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BVC welcomes author Michele Dunaway!

Michele DunawayInterviewed by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel

Book View Café is delighted to have Michele Dunaway joining our eclectic team of writers. Michele, will you introduce your writing to people new to your work? Who will love your first Book View Café release, MR. SEPTEMBER?

1) Why was it romance that called to your storytelling? What is it about writing romance first, no matter what else is going on in a story, that is most fun for you? Diehard romance fans are always about the romance first, and it’s a special challenge.

I read my first romance novel on a road trip during middle school. Unlike today’s electronic age, paperback books were the way to go, and I’d read through all the ones I bought. So I went into the gas station and read the back cover copy and chose a new book—a historical romance. I was hooked. By high school, my beach reads were Harlequin Presents. Then my step-sister and I were writing novels on an old typewriter. She was my first critique partner. We used the kids in the neighborhood as characters. She wrote Westerns killing everyone. I wrote romances marrying them all. So the romance is always first for me.

2) Where did the world of MR. SEPTEMBER begin for you? How did you enter that story? Were you expecting it to become a series, or was that a surprise?

The idea from the book came from the release of a photography book by one of my former students, Robert Brown Shapelow. He’d created beautiful imagery photographing burn survivors for an organization, including photographing one of his best friends. That sparked my imagination, and using the idea of a book as a backdrop, the story took flight. I’d actually written Mr. December first, so I knew this would be a series. But Mr. September is first in the chronological order of time, as it starts with photographing the firefighters.

3) When you write, do you start with a single idea or question? Does a character come to you first, or a plot seed? Does each story or series start in the same manner (a character, a plot seed, etc.) or does it vary for you?

Many times it’s the plot seed. I get an idea and it’s off to the races and I develop the characters from there.

4) Has writing fiction taught you anything you didn’t expect?

I see people in my head as I write and once their story is on paper and out into the world, I don’t see them anymore. I know authors who talk to their characters, but while I see them, I don’t hear them talk to me directly. Well, once when I was writing a love scene at two a.m. and decided to finish it the next day. But that’s it.

5) Do you read for pleasure? Fiction or nonfiction? Who are your favorite writers? Do you enjoy reading romance, or do you avoid it? What are you currently reading?

I love reading romance. I’m still a diehard Harlequin fan and love the Presents, Historical, and Special Edition lines. I also read a lot of single title thrillers by authors like Brad Thor, J.D. Robb, and David Baldacci. When I’m writing I often read outside my contemporary romance genre so I don’t get imposter syndrome.

6) What do you like most about writing fiction? Is there any part of the writing process that is harder than most things?

I love being able to create the happy ending. So much in the world really is bad news, so I love to be able to create escapes. I call romance brain candy. It’s not designed to be deep and cerebral but to give that nice little sugar rush. For a short time, the real world can wait.

As for the writing process, I find the middles to be so, so slow for some reason. It’s like the workweek. Once you’re over hump day, the rest flies.

7) Do you love researching through websites and books, or do you like to go to the places where your stories take place, and do hands-on investigating?

I do a lot of internet research but being onsite is the best research there is. The ideas for my stories often come from the places I’ve visited or the people I’ve spoken with.

8) Do you think your “voice,” the thing that stamps your writing as uniquely yours, changes from book to book, story to story – or can you see themes that recur in your work?

I love to write second chance stories where damaged heroes and heroines get their happily ever after. As for my voice, it’s consistent I’d like to say. One thing I do in every book is drop in a literary allusion. My character names also often mean something. I use a lot of Easter eggs.

9) Are there specific things that you feel are essential for your heroes and heroines to have in their lives? Do they all have pets, for example, or hobbies—do they have big families, or are they loners?

My biggest is that I like stronger heroines. I don’t like the “Oh, I need a man to save me,” probably because I’m a pretty strong woman. For my heroines, the heroes make their lives better, like icing on a cake.

10) Why writing to communicate your storytelling? Do you ever explore it in physical arts like drawing or painting, dancing, music?

Writing is my passion. I’m not artistic in any other way.

11) What will you be publishing next?

Up next from BVC will be Mr. December and Mr. July. Before that, Harlequin Special Edition will be publishing One Suite Deal June 26. It’s Book 4 in my Love in the Valley series and features a twist on the undercover boss, love triangle, and one night with the boss tropes. Book 4-6 all feature the Clayton siblings. Book 5 is called Room for Two More.

12) Are you working on something new? Do we get a hint?

I just finished my 29th book for Harlequin, which is part of the 2025 Fortunes of Texas series, which is one of Harlequin’s longest continuities. I’m currently writing book 30 for Harlequin, which is Book 6 in the Love in the Valley series.

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Mr. September by Michele Dunaway

Get Mr. September at the Book View Cafe bookstore

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