Guest Author: Michelle Douglas
My guest author today is a fellow Australian who has written twenty-six novels for Harlequin Romance. After completing a major in English, she returned to university and obtained a Masters of Philosophy in Creative Writing and is currently working on a PhD. Along the way, she’s had several different jobs including one which definitely fitted into the romance theme—waitressing at a wedding convention centre.
Despite her many novels, I must confess that while I’ve long been aware of her name, Michelle Douglas is a fairly new-to-me-author. Although I don’t tend to be a voracious reader of the Harlequin Romance line, upon the recommendation of a friend, I bought Michelle’s ‘A Baby in His In-Tray’ last year and loved it so much I went on to purchase Michelle’s ‘The Million Pound Marriage Deal’. Now, I’m looking forward to the next release and, when time permits, working my way through her backlist.
Michelle, welcome to the blog today. It’s lovely to have you as my guest and congratulations on your latest ARRA nomination.
Thank you so much for hosting me, Alyssa! It’s wonderful to be here.
First, can you tell us a little bit about ‘The Million Pound Marriage Deal’ and whether it posed any particular challenges to write?
The idea for the Million Pound Marriage Deal came when I was idly toying with the idea of a heroine falling in love with her brother’s best friend, and it was one of those books that just seemed to work from the moment of conception through to writing “the end”. The characters and what they were going through seemed very real to me, which made it one of my easier books to write (I won’t say it was easy because, although writing can be incredibly satisfying, I’m not sure it’s ever easy).
Having said that, though, my books always surprise me, and the moment I put pen to paper I was surprised at how intense my characters’ grief still was (after the death two years previously of the heroine’s brother/hero’s best friend). But that was great as it upped the stakes of the novel, and upped the tension too.
One of the fun things about this book is that, in the name of research, I had to glom stately Scottish homes and castles—house porn at its finest!
You received your first rejection letter at eight years of age for a story titled ‘Keri, the Koala Baby’. My gosh! I’m amazed you were so focused on publication even at that tender age. Can you tell us a little about your pathway to publication and when you received ‘the call’?
LOL, I can assure you that at the age of eight I wasn’t the least bit interested in the world of publishing. But I’d always been a voracious reader, and one day I decided to sit down and write a story in chapters. For some reason this blew my teachers away—I went to a little school in a country town—and a huge glorious fuss was made of me. Copies of ‘Keri The Koala Baby’ were printed off and given to every single student of the school. It was my fifteen minutes of fame.
However, from the time I was tiny, whenever people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d always say I wanted to be an author (or a mermaid).
Not long after I’d finished my undergraduate degree, I read an article that said Mills & Boon read every single unsolicited manuscript sent to them. I loved romance, and in my naivety I thought it’d be easy to write. Ha! I think I must’ve written ten partials (with half of those being full manuscripts) that were all rejected, before I finally received the call in early 2008 with His Christmas Angel.
Ah, Michelle, you'll have to combine that desire of being a mermaid and write a mermaid romance! Who knows? It might be made into a movie with the equivalent popularity of Aquaman!
How is the life of being a writer living up to your expectations?
Once upon a time I thought that when I finally wrote something of a publishable standard that everything would fall into place—that all of the books that followed would all be of a publishable standard too, that I’d have worked out the secret to being successful. I thought my constant struggle with making a story work would be over. Well…I’m still waiting! So I’m now reconciled to the fact that writing has both its fun and frustrations—and to not get too carried away or stressed by either.
I can tell you, holding a brand new author copy in my hand never gets old. 😃
Sigh. I'll never forget Trish Morey saying how good it was to open her first box of books - to feel them and smell that new book smell! I always love getting my covers from my publisher. I generally do a little happy dance when I see my new covers!
It sounds as though you’ve lived a fairly
romantic life with your elopement to England, saving madly to spend a night at
The Dorchester and honeymooning in Paris. This year will be your 20th
wedding anniversary. How would you most like to spend your 25th
wedding anniversary in five years from now?
Our wedding and honeymoon were truly very romantic—like a dream come true. This year will actually be our 21st wedding anniversary, and I can’t believe so much time has passed!
(Oops! Maths was never my strong point! LOL)
We’d love to spend our 25th wedding anniversary at The Dorch again. Just for old times sake. 😉 We love London with all of our madly beating hearts, but…I guess we’ll see what the future holds.
I always thought I'd like to spend my 10th anniversary in Paris. We didn't make it there for that and when we did get to Paris, we had three kids in tow, and our first night one of them spent being quite ill in the motor home we were travelling throughout Europe in and we deliberated about taking her to a hospital!! (Glad that evening wasn't also our anniversary!)
What’s next for you as an author?
I recently signed a new three-book contract with Harlequin Mills & Boon, so I expect that’ll keep me busy this year. My next book, Miss Prim’s Greek Island Fling, is out in May, and I can’t wait to find out what readers think of it.
This book was an utter delight to write—written in a mad euphoric rush, which meant it got the revisions it deserved…and then tweaks. I needed to do so much work to bring it up to scratch (and I enjoyed every moment, which isn’t my usual response to revisions). It may in fact be one of my all-time favourite books.In addition to my Harlequins, for my PhD I wrote a big fat single title romance. So it’d be lovely to find a home for that this year too.
Good luck with the new contract. I'll look forward to Miss Prim's Greek Island Fling. Gosh I wish there were more reading hours in the day!
Thanks again for being here today, Michelle.
It was an absolute pleasure, Alyssa! Thank you again for inviting me. 😃
For more information on Michelle and her wonderful stories, visit her website: http://www.michelle-douglas.com/
I hope you'll join me next Saturday when Meg Tilly joins me for a quick quizzing! Until then, Happy Reading!
About the Blogger:
Alyssa J. Montgomery is an Australian contemporary romance author who is published by Escape Publishing (Harlequin Enterprises, Australia). She also
writes medieval romance as Alyssa James.