Friday, January 16, 2015

A Warm Welcome to Michelle Levigne

It's so nice to welcome my friend to the Barn Door Book Loft today! She's a mult-talented gal and an award winning author. Tell us, Michelle, is there a story behind your book HEIR OF FAXINOR?
This is one of those books that came from a dream, believe it or not. I dreamed I was in what looked like a ruins, like a castle, all stones and shadows and vines. When I woke up, my general impression was that I had to rescue somebody, and I was looking for my baby sister.

From there, I played with all sorts of ideas, ending up with a girl with a sword in her hand, and her mother being kidnapped. There were lots of revisions, some of them very dumb, and the equivalent of entire chapters being thrown out. About all I saved through all the revisions were the sword, the heroine pretending to be a boy, a mother and baby sister to be protected/rescued, a vision leading to the sword, and a band of warriors the heroine joined up with along the way.


What started you on your writing journey? 
I’m a daydreamer. I can remember wanting books I read and TV episodes I watched to keep going, so I would add characters and new problems for the main characters to deal with. It was essentially what people do with fan fiction -- and yes, I belonged to a Star Trek club at one time and we wrote lots of Trek fan fiction. I came close to writing “Mary Sue” stories -- essentially, a homely girl everybody else overlooks, but she’s smart and she impresses Kirk or Spock -- or both of them -- and by the time she saves the Enterprise, he or both of them have fallen in love with her. Fortunately, I never wrote a genuine “Mary Sue.” My characters, if they encountered the crew of the Enterprise, usually got adopted by Dr. McCoy and they wanted to get off the Enterprise as fast as they could!

Anyway, my daydreaming turned into a really bad habit, and interfered with studying. This is a bad thing when you’re attending a college preparatory private school -- you need to study and pass exams. I had tried writing stories before, and they always died when I attempted putting them on paper, so I took the current daydream that was taking over my life and wrote it down … and kept writing. That was more than 35 years ago. The rest is history.


What kind of books do you enjoy reading? (Book recommendations very welcome!)
I like fantasy and humor, especially when they’re mixed. I like danger and heroics and adventure. I like modern day stories with an element of not-quite-normal. This could be due to falling in love with the Chronicles of Narnia when I was in maybe 3rd or 4th grade -- we had an illustrated Sunday school paper that had a chapter from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe every week, and I liked that sense that there could be magic just around the corner.

  • I like the silliness of the Janet Evanovich/Stephanie Plum books, and 
  • the totally weirdness of British humor in the Discworld books (a fantasy world, an actual disc that floats through space on the backs of four elephants perched on the back of a giant turtle) as well as
  • the Harry Potter books and even more, 
  • Diane Duane’s Young Wizards books. 
  • I like the Theodosia books by R.L. LaFevers, 
  • the 500 Kingdoms books by Mercedes Lackey (revising fairy tales, with magic and faerie godmothers and people having to deal with all the “traditions” of faerie tales that are trying to take over their lives).
  • I like some of the YA books out there dealing with magic, and that has an influence on what I’m writing. 
  • I also like Camy Tang’s Sushi series, 
  • Kristen Billerbeck’s Spa Girls series, and the 
  • Sisterchicks books by Robin Jones Gunn. 
I read a very interesting book a little while ago that I got from Barnes & Noble when I was checking out their Free Book Friday offering. This one was called “No Dawn for Men,” and dealt with J.R.R. Tolkein meeting up with a young Ian Fleming and doing some espionage behind enemy lines in pre-WWII Nazi Germany. Did I mention I love fantasy? So Lord of the Rings is right up there.

Honestly, I have too many books I love to mention here. Every Monday I blog about what book I read the previous week -- at least, that’s the goal. Check out my blog to see what I’ve read recently: www.MichelleLevigne.blogspot.com


Whew! That's some list. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I took a dance class in college. Considering what a klutz I am, how overweight I am … I only took it because it was a requirement for the drama program I was in. I was totally miserable, and I knew I was going to be miserable, because on the first day of class, the teacher said at least four times, “I know this is hard for you drama students to understand …” Which was really stupid of her, because 3/4 of the students were there as a drama program requirement. She just antagonized most of her class from the get-go. Yes, we all struggled to survive. I absolutely hated it. We each had to do a solo routine at the end of the class, and I picked “March of the Villains” from my Superman soundtrack. Thank goodness it wasn’t videotaped!!! We’re talking America’s Funniest Home Videos, but I would not win the prize money that week. Blackmail material.

Yes, I was traumatized by a dance teacher. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.


Lol. Sorry, Michelle, for laughing, but you are a hoot, my friend! Are there things you put off doing because you dread them? 
Yes -- THIS! Promotion work. I hate talking about myself. I hate having to organize my thoughts and condense entire books down to soundbytes. Why can’t I just sit in my shadowy little loft and write and let someone else sell my books?

But I realize this is necessary. I don’t have the budget, and my publishers don’t have the budgets, to do the promotion necessary to let people know my books are here. Someday I’ll have enough loyal readers who will be so in love with my stories that they will try to convince others to read my books and I can rely on word of mouth. Until then … I have to depend on the kindness and charity and patience of people like Sharon and the Barn Door people to get the word out there. And stumble along, trying to sound coherent and balanced. How am I doing? <G>


You're a great author, Michelle! Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?   
I don’t know that it’s a spiritual theme, but a lot of my stories seem to circle around the idea of what it means to be human, to be alive, to be considered a thinking, reasoning being with responsibilities and freedom.

