Michelle Proulx

An Interview with the Author of “Imminent Danger: And How to Fly Straight Into It”!

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How did you come up with the title, anyway?  It’s so interesting!

The title actually started off as “Varrin”, because he’s so dreamy. But then it was pointed out to me that the story is in fact about Eris, not her bad boy love interest, so I dropped “Varrin”. Following that, I spent several months coming up with and rejecting various names (including “Canopy Glow”, “Abduction 101”, “The Reluctant Xenophile”, “Space Chattle”, and “Starry Eyes”). I believe it was actually my mother who suggested Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It, which I initially rejected as being overly silly. Then we did a poll amongst my brother’s high school friends, and we found that “Imminent Danger” was the most popular title by far. So I sadly dropped “The Reluctant Xenophile” (my personal favourite) and settled on “Imminent Danger”, which has since grown on me. Around our house, though, my mother and I still tend to refer to the book as “Varrin”. It’s hard to shake that first name! 

That makes sense.  I like “The Reluctant Xenophile” as well, but Imminent Danger really is catchy!  Besides the name, what were the challenges of writing Imminent Danger?  What was the hardest part?

The endless revisions! It’s not that the book necessarily needed 27 bajillion revisions, it just kind of turned out that way. Every few months I would revisit the book, and after a few months you grow as a writer, so I would therefore go through and made a handful of minor but important changes. I don’t even know how many revision rounds I’ve gone through. None of them had any major changes, but each played its part in shaping Imminent Danger into the book it is today. You have no idea how relieved I am that the book is finally published – it means I’ll never have to edit it again!

I can only imagine!  Now that it’s done, what kind of feeling would you like readers to have walking away from your book?

Amused, satisfied, and eager for a sequel! I’m also hoping that the book will inspire people to think as fondly of aliens as they do of vampires, werewolves, ghosts, angels, etc. Vampires are so 2008 – let’s make aliens the new 2013!

I definitely felt all of those things!  I love aliens myself, and I am totally ready to bring them into vogue.  So, they say writers always imbue something of themselves in their main characters.  What part/s of Eris do you see in yourself?

The main part of Eris that stemmed from my personality is her awkwardness in everyday social situations. I’ve mostly managed to overcome my shyness – a year of prancing around in front of easily-amused Korean students can do wonders for your self-confidence! – but in high school I was always the girl who brought a book to school and favoured reading it over chatting with friends. Other parts of Eris I see in myself include her refusal to agree with hilariously incorrect arguments/viewpoints, and her love of the colour purple.

I think a lot of us can relate to those particular Eris quirks.  Looking back, would you change anything about the book?

Absolutely not. That’s not to say there’s nothing that should be changed – I say “no” because I’ve been editing/revising/re-writing Imminent Danger for the past seven years, and I will probably have a mental breakdown if I have to make another change.

We wouldn’t want that!  So, on this very crazy journey, who would you say supported you the most?  And how?

My mother, hands down. She beta read the book, edited, proof read, provided financial support … everything I could have possibly hoped for. We did clash a lot while working on Imminent Danger, but I think the end result turned out pretty well!

I would definitely have to agree with you there.  So, can you discuss your current project?

I have several projects going on at the moment. The big one is, of course, the sequel to Imminent Danger – currently titled Chasing Nonconformity. It’s about half-written – I hope to have it finished before I go on my Caribbean cruise for reading week (thanks Mom!), but I somehow doubt I can crank out 50k+ words in two weeks. We’ll see!

I know I can’t wait.  How about it? Can you share any tantalizing details?

About Chasing Nonconformity? Well, as the title suggests, Eris and Varrin are on a quest to recover Varrin’s lost spaceship, and assorted shenanigans occur along the way. The book will feature a Claktill colony ship, Grashk hissing at people, a planet ruled by robots, and Varrin’s slightly effeminate little brother. More on that when I actually finish writing it.

Oh that sounds super exciting!  In the meantime, what book are you reading now, if any?

I’m currently reading Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy. I’m about halfway through the first book right now, and I find it fascinating. I initially picked it up because I’ve been mildly fascinated by steampunk over the last few months, and I thought this would be a good introduction to the genre – which it is! Well, or so I assume – it’s not like I’ve read any other Steampunk books with which I can compare it.

I’ve never read it, but I might have to check it out.  What other books have most influenced you?

I guess every book I read has influenced me in some way. My all time favourite books, which I’ve read at least ten times each, would have to be the Harry Potter series, Ender’s Game, the Xanth series, the Sword of Truth series, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’m sure there are more, but those are the big ones / the ones currently on my shelf.

What is your favorite genre to read?  What about write?  Do you think you will write in another genre in the future?

I absolutely adore fantasy. It is my favourite genre without a shadow of a doubt. Which makes it rather odd that my debut novel is sci-fi. I haven’t quite worked out yet how that happened. I will absolutely tackle other genres in the future. Right now I’m working on a dystopian story, a fantasy chick lit story, and a high fantasy story, so I’ve branched out pretty far, I’d say.

That’s a lot for one plate!  Do you see writing as a career, then?

Absolutely! In fact, it currently is my career, as my day job is in technical writing. But I hope to eventually make enough off of writing fiction that I can retire from technical writing and pursue noveling full time. I highly doubt I’ll be the next JK Rowling/Stephanie Meyer/EL James, but it never hurts to hope, right?

Ha ha, never!  Shoot for the moon, right?  Then what have you enjoyed most so far about being an honest-to-goodness, published author?

Talking with fans! Getting fan art! Reading reviews! I write because I want people to read and enjoy my books, and when I hear from people that they read and liked something I wrote, it’s the best feeling in the world. Obviously I will be over the moon when I get my first royalty paycheck, regardless of how small it is, but at the moment I’m just basking in the knowledge that I’ve written something people are actually willing to read.

I bet that’s a great feeling.  But is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The hardest part of writing, for me, is finding the time to sit down and do it. I have no problem coming up with ideas – it’s the getting it on paper that’s hard. I’m also a horrible procrastinator, so I am perfectly capable of sitting down at my computer with the intention of writing and then accidentally spending the next two hours on Reddit without realizing it.

Procrastination is the worst.  With that in mind, how hard was self-publishing?  Would you do it again?  Why or why not?

Well, I went the assisted-publishing, iUniverse route, so it isn’t really “self” publishing in that sense. That being said, it was a very interesting experience (“interesting” here defined as “sometimes wonderful, sometimes mind-bogglingly frustrating, all times expensive”). I will definitely self-publish again, although I don’t know that I will go the iUniverse route. I’ll have to see how they treat me over the next few months.

What was the biggest thing you learned while writing and publishing Imminent Danger?

In the immortal words of Douglas Adams, DON’T PANIC! Seriously. If you run into a problem, take a step back, take a deep breath, and think through what you’re going to do next. Rash actions only make things worse.

Good advice.  Do you have anything else other writers should know?

This is probably an obvious one, but read books! All the books! All the time!

In the interest of fun, what part of your story would you most like to experience for yourself?

Oooh, awesome question! I would want to go to the Starlight hotel on Vega Minor. I have a very deep appreciation for luxury, and my ideal vacation would involve going to a posh resort and just relaxing and being pampered and waited on hand and foot.

I do too!  That hotel sounded absolutely stunning.  And speaking of… Why is Varrin so darn attractive?  Is it the hormones or what?

Well, it helps that he’s a prince. Plus he has centuries of genetic enhancement on his side, which has turned him into the absolute pinnacle of physical perfection. His morality needs some work, but Eris has that more or less under control.

Right, genetically enhanced in all the right places.  So, Michelle, any last words for the readers out there?

SHWOOP!

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