An interview with author Michelle Rene.
Hi! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author?
I’ve been writing for about twelve years now professionally. I write science fiction, historical fiction, humor and everything else in between. I’ve written short stories, novelettes, novellas, novels, virtual reality scripts, and even a video game. My first books were published in 2014. One of which is my historical novel, I Once Knew Vincent, that went on to win some indie awards.
What got you into writing?
I’ve always loved writing. When I was thirteen, I spent a summer handwriting my very first book. Cursive… back when people did that. Two hundred and five pages. It was my first attempt, and not one anyone should ever read it, but it got me hooked!
What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?
Other than my thirteen-year-old novel, my first book came during a fever dream during the most boring cruise I’ve ever seen. I fell asleep watching some terrible documentary about finding Shanghai-La. That combination brought me a litany of crazy imagery that catapulted me head first in the book writing world. The flood gates were opened after that.
Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?
Dakota is probably my favorite character in Tattoo. The chapter with her was the first one I wrote, and I guess you can’t forget your first love. She’s creative, savvy, and has a tender heart. Originally Tattoo was a short story with just the Dakota chapter, but I decided to expand it from there.
What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?
The scene with Dakota and Jane in the tattoo studio. It’s the first time you see the plight of tattooists in this new world and what they’ve evolved into. I loved the idea of one person being able to write an entire life for someone else and it feel completely real. I guess because it echoes what I strive to do as a writer.
What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?
It’s a tie between describing scenes and dialogue. I strive to push myself to find new ways to describe the same surroundings and really lean into the way a character talks to paint the story. After all, no two people see the world the same, so you can’t write it the same. We all have a voice, outer and inner.
How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?
I’m a really fast writer. I’ve written novellas in a matter of weeks. My record for writing a novel was sixteen days. Of course, that’s a first draft. My process varies from project to project. Some require more research and outlining, and others hit me so hard, I don’t need more of an outline than a few sentences. With Tattoo, it was a piece of paper that said “1-They 2-Natali 3-Elliot 4-Irene 5-Dakota 6-Toby 7-They.” The story was so solid in my brain, that’s all I needed.
What is it about the genre you chose that appeals to you?
Trying to nail a genre to Tattoo is like trying nail egg yolk to a wall. The best we can tell, it’s science fiction/fantasy, but Tattoo’s such a unique, slipstream-type story that it sort of hovers in it’s own orbit. I love books that try something unique and challenge the importance we put on the structures of genres. Story is story is story.
Are there any books or writers that have had particular influence on you?
That would be a really long list as I am a voracious reader. With regards to Tattoo, I would say Neil Gaiman is an influencer. I love how he can invent his own worlds, and really his own versions of genres, and it’s beloved by all audiences.
Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?
All the time! I believe whole-heartedly in an outline to plot your story, but I’ve never written a book that didn’t divert me. I’ll be typing, and some realization hits me while I’m typing out some character’s dialogue. Some new epiphany that explains why they are acting a certain way. The next thing you know, I’m adding three more chapters because of it. You have to be open to that because once you create characters, they take on a life of their own.
Thanks for stopping by!
ABOUT THE BOOK
A mysterious young woman appears in a cynical age. Why is she here … and will she survive long enough to achieve her purpose?
Judgment Day was not as advertised. Instead of fire and wrath, our histories suddenly began to appear as tattoos on our skin. No one could hide their past deeds anymore, unless they visited an illegal tattoo artist, who could replace their sins with unmarked skin.
Years later, a young woman appears, entirely unmarked. No one knows what her appearance means, but a small band of people find themselves drawn to her, ready to set off on a quest whose purpose is as unknown as the young woman’s past.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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