About the Author
Michele Paige Holmes spent her childhood and youth in Arizona and northern California, often curled up with a good book instead of out enjoying the sunshine. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in elementary education and found it an excellent major with which to indulge her love of children’s literature
Her first novel, Counting Stars, won the 2007 Whitney Award for Best Romance. Its companion novel, a romantic suspense titled All the Stars in Heaven, was a Whitney Award finalist, as was her first historical romance, Captive Heart. My Lucky Stars completed the Stars series.
In 2014 Michele launched the Hearthfire Historical Romance line, with the debut title, Saving Grace. Loving Helen is the companion novel, with a third, Marrying Christopher released in July 2015.
When not reading or writing romance, Michele is busy with her full-time job as a wife and mother. She and her husband life in Utah with their five high-maintenance children, and a Shitzu that resembles a teddy bear, in a house with a wonderful view of the mountains.
1. How did you get started as an author? What or whom inspired you?
I was an only child for the first ten years of my life and spent much of that time reading so I wouldn't feel lonely. My love of reading continued into high school and naturally flowed into a love of writing as well. I wrote for and then was editor of the school newspaper. But it was fiction, rather than fact, where I felt most comfortable. When my husband went to graduate school, I used the evenings he was in class to begin writing some of the stories in my head. I joined the League of Utah Writers and URWA, found a critique group, started entering contests and getting valuable feedback and was on my way. Note: It was a long process. And I am still constantly learning.
2. How many books have you written and in what genres?
I am all about romance! I've written historical, contemporary, YA, and even a fairy tale or two. My seventh novel, Marrying Christopher, the third in the Hearthfire Historical line was published last month. I've also published a novella in the Timeless Romance European Collection. My first four novels were published through Covenant Communications, the last three are through Mirror Press. All can be found on Amazon.
3. What writing projects are you currently working on? What can you tell us about these projects?
I have a novella coming out late this fall, in a Timeless Romance Regency Midwinter Ball collection. I am working on two additional titles for the Hearthfire Historical line, and I am writing a contemporary romance for the Power of the Matchmaker series that will be released next summer. I am also hoping to start a new line of fairy tales sometime in the next few months. Many good stories are in the works, and I anticipate having the time to edit and polish those, as my youngest starts first grade soon. Bittersweet :)
4. What does your writing process look like?
My writing process begins with some scribbles on a notepad or back of the checkbook or whatever I happen to have with me when an idea strikes. From there I think about the idea for quite a while (several months to a few years, as I am usually busy writing other stories). When I am actually ready to begin I take the time to make a character bible and really get to know my characters and what their background is and what makes them tick. Sometimes I am tempted to be lazy and skip this step, and I always pay for it, either with hitting a dead end quickly or writing a tangent that has to be cut. After the characters are solid I begin writing--whatever scene is most prominent in my mind. I rarely write a story in order. I used to bring each and every chapter to my critique group, but we have all progressed to the point that we have deadlines and no longer have that luxury anymore. Instead I'll bring particularly troubling or difficult chapters to my group, so they can help me see where the problems are and how to fix those. Each manuscript takes me approximately 4-5 drafts. That's before the editing process even begins! Readers and editors search for content issues, and I address those. Then the manuscript has a line edit and a copy edit and a proof. By the time I am finished with those, I never want to see it again, and I am eager to begin on the next story.
5. Where is your favorite place to write?
I don't have a favorite place--yet. I have plans and dreams for a wonderful home office. Currently my "home office" is the room where everything that we don't know what to do with gets put. Not always the best for the creative mode, but I do have a door I can close, and that's an improvement over the kitchen table. The most productive place for me to write is at the Provo Library. Many of my novels have been drafted in the second floor carrels there.
6. How important are the names in your novels? How do you choose names for your characters? Do you have any name resources you would suggest?
I end up using a lot of names of family members, though not those of my immediate family. I have a niece named Grace and another named Adrielle (main character in a fairy tale I hope to publish soon). I've also taken names from family history sheets. I know there are name generators out there, but I haven't used any yet. When writing historical romance, I do check a name with the time period to see how common or uncommon it was during that period. Mostly I just try to find something that I feel fits the character's personality. It is a fun and sometimes difficult part of writing.
7. What authors/novels that you enjoy would you recommend?
It might be easier to ask which I don't enjoy! We are currently in the process of moving, and it has literally taken me days to pack all of our books. We have a lot, and there aren't too many I want to part with. My favorite book when I was growing up was Little Women. I still love that series and Jane Austen's works and many historical romance novels, both those written long ago and those written by contemporary authors. I used to read a lot more contemporary romance but have found myself gravitating toward YA more in recent years. I really like Jennifer E. Smith's novels, particularly This is What Happy Looks Like. I also love fairy tale retellings and have been reading/rereading some of my favorites lately, trying to examine what it is about them that makes them my favorite.
8. Where is your favorite place to read and why?
Like my dream office, my favorite place to read is also a fantasy. It would be some place where no one would bother or interrupt me because they need food or a ride to the mall or a bandaid or money or . . . Haven't found this place yet. Any recommendations?
9. What period of history interests you the most?
I love mid to late 18th century Scotland. I have ancestors from Scotland and am fascinated by all things leading up to and resulting from the Jacobite uprising in 1745. My next Hearthfire novel takes place in Scotland about twenty years after the uprising. It's a challenging time period to write about for many reasons, not the least of which is that other authors (Diana Gabaldon) have already done it so fabulously. Writing fiction surrounding real events and places can be a lot of fun (so much material to work with) but also carries with it a definite weight as I try to be true to what reality was at that time. I believe there was romance and love during such turbulence and sorrow, but it often came at a price and amidst great difficulties. All of which makes for a very poignant tale.
10. If you could choose someone famous to star in one of your books made to a movie, who would you choose and for which character? (Possibly share an image of this famous star.)
Showing my age here--Harrison Ford.
11. What inspired the idea for your a Hearthfire Romance series?
My twenty-four-year-old son came up with "Hearthfire" when I had decided I wanted to have a historical romance line and was batting ideas around. He gets all the credit!
I first had the idea for the story that became Saving Grace--of a young woman devoted to and responsible for her younger siblings while caught up in the difficulty of being female at a time when that meant very few options. I imagined the scene when Grace ends up in Nicholas's bed and knew I needed a time period when the consequences of such would be significant. I wrote the story and set it aside and went to work on the above mentioned story set in Scotland about two brothers, Collin and Ian MacDonald. When I returned toSaving Grace several months later, I reread it and realized I had ideas for her siblings to have their own stories as well. I had also planned a second story of the MacDonald brothers and realized that it might be a good idea to start putting all of my historical novels together in one place. I love the name Hearthfire, because "hearth" is symbolic of a story about home and family and happiness and warmth. "Fire" is symbolic of what the characters are going to have to go through to get that happy ending and also that there are going to be some sparks and chemistry in the story, though a very clean read.
12. What other hobbies do you enjoy when you are not writing?
Most of my other hobbies (sewing, scrapbooking, piano etc.) have been left by the wayside in the wake of writing. I still read quite a bit and feel that is a significant part of the job of being an author. I also spend a lot of time at my children's school and with them when they are not at school. Being a wife and a mother and writer is plenty to keep me very busy.
Check out my reviews for the novels in the A Hearthfire Romance Series here:
1-Saving Grace (coming soon)
2-Loving Helen (coming soon)
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