Where are you from?
I’ve lived most of my life in Texas, in a small town on the northeast side of San Antonio called Schertz. Prior to that, I lived in California, Arizona, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Goose Bay (Labrador), and Germany (my dad was stationed at Rhein Mein and I was born in Wiesbaden).
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I was a pretty average student, made decent grades, but more than anything, I wanted to work so I could move out of my parents’ house. I started out doing secretarial work until I lucked into working at a dental insurance company. From there, I worked at a hospital where I learned every corner of medical administration. One of the doctors told me to come apply at his office where I learned all about doing insurance referrals. After that, I worked doing those referrals, then billing, and then office management for medical specialty practices. I grew bored with it all. It wasn’t what I really wanted to be doing so I enrolled in San Antonio College where I earned my degree in Radio, Television, Film (A,A,S. in Broadcast Technology). I rediscovered a long-lost love of writing and once again, lucked into working for the local community newspaper. I still write for them eight years later on a freelance basis. I branched out into online contribution for sites like Examiner.com (still writing for them under the categories of film, sex and relationships, animal rights, and healthy food), and Yahoo Voices (formerly Associated Content). I’ve written for online magazines like FashionErotica.com, AlwayzTherro.com, and Film Industry Network. My luck continued with a slew of awesome celebrity interviews such as former UN Ambassador Sichan Siv, HGTV’s Cousins Undercover (when they began as the Kitchen Cousins), Scott McGillavray, and The Property Brothers. The list also includes Broadway actors, movie and television actors, and former Spurs Center David Robinson. I’d say my decision to change careers turned out pretty good, but the story hasn’t concluded yet. I added the title of ‘author’ to that list when I wrote a children’s fiction titled ‘The Cat Who Wanted to be a Reindeer’ as a way to deal with the grief of losing my beloved cat, Sam, and then self-published Harvest, a science fiction short story inspired by a true event. You could say I really love writing…
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m about to publish my first novel in a new genre, erotica. The book, Exposed: The Education of Sarah Brown incorporates my recent travels to Europe and is actually a dramatic suspense involving a crime. I’ve been working on it off and on for years, but only recently did the real story pop up around the main characters. I’ve already begun notes for a second book, a spin-off from the first that will prominently feature one of the supporting characters who stood out as the tale unfolded. The book will be available on Amazon.com in mid-August, and then on Barnes and Noble. By the end of the year, I’ll publish out the second book in the Harvest trilogy because although writing erotic crime is intriguing, my first love is science fiction.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve loved writing since about the second grade when I put my first book together as part of a class project. I’ve just always liked books. My older sister taught me to read and write at home so I skipped kindergarten. By the fourth grade, I was a writing fool. My teacher, Mr. Leo Edwards at Sunnymead Elementary, used to give out extra credit if we wrote stories – the longer the story, the more credit. Back then, writing one that was two pages, front and back, got you 100 points. Bless Mr. Edwards. He laid down the challenge, and I picked it up.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first considered myself a writer when I wrote my first front page feature for the newspaper. It was a pretty awesome feeling. My family were very proud.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Ah, for that, you’d have to at least read the free sneak peek offered by Amazon for Harvest. There’s a full explanation for the true-life event that inspired that story. It’s something I still can’t believe to this day, but I know what I saw, and I wasn’t alone when I saw it.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t. I simply write. For newspaper, it’s APA. For informational articles online, I continue the news-style, and for my sex and relationships category and my personal blogs, I write conversationally as if I were just sitting there talking to you. Kind of like what I’m doing right now.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title for the science fiction novel has to do with what happens in the book. An entire town of people get harvested. Sounds gruesome, and it is. For my erotic crime novel, it has to do with both the main character, and what occurs around her. Titles should speak to the main theme of any story or article. They should titillate and intrigue, but not give it all away.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes! Harvest is about understanding that everything we do has some kind of consequence so we should consider what we put out into the world before we actually do anything; consider the impact. The erotic crime novel is about dealing with one’s demons and not letting them define us in a negative fashion.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Harvest is all fiction from the town where it happens to the incident described. Exposed: TESB has a lot of details about many European cities, languages, people, and events that are quite real as is the nature of the antagonist’s crime. I’m hoping it will bring some attention to the plight of victims of sexual assault.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Yes, for Harvest, and to an extent in Exposed. Both are really a blend of fact and fiction. Both have moral compasses pointing to a particular message. Most good stories do.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
I’m such a reader that the list would go on forever, but to highlight a few: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Dominion by Randy Alcorn, The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson (Girl With a Dragon Tattoo), The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton, every Harry Potter book, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, all books by Stephen King, and I’m a huge Jane Austen fan.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Can I pick two? Stephen King for his ability to creep people out with some seriously dark and twisted ideas, and (although no longer in the land of the living), Stieg Larsson whose full potential will never be realized, but the man could weave an intricate tale with details that slowly revealed a crime, how it happened, how it might be solved, and he created amazing characters.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just finished The Bone Church by Victoria Dougherty, and am about to begin The Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Yes, the two above, Jami Brumfield (Lone Wolf Rising), and Diane Rinella (Scary Modsters..and Creepy Freaks).
