– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘The Introvert Confounds Innocence’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tour.
About the Author :
Michaud is an American-Canadian citizen, an Assistant Crown Attorney in the Greater Toronto Area, and author of BILLY TABBS (& THE GLORIOUS DARROW) (bitingduckpress) and THE INTROVERT series (Black Opal Books). He holds a B.A. in English from McMaster University, an Honors B.A. in Political Science (summa cum laude) from McMaster University, a J.D. from The University of Western Ontario (with an international exchange completed at Washington & Lee), and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and International Thriller Writers. Michaud has won awards for both his work as a criminal prosecutor and for his work with the community. He has also made regular appearances on SiriusXM’s Canada Talks.
Finally, a book series for all of the weirdos of the world!
THE INTROVERT CONFOUNDS INNOCENCE continues the story of the eponymous anti-hero introduced in THE INTROVERT.
With his life disrupted by an unscrupulous work colleague and a bully at his son Toby’s school, things go from bad to worse when his neighbor’s abusive boyfriend goes missing, plunging the introvert into the center of a murder investigation.
Increasingly hounded by a meddlesome detective, and with his thoughts continually urging him to make people “red and open” and to “achieve it” with his girlfriend Donna, what follows is a sometimes brutal, oftentimes hilarious, and absurdist account of the life of one very anti-social and unexpected anti-hero.
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since a fell in love with the written word at Longfellow Elementary School in Portland, Maine. It was the third and fourth grades that won me over. My school had a Junior Great Books program, which kids could join. It was sort of a School run book club, where we’d read and discuss a story from one of the books. That was the third grade, I believe.
There was also a school run program where you earned a sticker for every book read. I enjoyed reading, yes, but I also took to the competitive nature of the exercise. Each student’s name was placed on a large piece of Bristol board, with room beside it to ‘sticker’ your progress, taped to a hallway or a door somewhere. The exercise was based on the honor system, but I would never have considered inflating my progress. Not even a single page (to this day, perhaps naively, I don’t fully comprehend those who rely on dishonesty as a legitimate life strategy. I just can’t relate to it).
And so I read, and I read, and I read.
Bunnicula. Howliday Inn. The Celery Stalks At Midnight. The Mouse and the Motorcycle. Runaway Ralph. The Trumpet of the Swan. The Witches.
You get the idea.
Bookmobiles and solitude were my friends, my freckled nose buried neatly behind the seam, wide eyes (or narrow, depending on the light) peeking out over the top of the pages. Every few days I would see another sticker alight next to my name, and I remember the fascination with watching my sticker count spread across the Bristol board, dwarfing the progress of my other classmates. Ten stickers, eleven, twelve. There were prizes along the way, bookmarks mostly. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that I was pretty good at this reading thing. And something else happened along the way. I became a devout fan of “the story.” Of characters. Of creativity. Of “what will happen next?” Yes indeed, I had the bug. And a part of me thought, maybe I could do this, too?
So I started to write, and by the end of the 4th grade, I had entered and won a story contest at my school (The Purple Panther – I mean, how could it NOT win?!) The prize was attendance at a writer’s conference, which I attended with my Mom and my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Inman. That was when I began to utter those same six words in earnest. “I want to be a writer.” And they are as true today as they were when I was nine years old. As is my love of reading. It’s pretty well the same, really. Just less stickers.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
I suppose I answered the first part above. As a grown-up? First off, do you have the parameters for that? I’m 44 now. Does that qualify? There are many days I feel no different than when I was 9, or 18, or 21. This aging thing is a trap-game. But as they all say in Deadwood…anyways.
In high school I fell in love with Watership Down. This book started to cultivate my love of animal rights and social justice in literature. Then, as I got a bit older, it became Animal Farm, which I count as the smartest, most scathing book about human nature that I have ever read (Bonfire of the Vanities is up there, RIP Tom Wolfe). Watership Down and Animal Farm influenced my debut novel – Billy Tabbs (& The Glorious Darrow) – which is itself a rather scathing satire about human rights, animal rights, and social justice generally.
Later on I began to devour Dickens, Vonnegut, and Dostoyevsky. There have been others, but those three, along with Orwell, have been my chief literary loves and influences.
The point is to find the books and writers that speak to you. For example, I wrote The Introvert immediately after reading Dostoyevsky (Crime and Punishment) and Camus (The Stranger). I enjoyed the two protagonists so much that I wanted to write a book that paid homage to both. The same for Billy Tabbs (& The Glorious Darrow). Since Animal Farm is my favourite book of all time, when it came time to write my debut novel, I wanted to write a dystopian social commentary with rules and hypocrisy and all that great stuff from AF.
Reading will help shape your own creative output.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
It would be Dickens. He had a way of folding words into sentences into masterpieces. Deftly. Seamlessly. Over and over. I would love to know if he had any particular strategies, education, or training, or if he was simply born with it, as I believe. There are times when I feel I am pretty good writer. Only then I read a few passages from Bleak House or Copperfield, and I sadly realize my limitations. This is Saliere/Mozart stuff, for people of my vintage.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Probably Jacob from Billy Tabbs (& The Glorious Darrow) – because he was such a kind, thoughtful, selfless character. He was written as almost a caricature of goodness, and the yin to Marlon’s yang. His soul is beautiful. A beautiful but tragic figure.
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
Not really. Though I would say that I am most in my groove when I make my way to a nearby pub, order a Guinness, and plug in my earbuds. This state of bliss – interrupted only by the occasional call for libation – helps me settle into my characters’ minds and the feel of my narrative.
As Hemingway said: write drunk, edit sober.
