Historical author Michelle Styles visited us at the Mills & Boon office to celebrate all things romance! Find out what we got chatting about…
What was the inspiration for your latest book, The Warrior’s Viking Bride?
I decided to write The Warrior King’s bride for a couple of different reasons. After the US elections I decided I wanted to write a warrior woman. I also wanted to do something with a very strong woman in a society where she may not have had as much power. Another aspect I was interested in was looking at what happens to a woman who has had a strong mother but doesn’t want to be the same as her. I also wanted to explore the issues with Divorce. My heroine’s parents go through a divorce, and I wanted to explore how when you are younger you tend to side with one parent and as you get older you realise it was both their faults. I also wanted to use a Celtic warrior I had used before. All these themes then came together.
How much of yourself is reflected in your writing?
I think in my books there is always a little piece of me. You’re always exploring something that has happened to you or something about you so that you can identify with the characters. I find with historical fiction, it’s a way to put a dark mirror up to things happening now that you couldn’t necessarily explore in a contemporary book.
Who is your favourite author and what is it that strikes you about their work?
I love reading all sorts of books. Sarah Morgan is really fun. I also enjoy reading Fiona Harper on the contemporary side. I’ve just recently re-read Pat Conroy an American author. It was very interesting to re-read, especially as my grandpa was from the South. I recently discovered Tasha Alexander and Deanna Raybourn, they write historical mystery with a touch of romance.
Who is your ideal romantic hero?
My ideal hero needs to have integrity. It’s the loyalty. it’s somebody who knows where the lines are drawn. When I started writing my Viking romances I needed to make sure that they were not bullies but were the ones willing to stand up to the bullies.
Tell us the best advice you were ever given as a writer?
Dedication, determination, desire, discipline and perseverance. It’s also what you do after the feedback you get that’s important and how you grow as an author. It’s about trying and getting better, about learning to love revision and being open to making changes.
What’s your writing process like?
The thing about a writing process is that it always changes. You think you’ve got it and the next book throws up something entirely different. I tend to get up in the morning and do an hours’ worth of exercise as I find it helps and then I write for 3-4 hours. I try to write from 1000-2000 words a day. But, I still make lots and lots of mistakes. Ultimately its about trying to get the best read for the reader rather than having a big ego. I’ve tried out all sorts of things and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The best thing for me was finishing a book and knowing I can get to the end. I always worry I’m not going to make the word count.
What’s next in store for your readers?
I’m currently working on another Viking title set in western isles of Scotland…
Thank you Michelle Styles, for taking the time to chat to us!