Michelle Buckley

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Book Interviews & Reviews

With the re-release of Bulletproof Soul this month, and the release of Trippin' this past July, I'm busy promoting, promoting, promoting!

Most recently, I did an interview with Keith Lee Johnson, best-selling author of the Honeymoon is Over, Little Black Girl Lost 1-3, Fate's Redemption, Pretenses and Sugar and Spice.
Feel free to check out and comment on the KLJ interview below.


Keith Lee Johnson: You're coming off the success of BulletProof Soul. Congratulations! Tell us a bit about your new novel, Trippin'.

Michelle Buckley: My new novel Trippin' is about a travel club made up of 7 people that go on a trip every quarter. They are 20-30 something professionals looking to have fun and enjoy all life has to offer -- along the way, they wind up getting more than they bargain for.

Keith Lee Johnson: Tell us a little bit about the twins. I think the readers will be interested in those two.

Michelle Buckley: As a kid I always wanted a twin and I guess this book was my way of living out that fantasy. LOL. The twins are very close but as different as two people can be. One is a doctor whose practice is in the projects and she's all about helping those that can't help themselves and the other is always out for herself. Always about the mighty dollar. She's a stripper and Internet Web porn star. But I wanted to play with the theme of role reversals and with the twins, you do see the "good" twin becoming bad and vice versa.

Keith Lee Johnson: So the doctor twin gets buck wild?

Michelle Buckley: That's an understatement. She's stuck in an unhappy marriage and let's just say she steps out of her marriage to find some love, joy and tenderness. But in addition to that, she gets in touch with her dark side that's not a good thing for other members in the club.

Keith Lee Johnson: Uh, how much of this is true? LOL!

Michelle Buckley: Isn't everything a writer creates based on some grain of truth? :-) I got the idea for my book based on the fact that in one month I met two people that belonged to travel clubs. I also was drawn to news about Natalee Holloway, the teen that seems to have gone wild and disappeared when she went on a school trip with her high school. I was intrigued by the idea that when people go on vacation, they sometimes throw caution to the wind and act out in ways they normally wouldn't, not expecting their dirt to come back home to haunt them. That's what happens in Madetra's case, the doctor twin.

Keith Lee Johnson: So the Doctor has an affair. Why do you think so many people are seeking extramarital relationships?

Michelle Buckley: There are a lot of unhappy people out there in relationships. I think too people are missing things within themselves and they look for outside validation from others. Sadly, because of all the affairs, you're seeing a rise in things like HIV/AIDS among heterosexual women. I heard a stat recently that said the number one risk factor for black women who get HIV is that they are married. How is that the #1 risk factor? Sad.

Keith Lee Johnson: Are you saying sexuality has resulted in the HIV/AIDS epidemic?

Michelle Buckley: I'm saying supposedly "safe" heterosexual activity is a huge contributor. I met a young fellow recently that told of a cousin who was married and through an affair, he caught HIV and gave it to his wife. It's happening every day. I'm reading a great book about it now called All I Ever Did Was Love A Man. It's pretty eye opening.

Keith Lee Johnson: Do you think HIV/AIDS would disappear or decline significantly if all the affairs ceased immediately?

Michelle Buckley: No. If only it were that simple. But I do think regular testing and honesty about sexual histories whether married or not is something more people should practice.

Keith Lee Johnson: So then lying is responsible for the spread of the disease?

Michelle Buckley: Again, it's a contributor. There are so many people running around with HIV and other diseases and then having unprotected sex and passing it along to the unexpecting. Maybe my Internet porn star character in Trippin' has the right idea about safe sex -- just watch it on a screen -- you can't catch anything from doing that.

Keith Lee Johnson: LOL! Well, that's one way of not catching it, but don't skin flicks make people want to get involved sexually? Perhaps the doctor in your story watched too many sex videos and was compelled to experiment. ;-)

Michelle Buckley: Good point! I think she was just a good girl for a little too long and she decided it was time to take a walk on the wild side. I think we all have those points in our lives -- to be and do the opposite of what is always expected of us.

Keith Lee Johnson: So is this a drama book? Is it a romance like the 70s TV show The Love Boat?

Michelle Buckley: LOL! Huh? No, it's not like The Love Boat. It is definitely a book filled with drama. And it covers important issues like infidelity, drug and sexual addiction, surrogacy, betrayal and stalking. I don't think you'd ever see that on The Love Boat.

Keith Lee Johnson: Tell those of us who don't get out much what Surrogacy is?

Michelle Buckley: Surrogacy is using a woman's body to carry a baby for another. In this book a woman is blackmailed into being impregnated with the egg and sperm of another woman and the man they both love.

