Welcome to the very exciting author of River of Tears, Michele Montgomery. This is the interview Michele graciously consented to following up on our review of her book last week.
RJV: Hi Michele and thank you so much for being with us. I know you recently made a big move. Are you enjoying your new home and settling in okay?
Michele: Hi Rebecca! Thank you for having me here today. Yes, we just made it through a huge state-to-state move and it was amazing. We took two days to travel through AZ., NM, and into Denver, CO without a hiccup. Talk about things that are meant to be, this move was one of them. Once our place in downtown Denver is completed we will be settled for a good long time. I can’t wait to sit with my laptop and look out of the French doors, which overlook the lovely city, and people watch. Oh I can just imagine all the new characters I’ve yet to meet.
RJV: Please tell us about yourself and when (or why) you began writing.
Michele: Tell you about myself. I don’t know why this is, but you’d think that because I’m a writer I would find this so easy and to me it’s the most difficult. Here goes: I’ve been a wife and mother for so many years, and the last four years a grandmother, that I really think I got lost for a little bit. I can always remember that I wanted to tell stories and have other’s read them and get lost in a world of my own creation. I wanted to see my words cause the reader to react to the situation my characters placed them in. (I swear, I don’t place my characters in those intense situations…they do that all on their own).
Don’t get me wrong, I have loved each and every—(well almost every) moment filling my role to my family but when my youngest turned eighteen I was hit with the big: Now what? My overactive imagination woke up, after resting for oh too long and kicked me into gear. Though I’ve always dabbled in creating my own worlds with my own characters I never gave it my full attention. I was faced with loads of time and threw caution to the wind. I gave into my calling and put butt on chair, pen to paper and let it roll. I love to read and get lost in the magic of the story, it’s natural for me to love to write and get lost the same way.
RJV: I recently read River of Tears. I found it a very emotional and haunting story. How did you come to write this story?
Michele: Oh, I’m so happy you read it! River of Tears is my first published novel and one of many. The idea to write Abby and Caiden’s story hit me about fourteen years ago. I, at that time was a full time mom and wife, estranged from my family and feeling somewhat alone. I yearned for family closeness not only from my side but from my husband’s side as well. I wanted my children surrounded with love and family closeness. Who doesn’t? Sad to say it wasn’t to be. Though my husband’s family loved our children and my husband, I was another matter all together. I was the outsider and I didn’t understand the close southern family ways. I began having a fear that because they didn’t care for me, they’d take him away from me. That’s when Abby and Caiden came into the picture. Can you imagine living everyday of your life just waiting for someone to take the love of your life away?
RJV: Please share your favorite excerpt from the story with us.
Michele: I have several that I’d love to share but I think it’d ruin the fun. It’s sort of like getting on a roller coaster during the last loop. So, going on that, I’ll share a couple small one’s.
From River of Tears:
From River of Tears:
Do you know what it feels like when someone comes up behind you and says or does something that just scares the hell out of you? Even if they didn’t mean to do it, you suddenly find yourself a few feet away from where you had been standing trying to access the situation. During that time, you’ve forgotten to breathe, and your heart is pounding incredibly hard. You face that fear head on, trying to determine whether or not you should keep running and your functioning purely on adrenaline. Your pulse has taken on a life of its own, and you break out in a sweat as you start panting to catch your breath. You then realize it was a joke, intentional or not, and you’re able to see it for what it was- a joke, and you’re able to share in the laughter. Believe it or not, all of that happens in the course of just a few seconds. As fast as those feelings of fear hit you, they’re gone, and you’re on your merry way, laughing throughout the day about it.
Well, these feelings that one feels when they are scared and they have absolutely no control over their fate are the same feelings that I have been living with for eight long years. I sat in that cold white hospital room surrounded by machines, and listened to the steady hums and beeps with each passing second not knowing if my husband would ever wake. The respirator was the loudest, if I closed my eyes it sounded as if someone was breathing deeply and the steady beeps from the heart monitor kept in rhythm with it.
There’s no possible way that I could describe any of this and make it sound pleasant.
Michele: This next passage gets right into the heat of it. Abby hadn’t heard Caiden’s voice in almost seven years at this point, she’s listening to a recording that Brad, Caiden’s childhood best friend, managed to get when Caiden called him out of the blue.
"So, you actually got to ask him all that and he didn’t hang up on you?”
“Believe it or not, he didn’t. I was having a time of it let me tell you. Here was the same guy we’ve been looking for and he’s on the phone with me. I almost didn’t give him a chance to answer before I started in with the questions again. I haven’t talked to him in a long time I’d forgotten how deep his voice was. I asked him again where he was, he said that he was having a hard time figuring that out, he said he kept losing track. I immediately turned the recorder on that Nick left. I’ll play it for you, listen carefully.”My heart was in my throat. I was finally going to hear his voice again. That same voice I’d fallen in love with all those years ago. I think I held my breath waiting for Brad to start the recording. My head felt it was floating in a swimming pool of emotions. I felt dizzy and leaned back to rest my head against the wall with my eyes closed.
“Okay Abby, here it goes.”
I was hoping then that I’d be ready to hear the whole tape without passing out. I almost wish sometimes even now that I didn’t hear it.
RJV: That was a very heart wrenching part of the book. What type of research did you do or did the story just unfold for you? Also why was it important to you to tell this story in the first person point of view?