PS: please walk – do NOT drive – to a pub if you are going to embrace this strategy. Dead writers achieve surprisingly low word counts.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Believe it or not, this is a real thing since I started writing The Introvert series. A number of people have confided in me that they looked at me differently after reading it, especially people who did not know me all that well when they first read it. The Introvert books are written first person, deep inside his head, and he has a lot of intense, erratic thoughts. People who know me often hear my voice in their head as they are reading it. Of course, I wrote him and created his thoughts, but he is not me. Some of the run on thoughts are me, and of course it all came from my mind, but no, I am not thinking of making people “red and open”. At least not most days. 🙂
What’s interesting is that I have even had some of my reviewers comment on the looks or comments that they have received from friends after recommending it. I even replied to one of these reviewers, commenting, “Yeah, imagine how I feel.”
As I have written above, I am usually inspired by stories and characters from other books. I read stuff that I fall in love with, and then I want more. If there isn’t more, then I create it. And even if there was more, I would probably create it anyway.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
It depends on the book I am writing, though for the most part, I have a very basic outline of where I see the story going (think building the frame of a puzzle), then I fill it in as I go. Sometimes I don’t know where my story is heading, or who my characters are, until they tell me. I understand that this may sound odd or pretentious to non-writers, because after all, I am writing them. But as the story progresses, and particularly as I am writing dialogue, I am thinking as I go – what flows from this? What would the character say next? Many times I’m learning as I go, as they tell me, and it happens organically. This is particularly true for a book like The Introvert, and a sci-fi horror manuscript that I wrote called THE OTHERS, which are written first person. I find that I write first-person very stream of conscious.
The most I tend to do, which is what I am doing with my current manuscript – a steampunk detective mystery – is that I will write a few sentences for each chapter, as to what I consider might happen in each one. These are always fluid, and inevitably shift, but it is the puzzle frame I talk about above.
Part of the joy of writing is that I myself want to find out what happens. This is not some cute author come-on. It happens to be very real. I love to find out how my stories unfold and how they end.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Do put down your phone and stop scrolling through Instagram, or Youtube, or whatever other distractions are massive time burglars that take time away from achieving your goal. Everything in moderation! Avoiding procrastination is hard, but it’s worth it.
Do pick up a book and read everyday, even if only a few pages.
Do write everyday, even if only a few paragraphs.
Do attend some writing classes, if you can afford them, and have the time to do so. There are usually night classes available at local colleges.
Do read Stephen King’s book “On Writing”
Don’t let people tell you your idea sucks, or won’t sell, or that you have to write third person, or this genre etc etc. King talks about this in On Writing. Closed door versus open door writing. Your first draft should be with the door closed, otherwise people may interfere, cause doubt, etc.
This is your first draft. Let it out. Have faith in your ideas. Even if your ideas actually do suck (whatever the hell that means), have faith in them anyway.
Write what you want, and how you want. I always write for myself, first and foremost. I write a story that I want to read. If others enjoy it too, great.
What are your future plans as an author?
For those who don’t know me, I am a full time criminal prosecutor, and I write on the side (evening, weekends, holidays). So I have a very rich, rewarding career in place, but also one that commands a lot of my time and attention.
My future plans as an author are simply to keep writing, and to grow my published catalog (which will stand at 4 by end of 2020). At present I have been approaching independent publishers directly. This has allowed me entry into the marketplace and greater control over my work. However, one day I will want an agent, with an eye to breaking into the mainstream.
If I was ever able to sustain myself solely from my writing, that would be wonderful scenario, but I will cross that bridge when I get there. Until then, I will write.
To that end – the third instalment of The Introvert – The Introvert Bears Filthy Witness – is due out late in 2020. And as I mentioned above, I have a completed sci fi horror manuscript called THE OTHERS which I believe is a great little novel about a town visited my mysterious yet immobile creatures. It deserves a home and eventually it will find one. It contains one of my favourite characters that I have written.
And now? I am currently working on a brand new story, the first entry in a steampunk detective series. I am about a third of the way through the first draft, which I hope to finish this year. I don’t want to share too much just yet, but do I think a lot of people will enjoy it.
As for The Introvert, he is going to take a break for a while. Maybe this will give him more time to achieve it with Donna. There is likely to be a fourth instalment – The Introvert Finds his Freud – but it has yet been written and currently exists only in Molly-disapproved purgatory.
Readers can also follow my daily scrivener ramblings at fb.com/michaelpaulmichaud.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Sure! Here is a short excerpt of the introvert trying to interact with his four year old son Toby…
After Donna went back to washing her strawberries, I walked into the den to find Toby playing with some Lego. We had to take the Lego away from him for a few months because he’d put a small piece up his nose and we’d had to visit the doctor, but now that he was a little older, we felt that he could be trusted.
“Daddy, look!” he said, pointing to some sort of castle.
It wasn’t much of a castle. The structure was too small and was poorly conceived, but at least it had a moat and some trees so that much was decent.
“That is very nice,” I said. As a general rule, I tried to lie to people as little as possible, though I made the exception for my son because I’d read various articles in The Child Psychology Magazine that children benefited from positive reinforcement, even where it was undeserved, and it could even stunt their creativity or confidence if you undermined their work.
“This man goes here, and this one goes here,” said Toby.
Just like the castle, it wasn’t much of a formation. He’d arranged his knights outside the castle walls, and even though I felt that the men would be much safer inside, I once again said “That’s very nice,” even if the fact of the matter was that it was a tactically poor decision and would likely lead his men to slaughter.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Michael Paul Michaud.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds
P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!