Keith Lee Johnson: The man they both love? Wow! Okay. I'm sure the readers will be interested in that part of the storyline, too. What else do we have to look forward to from you, Michelle?

Michelle Buckley: I just hope to continue writing books that people respond to. And I want to continue to grow my craft and continue to challenge myself with every novel I write. I'm currently playing around with a sequel to Trippin' called Still Trippin' and eventually I would love to see my novels turned into movies on the silver screen.

Keith Lee Johnson: Tell us about your road to publication?

Michelle Buckley: It took me about a year to finish my first book. I hooked up with author Donna Hill who at the time was acting as an agent. She sent the manuscript for Bulletproof Soul to Carl Weber at Urban Books, he liked it and 1 1/2 years later, I was published.

Keith Lee Johnson: So you didn't have to struggle to get a contract? That's not the norm is it?

Michelle Buckley: I struggled. Before Donna, I sent out letters to agents and was rejected. Plus, a few publishers passed on my novel initially. But that's only because they weren't as visionary as Carl :-) who is a master when it comes to the business of publishing and writing a damn good story!

Keith Lee Johnson: I concur. Carl Weber is the man. On top of that, he treats his people well. So tell us, how long did it take you to get published? I talk to a lot of authors and most seam to think they can somehow leap frog the system because they met an author.

Michelle Buckley: From the time I signed a contract to the time my first book, Bulletproof Soul was on the shelves it took 1 1/2 years. I meet a lot of writers too that think they'll be published immediately. They don't understand there is a long involved planning process and it takes a while to get things in the pipeline. But to have a lofty dream of being published, I guess it helps to have a healthy belief that all things are possible. Hope springs eternal.

Keith Lee Johnson: I think you misunderstood the question. For all the authors, readers, book clubs, and agents who read this news letter, please tell us the number of years it took to see your book in print from the time you wrote it to all the rejections you received.

Michelle Buckley: I'm sorry -- from the time I began writing the book until the time it was in bookstores -- it took about 3 years. That includes writing the book, finding an agent, making agent edits, finding a publisher, signing a contract, and going through more edits at the publisher's request.

Keith Lee Johnson: That was pretty darn quick, Michelle. It doesn't happen that quickly for most would-be authors. Would you agree with that statement?

Michelle Buckley: It doesn't seem like it was quick! LOL. No joke, it can take a while, particularly if you're committed to getting with a major mainstream publisher. One thing would-be writers have to learn is how to be patient, yet persistent and tenacious. But, I think because there are so many venues hungry for works by African-Americans, more and more people are getting published quicker than they would have say 5-10 years ago. Everyone's journey is going to be different. There is no longer a "right path" to take when it comes to getting published.

Keith Lee Johnson: I agree, but, I know authors who've been writing for years and still can't get a contract with a small press, let alone a traditional publisher. Eventually they ended up self-publishing, which is another option. I just don't want authors reading this to think it will happen for them the way it happened for you. I also agree that patient is something they will have to acquire. Now, tell us, how has your experience in the publishing biz been? Any hateration out there that you experienced or witnessed?

Michelle Buckley: Actually, I have found that most writers, especially those that are established have been very helpful and willing to offer advice. Folks I've run into haven't been as territorial as you may have expected. Of course there is always going to be some hateration, especially when you're doing something others wish they could do. I've heard tons of horror stories and I just say if possible, try to rise above it.

Keith Lee Johnson: Good advice. As we come to the end of the interview, I gotta ask a political question as I generally do with most authors that sit in the seat you currently occupy. If Senator Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice ran for the presidency, who would you vote for and why?

Michelle Buckley: Wow, you threw me on that one! I have this image of Condoleezza out shopping during the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina debacle and that among other things, makes me think she wouldn't really be out to help regular, everyday folks. While both women are smart, I'd have to go with Stand-By-Her-Man Hillary.

Keith Lee Johnson: What should Condoleezza have done that Senator Clinton did do after Katrina hit?

Michelle Buckley: The two women were in very different positions and roles as part of our government. As Secretary of State, an acting top member of our nation's cabinet, Condi seemed to not have her priorities in order. Hillary from early on was very critical of FEMA (hell who wasn't) and she early on wanted an independent investigation to determine just what went wrong. Condi, on the other hand was playing the role of "dedicated Republican/Bush mouthpiece." She eventually went to "help out" and she towed the line when it came to defending the administration against charges of racism and inadequately responding...

Keith Lee Johnson: Okay, which party do you think is doing the most for Negroes? Support your answer please.

