Friday, September 27, 2013

Spencer Hill Press Author Michelle Pickett Visits Writing Belle!

Spencer Hill Press is a publishing house that dishes out one awesome book after another, particularly in the Young Adult category. This year I read PODs, a YA novel about the end of the world as we know it. It centers around Eva, a girl who is among a select group of people chosen to enter underground containment units and be spared a painful death caused by a worldwide plague. I was so excited to talk to the author, Michelle Pickett, about the world she created in PODs. Let's start!

Thank you so much for visiting, Michelle! 
Thank you so much for hosting me today! I’m so excited to be here.

I read PODs over summer vacation earlier this year and thoroughly enjoyed the story world you created. Can you tell us how you came up with the idea for the novel?
I really wish I had some great answer for this question, but I really don’t. It’s actually kind of boring, really. I think it came about when I was watching a news program about the new “super viruses” doctors have been warning us about. My husband and I started talking about them, and I also spoke to my physician about them and how they related to the overuse of antibiotics, including antibacterial hand soaps and so forth. Around that time my mother had a hospital stay and contracted a very serious case of MRSA that was resistant to a lot of medications the doctors were prescribing her. All these events jumbled in my head and somehow the idea for PODs was born.

This publishing house is awesome.
The driving force behind Eva's determination is her love for David. Explain their character creation.
Eva was the first character that “introduced” herself to me when I started writing. She started telling me the story. I knew there’d be some type of romance component to the story, but I hadn’t formed David until I actually stated writing about the POD occupants. He just evolved as I wrote him.
I wanted them to both be strong characters, but also have flaws, just like a real person would have. I wanted them to be very vulnerable. I mean, they’re going through a lot of very emotional things! I hope that comes across.  Their complete devotion to each other, though, shows that they weren’t totally vulnerable. They still had fight in them. In a time of death and destruction they found each other and held on with both hands and despite the obstacles thrown at them, they didn’t let go.

This is not your run-of-the-mill apocalyptic novel. It took me by surprise on a few fronts, but the most interesting to me was the concept of the underground pods in which the selected populace took shelter from the disease. How did you go about bringing this idea to life?
The PODs were the one thing in the book that was the hardest concept for me. It took the longest for me to conceptualize. I wanted something that could be already in place, but was secret. The PODs were built by the government years before the virus hit as a means to escape any form of attack on the country, but the general population wasn’t aware they existed. So I had to come up with something that was hidden.
I lived in New Mexico (where the PODs are located) for a time, so I know there is a lot of undeveloped land and also there is almost always a breeze, at least where I lived. So the undeveloped land was perfect for an underground structure and the breeze made the wind power doable. And New Mexico is sunny—it’s always beautiful, making solar power very believable. So, that’s how the idea for the underground PODs grew.

How long did it take you to write PODs? What was it like?
PODs was the fastest book I’ve written. It was very exciting because it came to me so quickly. From start to finish, it took three months. That’s from the first time my fingers touched the keys until I had an offer for publication. It was like a dream—still is. I feel completely blessed. I’m still in awe by the entire thing.

Michelle's upcoming release, coming March 2014
Do you write with or without music? And do you have a favorite writing snack? *winks*
I write with music sometimes and without sometimes. It really depends on my mood and how noisy the house is. PODs has a playlist on my webpage ( and on youtube. I don’t think I’ve updated them so one might have one or two songs the other doesn’t.
Snacks, ugh, yes. I’m addicted to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. You know the snack sized ones in the bag? Yeah, they are bad, bad, bad. I put the bag in my desk drawer and sneak them while I write. I’m currently trying to kick the habit, but I have to admit...I’m a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup junkie. But, hey, they say the first step is admitting you have a problem, right?  (ha-ha).

Any plans for a sequel, prequel or novella? Say yes! 
Okay, YES!  The sequel is titled “The Infected” and will release November 2014. I know it is SOOO far away, but I hope when it’s released readers will think it was worth the wait.  And just a side note: I’m doing edits now, so if there is something you’d like to see in the sequel—or not see—drop me an email. I can’ promise it’ll be added, but I try to make readers happy as much as possible!

Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?
Don’t stop. This is a hard industry. So write, write and then write some more. Learn how to edit your work so it shines and submit, submit and submit some more. And when those rejection letters come (and they will), let yourself have a pity party for five minutes then get back to work. Don’t stop!
And find a group of writers, either on line or in person, who can offer you support and you can support them, as well. You won’t believe how much having a group of your peers surround you with positive vibes helps! I didn’t have that while writing PODs. I’m thankful I have a group of very talented and very sweet writing friends now. I don’t know what I did without them!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Best of luck to you in all your writing endeavors!

Thank you so much for having me. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions. I love to hear from readers, bloggers and other authors. Drop me a note anytime. 

I always love to hear from readers, bloggers and other authors!
Find me here:

Buy Links for PODs:

Buy Links for Milayna:
About Michelle
I’m a wife, mother, reader and writer, although not always in that order. Between helping my twin eight year-old daughters with their second grade homework and my twelve year-old son with his sixth grade homework (which I’ve recently learned I am NOT smarter than a fifth (or sixth) grader, thank you very much Jeff Foxworthy), and being a football mom (GO BULLDOGS!) I write young adult urban fantasies, science/fiction and paranormal romances and have recently started dabbling in young adult and new adult contemporary romance.

Red Bull or Monster Khaos are my coffee of choice and my day doesn’t start until I’ve downed one. My son usually hands me a can as soon as I stumble into the kitchen in the morning. I’m addicted to Reese’s peanut butter cups and eat way too many while I write (I’m currently trying to kick this habit). I have an abnormal obsession with hoodies and can’t write without one and since I live in Texas it’s an odd habit to have. But I strive to be abnormal. Normal is boring. We all need a little quirkiness in our lives.

I hate to cook, but love to watch cooking shows on television. The closest I’ll ever get to cooking anything resembling gourmet food would be writing a character who is a chef. I’m a hopeful romantic; I love a swoon-worthy ending that will give me butterflies for days. And books that keep me thinking of them long after I’ve finished the last page. Although I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in accounting (why I chose a career that frowns on creativity remains a mystery), I am very blessed to have a husband that supports my writing so much that he encouraged me to write full-time. 
My work includes:
Young adult books in paperback and ebook format:

The Amazon Bestselling young adult novel PODs
Milayna, March 2014
Milayna’s Angel (Milayna #2), September 2014
The Infected, a PODs novel, November 2014
The Innocent (Milayna #3), April 2015.

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Get fictional - it's fun! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you again soon!