An Interview with Michelle Jackson author of 4am In Las Vegas

1. Did you always want to write?

I didn't always want to be a writer but I did always love to read. I studied in the national college of art and design when I left school which was always my dream. I enjoyed my five years there and went on to do design work before becoming a teacher - writing came to me after my daughter was born and I always refer to her as my muse. I had become very frustrated by my own artwork and I was never pleased with anything that I produced. the medium of words suits me much better and I wasn't burdened with any preconceptions about literature that I seemed to have with the visual arts. Writing came very naturally and it is still such a pleasure to sit down at my laptop and work on a novel.

2. What was your favourite book as a child?

As a child I used to often stay in my grandmothers and she always had a pile of Mills and Boon books bedside her bed and I would sneak one under my blankets and read until the small hours. I suppose it is no surprise that I am now writing romantic fiction!

3.When/where/how do you find the time to write?( do you have a separate writing desk or room?)

I write in bed and although I know it is probably not good for my back it is where I am the most comfortable. I am very fortunate to have a view of the sea from my bedroom window and i enjoy looking out while I write. I work part time as an art teacher and have an active part in my children's after school activities so I tend to squeeze my writing time into the mornings that I am off or at night when the children are in bed.

4.Who/what inspires your writing?

Life inspires my writing and as I enjoy to travel very much I like to weave the settings of different places into my stories. I feel that they help me create a colourful texture and tapestry through my writing.

5.What advice would you give aspiring authors? and 6.What's the best advice you ever got?

The best advice that I ever got is the advice that I would give every aspiring author. That is - to get a good editor to look at your work before sending it out. Agents and publishers expect your work to be in top condition before they receive it. Also I would suggest that you know your genre and send it to appropriate agents - the Writers and Artists Yearbook is a good place to start.

7.Do you have a favourite fictional character that you love to write about? 

My favourite fictional character is probably Kate from my novel Two Days in Biarritz. I think an authors first novel is very special and she is the character that I relate to the most.

8.Have you ever/Would you ever base a character on a real person?9.why? or why not?

I would think that most authors get inspiration for their novels and characters from the world around them. The amusing thing about characterisation is that people never recognise themselves!

10.What do you think of people who dismiss women's books/popular fiction as chick lit and say it is a passing fad or just frivolous?

I have no issues with the term chicklit - I am very pleased that I write for women as they read 90% of all books written! I also think that contemporary women writers reflect the world in a very real context - mothers, wives, girlfriends are responsible for so much of how our modern society works that I think in the future  chicklit will be referred to for its social/historic merit - in the same way as Austen's Pride and Prejudice is today.

11.How do you think the e-book will affect the book world and your career in writing?

I think that ebooks will radically change the way that books are produced and it will be a good opportunity for some to self publish. I do think that it will be more difficult for authors to monitor Copying and ultimately this will effect revenue for authors. I suppose we will have to wait and see but it is important that people continue to buy books or pay for their downloads - this will ensure that authors will be able to continue working.

12.How long did it take to write your first book?

It took me three months to write my first book which was 100k words in length. 

13.What's the hardest part about writing?

I don't find writing hard - it has always been a natural and organic medium for me and I put this down to perhaps the fact that I didn't study literature. I have found that the five years that I spent studying art has made me too critical of what I produce visually and I am not confined by writing in the same way.

14.What do you think of the 50 Shades phenomenon? what next?

Fifty shades of grey is just a passing trend but bodice rippers have been popular for years - as I mentioned my granny had plenty beside her bed! Anything that entices people to buy books is good - be it the Da Vinci Code or Harry Potter!

15. Do you travel a lot? What comes first the place or the characters?

I use a vey free and organic approach to my writing and usually I have a germ of an idea for a novel after I have travelled somewhere that has been inspiring. I love to travel as much as I can and I am always taking photographs and collecting brochures and books from the places that I have travelled.

16.What comes first the place or the characters?

The characters will develop from conversations that I will have with people either on holidays or when I return. I always like to weave into the plot something that reflects what is mood or tone of the year in which I write the novel. For example the theme of my new novel is emigration which is a very current situation for many in Ireland and I travelled to Australia in February to research my setting. The book is called 5 Peppermint Grove after one of the most desirable suburbs in Western Australia.

17.Does travel inspire you? How do you keep going after 4 novels ? (finding ideas and inspiration)

As I mentioned before I have been fortunate as writing comes easily to me - I have an endless pool of ideas that I am itching to write about and there are a lot of places that I haven't visited on this lovely planet so I don't imagine I will be running out of ideas for some time!

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