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Author Interview with Michelle Willingham

A Match Made in London is out this week! Michelle was kind enough to answer some questions for us.

You can get your copy of this delightful historical romance HERE!


Did you always know you wanted to be an author? What is the first story you remember writing? How did you get from there to where you are today? 

I was a bookworm all my life, but as a child, I had the mistaken belief that all published authors were dead. (Don’t ask me why I thought this. I had an active imagination!) It was only at the age of twelve that I realized there were authors who wrote books and were still alive and producing more titles.

Once I realized that this was not a career that necessarily required you to be six feet under, I began to actively seek publication. I wrote my first romance novel in high school and was delighted to write 90 pages. It was a Scottish medieval romance, and thankfully it will never see print! Still, I kept writing all through my twenties and eventually sold my first book on September 15, 2006, at 10:03 in the morning (yes, that date will forever be branded on my brain). I’ve written nearly fifty books for many different publishers, ranging from Harlequin Historical, to Montlake, and now Dragonblade. I love variety in my books, and I enjoy learning about new time periods—everything from Regency, to medieval, to Viking.

Writing Process: Do you know where the story is going before you begin, or does it come to you as you write? Do scenes come to you fully formed or are you as surprised as the reader?

It’s a mix of both. I’ve had books where I had fully outlined the entire story, and then when I tried to write it, the characters were outright rebellious. They refused to act the way they were supposed to, and their motivation didn’t match at all. When I wrote the scenes anyway, I ended up having to throw them out. I think my best work happens when I don’t fully plan it. I know the starting point of an incident and what the big moment is, but it’s better if I don’t know how I’m getting there.

I vividly remember writing one book where I had planned out my villain, set up his motivation, lined it up for the big reveal…and then I realized he wasn’t the villain at all. I had a moment of horror and panic until my subconscious came to the rescue and revealed who the villain really was. Not only was it a huge story twist, but the heroine had left her younger sister in the villain’s care. It was deliciously awful, and I think it worked better because I didn’t see it coming. If only all books worked out that way!

Do you write better in the morning or evening? How do you handle the distractions of working from home, especially if you’re sharing the space with others?

I am definitely a morning person. Give me a cup of coffee and a sleepy brain, and the pages will come. Back in the days when I wasn’t working full time, I used to write until around lunch time and then run my errands and look after the kids. These days, because I have a day job, I can’t start until I get home from work, so I try to write between 6 and 8 p.m. Weekends are my catch-up days, and I’ll write from about 6:00 in the morning until 9:30 or 10:00 a.m. Sometimes I’ll have a “working dinner,” where my teenage son brings his laptop and homework while I bring my laptop, and we’ll go eat out and write at a restaurant. That’s a fun way to bond. But really, you squeeze in the time however you can. I do try to write every day.

What do you like to read when you’re not reading in your genre? Did you have a favorite book or series when you were growing up?

I recently got hooked on romantasy. A friend of my recommended the Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas, and I absolutely devoured it. I think it’s because romantic fantasy is so similar to historical romance. You can be swept away to an enchanted land with a fairytale hero (or faerie-tale, in this case), and the magical elements are so much fun.

When I was growing up, I actually did read collections of fairytales by the Brothers Grimm and many different storytellers like Hans Christian Anderson and others. Many were quite gruesome (“The Red Shoes”), but others were classic and timeless. When I was twelve, the very first romance I read was On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt, which was a Gothic Victorian. After that, I progressed to medieval romance, and I adored The Maiden by Jude Devereaux. My grandmother brought me a paper shopping bag full of Signet Regency romances, and I became a lifelong reader of romance. I really will read anything at all, and I’m always happy when I have a new series to enjoy.