Saturday, June 16, 2007

Great Big Blog Party 13 - Michelle Styles

I'm dodging thunderstorms in order to post and the possibilities of needing to build an ark are getting stronger and stronger by the minute - my sympathies go out to everyone who is suffering as a result of the floods all over the country.

The Guest Blogger today is one of the new rising stars of the M&B Historial line and her books are also appearing as Harlequin Historicals in America - Michelle Styles. She is also responsible for bringing stories of Ancient Rome to the Historical line - a time period that everyone said that M&B would not publish - well, Michelle proved them wrong.

Michelle was born in America, in San Francisco, but she moved to the UK when she married and she now lives in Northumberland. Michelle was one of the authors who joined me for the writers' weekend in Lincoln - where her lovely daughter acted as a caring babysitter for Julie Cohen's small son. Michelle has just filmed her first UK TV appearence for Tyne Tees TV (Hope I have that right Michelle) and perhaps she'll tell us when we can watch that on Monday.

Here's Michelle:

Kate Walker has invited me to take part in her 50th book party blog. Okay, I would have begged very hard, if she hadn’t asked, so she was being kind. She said that I could blog about anything, and after a great deal of thought and consideration I have decided to speak about –


When I first went on e-harlequin, Kate W was there and she had posted a little thing about voice. Basically it was: Harlequin has Betty Neels and Charlotte Lamb books. They can and reissue them when readers demand more stories by those authors.. They even have Kate Walker books which can be reissued. What they don’t have is YOU and the way YOU tell a story. I read that and thought thank God, I can’t write a story in the style of anyone else, but I can write like me.

Voice is very important. It is also very hard to define. It is more than word choice. It is all about what you choose to include and exclude in your book. It is about how you mould your world and define your characters. It is how an author combines ideas. It is what makes your story yours. If you try to write in a different style, it will feel off – much like Noel Coward trying to do a James Brown song. Inevitably, your own voice appears. Through a cultivation of your unique voice, you can write memorable stories.

One of Kate’s great strengths as a mentor (and I considered her a mentor before she even KNEW of my existence) is that she encourages authors to write their own story.

As she says – toss out an idea or a premise in a room full of 50 authors with distinct voices and you will get 50 different stories. None will be the same. Each author has her own idea of what is important in a story. It is the making the idea yours that is important.

Once she took time out of her busy schedule to write me a lovely email about how I should write from the heart and how I should choose to write what I wanted. Because IT SHOWS. This gave me the confidence and courage to follow my dream and start writing historical romance, in particularly The Gladiator’s Honour.

The reason Kate’s books are so well loved is that they come from the heart. When you write from the heart, your voice shines through. It is all about form, not formula and it starts with the
author’s voice.

And please Kate can we have 50 more books all written in your wonderfully evocative voice?

Michelle is giving away a signed copy of her third book Sold and Seduced as a prize

If you could write - or read - a book about any time and any place in history what setting and period would you choose?

As always, post your answers in the Comments section and Michelle will pick a winner from them
PS - Michelle has just pointed out to me that I've got the prize slightly wrong - so the full prize is:
" . . . a signed copy of S&S plus a signed copy of her book --The Antonakos Marriage. I still have a couple.The Antonakos Marriage gave me the seed for S&S and by reading the two, you can sort of see how two writers approach things."

Thanks Michelle!


Michelle Styles said...

Actually Kate has got the prize slightly wrong -- it is a singed copy of S&S plus a signed copy of her bok --The ANtonakos Marriage. I still have a couple.

TheANtonakos Marriage gave me the seed for S&S and by reading the two, you cansort of see how two writers apprach things.

Hopefully someone will want to read them.

So go ahead, answer the question!!!

Anonymous said...

Well I don't read as many historical novels as I do paranormal etc. but when I do I love reading about either the Vikings or regency britian.

If I could have a choice of setting however I would pick ancient Greece and the time when people believed the gods walked among them.

Why haven't I found any like that yet?

juliemt said...

Hi, Michelle! I read, reviewed and loved by The Antonakos Marriage and Sold and Seduced, but if I could write a book in a historical era, it would be the Tudor/Elizabethan era. I just find that time period so utterly fascinating and wish that there were more books being written and published set during that time.


Unknown said...

