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Hey guys!  We’ve got a guest with us today…Michelle Lauren.  Michelle has a book coming out from Liquid Silver in the near future and she’s also a finalist in the AMERICAN TITLE V.

Hope you enjoy her visit with us!

V&S: Okay…standard questions all us writers get asked.  😉  Which came first…oh, wait.  Wrong question.  When did you first start writing?

Michelle Lauren: I first started writing professionally six years ago as a freelancer. At that point, I wasn’t sure what facet of the publishing world I wanted to go into, but I knew it needed to be challenging yet allow me to flex my creative muscle.

My big break came in an amusing way. I’d been trying (unsuccessfully) to get one of my articles published. On a fluke, I interviewed an literary agent who was also a member of my RWA Yahoo group. When the editor of Romance Writers Report, the monthly magazine for Romance Writers of America, passed on my article, I offered to provide my literary agent interview on spec. She accepted and that’s how I got my recurring gig as the Agent Spotlight columnist.

At the time, I thought “on spec” meant pro bono; so getting the first check in the mail was a BIG surprise! But it was a welcome one. After that, I worked as an editor at Cobblestone Press, which was so fun and educational. Working as an editor helped me hone my writing skills and I’ll be forever grateful to the wonderful staff for taking a chance on me.

V&S: Is there any story that you wish you hadn’t written? Is there any story that someone else wrote that you wish you’d thought of first?

Michelle Lauren:

To the first question: Absolutely not. Every story – even the duds – taught me something. Not to say that I’ll publish everything I write (some of my early novels make me cringe in hindsight). It’s like that adage: you have to go through the hard times (in this case, the dud manuscripts) to appreciate the good times.

To the second question:

This is a tie for me. It’s between A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and L.A. Banks’ The Vampire Huntress stories. Both books are so unique and creative; they pushed boundaries on what was expected from stories in those respective genres – children’s/intermediate fiction and paranormal fiction. That’s what made them memorable and so enjoyable.

V&S: What kind of stories do you write?

Michelle Lauren: I write multicultural urban fantasies. I adore this genre because it allows me to blend my favorite things: the fantastical elements and action of comic books with the happily ever after of romances.

Two of the books I’m most proud of are Starstruck and How to Tame a Harpy. Starstruck (coming in 2009 from Liquid Silver Books) is about a love shy celestial star that crash lands on earth, where her kind are hunted for their life-prolonging energy. Rescue comes in the form of a jaded hero whose touch melts her resistance, but whose past threatens to destroy them both.

How to Tame a Harpy (a story about a love shy harpy with a temper that has a mind of its own, and a genetically-enhanced bad boy with the ability to shapeshift into stone) is a finalist in Romantic Times magazine’s American Title V competition, a contest based on the popular show American Idol. Except instead of winning a record deal, the winner receives a book contract with Dorchester Publishing.

It’s a really cool contest because it gets readers involved in voting for their favorite book. Each round of voting is themed. Round 3 (Best Story Summary) starts January 19th – February 1st, 2009. To learn more, visit my site: www.michellelaurenbooks.com.

V&S: What is one thing about you that surprises people?

Michelle Lauren: I think I’m most surprised when people behave cruelly or do vindictive things.
V&S: Name five books you think every romance reader should read.

Michelle Lauren:

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. This is an unconventional love story that delivers in every aspect: passion (the exchanges between Teacake and Janie are both steamy and cathartic); humor; voice; and making a social statement. This is a December-May romance, with Teacake being the younger man and Janie being a woman twice married but never divorced (ponder that for a moment; yeah, she was ahead of her time).

Shakespeare. So many modern stories and movies rehash his tales that it pays to know them well.

A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland: No matter how many times I read this book (and it’s been many), I never get tired of this. It’s a time travel romance where a contemporary woman travels back in time to Scotland and falls in love with the cranky but gorgeous Highland laird. This is a PG romance, and one of my favorite stories.

This is All I Ask by Lynn Kurland: Ms. Kurland has a knack for sweet romances that keep you coming back for more. This book features an unconventional romance between the Dragon of Blackmour and his unlikely bride. I’m a sucker for jaded men and heroines with inner strength. I also loved that the hero of this book is blind. And he still kicks butt in an utterly believable way

The Taming of Jessi Rose by Beverly Jenkins: What can I say about Ms. Jenkins except that she knows her craft and never disappoints? This book is a Western and isn’t exactly a May-December pairing; the indomitable Jessi Rose is 32 to Griffin’s 25, but I liked that aspect of their relationship. Both are fighters and their chemistry is undeniable.

Michelle, thanks for coming by! For the readers, you can read more about Michelle at her site

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