Michelle Buckley: Right now, I don't think either party is doing much for blacks. Our standard of living isn't as a whole getting better, efforts to raise the minimum wage aren't being fruitful, so many of us don't have healthcare, taxation is as out of control as ever.

Keith Lee Johnson: How would raising minimum wage help any one, black or white? Aren't minimum wage jobs mainly for high schoolers and college freshmen? One certainly couldn't rear a family on that poultry amount. Therefore, shouldn't black folk be more concerned about how they can get much better paying jobs?

Michelle Buckley: We'd like to think that minimum wage jobs are just for young people in school, but surprisingly lots of people are trying to raise families on minimum wage jobs. Mind you they are having to work several of them. I write direct mail letters for a national nonprofit, and you'd be surprised at the number of stories we receive from them about people in need who are trying to live on minimum wage pay. It's really sad. Blacks should be concerned with getting better paid jobs, but to do that we have to stay focused and dedicated in school and we need to be determined to want more, be more and do more. Unfortunately, in lots of cases the deck is stacked against us -- and often we are our worst enemies. We have it in our minds we can't do better or when we see others striving to do better, we're not always supportive.

Keith Lee Johnson: When the deck is stacked against us, what should we do about it other than scream racism? Or is there anything else we can do?

Michelle Buckley: How does the saying go -- if the door is closed, go in through a window. It's just like with getting published. Are you going to stop trying just because you get your first rejection? Nope you keep going. You have to try not to let racism or whatever barriers you feel are holding you back stand in your way. Easy to say, but hard to do -- absolutely! But what choice do you have? To give up? That shouldn't be an option.

Keith Lee Johnson: Interesting response. Pity our so-called black leadership hasn't figured that out. What you said needs to be trumpeted everywhere black folk congregate. Okay, last question. When will you have another novel on shelves and what will it be about?

Michelle Buckley: I know we were talking earlier about how long it takes for things to get into the publishing pipeline. Well, I'm writing my third book now, but it won't be out until 2008. I'm working on a sequel to Trippin' called Still Trippin' and people can expect plenty of drama in this one too!

Keith Lee Johnson: Whet our appetite a bit.

Michelle Buckley: It's going to be told from one of the dead characters' perspectives -- oh, and he's telling the story from Hell. He's the character that everyone I've talked to that has read the book hates the most! Basically his family has their hearts set on revenge against his killer and it is going to be a hot but fun mess. At least, that's what it seems the story is about today. But as you can relate to, characters and stories have a way of taking on a life of their own and often the writers as well as readers are just along for the ride!

Keith Lee Johnson: So do you believe there's a real hell?

Michelle Buckley: Certainly, I believe in Heaven and Hell.

Keith Lee Johnson: Wow. Now that's something to chat about, but, alas, I did say only one more question so I guess I'll let you off the hook. Maybe next time when we meet again in this place. Tell the people where they can find your novels.

Michelle Buckley: That is definitely a topic for another day! My books are available in most bookstores. They can also be purchased online at sites like amazon.com, cushcity.com and barnesandnoble.com. Also, I'd like people to visit me online at michellebuckley.com and michellebuckleyblog.blogspot.com. They can also check out my online store for mugs, clothes and other fab gifts at cafepress.com/michellebuckley.

Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said...

This is so cool to read. Keep up the good work and I hope that you and yours have a great Thanksgiving.


1:58 PM, November 22, 2006  
Blogger Michelle said...

Dr. Deb. Thanks for the encouraging words about the interview. You'll be doing plenty of these when your book is published. :-) Hope you have a fabulous Turkey Day as well.

2:28 PM, November 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your comment "I also was drawn to news about Natalee Holloway.... not expecting their dirt to come back home to haunt them."

You are the problem. YOU BLAME the victim of an obvious crime. So your logic leads to no rights and no expected freedom for women? I have no idea what you have written about here and from this pice of insight into your attitude, will remain that way

4:12 PM, November 22, 2006  
Blogger Michelle said...

Anonymous - I'm sorry you took offense to my comment. What I typed was typed in haste during an IM chat interview. My intention was NOT to blame the victim. What happened to her was a tragedy, and like all of America I hope the people responsible are found and brought to justice. Please...as a woman, by no means did I mean to imply that women have no rights and expected freedoms. NO ONE deserves that fate. NOTHING justifies criminal action against another innocent human being.

8:40 PM, November 22, 2006  
Blogger Rose said...

this was a great interview and I agree with you on the Hilary and Condi question, I would go with Hilary too. I think Condi is not in touch with real people, though I am extremely proud of her for her many great accomplishments. Your next novel sounds great as I read both, but that is a long time to leave your loyal fans like me waiting.

1:38 PM, November 26, 2006  

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