Author Interview with P. Anthony Michael

Michael received a creative writing certificate from the University of West Virginia in the late 90s. He’s been running a successful writer’s group called For The Love Of Words for almost two decades. When he has time, he teaches in the local library Story 101 – How to create a story. He has won in every category over a five-year period in a state-funded wordsmith competition in Poetry, Essay, Short Story, and One-Act Play.

  • Why do you write? 

Why do you breathe?  It is a part of life essentials, for me.  I have to create and tell the stories no one is writing.

  • Have you always enjoyed writing? 

No.  When I was in 8th grade, I thought it was a lot of work.  When I went to college, I rediscovered that part of me that I ignored and I have been writing ever since.

  • What do you write about? 

Everything and anything.  I won in every category in the NJ wordsmith competition over a five-year period.  That is to include Short Story, One Act Play, Essay, and Poetry.

  • How long have you been writing? 

Since the late ’90s.

  • What motivates you to write? 

The what if question.  What if something challenges you in a way you have never been tested?  Do you meet the challenge or run from it?  What if you do nothing? What would happen?  It opens the door to infinite possibilities.

  • What do you think makes a good story? 

Characters, one person once said people will forget the plot, but people will never forget the characters.   It’s how relatable and likable the created characters are.  Sometimes, you want the audience to see themselves in their shoes.

  • What challenges do you come across when writing/creating your story?   

Making everything plausible takes lots of research.  In some cases, you have to suspend disbelief to follow a story but in most cases, I try to anchor the story in reality.

  • How do you write – Laptop, paper, pen, pencil, in bed or at a desk? 

Everybody’s process is different from what I see and hear.  I’m old-fashioned and like a pencil with a pad of paper.  Once I get a chuck down, I head to my desktop and transcribe my notes, adding in settings, movements, etc.  The bulk of the work is on paper.

  • What is your work schedule like when writing? 

I make time to write when I write.  Usually late mornings or early evening, at least an hour or until I get the scene or thought done.

  • What are the obstacles that come in the way of writing? 

I need alone time to be creative.  I can do it almost anywhere as long I’m not being interrupted.  The worst thing to happen is to have that idea, that dialogue or conversation in your head and as you write it down, someone calls your name or interrupts the thought process and that idea is lost.

  • How long does it take to write a book? 

That depends on what I’m writing.  I have some manuscripts that took years to complete, while others took a month or two.  It really comes down to how complex the story is.  The more subplots, the longer the piece.  It all depends on the story idea.  I wish I had a more precise answer than that.

  • What is the hardest – writing, getting published, or marketing

I can tell you it goes in steps.  Writing would be the easiest part of the equation.  You create the content and have your peers/beta readers give you feedback to tighten up the story before you polish the piece.  Getting published is the next hard step to take.  Why. Because there are so many ways to do it. But for sake of time, let me run it down to you.  First – get an agent.  No go on that, then submit to the publisher (Traditional publishing) No go on that, then submit to Hybrid/vanity press.  The difference between the two is Hybrids are supposed to be selective while Vanity is not.  Either way, it will cost you anywhere between $3000 to $6000 to produce the book.  Don’t like those odds. Lastly, go self-publishing, where you have to do everything and the cost will be around four grand.  Third and last, which I think is the hardest because I’m doing this right now, Marketing.  This is hard because you have to make yourself stand out from all the other voices out there.  The good thing is places like Fiverr has influencers that can help you out – for a price.  The main issue is finding the right combination of noise you make to get people’s attention and invest in your product.

  • Tell us about your new novella and why did you write it

It started out as a short story that I wrote in an evening and tossed aside.  I was going through my short story collection when I saw it and read it.  Thought I could add some more meat to the bones and ask myself questions like:  Why would they go to a mountain?  I answer that question, write that scene and continue writing and asking until I had the whole story. 

If Gail knew Uncle Perkins’ stories were true, she wouldn’t have taken her friends up that mountain.  The plan was simple. Hike, camp, and ride the zip line back down the mountain. But Uncle Perkins’ stories are true, and the horrors are real. Now the simple plan is the only plan they have to get off that mountain or disappear, remaining there forever.

  • Do you have anything specific you’d like to tell the readers? 

This is one of those stories you sit back read, laugh, surprise, wonder, and try to figure out how are they going to get out of this until the very end.  I’ll tip my hat and say, everyone loves the character Sam.

  • Do you have suggestions on how to become a better writer

Oh yeah, Just write the damn story.  You can’t edit a blank page.  There is so much to learn about storytelling.  You don’t need to waste money on classes, seminars, and the like.  What you do is go to YouTube and look up Film Courage.  They have everything you need to know on how to craft stories from the core wound of the protagonist to the three-act structure and everything in-between.  I know a lot about the craft and yet I’m still surprised by the information that comes my way that helps me craft a better story.

  • Any last thoughts?

My first published book is a novella called Zip Line available on Amazon, Barnes and noble as well as other sites.  You can reach me at my website P. Anthony Michael.com if you want to purchase the book or interact with me.  Starting September 1st you can blog with me on Thursdays evening and Sunday night.  I’m doing YouTube video about the craft of writing. 

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