Michelle Mitchell, Georgia native, is the author of Truth Is…, Bells Will Be Ringin’, Kissing Strangers Tainted Love, and Infamous. She is a contributing author for The Ex Chronicles anthology and the Single Mama Dating Drama anthology. She has always had a passion for writing from poetry to song lyrics, and her new love, writing fiction. What she loves most about writing is that it offers the opportunity to take readers on a mental getaway using the artistry of the written word.

When she’s not writing, she enjoys trying new restaurants, singing, and watching the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta Hawks. She’s an alumna of Georgia Southern University and still resides in Georgia. You can write her at authormichellemitchell@gmail.com

1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me!  When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?

I’ve been a creative for as long as I can remember. In elementary school, I stayed in the library and always loved going to the BookIt! and the Scholastic Book Fair. One day I decided to write and illustrate a book on my wide rule notebook paper. I stapled it together and asked the school librarian, Ms. Mitchell if I could put it in the library. Surprisingly, she said yes and put the check out log on the back and put it on the shelf. I don’t think anyone ever checked it out though. I also use to write a lot of poems and fell in love with that in writing courses in elementary school and I also write songs. It’s been a while since I wrote a poem but I still write song lyrics.

What is it about being a writer that you love the most? The mental escape it allows is definitely my favorite thing about writing. I’m a reader for that exact same reason. Being able to create a world that allows you to be as good or bad as you like, create amazing or tainted loves…and then talk to readers about those worlds and people you have created is so much fun.

What about being a writer frustrates you the most? The frustrating thing is finding balance between work and continuing to push my goals. I would love to write full-time and focus my attention 100% on writing. Some days I get off work and I’m just beat, and all I want to do is relax. Then at 10pm, that’s when the creative juices start flowing and then I’m up late and tired at work. It’s a great frustration to have though.

2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you? 

I like to write about real life situations and love to had hints of mystery and suspense. The Truth and Lies series featuring titles Truth Is… and Infamous, and the novella Kissing Strangers: Tainted Love all have stories regarding the ugly side of relationships. The main theme being what happens when people are not living in their truth and the importance of self-love. Kissing Strangers, however, is the most ID channel-esque vibe of all of those titles. I wanted to do something twisted with those stories and I do plan to write more and make a series out of it. I also have my holiday novella, Bells Will Be Ringin’ which is about the family busy-body trying to make good after ruining everyone’s Christmas the year before. My books are available wherever books are sold and if you don’t see a physical copy on a shelf, you can have the bookseller order the copies to send to their store. Only one of my titles is exclusive to Amazon, which is Could’ve Been. Could’ve Been is a friends to lovers story about Brandon and Corian who have their relationship challenged when Brandon decides to take a job in another country.

3) What projects are you currently working on?

I’m actively working on I’m working on two proposals to send to publishers for consideration. I attended a conference over the summer and had the opportunity to pitch to three publishing agencies and was asked to send in my first three chapters. So, I’m trying to finalize this so I can get it sent out. I’ve only done the three chapters so I still have much to do on those stories. Then I will refocus on working on the follow-up to Could’ve Been, Bells Will Be Ringin’, and the next installments in the Kissing Strangers series. 

4) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?

Not giving up the dream. It’s so easy to say I’m not going to keep doing this because I’m not a bestseller, no one knows me, I don’t have many reviews, etc. But to actually love it and push forward everyone with the hopes of one day having a bestseller, having a larger readership, etc.… it’s worth it. Even if some of those things don’t happen, the creative outlet is rewarding. Where I see myself in the next five years…still writing and hopefully in a place where I can be doing it full-time.

5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?

Keep pushing forward. When I first decided I wanted to write, I submitted to a few agents and some wanted to see my manuscript while several others didn’t. I ended up sending it out to two or maybe three and got rejected. I didn’t feel deflated instead I felt motivated. I was going to be with a publisher but my work wasn’t a fit, here again, I pushed forward because I wanted to get my story out. God’s delay is not a denial, I just hold on to that thought and keep going.

6) Do you have a schedule for when you write?  Do you outline your novels?  How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?

I’m a total pantser. I do not outline and don’t have a schedule. I tried to do that earlier this year and was on target until I pitched at the writing conference and that took over. But it’s still writing, so I’m not beating myself up about it.  How long it takes I think can depend on the story, if my muse is on fire and I push out several words daily, and if it’s a novella or novelette versus a full-length manuscript. Then with editing and rewrites, it can take a while or perhaps it can be a quick turnaround. I think I did Could’ve Been within five months from writing to editing to releasing.

7) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry?  Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?

No. I don’t think it’s too late and especially not since so many people are going the self-publishing route. Aspiring writers need to sit down, write, revise, rewrite, and release. Don’t let age or self-doubt weigh you down. Get that book baby out! If you have some trusted friends who are readers or if you’re a part of a reading community on social media, find some betas readers to give you some honest insight into your writing and go for it. Just make sure you have someone to review and hire an editor for developmental editing and line editing. I say if you have a story in you, then go for it.

8) Are you an avid reader and have you always been? What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you?  Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?

I am an avid reader for sure. I was the kid who looked forward to summer reading, was always in the library, and like I said I loved the Book It! and the book fairs. Not too long ago, maybe two months ago, I reached out to Book It! on Twitter and told them they need to set up one for adults. I’d totally still love to have a pen to stick on my shirt and get the free pan pizza. One book that I would always check out at the library is Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. It’s about a young girl and her friend who are trying to survive life after the war and fear of the Nazi soldiers. The last story I had an emotional connection with, that left me sad and thinking about the story days later was Tiffany D. Jackson’s, Monday’s Not Coming. I see that cover and still ache. I’m currently listening to He Started It by Samantha Downing. I just started it today but the cover made me want to check it out.

9) How has the current state of the world affected your writing? Because writing is an isolated practice, do you find it easier to deal with quarantine? Has it stifled your creativity or has it made you even more driven to get things done?

I don’t think the COVID virus has affected my writing as much as the hate in the world has. Seeing the hate towards black people, the unwillingness to understand the purpose and goal of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the total disregard for black women… that’s what makes it hard to want to promote books, write happy tales, and do anything entertaining. It’s nothing new for our community but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. There are periods where it’s too much to write and other days when I tell myself it’s a great distraction from all that’s going on and push myself to write.

10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry as it is being represented today? Do you lean more towards traditional publishing or self-publishing as a preference? Does being a hybrid author interest you?  

After the Twitter feed exposing racial disparities in the Romance Writers of America and the eye-opening #PublishingPaidMe tweets, there seems to be a heightened awareness of racism in the publishing industry which some were happy to ignore or weren’t aware of prior. Attending the Romance Slam Jam convention this summer, several of the publishing houses mentioned the changes they made to be more inclusive and aware of their shortcomings. Only time will tell if this is a temporary fix or if the industry will continue to ensure their doing their part in keeping with standards that aren’t excluding or making it hard for BIPOC authors to have a chance. I’m happy to be able to self-publish but I think most people would like the opportunity to publish traditionally and have an agent, and have a team behind them to help with some of the work that comes with self-publishing. I would certainly love to be both traditionally and independently published.

11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally.  I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity?  How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?

I agree with your sentiment, writing is a great way to release those mental and emotional hang-ups that weigh us down. I get inspired from so many things, one of which being personal experiences and those of people I have met or known in my life. Writing allows a chance to remix scenarios, maybe create happy endings in situations where they didn’t exist and of course getting revenge that doesn’t lead to actual jail time. Our characters can state they peace, commit murder, date the hottest people alive, find someone that’s not hung up on their weight… it’s liberating to be able to express myself through this creative outlet.