Books: Prophecy of the Sisters, Guardian of the Gate
Website: Michelle Zink
Author Spotlight Interview Michelle Zink
If you had asked me when I was a child and teen what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would have said, “Be a writer.” But I lost it somewhere along the way as I was encouraged to get a “real” job, be responsible, etc. I really didn’t have any role models or anyone who even talked to me about being a writer or what a career as a writer would look like. It all seemed very mysterious! By the time I was 29, I was working as a Director of Sales and Marketing for a technology consulting firm. I was making plenty of money, had a house a mile from the beach, a nanny and a housekeeper – and was completely miserable. I couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life getting up every morning only to spend ten hours every day doing something that didn’t interest me at all. So I did this crazy thing and sold my house, quite my job, and moved myself, my then-husband, and my four children (who were between the ages of 2 and 9 at the time) 3,000 miles to a small town in New York. It was beautiful, quiet, and most importantly, cheap! The cheap part was crucial, because it meant that I could take a break from being the primary breadwinner and take some time to figure out what I really wanted and who I really was. During the 2-3 years it took me to find my way back to writing, I learned that I didn’t need as much STUFF as I thought I did. I found that I was very happy and fulfilled at home with the wood stove going, baking from scratch, reading with my children, and writing. And finding my writing again was like breathing. It was an epiphany, and I suddenly couldn’t imagine how I’d lived without it for so many years. All of my worldly cares fell away when I was writing, and I had the greatest sense of euphoria. I felt ALIVE for the first time since I was a teenager. I wanted to hang onto that feeling, so I wrote more and more and more. I made a commitment to actually FINISH a whole book, because up until that time I’d just been starting stuff and dropping it when I got bored. That was really the turning point for me. I learned more from that experience than everything else put together, so I just kept writing books, determined not to quit until I got published. Prophecy was #5!
How did you come up with the idea for Prophecy of the Sisters and what was your writing process like?
The initial seed of the story came from the biblical legend of the Watchers, a legion of angels who were said to have been sent to Earth to watch over mankind. In the legend, the angels fell in love with mortal women and were banished from Heaven, after which they were referred to as the Lost Souls. Hearing that phrase – the Lost Souls – was my dun-dun DUN! moment. My writing process was the same as it is now; I made a few notes in a pretty haphazard kind of way – just enough to get started and to give me an idea where the story was going. Then I started writing!
Since Guardian of the Gate is the sequel to the first book Prophecy of the Sisters, was it easier or harder to write?
Both! It was easier because a lot of the groundwork had been laid in terms of characterization and plot, but it was harder because I knew there were a lot of readers out there who had expectations for the book. I didn’t want to let them down.
How did you research for this particular book?
Most people find it surprising that research wasn’t a key component of writing Prophecy. I was actually surprised when readers referred to it as historical fiction, because to me, Prophecy always has been and always will be a fantasy that happens to be set in 1890. I only did research where it was absolutely necessary to serve the story because I didn’t want the plot to be bogged down in period details. I wanted to use them to set the atmosphere instead.
Do you have any niches you do while writing? Like listening to music,est? If so what do you do or listen to?
Music is a HUGE part of my life and my writing. I listen to film scores while I write, because if I listen to someone else’s words (i.e. lyrics) while I’m writing, they interfere with the voice of my characters. Film scores are largely instrumental, so I choose a score or two with the “feel” I’m trying to create in my book and write to that the entire time. With book one of the Prophecy series, it was the score from the movie The Village. Book Two was the scores from The Lord of the Rings series, and book three was a combination of both. That gives you an idea what each book will “feel” like right there!
Who was the easiest & hardest character for you to create?
Alice, because I wanted to create a “true” villain. One who – like most real people – was enigmatic and complex. Someone you could alternately feel empathy for and despise. Most people in real life aren’t all black or all white. We’re all shades of gray, and creating an authentic villain – someone who could be truly evil that was complex enough to genuinely intrigue people – was a challenge. I was so flattered when Chapters Canada nominated Alice as Best Villain. The ultimate compliment!
If you had to pick between being the Guardian or the Gate, which would you pick and why?
I would always be the Guardian. I believe in the inherent goodness of humanity and our duty as human beings to further that goodness in ourselves and each other.
Since writing Guardian of the Gate what are you working on next?
I have a contemporary fantasy series that I should be able to talk about soon. It’s kind of The Dark Knight meets Twilight without Vampires. Stay tuned…