Michele: Honestly? I didn’t do any research while I was writing this story. It was just there in my head and I let it tell itself. Abby fed herself off of my inner fears and I read her well enough to tell HER story. I actually wrote the whole thing long hand first and yes, I suffer from carpal tunnel. I have so many notebooks with my scribbles it’s a wonder they hadn’t been condemned. I think a lot better with pen to paper.
When I began telling the story, I put myself in Abby’s head and it sort of just flowed better telling it in 1st person. This way we get deep into her head and her heart. There’s only so far a 3rd person narrative can go. I wanted people to be able to put themselves in her shoes. I wanted them to feel her pain, her grief, happiness, and despair, as she hunts like a tigress for her mate. This is a fictional world that thankfully not many of us will live through so it was important to me as a writer to give the reader a taste of a different world, if just for a little while.
River of Tears was a challenge to myself. I stepped way out of my comfy zone all the way around with this story. I had a blast with it! I adore Abby and Caiden but I also fell in love with her brother Austin and I think I was only able to do that because I was able to see all of them through her heart.
Also, there’s a powerful message within the story and once you complete the last sentence you’ll know what that is.
RJV: Where can we find River of Tears and the excellent video you’ve created to go with it?
Michele: The book is available at:Barnes & Noble http://search.barnesandnoble.com/River-Of-Tears/Michele-L-Montgomery/e/9781432743208/?itm=1&usri=river+of+tears
Thank you for watching that video! I had a blast creating that. You can find it on my Goodreads Profile here: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6759294-river-of-tears
Or at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRmpm2DSaeI
RJV: What are your future writing plans? Will you stay with this style of writing or try new genres and points of view?
Michele: My future holds oodles of interesting pieces. I have so many stories yelling for attention that I literally have a notebook full of the “next” book pieces. I plan to focus only on fictional pieces. I like to dabble in places many people are afraid to go in real life whether they be a writer or a reader. I’m not afraid to bring a story to life that sometimes is anything but love and sunshine because of what people would think. I want to go to the edge and bring you with me. You’ll be safe. I promise. As long as I can create a story that can be enjoyed and read from the comforts of one’s home, then I feel as if I can get a little dark and push the reader a bit. I like to read John Hart and Stephen King, so you can put me in the middle of those two authors and I won’t complain.
As far as Genres, I am at myself working and writing drama/suspense/thriller stories. I will say that I am terrible at writing love scenes, so it’s very hard for me to write a romance. It’s not to say I won’t at some point. I need to get over my fear and just allow it to flow and happen. I guess I hadn’t met the right couple yet to tell their story. I struggled with River of Tears a bit, writing it in female 1st person. Please don’t laugh, I know I’m a female but I’ve been working on another project that centers around guys and I’ve been dabbling with this story for many years longer than River. In fact, most of the stories that are demanding me center on male leads. Go figure.
I am working on a piece now that is being told in the 3rd person. I want to be able to master them both as each story and character will be different.
As a side note: I do not write what I read for fun. There are days that I think I can do it, then there are days I know I can’t. When I read to center myself I pick up a book by Jonathan Kellerman, Stephen King, John Hart, or even J.D. Robb.
RJV: Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?
Michele: Oh thank you for asking this! I am working on a story that has lived with me for almost 23 years! After I read the story, “The Outsiders” and watched the movie, this story began to build itself. It has been in my head and in my heart demanding to be told since then. It’s at the moment a four part series, the first one is titled, “Behind Blue Eyes.” I have almost three of the four parts done to this point and we should be seeing the 1st one available sometime this year if all goes as planned. I’ll then wait three months before releasing another. I hate to wait on a series too, so I want them all done and ready to go before I release book one. I haven’t worked on the “blurb” much for Behind Blue Eyes just yet but I have this:
TJ, the third eldest attempts to find balance while taking care of his younger brother, and enduring his abusive older brother, running with his gang, and spending time with his girlfriend.
Rival gangs constantly threaten to destroy his gang and the boys he's come to think of as brothers. While at the same time the law keeps close eyes on both the situation at home and the gang activity. The fear of being separated from his brothers by foster care is never far from his mind. He lives a life of violence both on the streets of Chicago and in his home.
Sometimes the only thing in his life that makes sense to him, or is "normal" is his long time girlfriend Nicole--and she often gets neglected amidst his other commitments. With all this, a new threat appears-- Can TJ save his family and friends without sacrificing himself? Intrigue, government deception, and secrets threaten to destroy everything TJ has worked so hard for.
Will it all be for nothing?
RJV: This one sounds very interesting too. Please let us know when it's available. Do you have any tips or advice for those wanting to write and be published?
Michele: My first piece of advice is--Do not give up. If at first you don’t succeed…Yep, try it again. I don’t think there are many writers out there that can say they haven’t pulled their hair out trying to write their manuscript the right way the first time around. If you are asked to rewrite, revise, reedit…Smile and get to work. Find a few people you can trust to tell you the truth in all things and ask them to become your critique team because believe it or not…you need that. You must be able to accept criticism and roll it around using it to perfect your skills. Don’t be afraid to join discussions to ask for advice, its not to say you have to take it, but know that there are others like you out there and we all need advice and even compliments. Being a writer is all I ever wanted to be, but it is a lonely life, so be prepared.
RJV: Please share your website address and how we can follow you on your journey through the world of writing.
RJV: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy life to share yourself with us.
Michele: Thank you Rebecca!! This was a lot of fun.