Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Mom, can I go to Moscow? - Michelle Styles

The novelist's life is divided between two worlds -- the every day world and the world of her imagination. In order to write novels, an author must spend a considerable time in her imagination. This can cause difficulties for a mother as children may not understand this. Or that you need to give a few moments for the author to get back into the every day world if you want a sensible answer.

My eldest son when he was about 13 became annoyed with my monosyllabic answers and asked if he could go to Moscow. To this day, I am not sure why he chose Moscow. In my defence, I did hear him say it and I did agree. I also did not say when he could go, something he chose to ignore. None of the children have let me forget it.

In fact, the phrase -- Mom, can I go to Moscow? has come to mean you better stop writing and pay attention.

For my eldest son, the phrase has taken on a different meaning. I think it simply made him more determined that I would keep my promise and that he would go. He learnt Russian as his high school offered it and has just returned from a second trip to Russia. This time, he spent time in Moscow and St Petersburg rather than a language school. During the first trip, he had only a few hours in Moscow, and most of it was closed due to demonstrations. Therefore, he contended that he had not really been able to experience it. Thus, when the school offered a week long trip to Moscow and St Petersburg, he decided that it was what he wanted to do.

Being older, he also came back more aware of what Russian life was like. Cigarettes, vodka and books are very cheap. People have different expectations and Russians like to do things by printed timetable and dislike free time. He also discovered that he preferred St Petersburg to Moscow (Moscow still remains very communist) And that some day he'd like to go back.

My youngest has taken a leaf from his brother's book and has become determined to go Svalbard in Norway. I think I did agree to this one as well. But he is busy with the maps, learning about natural history etc. So perhaps, it is not a bad thing -- Juggling two worlds.

Less good was having my husband ask what was wrong, why was I crying, only to have to confess about the hero of Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife being in grave difficulties. Cue perplexed frown and his pointing out that I write Mills & Boon historical romances where a Happy Ending is guaranteed. But...But I am not at the end!, I exclaimed, scribbling away furiously. At which point, he retreated behind his newspaper, muttering about writers and thier worlds.

Still as I point out to my family, it is far better that I put the drama and emotion into my books, rather than putting it into family life!
So has anyone else ever been distracted and agreed to something that has far reaching consequences?


As Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife is out in paperback this month in the UK, and An Impulsive Debutante is out in Australia, this month's contest prize is your choice of one of my books. To enter the contest, simply send me an email with Totebags Contest in the subject line and with the answer to the following question: in which part of England do both stories take place? (Hint: it is the same area where I live -- see my revamped website.)My email is

I will draw the winner next Thursday 16 April.

UPDATE: Lori Patterson's name was the first out of the hat. An email has been sent but if Lori could contact me and tell me which book she'd like. Many thanks to all who entered.


B.H. Dark said...

Ohhhh, yes, I know all about living in two worlds. I love the "Can I go to Moscow?" question...Brilliant.

B.H., aka Julie Cohen

Michelle Styles said...

Julie --
I'm glad you understand.
It can be so difficult to explain to people who do not write.

Michelle Styles said...

And I should explain that the reason I am a Mom and not a Mum is that I object to being a potted plant. A mum is chrystanthamum.
I used to get cross with nurses who said -- Now mum, we want to you to do...
My reply was always -- I'm not a potted plant, you can call me Mrs Styles.

Michele L. said...

Wow! What an incredible experience visiting Moscow! I have never visited any foreign country but sure would love to some day.

Love your books!

Michelle Styles said...

Michele L --
It is easier to travel to foreign countries when you live in Europe. But where I live in Northumberland, there are some people who have never further south than York (so about 150 miles).
I'm pleased you like my books

Nell Dixon said...

It's funny but I've always called my Mom - Mom not Mum and my girls call me Mom too. Mummy always makes me think of the Royal family for some reason.

Helen said...

Michelle as mothers even if we are not writers I am sure I have told my children they could do something or go somewhere while I was concentrating on something else more likely reading a book that was taking me on a great adventure. I love that story one of the reasons I love reading is that I get to "visit" places I probably will never get to see.

I picked up your Australian release An Impulsive Debutante the other day and am really looking forward to reading it.

Happy Easter
Have Fun

Michelle Styles said...

Nell -
How funny that Mummy makes you think of the royal family. Mummy always reminds me of the Richard Scarry story where the archeologist dog is carrying his mummy about.

Helen -- I do hope you enjoy An Impulsive Debutante. I had great fun writing it.