Michelle Conder is celebrating the US release of her first book, Girl Behind the Scandalous Reputation, a Harlequin release under their Presents imprint. Michelle dropped by the virtual offices to introduce herself and to chat about her book.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Michelle Conder] I’m a wife, mother, loyal friend, psychology and politics major, terrible gardener, and definitely a little too sensitive for my own good!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Girl Behind The Scandalous Reputation?
[Michelle Conder] This book is about actress Lily Wild who grew up in the shadow of her parents notorious reputations and has been struggling to find her place in the world ever since.
When she is caught with drugs in her bag at Heathrow airport her best friend’s disapproving brother, whom she once had an enormous crush on, is the only one who can help her. Unfortunately Tristan thinks Lily is as guilty as sin and is intensely angry that she ignored his strict instructions six years earlier to stay away from his sister.
As Tristan is a lawyer, and a member of the aristocracy, Lily is released into his custody 24/7 while the police investigate her case and the attraction that has always simmered between them becomes impossible to ignore.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Michelle Conder] This story was inspired by the celebrity culture we live in today, and, more specifically, what it would be like growing up with famous parents who gave you a moniker (Lily’s name is actually Honey Blossom Lily Wild) that automatically garnered you attention whether you wanted it or not.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the story?
[Michelle Conder] As this is my first published work I can safely say almost everything! Probably the biggest hurdles were structural: tone, pacing and the scary black moment where everything seems lost between the two leads. Fortunately, I was blessed with a wonderful editor who saw the story’s potential and was very patient as I nutted out the ending of the book.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Lily?
[Michelle Conder] Lily is feisty, down-to-earth (despite her infamous linage), and very loyal.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Tristan would never have in his glovebox?
[Michelle Conder] Hmmm, interesting question…. Tristan would never have any illegal substances, a gun, or anything personal that could be used to define him. He’s incredibly private.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Michelle Conder] I would have to say Gone with the Wind (for romance), Helen Garner, Carrie Fisher and Ernest Hemingway (for so many – “oh God, I wish I had written that” moments) and the 10 day Vipassana retreat I went on three years ago (led me to this – my dream job!).
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Michelle Conder] Time, silence and discipline… none of which are easy to come by with three young children and an equally busy husband!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Michelle Conder] I read voraciously as a child, apparently stealing the class one readers when I was in prep, so I’m sure every one of those early books informed me in some way. If I had to pin down one book though… I think it would be Z for Zachariah written by Robert C. O’Brien. I found a copy in an Op Shop recently and immediately bought it to pass onto my kids when they’re old enough to read.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Michelle Conder] I love watching movies, spending time with family and friends, snow skiing, yoga, and of course reading. Not that I do any of these things with any great regularity!
I also like to cook and knit but I find as soon as I do something relaxing the characters in my head become energised and I often find my projects discarded while I jot down notes on scenes and story ideas. To be honest I’m rarely “not” writing – which makes me sound either psychologically impaired or rather boring… I won’t say which!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thanks!!
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