Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones. Follow her adventures at her blog WRITER OFF THE LEASH or visit michellegriep.com, and don’t forget the usual haunts of Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, except for a short season when I kicked around the idea of becoming an astronaut. Two problems with that, though. First off, I hate science and math, both of which are slightly necessary to succeed in an aerospace career. Secondly, it was a total deal breaker when I found out that astronauts don’t actually wear cool Lt. Uhura uniforms.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
I’d be running a B&B in England. Near a castle. On a moor. With Mr. Rochester as my neighbor. Wow. Did I mention I’m an out-of-the-closet Charlotte Bronte fan-a-maniac?
Why do you write?
Because being a pirate is frowned upon and I’m pretty sure no one will pay me to eat brownies all day. There’s also the simple matter of quieting the voices in my head by capturing them onto paper so I can have some peace.
What does your family think about your crazy career choice?
My husband knew I was certifiably insane when he married me, so no problem there. As for my kid, my oldest son thinks it’s great but only reads audio/technical textbooks. My second son reads my rough drafts, cutting out scenes that are too sissy and/or adding in some sweet moves to my fight scenes. My oldest daughter is too busy fixing her hair to notice that I write. And my youngest daughter is pretty sure Hollywood will make blockbuster movies of my stories, and can I please get her into a starring role?
What’s your favorite part of the writing business? What’s your least favorite?
I’m not going to lie . . . getting paid for penning down my daydreams is sweet perk.
My least favorite writerly chore is marketing. There’s a reason I’m not a salesman. I stink at it.
After becoming a published author, what surprised you the most?
The freak magnet effect. When people hear I’m a published author, suddenly I’m their BFF. I’m convinced that 99.9% of the population is wannabe-writers with not only novel ideas, but entire epic trilogy tales.
What event, writer, or book has most impacted your writing life?
My critique partners. These gals are ruthless. They’re cute when they wear their cheerleader costumes but my-oh-my…my head’s been on a platter many times over for lazy writing or a sagging plot. These writing buddies are always there for me whether I’m riding the crest of victory or weeping from rejection. I couldn’t play this game without them.
What are 3 things about yourself that might surprise your readers?
I can dance a mean polka. I hate fruit. Yes, really. No, I don’t even like strawberries. And I’m a recovering Trekkie. Old school, that is, none of this New Generation nonsense.
What’s one piece of writing advice that’s most benefited you as an author?
Buy the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Go ahead. I’ll wait. This is one book you need to have on your shelf.
What do you struggle with most, as a Christian Fiction writer? How do you overcome it?
One of the biggest traps to snap it’s sharp jaws into a writer’s neck is measuring yourself up against sales numbers. It’s a constant battle to remind myself that my immeasurable worth is found in what Jesus did on the cross, not on having my name in the #1 slot of the New York Times Bestsellers.
How much of yourself is in your characters?
There’s a piece of me in every character—even the villains. Not that I have a split personality, mind you, but this phenomenon is pretty universal amongst writers. In fact, I’ve got a favorite quote from John Milton that sums it up quite nicely:
“For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.”
But sometimes your heroes are a shade on the dark side. Why?
Most heroes are too good to be true. I like to dress mine in unpredictability. Someone who’s not necessarily safe to be around but always has his loved one’s best interests at heart and will put his head on the chopping block to save them if need be. This reminding you of anyone? The same could be said for Jesus. I hope readers make that connection, subconsciously at least. Heroes are not always what we expect them to look like on the outside.
What type of books do you write?
The kind that keep you awake late into the wee hours, heart pounding, curious to find out what’s going to happen. And long after you’ve read the last page, stories that won’t leave your mind for days. But if you simply mean genre, then historical. My latest release is BRENTWOOD’S WARD. Here’s a blurb:
There’s none better than NICHOLAS BRENTWOOD at catching the felons who ravage London’s streets, and there’s nothing he loves more than seeing justice carried out—but this time he’s met his match. Beautiful and beguiling EMILY PAYNE is more treacherous than a city full of miscreants and thugs, for she’s a thief of the highest order . . . she’s stolen his heart.
Available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers.
Why write this book? What was the inspiration?
What attracted my interest as an author was an old newspaper advertisement put out by Henry Fielding, the founder of the Bow Street Runners. It encouraged the public to send a note to Bow Street as soon as any serious crime occurred so that “a set of brave fellows could immediately be dispatched in pursuit of the villains.” I wondered about those “brave fellows” and what kind of villains they might come up against, and thus was born Nicholas Brentwood.
Go for the dark chocolate. It’s healthier.