Today the Minxes are proud to announce RITA nominated historical author, Michelle Willingham, who has graciously agreed to step into our spotlight. Michelle has been really generous and is offering two giveaways, so don't forget to check out what you need to do to be entered into the draw at the bottom of the interview.
Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?
Five years ago, I had received revisions on a book I'd written for Mills & Boon Historicals. They were intense revisions, involving characterization and pacing, but I saw them as a golden opportunity. I threw myself into the changes, knowing that I had to make this work. The revisions on that book became my first sale, Her Irish Warrior, though it was September 15, 2006 when I got The Call.
Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?
I already knew who the hero would be for Surrender to an Irish Warrior, but I was inspired by one of the characters in JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood—Zsadist. He was such a tortured hero, and it was such an amazing Beauty and the Beast story, I wanted to try my hand at a hero who had lost everything . . . and find the perfect woman to redeem him. What surprised me most was that Morren ended up being just as much a survivor as he was. I think when two characters have suffered a lot, they can find healing in each other.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
I hope to keep writing and selling historical romance, but I'd like to break into HQN or Mira to have more of a shelf life. Hitting a bestseller list would be nice, too. :-)
Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?
My favorite book of all time is Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer. She had such a deft hand with characterization, that the everyday details brought out heartwarming emotion. I love all of her historical romances, but that one is a particular favorite.
Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?
Not really. I started writing when I was twelve, writing stories in green ink on a legal pad. Ironically, my first story was a romance where the hero left the heroine roses in mysterious places. I believe a rowboat and violin were involved at one point (gag). But hey, I was twelve. Then I moved on to an electric yellow 3-ring binder where I wrote fan fiction episodes of "Beauty and the Beast" (the Linda Hamilton TV version). I also plotted out new episodes of "Days of Our Lives." I think I was born to be a romance writer. :-)
Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy?
Neither. I enjoy writing them! I get to experience the ultimate fantasy night with an amazing hero. What's not to love?
What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?
This past Valentine's Day, I woke up and found several Valentine's cards that my husband had written to me. They were hidden all over the house—on the kitchen table, in the refrigerator, in the bathroom, even on my car dashboard! It was such a fun, romantic gesture.
What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?
That all the rejections you receive when you're unpublished will help you develop a thick skin for book reviews. Not everyone will love your book the way you do, and it can be hard to separate yourself.
What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
No matter what happens, keep writing. You're only as good as your last book.
Tell us about your latest release
Surrender to an Irish Warrior is the last book in my MacEgan Brothers series. It’s about an Irish warrior, Trahern MacEgan, who wants to avenge the death of his betrothed wife. Along the way, he rescues Morren O’Reilly, a woman who was attacked by the same Viking raiders. In Morren, he finds healing and redemption.
There is also a linked sequel novella to the book from the Harlequin Historical Undone! line. It's called "Pleasured by the Viking" and it tells the story of Gunnar Dalrata, a Viking who plays a key role in Surrender.
What’s next for you?
Claimed by the Highland Warrior kicks off my new series set in medieval Scotland. It will release in the spring of 2011, possibly March. The hero Bram MacKinloch is a prisoner of war who escapes his captors and comes to claim his bride. It's set in the Braveheart era, so there are no kilts, but there are hot Scottish warriors.