Michelle Buckman Interview

You are the author of one women's fiction, one co-authored mystery, and two young adult novels. Do you have a favourite thing you've ever written?

I'm always most enthusiastic about the project I have flying away under my fingertips--feeling it's always one step above what I've done before--but I'm really pleased with my previous books. I guess I'm most proud of Maggie Come Lately for being a Christy Award Finalist in the Young Adult Category this year. Then again, I've gotten so many emails about My Beautiful Disaster having a huge impact on readers that I have to say in the end that's what writing is all about for me. I aim to create stories that speak to readers, that get them to see situations from a new perspective, and that linger in the readers' minds long after they close the book.

How did your co-authoring experience differ from your regular writing?

The co-authored cozy mystery Pretty Maids All In A Row was honestly a writing exercise between me and a writing buddy, A.H. Jackson. We wrote the whole book in eight weeks. He wrote it, I rewrote. I added characterization and tailored the plot, but the voice of that novel is definitely Alan's. It's really different from what I usually write.

Your two young adult novels feature best friends Maggie and Dixie. How did you work on the character development for these characters?

Characters usually come to me in pieces. Sometimes they are inspired by people I see out in public--not people I know, and not the actual person I observe, but something about a person that strikes me as interesting and different. I'll make notes about that, and then wait for that character to start "talking" to me, spontaneously scenes and tidbits that come at odd moments while I'm still involved in another project. By the time I'm ready to start a project, the character has probably been living in my head about six months or more. Before I start working on a project in earnest, I find pictures from catalogs or sales ads of all the secondary characters so I won't have to remember what they look like, what kind of attitude they have, and so forth. (the main character is usually very vivid in my mind so I don't need a picture.) In the case of Maggie in Maggie Come Lately, the prologue came ages before the rest, so I had plenty of time to think about how Maggie's mother's suicide shaped who she became. Dixie evolved slowly during Maggie's book so that by the time I wrote My Beautiful Disaster I knew her fully, and knew she had her own story to tell.

You deal with strong issues in both books. How did you research?

The Catholic Church requires all employees and voluteers to attend Virtus Training, which is a program that teaches adults how to spot child molesters and children who have been molested. It was during that meeting, when I heard that one out of every four girls and one out of every six boys have been molested that I knew it was a subject I had to weave into Maggie's story. To further my research, I interviewed the director of a Women's Crisis Center. However, the basis of the plot was still a girl wanting to be popular and then shocked by what that really meant, with an underlying theme of abstinence. My Beautiful Disaster was inspired when I discovered that most private/Christian schools kick girls out if they get pregnant. That happened at my son's school. It floored me that people who called themselves Christian would turn their backs on a girl when she was preserving life, justifying their actions as punishing the act of sexual intercourse. What a joke. I had to write about it. So I called various schools and I talked to girls. I'd volunteered for a Pregnancy Center for years, so I'd already witnessed that end of the system. Since I have three teenage daughters as well as a teenage son, it wasn't hard to include fictional versions of the lingo, attitudes and daily reality of teen life.

Was it hard to write about such delicate topics?

I'm passionate about abstinence, protecting children, and the unborn, so I found it a great release to write both books. Readers tell me they find the stories speak to them because they are so current and reality based... I can't imagine write young adult fiction any other way.

You have over 20 years experience as a newspaper columnist. How has this effected you novel writing?

Freelance writing and newspaper writing has helped my marketing ability more than any other aspect of my novels because a writer has to be able to employ side-door promotion of her novels, writing nonfiction articles that parallel the novel, as well as doing interviews such as this! Most important at the time was that the freelance work and newspaper column made it financially possible for me to persevere at fiction. It took a long time and a lot of throw-away manuscripts before I wrote something I knew I could publish.

Anything else you'd like to add?

I was absolutely thrilled that American Idol Jordin Sparks took the time during her tour immediately after winning her title last year to read and endorse My Beautiful Disaster. I had the pleasure of meeting her at one of her concerts, and I can tell you she is a sincerely wonderful girl. I'm proud to have her quote on the cover.

Also, I was really honored that a public school picked up Maggie Come Lately as a contemporary novel for their eigth grade class, and then to top it off, they staged a mock trial halfway through their reading. The trial was even held in their town courthouse. I love that my story inspired such an awesome activity. If any of your readers would like to hear more about how they did that, I'd be glad to pass the information on to them. I love hearing from readers anyway, so I hope this encourages your audience to contact me. (Michelle@MichelleBuckman.com)


  1. Good interview, I enjoyed it.


  2. Wonderful interview. I loved it. So many useful tidbits.


  3. I agree. Good interview.
    Beth Fehlbaum, author
    Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
    Ch. 1 & Book trailer are online!


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