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m currently finishing up Exposed (in editing to ready for publishing), and in the middle of book II in the Harvest trilogy, Celluloss.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My friends. They are fabulous. Beyond that, I seem to have developed a fan base. Who knew?
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Writing has been my career since 2006. I simply want to continue adding good fiction to all the freelance journalism.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. The story unfolds as it should. I’m pretty happy with it, and hope everyone else will be, too.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Yes, several questions back, I shared my fourth grade endeavors with the written word. I really have to lavish on the praise for my wonderful teacher for doing what teachers everywhere do (the great ones); inspire.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
May 15, 1962
The screams were the loudest and most maniacal sounds Sergeant Trent Wilkins had ever heard. Assigned to guard the doors to the 12th Air Training Command’s underground bunker located approximately two miles northwest of Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, Wilkins had not been given any specifics nor had he asked. He just followed orders, and his orders were to stand guard from 11 p.m. till 7 a.m. and let in only the three authorized personnel on his list. With the steel doors closed, no one beyond the field could hear those screams; screams that sounded like something out of a nightmare, like they came from an animal, but no animal he’d ever encountered before. The sounds assaulted his ears and scraped the inside of his skull as Doctor Andre Troyevsky and Colonel Louis Reed exited those steel doors and headed up the ramp towards the jeep parked in the center of what was otherwise a fallow field.
Cows lowed in the distance answering those screams that faded off as the doors automatically closed behind the departing men. Wilkins was relieved when the lock clicked shut and he could no longer easily detect the other-worldly screeching. Other than the frightening noises from within, the job was easy. He could smoke his cigarettes, piss in the field, and he was allowed one thirty-minute break to eat. As long as no one went in that wasn’t on the list, and no one left who wasn’t on the list, his job was complete. The list changed nightly with only a few variations in authorized military personnel, but the demands of the post stayed the same. Wilkins had been on this detail for three months and not much had changed. If he could finish out his military contract before his out-processing back into civilian life pulling this detail, his remaining time would be a cake walk.
He lit a Marlboro as the jeep pulled away and took a long drag. Only Doctor Parker remained inside the bunker. How he could stand those screams being so close to whatever was going on down there he didn’t know. Ben Parker was in his fifties with silvery hair, what little he had, and wore a stern countenance. On the few occasions he’d seen him, Parker had not acknowledged the Sergeant beyond flashing his I.D, and he always looked ten years older when he left in the morning.
Wilkins leaned up against the concrete frame built fifty feet into the ground that surrounded the ten-inch thick steel doors. His cigarette burned down slowly between his fingers as he let his eyelids droop. All the silence; crickets chirping, light breeze in the trees, and the cows out in the neighboring field created a tranquil state that lulled him into a light doze. Troyevsky and Colonel Reed wouldn’t return this night. Once someone left during a shift, they were finished so he wasn’t worried about being caught sleeping on duty. Wilkins perfected the art of dozing while standing guard. It was how he spent most nights. This one was no different, until a loud banging from inside the steel doors jerked him to attention.
Muffled screams barely discernible through the ten inch thick steel mingled with the frantic pounding. “Open the door!” Muffled but discernable, the words reached his ears.
Wilkins cocked his M-14 and aimed at the doors. “Doctor Parker? Are you okay, sir?”
“Open the door, soldier! Open the door!” More pounding and the sound of scraping assaulted his ears.
