Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I’m a writer (author of 10 books) and a hypnotherapist, although most times I think my number one job is to provide a lap bed for my torti cat or a treat machine for my Airedale. I have a day job as an administrative assistant at the National Observatory, and I’m currently part of a project to build a large telescope in Chile. Did I mention I was busy? I have always fit my writing into my “free” time, which can be a challenge, but it’s worked for me. I carve out time as I need to, and it’s not unusual for me to go to my boss and say I need the day off because I have the greatest dialog running through my head and I have to get it down on paper. As you can probably tell, I enjoy variety in my life and I’ve written in many different genres: action/adventure, fantasy, romance (both historical and contemporary), spiritual, satire and biography. I never tell the same story twice and I write whatever kind of story inspires me. Sometimes the stories beckon with a light hand, but more often than not they get me in a headlock and drag me to the keyboard, demanding to be written down.
What inspired you to start writing?
I think I was probably born with stories in me, as they started coming out at an early age. Luckily for me, my mother was a teacher and my artist father read voraciously, so books were more common in our home than lint. Reading fairy tales and watching Disney stories like Song of the South and Shirley Temple Theater’s Land of Green Ginger transported me to other worlds, and it seemed an easy jump to start constructing my own stories where I controlled the action.
And what was your first story?
My very first story has been lost to history (which may be a good thing, since I was 5). It was about bunny rabbits; that’s all I remember. I did write my first novel at 12, and that was about a girl and her horse. That also has been lost but again, probably wouldn’t have set the world on fire, anyway. However, it did give me the experience of crafting a story and working until it was done, even if it never went further than that. I do remember being very aware of conflict and resolution, so I guess I was already on the right track.
You've written books in a variety of genres; do you have a favourite genre to write in?
I really don’t, just whatever catches my interest at the time. I will always have a soft spot for that guilty pleasure, romance, but I definitely enjoy a good action/adventure, sci-fi or fantasy. I have found that I enjoy writing stories that have a lighter tone and some comedy in them more than straight drama. My satire on romance, The Pits of Passion by Amber Flame, was probably the most fun to write. At the time, I was working in an office and writing longhand on legal pads in the break room on my lunch hour. It wasn’t long before all my co-workers wanted to read it, so whenever I went back to start working on it again, I had to gather up all the pages that were scattered about the break room because everyone was reading a different page. Having my “fans” right there waiting for the next bit of outlandish comedy definitely urged me on to greater heights of over-the-top satire. I have to give a disclaimer, though; this is not for the faint of heart. Harlequin Romances would never touch this x-rated satire!
If you could work with any author, who would it be?
John Irving or Rita Mae Brown. Both of them create such wonderful, vital characters and tell such fascinating stories. I’d love to be able to see how their brains work, how they come up with the living, breathing details of their characters, and how they concoct their almost incredible scenes. Owen Meany has to be the most memorable character ever devised.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Creating something that was never there before. There’s just something about stringing simple words together to create a whole new world that’s incredibly satisfying. As a hypnotherapist, I’m intensely aware of the power of words, the fact that—again—just stringing the right sequence of words together can induce a deep hypnotic state and take people into the past, the future or into their heart of hearts. I love words, and I love using them like brushes to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. Whenever readers or reviewers say they can see the landscape I’ve described or the action I’ve written, then I know I’ve succeeded.
And the least?
It used to be the marketing, but that’s changing. I think most authors are introverts (we live inside our heads), so putting myself out there to the public was difficult. However, I’ve found that if I can connect with people over the story, it’s less about me and more about the characters and the action. At a recent book fair, I was promoting my non-fiction biography about my aunt who was an Army nurse and prisoner-of-war during World War II. I enjoyed chatting with many people who had their own stories of hardship and resilience, so much so that I forgot about trying to “sell” the book. I was surprised later to realize that I’d actually been selling a book about every 20 minutes, but none of it felt like work—like marketing—because I was having such a good time talking with folks. That beat the heck out of glad-handing wary people and shouting, “Buy my book!”
What advice would you give new and aspiring authors?
Keep at it! Writing is hard; it’s not like taking inventory or working an assembly line, a job you can just go in and do, even if you don’t feel like it. It takes heart and soul and concentration. People often have difficulty with writer’s block, either having trouble staring down that blank piece of paper or feeling overwhelmed by what they’ve begun, wondering if they’ll ever finish. If I ever sat down and thought I was starting a 600-page book, I’d feel overwhelmed, too. So I don’t even think about that, I just sit down and start telling the story. Keep chipping away at it. Even if I only write one paragraph a day—or even one sentence, one word—that’s more than I had yesterday and the story grows. Sure, you may not finish it today or this week or even this year, but if you keep at it, you will finish it. And there’s no greater sense of satisfaction than holding that completed book in your hand for the first time. That’s the thrill of a lifetime.
What are you working on at the moment?
Not writing so much as getting ready for the launch of my latest book, Stone’s Ghost. I just finished it about a month ago, so I’ve been busy working on the cover, the blurb, finding beta-readers, then tweaking, re-reading, tweaking again. I’m planning an online party on July 26 to celebrate the launch: it’s the Friendly Ghost Party (https://www.facebook.com/events/142948992566792/) and the festivities have already started. I’ll have a giveaway on Goodreads, plus there are 2 contests. The first is on the Facebook page and involves posting any pic that’s ghost-related. The pic that has the most likes by the end of the day July 26 will win a Stone’s Ghost prize package. The second contest is on my blog, http://mjb-wordlovers.blogspot.com/. Here I’m asking folks to post their ghost stories in the comment section. At the end of the day, I will choose a random winner from all the posts, also for a prize package. Also on that day only, July 26, Stone’s Ghost will be only .99 cents for the Kindle version, and to celebrate even more, I’m going to discount all my back list books to .99 cents, as well. I’m encouraging everyone to stop by, post or comment, and join the fun. I’ll also be having co-hosts on additional blogs with more fun stuff and will reveal more about that as we get closer to the day.
Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
My latest book, Stone’s Ghost, is a contemporary paranormal story. Here’s the blurb:
Matthew Stone doesn't believe in ghosts … until he meets one. He owns a successful business in Lake Havasu, Arizona, home to the famed London Bridge that was brought over stone by stone and rebuilt over the Colorado River. He has a gorgeous girlfriend, a doting mother, and more money than he needs, but no time for stories about the ghosts who were transplanted from England with the famed bridge. When a chance encounter with a female ghost leads to unexpected friendship, Matt and the ghost are forced to rely on each other as they confront the pasts that haunt them.
I actually thought I was going to write a light, fluffy comedy, but the story and the characters had a different idea. Before I knew it, my main character had developed a dark and moody side, and the story turned very dramatic. I’ve already gotten some excellent advance reviews like this one:
I would have said I've seen just about every possible twist on a ghost story ... but then I read Melissa Bowersock's Stone’s Ghost. She takes a fresh approach to this ancient genre that makes it as current as today's news. Janie, the ghost, is such a real character that you will want to drive to Arizona to meet her. Melissa's other characters are equally well fleshed out; you will come to know them as well as you know some of your own friends, and you will feel for them in a way readers should in a truly captivating novel such as this one. Janie's presence among them raises questions that will keep you guessing until the very last page.—Bill Hiatt, author
Michael, thanks much for the interview, and I’d love to see you and all your readers at the Friendly Ghost Party on July 26 (I’ve posted a world-wide timeline on my blog for those of you “across the ponds.” For more information, visit my web page at www.newmoonrising.net and my blog at http://mjb-wordlovers.blogspot.com.
All my books are available on Amazon and all online bookstores. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter and welcome connections with readers.