We’re thrilled to welcome Michelle Buckman to this year’s SCWA conference! Born in New York, and raised in Canada, Michelle was eventually bounced down south to the Carolinas! Along the way she only grew more affectionate for her craft, and has penned SIX novels! We’re so excited that she gave us a little “pre-game” chat! Check it out!
What did you wish you did better when you first began writing?
I wish I’d known more about the publishing business—how it worked, the different divisions, and how to define my audience more accurately.
One’s voice is as unique as a snowflake, how would you define yours?
I hope my voice is lyrical. (At least that’s my aim.)
Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer or an A-Z outliner?
I always know the beginning and ending of a story before I start writing, and I write those scenes first. Then I write whichever scenes are most clear to me at the time.
Whose works do you personally admire?
Maeve Binchy, and Anne Tyler
What’s your favorite book on writing?
Writing the Breakout Novel workbook by Donald Maass
When do you write best, and in what kind of setting is your ideal writing space?
Week-long writing retreats at the beach. Walking on the beach gets my creative ideas flowing. On a regular basis, I write early morning or late at night when the house is quiet.
Which character of your book(s)/poems have you dreamed about?
I have dreamt about all of my characters. Rachel, from Rachel’s Contrition, was with me night and day. David Rudder in Death Panels is one I tried to ignore, but he wouldn’t leave me alone. Carla, in A Piece of the Sky, strutted around with an attitude, not really wanting to tell me her story. Maggie and Dixie (Maggie Come Lately & My Beautiful Disaster) chattered to me all the time, just like my kids, though Maggie is definitely more reserved.
What percentage of your time is spent on the writing, and how much is spent on the editing?
I write and rewrite each scene until it is the best it can be before I move on to the next. My final revision involves cutting and pasting of scenes to proper placement more than editing. (Keep in mind that I am a professional editor, so editing is a natural part of my writing.)
What is your favorite part of the writing process… coming up with the idea, writing the story, or cleaning it up?
My favorite part of the process is getting to know the character and writing down what she tells me. (Writing)
What is your favorite book title (can be your own)?
My favorite of the books I’ve written is Rachel’s Contrition—my most recent publication.
How many books do you read a month, and what are you reading now?
If I include the books that I’m editing, I read 8 hours a day. For pleasure? A couple per month. Right now I’m reading American Gods (a present from a daughter).
Hands down, best advice you can give!?
Read 200 books in your genre. Study the craft. Attend conferences. Network. –In that order.
When did you realize you were a writer?
Was there a time I wasn’t a writer? I officially felt like a professional writer when I was published in Writer’s Digest, giving advice to other writers in one of the best-known writing magazines.
What’s one of your favorite literary quotes?
Shakespeare: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.”
How did your environment or background shape your writing?
Moving to the south at twelve allowed me to shape an outsider’s point-of-view about the south, and yet grow up intimately enough in this environment to write about it authentically.
What other writers, if any, would you compare your style with?
Funny question. Of course my favorite writers are those I try to emulate, which are the ones I most love.
Where are your ideas born? Do they just pop in? Does something normally inspire them?
I am usually inspired by a person I see or a new story, or by an issue with which a friend is suffering.
Give us a writing prompt!
Tonya lifts one nail-bitten hand up to shield her eyes from the morning sun as she stares across the road at the dilapidated garage in her best friend’s backyard, but it’s not the drooping eaves or the cracked window that has her attention.
If you could have dinner with two other writers, living or dead, who would they be? Why?
Maeve Binchy, partly because that would have meant lunch in Ireland. I was in Ireland three weeks before she died. I wish I’d attempted to see her.