Any House Hunters fans out there? You know how they have the “Where Are They Now” series? It’s been five years since I started doing Creative Spaces interviews, and I thought it might be fun to take a cue from HGTV and check in on some of the authors and illustrators interviewed in the past and see what’s new with them, and if anything has changed in their workspace or creative process.
First up is Michelle Ray. When I first featured Michelle, her YA novel Falling for Hamlet had recently been published. You can read her Creative Spaces interview here. Falling for Hamlet was optioned to be a TV show–very exciting news for a writer–and that option turned into The Royals, which premiered on E! in March. Michelle also has a new, suspenseful YA out as an ebook titled Mac/Beth. Her book is available for the can’t-be-beat price of $2.99! I’ll let Michelle tell you more about it, and fill you in on what else she’s been up to lately . . .
Barbie house still in my workroom. Yup, I still share the room with everyone. Note the papers I should grade by my feet.
What have you been working on since Falling for Hamlet?
My newest book is Mac/Beth, which is a re-imagining Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It’s set in Hollywood and focuses on ambition and guilt, and the challenges of fame. I love turning classics into something accessible to modern audiences who are either afraid of the original piece or love the original and want to experience it a new way.
I have a manuscript out on sub with my lovely agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, and we’re working on editing both historical fiction and modern realistic fiction manuscripts. While there are still classics I want to tackle, it’s been fun to come up with completely original ideas, too.
More papers to grade on the couch. There’s always something I should be doing, but when I have time, I sweep it to the side and write.
How have your work habits/routine changed over the past four years?
I find that I write less often than I used to. It used to be a nightly ritual. But you know what? I missed my family. I would ignore everyone to write, and that didn’t work for us anymore. I find, however, that because I’m always thinking about my stories – while I’m cooking, while I’m driving, walking down the halls at school — that when I do have time to sit down and write, I’m really fast because I’ve imagined the conversations and settings already. Now that my kids are older and have activities constantly (I don’t know how this happened! I swore we wouldn’t over-schedule), I often have time to write while I wait. I bring my laptop and sit at the lessons or in my car to get my words out of my head and onto paper.
Writing while squished in the car.
Do you have any newfound wisdom you’d like to share?
Things might not go as planned, but if you like to write, write! I find that when I don’t think about the business side of writing or about disappointments and jealousies and rejections, but I focus on stories I want to tell instead, I’m so much happier!
I’m also trying to celebrate things as they come along, even if the victories are small. When Falling for Hamlet came out, I was so nervous about everything that I didn’t celebrate each moment enough. I was anxious about reading at a signing instead of thinking, “People are here to support me. Smile and enjoy.” I worried about what people thought, how it would sell, and what was coming next instead of living each moment as a victory. I realize, too, that I like sharing my work with people I know, that their compliments matter a lot, and that having my friends as fans is fun. When The Royals was going through the optioning and pilot process, I tried to remember to appreciate each positive thing that happened since any step might have been the last. It was all out of my hands, so I tried to celebrate each unexpected positive and hope for more. When The Royals premiered and I had friends send champagne and call and text and tweet and post, it was like having my funeral before I was dead. When in life do you get to hear so much nice stuff and know how much people love you?
Lots of lessons already, but here’s more: I’ve learned patience and resilience, and that writing is personal and that it hurts to be rejected and to have people say mean things online, but that for every mean thing, there’s at least one nice thing (probably more) said by someone else. But I’ve learned, too, that my biggest critic is probably me, and that while the world might not be waiting for my next book, my friends are, and I’ll write for them and hope that the larger world gets to enjoy my stories, too.