is something I really really like. I am partial to piano solos of a classical or modern nature. I also love Latin music for its beat. There are other instruments like the pan flute, sax, or sitar that can be so primal that I am inspired to write and write and write.
ATTMP: How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?
MM: I try to begin my books based on something I am familiar with and then move into unfamiliar territory that requires some additional research in order to get the story right. I love learning new things and research helps to keep my mind engaged in things I have not previously been familiar with or participated in. For instance, in the end of The Swindler there is a lengthy courtroom drama that is played out very publicly. I am not schooled in legalese and have not spent time in an actual courtroom. Therefore, I had to do some serious homework in order to get the pace and semantics and entire court stuff to read like I knew what I was talking about. I reviewed many documents from previous trials, especially those from the Bernie Madoff trial as those most closely mirrored my books theme and character dilemma. I hope it was at least close!
ATTMP: What inspires you?
MM: Life inspires me! I love reading and reviewing books. I love research and watching the political news on television. Topics that are fresh and timely are an inspiration to me to write about because they resonate with today. For my websites I write a lot about politics or government, occasionally entertainers or sports personalities. Health care was an important issue for the people of America and those watching us around the world. Therefore, I championed why it should pass and concentrated on the benefits that would be derived from passage. This was a topic that was near and dear to my heart. I was glad to see it finally come to pass. Human and animal rights violations tick me off and I’ve tried to include them in my articles for American Chronicle. Education and illiteracy are two topics that I cannot say enough about. My list of inspirations goes on and on, but these topics can give you a glimpse into what makes me tick.
ATTMP: What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
MM: I’ve been a bartender, stewardess (flight attendant), realtor, commodities broker, and more. All of those jobs have helped me to write accurately about those positions in my books. They have also shaped who I am now and how I perceive people in those industries at this time.
The Swindler is based on a true story of a place where I actually worked. Much of the story is fictionalized, but the places written about and some scenes actually took place. The man I worked for, who was a smaller version of Bernie Madoff, financially speaking, is now behind bars. I did not know immediately that we were operating illegally or unethically. I worked for this man for nearly five years before I finally quit. I saw the business from the inside out. That was one of the most fun and fast paced jobs that I’ve ever held. I learned a lot working there and that has, in turn, shaped my opinions of what Wall Street gets away with today and what direction we, as a country, need to take to curtail those excesses and greed.
ATTMP: How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
MM: I am accustomed to ebooks from pursuit of many of my educational endeavors. According to many educational facilities this ebook format saves them oodles of money. I think ebooks are easy to download and you can highlight sections and write notes: both good things when you need access to instant recall of a certain topic. I think they are a bit impersonal, but ecologically a big paper saver!
I like the feel of a real book in my hands too! I review books for Bookpleasures and we do not review ebooks at this time. Has that caused us to miss out on some good reads? Maybe. One of my all time favorite things to do is to wander around in book stores. I love looking at the various book covers, seeing who is new in the marketplace, and reading the synopsis’.
I personally hope we never give real books up entirely: how would I stock my shelves in my library?
ATTMP: What do you like to read in your free time?
MM: My entire free time is taken up with reading and writing reviews. I love it! I read a lot of business books because that is my educational background and they keep me abreast of all of the new techniques coming down the pike. I love spy novels, legal thrillers, and murder/mysteries. I like to read about politics and political figures, as well as, policies we have adopted and how they have panned out. I try to mix things up a bit, as far as topics I read, so I am well rounded and more conversant in a variety of topics.
ATTMP: Who’s your best/worst critic?
MM: Marvin Wilson, my editor, is my best and worst critic. He was a godsend when I needed some serious polishing for The Swindler. Thank you Deb and Phil for leading me to him! Marvin knows how to get me (and perhaps all writers) to produce work that shines. He took my story, which was a emerald in the rough, and created a sparkling gemstone that I am proud to place my name atop of. He is a master of knowing what things really really needed changing to make the story flow better. I’ve had other people read and suggest things for my books or articles, but Marvin is by far the best! He comes at his criticism from an editorial perspective, but also as an author himself. Over the course of his editing process he becomes intimately involved with the characters, their dialogue, and the story flow of the books he reworks. I’d say Marvin is equal part magician and muse! Thank you Marvin!
ATTMP: Red or pink?
MM: I actually like both colors, but am partial to pink. I always wear some version of pink toenail polish. Jackie Onassis was fond of pink for fingernails and toenails and I admired her quite a bit because she was classic and timeless in her choice of garments, accessories, and jewels.