Straight Talk with Michele de Winton
When you are getting ready to start a new book, what’s the first thing you do?
Go for a walk and then sit down with a big piece of paper! Yes, old fashioned I know but it somehow seems easier to spread my thoughts out large in front of me with plenty of room for me to add comments, characters and sneaky plot threads.
How do you celebrate when you finish writing a book?
This is something I’ve usually been building towards for a while. When I can start to see the end in sight, I’ll start planning. Maybe by getting all the ingredients for a fabulous meal ready, or booking myself in to go out for breakfast the next day. I’ll definitely put a lush bottle of wine in the fridge in preparation for the evening! When the final word lays itself down happily on the page I’ll usually pull out a big contented sigh and smile. If it’s not getting too close to the end of the day I’ll often go out for a walk on the beach, there are some great stormy black sand beaches around where I live so they’re great summer and winter.
Have you had any fun fan moments since you became a writer?
Had a wonderful moment the other day when I was waiting (and waiting and waiting) for a reply from a publisher and feeling like I should just give up this writing business when someone came rushing up to me having seen me in the local paper and gushed that she was just starting out at writing and wanted to be me! It made me realize just how far I’d come with now being able to call myself a full time writer and really mean it!
If you could have dinner, coffee, or drinks with a fictional character, who would you choose and where would you go?
Captain Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp of course). We’d go to Srinagar in India’s Kashmir province and stroll along the lake side before we boarded our houseboat and had a fabulous meal cooked by a personal chef. Of course because Captain Jack Sparrow was there I wouldn’t have to worry about being abducted and my embassy wouldn’t issue me a travel warning when I applied for the visa. Instead we’d be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. The Captain’s hand always ready to reach for his sword…savvy.
Do you usually begin a book with a character or a plot?
I love my characters and always give them a little moment or two to reveal their own plot before I impose mine on them. It’s amazing what they come up with. I’ve started to become more of a firm mistress with them over the past year however and now they seem much easier to get into line, which I’m always grateful for. For me the plot elements are definitely the building blocks of the story, but the characters are what make it fun to write and make the whole thing make sense.
What was the inspiration for your book?
I was a guest writer on a Cruise ship last year. I didn’t even know there was such a thing, but I had been doing a reading at an event and the CEO of a cruise ship company happened to be there. She asked if I’d be interested doing something similar. A free cruise? Count me in! Of course I said yes! It meant that my husband and I had a sort of hybrid cruise, having a full guest experience with a lovely stateroom and full access to the onshore tours etc, but also going backstage and into the staff offices and quarters of the ship. The Cruise Director on my cruise was a man (there really are very few women in that role for some reason) and I never even met the Captain. But watching the dancers interact with guests and being involved with some of the shows sparked something in my mind. I have also been a professional dancer so felt I definitely knew what my characters would be thinking and feeling.
How difficult is if for you to come up with a title for your books?
This is definitely something I have trouble with for books and even magazine articles. Perhaps because I’m too close to the subject I get stuck on a title even though I know it’s not quite right. It means the book lives in my mind as that title so I need outside help to find a new one. Luckily for me I have a great writing group who often come up with some crazy suggestions which usually spark the perfect title.
Who would play your hero/heroine in the tv or film version of your book?
Maggie Gyllenhall – with a blond wig! She’s definitely got enough sass to pull it off, and can play strong and sultry as well as soft and devoted.
Channing Tatum (although he’d have to wear green contact lenses). He’s got a good bod and he really can dance. Defiantly one to sweep ladies of their feet – literally.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
- Write. There are very few full time writers where I’m from in New Zealand, but the discipline to get up every day and make yourself get onto the page is the thing that will likely be the difference between you getting published and not. And of course if you only talk about writing your book rather than actually doing it the words won’t ever get on the page.
- Edit. Don’t send off the first draft of anything, short story, play, novel. Even if it is a piece of genius. Let it sit, just for a couple of days if that’s all you’ve got and then re-read. You’ll likely pick up something that could do with tweaking.
- Create a team. I’ve been part of a writing group for the last few years and they are the only people who see my first drafts. Having an objective eye look over your work is invaluable.
- Read. Everything.