Wilkins felt increasingly uneasy and panicked, but tried to remain calm. “Sir, you have to use your key, sir. I don’t have a key to open this door. I’m not authorized. Use your key and open the door slowly. I have my rifle aimed at the doors and won’t stand down until I’m assured you’re alright.”
Words gave way to unearthly screams. The sound of fists pounding on the inside of the door gave way to a hideous scraping like fingernails on metal. Then a loud bang that sounded like a body slamming into the right-hand door caused them both to shudder and actually shake the concrete jamb. Silence.
“Doctor Parker?” Sergeant Wilkins called. No answer. “Doc? Doc? Doc!” Wilkins felt a sick sense of horror. Something had happened to Doctor Parker and he couldn’t help him; couldn’t get inside the doors or leave his post to call for help. “Dammit!”
He paced back and forth never lowering his rifle from quick aim at the doors. There was more than an hour left until daylight and the arrival of his relief and the next shift of authorized personnel. He’d have to wait. He had no choice…
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Just finding the time to complete it all. It seems there’s always something interfering with my writing time; some project that requires my attention, some deadline. That’s about it, though.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’ve noted the favorites above, but I’d love to mention Victoria Dougherty. She’s new to my reading library and I discovered her blog online by accident. She writes cold-war spy stories and they are based out of Czechoslovakia where she lived for many years. Dougherty has written quite a number of amazing pieces of fiction that have graced the pages of the New York Times and other prominent publications. I definitely recommend her novel, The Bone Church, to anyone who enjoys a nostalgic tale of cold-war spies.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I don’t have to, but I would love to. I did already travel through Cardiff and Berlin in 2010. It was a real adventure since I hadn’t been in Europe since I was born. The crazy part was, we got stranded in Berlin for an extra six days because of the Icelandic volcano that blew clogging up airspace and grounding planes. I passed the time by doing some reporting for my local television news station back home. Also met some really nice people, one of whom I’m still in contact with today.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I designed the cover for Harvest. I went out with my camera in search of the perfect house that looked like my character, Dave Forrester’s home. Then I did a lot of photo shopping until I achieved the desired look. Exposed will feature an international model named Grigoris Drakakis. He’s gorgeous and I acquired the cover photo from him.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part for me is deciding how to get from point A to point Z. I know how I want to begin, and how I want to end. It’s the ‘getting there’ that becomes the challenge. Each character and event is a thread that is woven into the tapestry that, in the end, tells the tale.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Yes I did. I learned to tone down those steamy sex scenes in Exposed because just like a great striptease, you don’t need to reveal everything at once to arouse curiosity. I also learned not to be afraid to use certain words that are not part of my every day vocabulary.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
My best advice is to just write! It’s easy to come up with excuses not to write. We all have lives that interfere with our plans to sit down at the keyboard, but we have to make the time. After that, get some input from beta readers, and finally, for goodness sakes, hire a qualified editor. Nothing ruins a good story faster than bad editing. Let the storyteller write, and let the editor edit.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I do. I do. I love you all for supporting my writing whether it be articles, interviews, or novels. I’d still write without readers because I love it so much, but I’m overjoyed to be able to share my work with an audience. So thank you, thank you!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I remember having The Pokey Little Puppy, and then Green Eggs and Ham. Not sure how old I was then, but pretty young.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I do a lot of photography, and ghost hunting. Yep. I haunt cemeteries trying to scare up ghosts. I also do a little video editing, and I enjoy traveling and gardening.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Hmmn, True Blood, Defiance, Doctor Who, Dominion, The Musketeers, Crossbones, Game of Thrones, Tyrant, Dating Naked on VH1, all the HGTV shows, too. As for movies, way too many to name, but I’m looking forward to ‘Snowpiercer’ coming out soon and ‘A Most Wanted Man’.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I love good Mexican and Italian food. I also love cooking up vegetarian dishes at home. I’m not a strict vegetarian by any means, but I’ve made the choice to eat a lot less meat. My colors are greens and blues, and music, well, anything but rap.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I already did the other things before embarking on my career as a writer. I’m happy with my choices and where they’ve led me.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Keep up with me on Twitter at @MGwynnExaminer and also on my blog, Michele E. Gwynn blogspot: http://michelegwynn.blogspot.com/
Books by M.E. Gwynn on Amazon.com (I show up as editor for Jami Brumfield’s two novels). http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/178-3922577-2181252?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=MICHELE%20GWYNN
My Author page on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006M6U42U