Wednesday, May 4, 2016

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Michele McAvoy, My Superhero Grandpa

Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing? 

I liked to write when I was younger but when attending college and law school I never found the time to write creatively because there was always school work to be done.  I started to write again after the death of my father as an emotional outlet and it really helped me (that and a tattoo!).

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write? 

I write at night when my two children (ages 6 and 4) are asleep, the house is straightened up and the world seems organized, if even for just a fleeting moment.  I feel like I’m sneaking away because I never like to tell anyone that I’m writing or what I am writing about.  I am weirdly secretive of my stories until I am ready to share them with the world.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or some other method of getting your words down? 

I usually write in my office or in my bedroom, the two places where my family won’t come to find me.  I write spontaneously, so I could be sitting on the floor, in bed etc.. it doesn’t really matter. I definitely don’t sit straight at my desk. That is too rigid for me.  I usually crisscross somewhere in those two rooms.  I never use a computer.  I only use a pencil and normally a legal pad (I’m a lawyer and I’m just used to writing on legal pads). I write as quickly as the ideas come and later go back and rewrite and edit.  But I like to get as much down as possible when I’m feeling inspired.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing? 

My favorite part about writing is when I’ve re-worked something that I jotted down quickly and it emerges into something meaningful.  I guess, it’s the actual creation of the story, when the story actually starts to emerge and the characters become meaningful is when I feel a happiness, like I just created something that someone else will enjoy.  My least favorite part is when I know I have a great idea for a story but I can’t seem to imagine or create the actual story.  When the story just doesn’t flow from the idea organically. In those situations it becomes more academic than I’d prefer.  In those times, even though I am passionate about the idea I have to table it until the full picture comes into view and the story line just flows. 

How did you come up with your book idea? How long did it take you to write your book?  

I came up with this book idea when my son was about 3 years old.  My father had passed away when I was 26 years old, many years before my son was born. It was important for me that my son knew his grandpa who he never met. So, in an attempt to acquaint my son with my father I was telling him about angels and Heaven. Needless-to-say I was having a hard time holding the interest of my 3 year old.  While I was explaining the concept of angels I realized that they have many of the same qualities as superheroes-- they fly around and make sure we are ok---- so that is when it dawned on me and I told my son that his grandpa was a superhero.  Well, we all know young children don’t have a problem believing in superheroes.  At that point,  my dad was a superhero and my son was excited to have him as his own. My Superhero Grandpa was born. I didn’t put pen to paper until a year or so later and then it took another year to complete the book.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?  

I am dabbling a little bit in every avenue for marketing purposes.  I have a website, a FB page and a twitter account  @michele_mcavoy.  I have reached out directly to groups like mommy blogs and christian moms/groups, people who I think will appreciate and enjoy my book.  I have received some reviews on blogs which has helped spread the word to folks in places that I could never reach on my own.  I feel like there is a wonderful system of women out there that want to be supportive of other women and it’s a good positive energy.  I reached out to a local Religious Store and have a book signing scheduled.  And there is still much more to do.  I try to do something every day to market my book even if it’s just to send 1 email.  I still have a day job as an attorney and my kids and house to take care of so finding large chunks of time is often difficult. However, this book and it’s success is extremely important to me and I will try everything to get this book to be THE book people buy when grandma or grandpa go to Heaven. 

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out? 

My new book is My Superhero Grandpa. It was released on April 10th and so far has received great reviews and feedback.  Much of my energy is going towards making that book a success.  I am not currently writing other stories because at night when I would typically be writing I am marketing (or thinking about marketing) My Superhero Grandpa.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.  

I do have a next project.  It’s a story to help little girls with their self esteem and realize that they are worthy of attention no matter what.  It’s a sweet funny story and will be illustrated as a picture book.  I can’t wait to bring those characters to life with the illustrations like I did with My Superhero Grandpa.  All of my stories are meant to help young children respect their emotions and are presented in an uplifting and whimsical way.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?  

I consider myself a beginner writer, I did it (published my first book) and it feels exhilarating.  I would say that everyone has talent and everyone has doubt.  I am admittedly extremely shy about my writing because whether someone likes your book is completely subjective, unlike something academic like law, where you are either right or wrong.  It’s easier to exist in a world and know where you stand when the qualifications are purely objective. When you get an “A” in a subject you know you are good.  With writing, it’s harder to be confident.  Some people may like it, some or many may not.  I would say to someone that is too shy to publish--wouldn’t you want to find and share your story even if only a few like it?  In my mind,  if my book is liked by and helps only 5 children,  well, then that’s five more children helped, and that’s a good thing.

Question for Kathryn:

With book sales and marketing is there a moment when you’re like “wow” it’s a success, or is it a steady race where you are a year in and you look back and say “wow-- look at the progress”? 

I would say your second thought is the best answer. My sales have been steadily growing since 2002 when my first book was published, but it's hard to tell sometimes unless I look back and see where I've been. Of course I always feel successful when someone compliments me on my work, wants to read the next book, or wants me to write another in the series. I like talking with people and getting to know them. Even if they don't buy my book I feel rewarded for just getting to know them.

Twitter handle- @michele_mcavoy

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