Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday Debut Interview: Grudging by Michelle Hauck

Our debut interview today is Michelle Hauck, talking about her debut adult fantasy novel, GRUDGING.

Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed at Operation Awesome and congratulations on your adult debut! Tell us a little bit about GRUDGING!
Let me try to avoid the blurb and put it in my own words. A city-state in the desert is under siege from an overwhelming army. Other city-states have already burned. Their only recourse is to seek assistance from their traditional enemy—the witches. It’s a tale of four characters: A young man, Ramiro, who hero worships his brother. The city Alcalde trying to keep his people alive. A girl, Claire, who wants to know more about her magic and life outside her swamp. A priest who lands in the middle of the enemy. Can they come together to beat back the flames and save a people?

Worldbuilding is often a huge part of what sets fantasy novels apart. Can you tell us some aspects of GRUDGING's world that makes it unique?
The world of GRUDGING is based on medieval Spain with Moorish aspects, which means a form of religion based on Catholicism, with a twist of course. It’s set in a desert and a swamp to make sure the terrain varies. And it includes three completely different cultures to keep the plot complex. You have witches who sing to bewilder the mind. An enemy religion of blood sacrifice to appease a dark god. And a weapon that can kill with just a touch.

You mention witches that can sing to bewilder the mind; that sounds similar to the ancient myths of sirens. What sort of research did you do and how much of your sirenas are based on the Greek sirens?
I did research on other things, such as armor, but did nothing on sirens. I wanted my sirens to be different. For one they live in a swamp and not the sea. They use their magic to repel men, not lure them. The Women of the Song just want to be left alone. They will use their magic to defend themselves if needed and have a variety of tricks up their sleeves.

Let's talk about your writing process. How long did it take you to draft this novel? How long from that first draft until publication?
Hmm. Let me think. I started GRUDGING in November of 2014 as a NaNoMoWri project (write a book in a month). I don’t usually try to write 50,000 words in a month because I know that’s not possible for me, but I needed the motivation to get started. I did manage ten thousand words. Then it took me eleven months to finish the draft and have my critique partners read and send feedback. My agent sent more feedback and some larger revisions. It went on submission in February 2015 and sold at the end of May. So it’s published just a year after I started it!

Can you tell us about how you got your book deal with Harper Voyager and what makes them a good fit for your book?
My agent sent GRUDGING out on submission to about eight editors. Harper Voyager was one of those who requested quickly, then we waited about two months before they offered for their Impulse line. I love that Harper Voyager is devoted to science fiction and fantasy, and they were specifically looking for more epic fantasy at the time. Fantasy is all I write and read, so I feel like I really fit in.

What about the title? Was GRUDGING the original title you had in mind? How did it come about?
GRUDGING is my original title when I started the manuscript during NaNoMoWri in 2014. I pictured two ancient enemies having to work together to throw off a larger and newer adversary. Claire and Ramiro wouldn’t work together happily. So much of the story is the progression of that relationship.

Operation Awesome posted on your cover reveal last month (LINK). How did your reveal day go?
We just had a big reveal on October 15th. Rockstar Book Tours hosted it and it included a giveaway of three e-books. I was amazed at how many people signed up to put GRUDGING’s cover on their blog! It was so exciting!

Tell us about your book launch! What, where, when, and how do you plan on celebrating?
Rockstar Book Tours is doing a virtual release tour for me also. They will arrange interviews, guest posts and reviews online. The print book comes out about six weeks after the e-book and I’ll do live events then. Other than that, I plan on going out to dinner, having a big dessert, and just having a lovely day on November 17th. Let’s see if I can resist checking Amazon sales numbers. Not sure if I can help but peek at them.

GRUDGING is book on in the "Birth of Saints" series. Can you give us any hints about what's to come? How much of the series is written at this point?
The second book is tentatively titled FAITHFUL. I’m about fifty percent done with the first draft. I can say that things will not be getting better for Ramiro and family, though he and Claire will get closer. There will also be a new point of view scenes from a familiar character, Teresa. And that reminds me, if you enjoy the GRUDGING and want to see what happens to Teresa in that book, I have a deleted chapter I’ll be giving away to anyone signed up for my newsletter.

Is there any other advice you'd like to pass on to others pursuing publication? Anything you would have done differently?
Research about agents and publishing first. Know how to write a query letter and what word count is desired for what genre. Many people don’t have any luck until their second, third, or fourth manuscripts, so persistence is key. And always get other writers to read and critique for you.

If I could do things differently, I would have followed that advice with my first manuscript. I knew nothing about writing, agents, or publishing. Learn and grow all the time.

And, just for fun:

If Ramiro could join forces which the hero of another fantasy story to help him on his quest, which partner would he choose and why?

Ramiro would have a case of hero worship on Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. They are both sword and horses type of guys. They could sit around with an ale and discuss honor and duty and what it means to them.

Thank you so much for your participation in this Wednesday Debut Interview!
You can follow Michelle here:
Twitter: @Michelle4Laughs
Goodreads: Grudging
Goodreads: Kindar’s Cure
Tumblr: Michelle4Laughs

Buy links for GRUDGING: |Amazon|Barnes and Noble|

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