Author Interview: S.S. Michaels

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Today we’re interviewing author S.S. Michaels aka slushpilehero for all her twitter stalkers.  🙂  She can be found online at twitter and wordpress.  

BIO: S. S. Michaels has a B.S. in Business Administration and a M.A. in Media & Visual Arts. She has worked for such entities as Scott Free (Ridley Scott), dick clark productions, inc. (The American Music Awards, The Golden Globe Awards, Arista Records 25th Anniversary Celebration, etc.), and CBS. She has lived abroad, traveled widely, driven a race car, and jumped out of an airplane. She has completed two novels and has others in the works. A handful of her short stories have appeared in various publications. She writes from her home in the South, where she lives with her husband, two kids, two dogs, and a swarm of inhospitable sand gnats. She is represented by The McVeigh Agency.


JS:  What have been the most rewarding aspects of being a writer?

SM:  I don’t have to put up with co-workers and I can do whatever I want, whenever I want.

JS:  The most challenging?

SM:  Finding appropriate agent representation. Querying was hell. It was a tremendous learning process, and I had some really good experiences come out of it (not to mention a couple of bad ones), but it just seemed to take a lot of time and a lot of energy. I had plenty of requests for material, so that wasn’t a problem. Just waiting on decisions and the ones that were “almost” practically killed me – I have a lot more gray hair now and my fingernails are just beginning to grow back.

JS:  What would you say are the most important qualities one needs to possess in order to make a living as a full-time writer?

SM:  To “make a living”? Is that possible? I don’t know, but I imagine it takes a highly active imagination, self-discipline, a thick skin, life experience, an ability to sculpt with the written word, courage, a tireless and well-connected agent, and a super-charged metabolism (you know, so your butt doesn’t outgrow your chair).

JS:  Why do you write?

SM:  I can’t help it, I just do.

JS:  What’s a typical day like for you?

SM:  Um, get the kids off to school, fire up the laptop, turn on some music, and then write until the school day is over. I update my blog when the mood moves me, I work on projects with my agent, and I do a little networking via Twitter. Sometimes I read. Oh, and I play with my dogs, too – they’re attention hogs.

JS:  Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you work through it?

SM:  There’s no such thing as writer’s block.

JS:  How long does it generally take to write one of your novels?

SM:  Rough drafts can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months. SHORT BUS HERO, for example, took about three weeks, while ST. JAKE (working title) has taken months and I’m still nowhere near the end (researching economics and terrorism is taking longer than I expected).

JS:  What’s your favorite quotation?

SM:  During the time when I was turning my screenplay POP ART into my first novel, I read Stephen King’s LISEY’S STORY. I had been having doubts about whether or not I could finish an entire novel, and one line from King’s book really spoke to me: “I will holler you home.” The first “grown-up” novel I can remember reading was THE SHINING, when I was ten or something. I was a die-hard King fan throughout high school, and then kind of gravitated towards other things as I floated through adulthood. LISEY’S STORY was the first King book I’d read in many years, and, I don’t know, it did kind of feel like being “hollered home” to reading as well as to writing.

JS:  What are you working on now?

SM:  At the moment, I’m working on a novel called HAPPY ENDINGS, INC.
It’s my interpretation of a zombie story. It’s about breathing life back into the business of death. These days, people have relatives all over the country, and it’s so expensive to load the family on a plane and fly out to Uncle Roy’s funeral, right? Well, Caleb Exley, sole heir to his uncle’s funeral empire, has some new ideas about giving customers a proper send-off, one they can share with far-flung relatives at a fraction of the cost of airfare. It’s kind of like Weekend at Bernie’s meets Ghost Adventures, with a dash of Savannah history and real reanimation science thrown in there for the intellectuals.  

JS:  What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions aspiring novelists have of the writer’s life?

SM:  Hmmm… I really don’t know what “aspiring novelists” think about a “writer’s life,” so I can’t really say. My biggest misconception: most writers are snobs – turning out to be totally false. I’m finding that horror writers, especially, are very nice people.

As for the “writer’s life” I lead… um… is there a specific stereotype I’m supposed to be propagating? I mean, I don’t go around wearing black turtlenecks and chain smoking or drinking myself into oblivion in the Florida Keys or anything. Am I doing it wrong?


JS:  What advice would you impart to these aspiring novelists?

SM:  Write good stories, of course. Nothing else matters.

JS:  You’ve written 2 complete novels and you’re working on 2 more and all have been picked up by your agent to sell, how do you handle having a deadline now?  Does that make it easier or harder?

SM:  I don’t really have a deadline yet. I’m just cruising along at my own speed. I like deadlines, though – I’m a world-class procrastinator, so deadlines actually help me get more work done.

JS:  Where did the inspiration for SHORT BUS HERO come from?

SM:  My sister-in-law. She is a rabid wrestling fan who would give the shirt off her back to anyone. I imagined what a fit she would have if her favorite wrestler got canned and what she might do to help him. She is such a sweet person and is so much fun – and she’s always seemed to me like she should be a character in a book. (She also happens to have Down syndrome.)


JS:  What do you hope your readers take away after they’re done reading?

SM:  The knowledge that people with Down syndrome are truly special. Even though they can be super stubborn!

JSTell me a little about SHORT BUS HERO.

SM:  SHORT BUS HERO is the story of a young woman with Down syndrome who hits it big in the lottery, and instead of using the money to fund a group home for herself and her similarly-abled friends, she insists on giving it to her favorite out-of-work pro wrestler.

I really wrote the story for my sister-in-law and for my mother-in-law. They are two of my biggest supporters.

JS:  That is truly spectacular. They must be very proud of how far you’ve come.  Thanks for sharing this with us and I hope to see you on the bestseller’s list soon.  Make sure to keep in touch, so I can pass along the information about where to purchase your books from.  

4 Responses to “Author Interview: S.S. Michaels”

  1. Liz Czukas says:

    >Fantastic interview! It's great to learn more about you, S.S. Short Bus Hero sounds like an amazing story. Can't wait to see you make your way to the top!

    – Liz

  2. Liz Czukas says:

    >Hey Jessie! I've got an award for you over at my blog. Come check it out.

    – Liz

  3. Nancy says:

    >Love the interview. Happy for you. Can't wait to buy the books. You are def. the hero to those of us still in the slushpile.

  4. lynnrush says:

    >Yeah!! Nice interview. SS Michaels. I've only known you as Slushpilehero on Twitter! It's nice to "meet" you.

    Great intervierw JA!