Sunday, September 30, 2007

Behind The Book - Michelle Monkou

So much happens behind writing a book, beyond plotting, building characters, and providing a happy ending. There is personal life of family, day job, and revelations that can add, detract, or knock you completely out of whack.
About two years ago, I experienced a series of revelations that now add another layer to how and what I write. I discovered (after having that feeling since I was about 11 yrs. old) that I was adopted. I learned that my adopted mom and my birth mother kept in touch through my life with updates about me. I have four additional half brothers and a half sister. After reconnecting with them in England and Chicago, the reunion couldn't have been any better with the sudden expansion of my family.

Ironically when I when through the initial investigation, discovery, shock, and all the other tumbling set of emotions, I was in middle of writing my book - Island Rendezvous (published in 2006), sequel to Finders Keepers (published in 2003) where the hero discovers that he has a brother. The hero grew up with his grandmother and eventually through the foster care system, but his brother grew up with his father in another country under wealthier circumstances.

Island Rendezvous focused on the feelings of abandonment, the trauma of family secrets, and taking the step toward forgiveness and reconciliation. I remember asking my editor for an extension for delivering the story because the book started to take a darker, angsty tone. I had to work on separating my personal journey with the characters' journeys. It's one of my most sexiest works. So I definitely took the tone to a different place - LOL.

As a rule, I don't make a point of writing about my life into my stories. Yet, I find myself using characters to answer the "what ifs" in life. My current book, Straight To The Heart (September 2007), introduces a formidable secondary character, a mother, who searches for her runaway daughter, while embracing the heroine, like a daughter.

Maybe one day, I'll put my story to paper to inspire others. But right now, I'm in a good place writing romantic fiction with a touch of everyday grittiness and good dollop of spice.

Michelle Monkou


Nathalie said...

Writing romantic fiction must be so different than writing more about yourself... which should be very difficult, I can imagine!

deseng said...

Hi Michelle,

I enjoy it when the author infuses her life experiences into her stories. It makes the stories so much richer and adds more of a human element to it.

Have a great week!

Lois said...

Even if a romance isn't 100% based on the author's life, I imagine there is always a little bit of an author in each one. It's like when they interview actors, they usually will say there's always a bit of them in the character, even if it's totally unlike them otherwise. After all, plenty of inspiration sure comes from our lives! :)


Michelle Monkou said...


Writing roantic fiction always has the happy ending. The story is uplifting and hopeful. You can borrow from life to make the story richer and characters realistic, but everyone comes out smiling at the end.


Michelle Monkou said...


You're right on the money with your observation.


Michelle Monkou said...


I'd say that my first book was probably infused with my view on life. However, the more books I write, the better I can separate my life and views from the characters and story. Instead, I find myself using anonymous people that I may see or hear on my commute or while visiting a place, etc.

I may hear one line that someone uttered that springs my imagination into play. And when you take words you hear out of context - wow! that's rich material.