April 18, 2014

Casual Friday: Interview with Author Michelle Modesto

Happy Friday, Misfiteers!

Today we're chatting with author Michelle Modesto about her debut novel, MACHINE AND THE WILD.

It will be published by Balzer & Bray in 2016, and in case you missed it, here's the announcement:

Sounds awesome, right? We thought so too. So we asked Michelle to stop by and tell us a little more about it - Enjoy!

Welcome, Michelle! First of all, your book – what a concept! Tell us a little bit about it and what inspired the idea?

MACHINE AND THE WILD is a weird western set in an alternate gold rush era California. It’s about a wild, foul-mouthed girl named Westie who is hunting the cannibals that killed her family.

I had this idea for a sort of cantankerous female character with a mechanical arm. I wanted her to be kind of a badass but with a vulnerable side. The inspiration behind the world has a lot to do with where I live in Northern California. Nor Cal was the heart of the gold rush. I live only a couple hours from Truckee where the Donner party was stranded, so of course I had to add cannibals to the mix.   

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt you can share with us?

This isn’t exactly my favorite line, but I think it catches the essence of Westie’s character in a nutshell.

Westie stumbled toward the bar, finding an empty stool. The aristocrat followed behind her like a faithful horse.
            “Another Red Eye,” she told the barkeep.
            “Thank you for saving me back there,” the aristocrat said as he fumbled in his pockets for coin to pay for her drink. His eyes were beautiful she noticed when he looked at her, pale green with flecks of gold like the local creeks. Up close she realized he couldn’t be older than sixteen.
She let loose the belch that’d been stalking up her throat and reached down the front of her sweaty corset to scratch an itch between her breasts.

“Maybe you ought to be the one wearing skirts,” she said.

Your book is described as a “genre mash-up.” Were you nervous about querying something so unique? What kinds of feedback did you receive while querying? 

This book is a genre casserole for sure. I was a little nervous querying it—and even writing it. I’d never seen weird westerns on any agent or editor wish list, but I grew so attached to the idea and the characters. It was a book that nagged to be written. I didn’t get much in the way of feedback while querying the novel. I’d sent it out to a few agents and received two offers of representation right away. It definitely caught me off-guard since I had pretty much convinced myself it would be a hard sell. 

*** PSA - If you'd like to see the query that landed Michelle her offer of rep from John M. Cusick, click here to check it out on today's Kickass Queries Series over at my blog!***

How long have you been writing and what made you decide to pursue publication?

I fell in love with young adult fiction in 2009 and started binge reading on the weekends, extending breaks at work to finish chapters. That love and excitement for those stories started to fuel ideas of my own. Once I started writing I just couldn’t stop. I didn’t actually consider pursuing publication right away. I was very insecure about my writing until a professor/writer friend of mine, Sam Snoek-Brown, who was teaching writing in the UAE at the time, said I had great potential and helped answer all the questions I had. He gave me the encouragement I needed to go for it.

How did you find out your book was going to be published? What was your reaction?

When John and I first went out on submission to editors he told me it usually takes at least a month to hear back. To keep from going crazy with anticipation I buried myself in my WIP. So when John emailed me two weeks later and said someone was interested I was kind of floored and in shock. Then I began laughing and couldn’t stop. I laughed all the way home and melted into tears. Then I slept the rest of the day. Emotions are exhausting!

Yes they are! Unless you were already asleep when the news arrived, like me. *smacks self* Moving on- If you could trade places with any literary character for a day, who would it be and why?

Oh, man. This is a difficult one. I typically don’t want to be the characters in most of the books I read. The authors put them through hell. But I have to say, I wouldn’t mind being Clarice Starling for a day, hang out with Hannibal Lecter—while he’s behind bars, of course.

Describe your ideal writing cave.

My ideal writing cave would be a house on the beach. I love the sound and smell of the ocean.

Favorite flavor of ice cream? Any food you can’t live without?

Can you believe I don’t really like ice cream? It’s a texture thing. I don’t like coffee either, but I like coffee flavored milkshakes. It doesn’t make any sense. There are no foods I couldn’t live without, but I most definitely can’t function without iced tea.

Where can we stalk you for more information about you and your work?

I can be found on Twitter @ellemodesto. I also have a website being made by Harbor Firm. They sent me a preview and it’s AWESOME. I can’t wait!

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Michelle! We can't wait until MACHINE is released into the wild! (*lame pun totally intended*) Best of luck with it!


Stephanie Faris said...

That sounds like one kick-butt book! I'm going to have to check it out.

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