Interview with Michelle Rene: 3rd Place Winner of the Summer 2016 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Michelle’s Bio: Michelle grew up in Texas and spent as much of her time either in a museum or a book. History, art, music, writing, anything was fair game. While most girls were writing about boys in their eighth grade diaries, Michelle penned her very first two-hundred-page novel by hand. No one should ever read that novel. Really, it’s terrible. She graduated from the Ringling College of Art and Design with her BFA in Illustration. She grew her art career as a production artist, painter, sculptor, designer, and video game artist. All along, what she really wanted to do was write. It was her passion and the thing she felt she was destined to do, so she decided she would focus on that instead. Since that epiphany, Michelle has had two novels, one novella, a novelette, and a short story published. Her historical fiction novel, I Once Knew Vincent, has won three different indie awards. Michelle didn’t stray too far from her video game days. Her game, Danielle’s Inferno, is set to release in November of 2016 with One More Story Games. Recently, she signed a contract with Amberjack Publishing to publish her novel, Hour Glass, in February of 2018. Michelle now lives in Dallas with her husband, son, and ungrateful cat. To learn more about her and follow her on social media, check out her website

If you haven't done so already, check out Michelle's award-winning story "Not Yet" and then return here for a chat with the author.

WOW: Congratulations on placing third in the WOW! Summer 2016 Flash Fiction Contest! What was the inspiration for your short story, or what prompted you to write it?

Michelle: "Not Yet" was especially close to me because unlike a lot of my work, this one was inspired by an event in my own life. I had c-section with complications when my son was born, and the whole experience was so surreal and unnatural I felt I had to channel that somehow into a story. I loved the challenge of taking a moment so complicated and weaving into a work of flash fiction. Even though it was fiction, the truth in it felt very cathartic.

WOW: Yes! I’ve also experienced how healing it can be to fictionalize true events to re-experience and understand them. Can you describe the epiphany that helped you realized your calling as a writer?

Michelle: I am an artist by training and education. Since I was little, I always wanted to be both a writer and an artist, but I chose art when I away at college because believe it or not, I thought I had a better chance at a job. It turned out to be true, and I worked as a professional artist for years. The problem was working for other people left me feeling empty. I was using my art to tell their stories. I wanted to tell my own, and what is any creative endeavor if not to tell a story? I started focusing on my writing, and after I had my son, I devoted myself full time to it.

WOW: That’s inspiring that you realized what you wanted and went after it. What do you enjoy the most and/or the least about writing?

Michelle: I enjoy those days you just get lost in what you're writing. You sit down to write and before you know it, it's dinner time in the blink of an eye. I love sending myself somewhere else to feel someone else's emotions for a while. The act of writing allows me to be a more empathetic person, and I love learning new things about the human story. What I like the least is not being able to write. My muse is a slightly abusive one. She likes to follow me around with a bell calling "SHAME" whenever I'm not writing. It can drive me nuts.

WOW: Oh yes. I think your muse must have siblings who follow many of us around with that same message, ha ha! What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?

Michelle: I am currently about to start The Orphan Mother by Robert Hicks because my agents told me I should. They are like close friends, and whenever they have something beautiful for me to read, I always do.

WOW: How wonderful to get those beautiful recommendations. If you could give other creative writers one piece of advice, what would it be and why?

Michelle: It would be don't listen to advice, even mine. I see a lot of people try to tell aspiring authors what to do, and the thing is, it's different for everyone. Lots say, "Write something every day." I can tell you right now that doesn't work for me. I'm a binge writer, and that's what works for me. People say, "Read as much as you can," and while I personally subscribe to that idea, it doesn't work for everyone. One writer I know can't read anything while he's writing because he can't help but to write just like the author he just read, and it doesn't feel original. You as a writer will get a barrage of advice, feedback, criticisms, and notes. Listen to it, sit with it a while, and if nothing feels right for you, don't do it.

The only universal piece of advice I've ever found to be true is don't give up. I've won awards, but for every award I won, there are twenty I didn't even place in. The only way to succeed is to try. If you give up, you've already lost.

WOW: Fantastic advice. Thank you. Anything else you'd like to add?

Michelle: Success stories usually go something like this, "Her book was rejected dozens of times before it was published. Look at how she proved them wrong!" For every success story, even small successes, people tend to focus on the people who stood in a writer's way. The part that no one sees are the people who lifted the writer up. The group of family, friends, and colleagues who didn't give up on them. I'm so very thankful to my group. They never tire of lifting me up.

WOW: Thank you so much for your inspiring responses. Congratulations again, and happy writing!

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, who keeps a blog of journal entries, memoir snippets, interviews, training logs, and profiles of writers and competitive female athletes.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Anne--Thanks for the interview and Michelle, thanks for reminding us that for every success, there are many more rejections. Deep down, we know it, but it helps to be reminded of it.

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