Friday, 25 January 2013

Thriller Author MICHELLE GAGNON Interview

To finish off 2012 I read BONEYARD by author Michelle Gagnon and I’m thrilled to be able to interview her.  I’ll be honest and admit that I found Boneyard in a used book store.  There were burn marks on the back cover which added to the thrill side of the book, but I’m glad I got it.  It was one of the best books I have read in a while.  For my review click here.
Quick Bio straight from
Michelle Gagnon is a former modern dancer, dog walker, bartender, freelance journalist, personal trainer, model, and Russian supper club performer. To the delight of her parents, she gave up all these occupations for an infinitely more stable and lucrative career as a crime fiction writer.

Hi Michelle.  Thank you for giving me some of your time.  I’ve been reading some of your past interviews so I’ll try my best not to repeat too many of the questions.

Let’s start with, what is a typical day like in the life of Michelle Gagnon?

A bit dull, I’m afraid. My Twitter profile description is, “I write books and run errands,” and that pretty much covers it.

Boneyard was your second novel in a series of four novels for the adult suspense/thriller genre with FBI agent Kelly Jones.  Is she based on you or anyone you know?

 I’m not quite sure where Kelly came from- honestly, she just kind of walked on to the page. The irony is that when I sat down to write The Tunnels, I had a very different tale in mind: a college coming of age story. But I just couldn’t get it to work. After struggling with it for months, one night I sat down and almost inadvertently killed off one of my main characters. A page later, Kelly appeared. I decided to see where she took me, and ended up writing four books centered on her.

I read that you got the idea for the title from your research on Ted Bundy.  And here I thought I was the only one who spent time researching serial killers.  What type of research did you do for your novels?  (serial killers, police procedures, where they take place, etc.)

For Boneyard, I delved deeply into the history of Ted Bundy, the BTK killer, and John Wayne Gacy. I have to say, I probably almost did too much research, to the point where I was having terrible nightmares. I don’t recommend spending that much time reading news articles, watching documentaries, and reading books about serial killers.

In Boneyard you have 2 serial killers competing against each other, competing police lieutenants from different areas joining Agent Jones on a task force…what is your writing process?  (how do you keep track of things)

I write quickly, which helps. I try to finish the first draft of a book within four months, so in that tight of a window, it’s fairly easy to keep it all straight in my head.

Your latest novel is a thriller for Young Adults, Don’t Turn Around.  Care to tell us about this novel?

How about in just five words? “Teenage hackers on the run.” One reviewer called it,  “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets the Bourne Identity,” and I love that description. The book opens with 16 year-old Noa waking up on an operating table in a warehouse with an incision on her chest and no memory of how she got there. She escapes, and spends the rest of the book on the run, trying to find out what happened to her.

Rumor has it the second novel in this series is due out in September.  Can you give us some hints toward what that novel is about?

DON’T LOOK NOW will be released in late August, and the final installment of the trilogy comes out in August 2014. Basically, in book 2 Noa and Peter are trying to rescue other kids who have been snatched by Project Persephone. And that’s about as much as I can say without giving too much away!

I also hear you have another novel possibly coming out this spring…can we get some info on this one?

Strangelets is a dystopian thriller: I just got the back cover copy, actually, here it is!

17-year-old Sophie lies on her deathbed in California, awaiting the inevitable loss of her battle with cancer…
17-year-old Declan stares down two armed thugs in a back alley in Galway, Ireland…
18-year-old Anat attempts to traverse a booby-trapped tunnel between Israel and Egypt…
 All three strangers should have died at the exact same moment, thousands of miles apart. Instead, they awaken together in an abandoned hospital—only to discover that they’re not alone. Three other teens from different places on the globe are trapped with them. Somebody or something seems to be pulling the strings. With their individual clocks ticking, they must band together if they’re to have any hope of surviving. 
 Soon they discover that they've been trapped in a future that isn't of their making: a deadly, desolate world at once entirely familiar and utterly strange. Each teen harbors a secret, but only one holds the key that could get them home. As the truth comes to light through the eyes of Sophie, Declan, and Anat, the reader is taken on a dark and unforgettable journey into the hearts of teens who must decide what to do with a second chance at life.

Where do you do your writing?  If you had to describe the scene, how would it go?

I write at home on a laptop, so I generally move around the house over the course of the day. Kind of like a sundial.

How long does it take you to write your novels?

3-4 months for the rough draft, then I usually get a month for first draft edits, two weeks for second draft edits, and a week or so for line edits. All told, the process takes about a year, although my editor has the book for significant chunks of that time period.

Are you going to stick with the YA genre or do you think you will go back to the adult side?

I actually am currently finishing up edits on an adult novel that I’ve been working on for the past few years. I’m hoping to be done with that by mid-February, and then my agent will go out with it.

You are published with Mira Books, a part of Harlequin, how many publishers did you go through before finding your home?  (basically how many rejections did you get)

Actually, I ended up leaving MIRA because I was dissatisfied with how the editorial process works there. After suffering through five editors in four books, I opted to change to a different publisher. I’m not entirely certain how many publishers rejected The Tunnels, but MIRA acquired it relatively quickly, if memory serves. Currently I’m published by HarperCollins and SoHo Press, and I couldn’t be happier with them.

You do a lot of the marketing yourself.  Do you consider yourself a traditional publish author or and indie author? I’m traditionally published, in that I’ve always worked under contract for a publisher. Occasionally I’ve considered self-publishing one of my unpublished manuscripts, but so far haven’t really had the time or inclination to pursue it. I’m under contract for two books a year, so it’s been challenging enough to finish those!

What do you feel about the modern Indie Author?

I actually blogged extensively about this a few months ago. My feeling is that whichever path people pursue, as long as they’re happy with it, great. I just wish authors would stop sniping at each other.  (check out Michelle's post here on The Kill Zone, a blog site where some of the hottest thriller writer's post each week)

Now for some rapid fire questions.  Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind.

Favorite movie? Star Wars.

Favorite book as a kid? Lord of the Rings.

Favorite book now? The Book Thief.

If you were going to a deserted island which 3 famous people (living or dead) would you want to be stuck there with you and why?

I’d choose Bear Grylls, Mykel Hawke, and Ruth England (from Man vs Wild & Man, Woman, Wild, respectively). That way I’d have a shot of surviving.

What would I find in your refrigerator right now? Lots of old condiments.

Day or night? Night.

Mountains or beach? Beach.

Pepsi or Coke? Neither- I don’t drink soda.

Loud night on the town or quiet night at home? Quiet night at home.

I’m a chef so I have to ask…what do you like to eat when you’re writing? Popcorn.

What do you do when no one is looking? Sleep.
With that I say, "goodnight and thank you for dropping by."

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