I love reading books from the Civil war times. I don't know why I guess it is because of where I live. Some of the civil was took place near where I live and I love reading about it. If I was going to write a book I would reserch the civil war and write a good romance novel, kind of like Gone With The Wind.

anne said...

I adore historicals but the period and locale that is utterly captivating is Renaissance Italy.

Sandra Schwab said...

Michelle! *cries the fellow blogger from Unusual Historicals with delight*

I love researching and writing about Regency Britain -- one of my most favourite research topics was certainly the Holland House circle: a whole load of people behaving in the most eccentric fashion. Wonderful!

But I've also got this paranormal/historical set in 1860s France slumbering inside me. It's definitely waiting to break free. And now that I've got a 19th-century Baedeker's travel guide on Pari, even more so than before. :)

ellie said...

I become immersed in a novel that captures a period that I find fascinating. I enjoy British books that are set during the Depression. They can be set in Scotland or England and I find them irresistible.

pearl said...

My favorite of all historical settings and period would have to be pre-industrial England. The beauty, bucolic surroundings and the lifestyle is superb.

Cherie J said...

I enjoy reading historical romances. I especially love regencies, roman era romances, and viking romances.

lidia said...

I used to read many more historicals than I currently do. My favorite period then was Regency England.

Lately however, I've been leaning towards those that are set in Scotland. There's something about the Scotish hero, his plait, etc... that draws me. I also find that they are more "moral" than the lords from England. Could just be the author's potrayal. LOL

Donna Alward said...

My favorite period is so much more recent it's even controversial as to whether or not it's actually historical.

I love world war 2. LOVE IT. Someday, someday I am going to write a story, and I'm not sure if it's going to be historical or if it's going to be "epic", the past with the present...but a friend of my mom's met her husband, and if I have this right, he went to training, and before he shipped out she hopped on a train, travelled half-way across Canada and married him before he went overseas. When he came back they had decades of happy marriage.

My imagination goes wild with that scenario.

Michelle don't stick my name in the hat, but I had to come post anyway.

robynl said...

HI Michelle and welcome,

I love the WWI and WWII period also. The setting of Canada(where I'm from) would be most fascinating.

Unknown said...

I'm coming in a bit late here, Michelle, but all the comments are so interesting I couldn't resist adding my own. I have a fascination for Edwardian England, and one of my favourite books of all time is The Shooting Party by Isabel Colegate, which describes the events (as the title suggests!) on a weekend shooting party in a big house in October 1913.

In the final pages of the book the narrator says 'By the time the next season came around a bigger shooting party had begun, in Flanders...' I think what makes it such a fascinating time to read/write about is the fact that all that decadence and glamour was so doomed, and that as readers we are all too aware of the tragedy on the horizon. It lends everything a special poignance.

(Can you tell I'm trying to sell it to you Michelle... An Edwardian book please...?!)

Anonymous said...

Coming in late also (blame deadline) - one of my fave of all times is set in Restoration England (Diana Norman's 'The Vizard Mask'), and I'd love to read more set in that period.

My big love is the 1870s. Gladstone, Disraeli and the pre-Raphaelites. (Especially as they were in love with my other favourite period - medieval.)

And there are certain large houses in Northumbria with amazing history which need novels writen about them (hint, hint).

Michelle Styles said...

Oh howe lovely. I did have this moment -- thinking no one will comment!

India --Edwardian England would be great but I would first have to get approved by editors. At the moment, As I begged v nicely I am getting to do the North East in the 1820s. I have just finished the first draft of my Victorian (cue lots of hoorays ) and am now editting.

The great thing about people in differnet time periods is that although cultures change, basic human emotion stays the same.

KateW says that I have until monday before I get to draw a winner, so please your comments coming.I find it all fascinating.

Minna said...

Finland, in the 19th century when the country had become a part of Russia.

kimmyl said...

I love historical romances. It would have to be in Scotland around the 1800's. I also love reading books with the same historical sense in the paranormal novels. Thers just something about that time era and the scottish men and country that I love.

sharon said...

I enjoy historicals set in Liverpool and throughout England pre and during World War 2. I become engrossed with these novels and have always appreciated them.

diane said...

Historicals that hold me forever and keep me spellbound are set during the time period between the world wars and during both wars, especially those in England and the colonies, such as Canada.

Lois said...

Heck, I might be a life-long American, but I'm also practically a life-long England fan! :) Have London, will read, basically. ;)



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