What jobs have you had on your way to becoming a writer?
I’ve been an arty type most of my life. But to start with I studied law. As with a surprising number of lawyers I ended up working in the arts and have never really left. In fact when I was fresh out of University and travelling in England I applied for jobs in both law firms and with dance companies and got all the dance jobs and none of the legal jobs! I danced for a few years before ending up producing work (that legal background came in useful after all) both for big corporate companies and for small arts ones. I had actually been commissioned to make a dance work when I wrote my first novel, the characters just wouldn’t get off the page.
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
Both. Is that possible? In the past I’ve always been a complete pantser, letting the characters run riot and pretty much tell me what they want to do. But as I’ve needed to hone my craft I’ve discovered the joys of more diligent plotting. Now I think I really am a bit of both, but love it when my temperamental characters agree to live in the world created by my carefully thought out plot!
Where does the magic happen? Where do you write?
I have an office on the side of the house. It’s surrounded by trees and with French doors at one end that let in loads of air and sunlight when the weather is right. One wall is almost entirely covered by bookshelves heaving with books and the other has a large window framed by wisteria that bursts into purple bloom each spring. When I put it like that it sounds rather idyllic. It does however have a good layer of dust on each of the aforementioned bookshelves and my desk is never quite as empty as I’d like it to be. I think writing often overtakes housework on my priority list!
Aside from writing, what do you do in your free time?
I have a small child so at the moment I don’t really have much free time that isn’t full of washing feeding or playing. But we do manage to get out for walks, there are plenty of parks and beaches close to us and I love the sound of the ocean. I also love to read and reckon it is part of my job so I have a wonderful excuse to curl up with a book as often as I possibly can.
Other than that, I was part of a children’s writing collective a while ago and started making soft toys as prizes for our junior “guest” writers and it’s a hobby that has stuck. All my friend’s kids now have strange monster soft toys to sleep with!
Do you prefer print books or eBooks?
There are certain books I like to re-read and with those I do love owning the tactile thing, having it on my shelf, maybe so I can go back over my favorite passages. But I love my iPad too and my house is getting much tidier now that far fewer books are cluttering up the hallway. So I can’t say I prefer one over the other. It’s more that some things work well as printed books and others work as eBooks. It’s definitely a plus being able to load up on eBooks (especially all the Indulgence titles) for holidays without the weight of all that paper filling my bag – and it leaves more room for shoes!
What’s in the works for you?
I have a paranormal romance novella A Talon at her Throat coming out with Wild Rose Press in September which is part of a trilogy and of course I’m working on a few other titles for Indulgence and Entangled Publishing.
About Michele de Winton
I was born in the mid 1970’s amid a burgeoning sprawl of vineyards and new retirement homes. With two teachers as parents, my love of reading and books was cemented at an early age. Being a writer however, was not was I was supposed to be when I ‘grew up’. Despite training in law (or perhaps because of it) I’ve been a dancer, producer, writer, and all round arty type in various countries for most of my life.
Moving into writing full time in 2010 was like being a part of a contemporary romance – perfect! Creating new worlds for my characters, or rather letting those same characters show me their worlds is now a highlight of my daily life. And falling in love over and over as each hero and heroine allow their true feelings to surface is something very special. What a treat to do it every day! Now back home in New Zealand after travelling plenty, I write from an office where the sound of the tapping keyboard is only rivaled by the whisper of wind in the trees.
About The Boss and Her Billionaire
Cruise director Michaela Western has everything she wants—everything except a sex life. But there are no secrets on cruise ships. She risked her job once for a dalliance with the Captain, and won’t do it again for a few minutes of toe-curling pleasure. Until a devilishly handsome new staffer with a body made for sin tempts her to walk on the wild side…
Investment billionaire Dylan Johns always gets what he wants. He is used to giving orders—not taking them—until he’s forced to go on hiatus from his investment company. To bide his time and carry out an old dream, he takes a job on a cruise ship—and ends up taking orders from his gorgeous, but frigid, new boss. He is determined to loosen her up with a fun onboard romance, but their no-strings fling turns serious and Dylan is forced to confess his lies.
When the affair threatens to shatter Michaela’s own career dreams, she finds herself caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.