In several of my book series -- science fiction and fantasy -- I have characters struggling through several generations against those who want to control them, their land, their talents, by claiming they aren’t human, that they are defective, that they don’t have rights because they don’t fit into a narrow mold that someone else has randomly created.

I like something comedian Mike Warnke said a long time ago, about Christians who run around with  big cookie cutter, and they slap it down into the “dough” of a person who is trying to be a Christian, and essentially anything outside the cookie cutter has to be discarded. Then he says essentially, “If God didn’t want all that extra dough there, why’d He put it there in the first place?” So a lot of that is reflected in some of my stories.

In my Tabor Heights books, where all the stories center around the members of one congregation, some of the nastiest people are the Pharisees and legalistic Christians who make everyone else miserable by trying to force everyone to live by their standards, constantly judging and criticizing. So maybe the question of, “What makes someone a real Human being?” can be transposed to “What makes you a real Christian?” or even, “Don’t tell me my extra dough doesn’t belong -- God put it there!”



Ugh! Those type of people range right beside the gossips! What is the last thing you wrote? 
The last thing I wrote is actually what I’m still working on as I’m putting together this promo material. It’s titled either “Hoax, Inc.,” or “Hero Blues.” It’s fantasy, and somewhat silly -- at least, I hope so! -- and belongs with the humorous fantasy stories set in the mythical town of Neighborlee, Ohio. (Think of Neighborlee as a combination of Buffy’s Sunnyvale, Eureka, and Roswell, but without the weird science of vampires…) I started writing “Hoax” for National Novel Writing Month, but had to put it aside once I passed the goal of 50,000 words because I had a book due and it wasn’t finished yet. Yeah, I do that sometimes …

Anyway, “Hoax” is the story of Jane, who has appeared in several other Neighborlee books. It goes backward in time, and shows how Jane came to town, and how she discovered that there were other people who were semi-pseudo-superheroes like her. In fact, she’s been stuck defending a town that has taken her for granted, to the point no one thinks for themselves. They just expect “the Ghost,” as she’s known -- because she turns invisible when she uses her superpowers -- to pick up after them and rescue them from their own stupidity. When Jane gets permission to leave the town to take care of itself, she hightails it for Neighborlee and hopefully some answers. Maybe.


When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
When the Faxinor books have been transferred over to Writers Exchange and the publisher starts to re-release them, I will start writing NEW Faxinor books. The plan is to write a book about each of the Faxinor siblings. The seven Faxinor children are: Andrixine, Lorien, Derek, Martyn, Erik, Pollux and Alysyn. So far I have books about the older two girls, Andrixine (Heir of Faxinor) and Lorien (Lorien), and the story of their parents’ romance (Traitors). Derek is next in line. At the start of “Heir of Faxinor,” when Andrixine and her mother and sister are attacked, she leaves her sword, inherited from her grandfather, with her mother to protect t herself. That sword is stolen and supposedly lost when Lady Faxinor is kidnapped. Derek’s story is tentatively titled “Sword of Faxinor.” He travels to the seafaring kingdom of Eretia, to visit his sister Lorien, who has married Eretia’s ambassador to their kingdom of Reshor. During his journey, Derek meets up with some pirates, and one of them now possesses the Faxinor family sword. Of course, Derek being a Faxinor, he has to get it back!

Hopefully, “Sword of Faxinor” will come out in 2016 -- after all, I still have to write it!



They are sound lovely, Michelle, I'll have to check them out!


To buy the book, go here:
Amazon
Barnesandnoble
Booksamillion


About Michelle:

On the road to publication, Michelle fell into fandom in college (she is a recovering Trekker, and adores “Warehouse 13” and “Stargate SG-1”), and has 40+ stories in various SF and fantasy universes. She has a BA in theater/English from Northwestern College and a MA focused on film and writing from Regent University. She has published 50+ books and novellas with multiple small presses, in science fiction and fantasy, YA, and sub-genres of romance. She has been a finalist in the EPIC Awards competition often since 2004, winning with Lorien in 2006 and The Meruk Episodes, I-V, in 2010. Her training includes the Institute for Children’s Literature; proofreading at an advertising agency; and working at a community newspaper. She freelance edits for a living, but only enough to give her time to write.



Connect with her here:



MICHELLE is giving away a copy of HEIR OF FAXINOR. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post







Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown



3 comments:

Caryl Kane said...

I would love to read HEIR OF FAXINOR. Thanks for the interview and giveaway.

Blessings
psalm103and138[at]gmail[dot]com

Deanna Stevens said...

What an entertaining author today... It was fun meeting you Michelle.. I too am a klutz so exercise class was a one time thing for me LOL.. not pretty! would enjoy reading your book.. dstevensne AToutlookDoTCoM

Laura Pol said...

Fantastic interview! I think it's cool that your novel came from a dream! I also have to many books! Haha! :)
Sylvesternator AT yahoo DOT com

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