Now living in Halifax, author Michelle Bryan was born in Burnt Islands and still returns home for regular visits.
At 18 she left to study English at Mount Saint Vincent University before settling down and joining the workforce. Encouraged by her husband to pursue her lifelong passion for writing Michelle took a leap and self-published her first novel.
“It is terrifying to open yourself up to the public like that. Not everyone is going to enjoy what you write and they won't be shy about telling you. But I'm glad I took the step. Writing is my passion and I wouldn't give it up now for anything.”
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing for as long as I can remember. I was a book nerd growing up. I loved to read everything, from Nancy Drew to Stephen King so in my teen years I decided to try and write a novel myself. I never thought about publishing anything until four years ago when I read an article about self-publishing. My first book was self published and I learned a lot from that experience. Enough to write the next book and from there I signed with my awesome publisher, Aelurus Publishing.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
When I'm not writing I'm reading, spending time with my family, or working as manager of a Laura Secord Chocolate shop so I'm a rather busy person.
Is this your first novel or your fourteenth?
I am working on my sixth novel at the moment. My first two books were part of a young adult dystopian series called New Bloods, and the final book of that should be out this Christmas. I also have the science fiction novels- the Bixby series. I have two of those written with the third in that series to be released later this year as well. I also have the first book in a fantasy series I'm co-writing with an author friend of mine, releasing in September. I'm not afraid of different genres as you can tell (laughs).
Since it’s a science fiction novel, how much research was involved in crafting the book?
The sci-fi book was definitely harder to write. I had to research things like infectious disease, blood types, and how long it takes for a person to die from blood loss, since the plot centers around a parasitic alien invasion. Hopefully no government agencies investigate my computer's search history or I'm screwed.
Please tell me about your novel.
The book that was just chosen as a finalist in the Red City Review book contest is called Strain of Resistance. As I said it is a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic novel about a young woman named Bixby who is only 12 when the alien invasion happens. For eight years she and a handful of survivors have been living in an abandoned hotel and fighting a losing battle against the invaders. But now things are changing and the parasite is evolving, creating a whole new wave of problems for Bixby and her crew. Sounds good right? You should read it (laughs).
Do you enter a lot of contests? Does it cost money to enter and if so why would you pay? What are the benefits?
To be honest I've just recently entered contests. I've always felt my writing wasn't good enough. I think most writers feel that way at one point or another. Imagine my surprise when Strain of Resistance was chosen as a finalist for one contest and shortlisted in another. I'm quite excited by that. Fingers crossed I can go all the way and win.
Most contests do have a fee to enter, but it definitely has its benefits. If you can win an award you get to call yourself an award-winning author and to put that title on the cover of all your books. That title can open doors for you and give you prestige among your peers.
Is this your first time being nominated for an award? Is there a monetary prize?
It is my first time being nominated. There is a small monetary prize but it is the exposure that counts. The winner is featured in a literary magazine and on social media. There is also a press release announcing your win to a vast network of readers. Exposure is what every author wants and needs.
What’s the best review you’ve ever gotten or the worst, and what have you learned from that?
The best review I've ever gotten was from a reader who loved my writing style and compared it to Stephen King's earlier work. That is a HUGE compliment to me. I love that man's writing. The worst I've ever gotten is from a reader who hated my main character and said they would not read the next in the series. Both reviews were on the same book. So I guess what I learned is that every person has their individual taste in books and what one person loves, another may hate. Don't let it get you down. You can't please everyone.
What are you working on next?
Next I'll finish the third and fourth books in the Bixby series, then to complete my fantasy series with my friend, Michelle Lynn. The series is called Legends of the Tri-Gard.
You’re originally from Burnt Islands. Do you get back to the area a lot?
I still have lots of family in Burnt Islands so I go back every summer to visit. I was actually back home just a week ago and enjoyed every minute of it. I love the small town slow pace. It clears my mind.
Do you have a website where people can purchase your books?
I do have a website that showcases all of my novels. It is www.michellebryanauthor.com