Fellow Boroughs author Michele James tells beautiful stories set in a fantasy past, creating worlds that come to life before your eyes. Her characters are strong and well-written, and her books are a treat to read! So without further ado, here’s Michele in her own words.
1. What made you sit down and write your first novel? Have you always been a writer? Is it
something you’ve done all your life or something you came to later?
I’ve always been a reader and a writer. I grew up in the time of snail mail, and wrote and
received letters to my grandmother who lived on a farm in Nebraska, as well as my
father who served in Vietnam. In school, I loved Creative Writing and was editor of the
high school newspaper. I continued letter writing with various friends through the years,
but didn’t start to write novels until my children were in school. The why is hard to pin
point, other than the characters came to me and I wanted to tell their stories.
2. Why do you write romance novels? Do you read them as well as write them?
I write romance novels to tell a love story and I write historical because I’ve always been
a history and mythology buff. I read across all genres, except for horror, The Exorcist
was enough for me, but romance is my favorite. My mother introduced me to Victoria
Holt gothics as a teenager, and then I discovered Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, and Kathleen
3. Your novels are set in a beautifully drawn imaginary world of the past, in a place of
warriors and kings and deeds of bravery. How did you create this world? Is there any
historical truth to this fascinating setting, or is it strictly an imaginary place?
My most recent book, Warrior Mine, is set in Gaul during the reign of Charlemagne, and
while there are fantasy elements to it, the setting is historically accurate and the story
includes an actual historical event, which The Song of Roland is based on. For my
Destined series, I researched specific times and places for each of the four books, from
ancient Mesopotamia, the Caucasus mountains, Viking trade routes, and the Scottish
Highlands, and then I made up my own cultural rules, traditions, and names for places to
set my stories. My publisher calls them “historical mash-ups”.
4. Where do you get your characters? Are they figments of your imagination or based on
My characters are figments of my imagination, though I will use real people for physical
guidelines, and they are always what come to me first and in many different ways. For
the Destined series, my characters shared traits with their title characters, The Lion &
The Swan, The Stallion & The Tigress, The Eagle & the Lynx, The Stag & the Owl, as well
as one of the four elements of fire, air, earth, or water, and how they relate to each
other, or not. For Warrior Mine, I wanted opposites attracting. So, I wrote a black
haired, steel eyed, stoic, warrior who ran on logic and a red-haired, hot-tempered
healer who may or may not be a witch.
5. What is your writing process? Are you a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’?
I’m a little of both. When I start a book, I know my main characters and the basics of
their backstories, and I know where I’m starting and where I’m ending, with a few of the
big plot points in between. Then I write my way into the story.
6. How do you go about researching your work?
I can happily spend hours down the research rabbit hole, learning about everything
from the history, geography, language, cultures and customs of a certain time period to
the smaller details of the clothing, food, and swear words. I use libraries and the
internet, encyclopedias, reference books, movies, music, and the odd Ren-fair friend.
7. What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any other passions besides
I was a small animal veterinary technician for forty years, animals and medicine are still
passions of mine, and show up in pretty much all of my books. I also garden and cook,
practice yoga semi- regularly, and am a big walker. I live by the Pacific Ocean and near
an estuary, and I walk there often with my dogs and always with a pocket size notebook
and pen, because I never know when an idea or even a word will come to me, and I have
learned I’ll forget them if I don’t jot them down.
8. Do you do any other kind of writing besides romance?
I still write letters, snail mail and email, but otherwise, no, just romance.
9. If you could give one piece of advice to a beginning writer, what would it be?
Write the book you’d want to read.