Monday, January 30, 2017

Michael P. Michaud Author Interview

Photo Credit: Portraits by Mina

An American-Canadian citizen, Michael Paul Michaud holds a B.A. in English, Honors B.A. in Political Science (summa cum laude), and a J.D. in Law. He is employed as a Crown Prosecutor in the Greater Toronto Area.

Michael is the author of BILLY TABBS (& THE GLORIOUS DARROW) - (2014 - Bitingduckpress) and THE INTROVERT - (2016 - Black Opal Books). He is a member of Crime Writers of Canada, and International Thriller Writers Inc.


Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I knew it by the fourth grade.

I was a student at Longfellow Elementary School in Portland Maine. I’d become a voracious reader by the third grade, and was devouring everything that crossed my path. Bunnicula. The Mouse and the Motorcycle. The Witches. It didn’t much matter. I was an addict, and the Bookmobile became my dealer. I mean it. The relationship felt that strong.

It was sometime during my fourth grade year that the school ran a writing competition. I wrote a story called THE PURPLE PANTHER complete with illustrations. This was my first “book” (they even helped us bind it). To me, it was an opus. In reality, it was probably less than twenty sentences. But I adored writing it, and I adored the process of creating. I won that contest, and was selected to attend a local writing conference with my fourth grade teacher (Mrs. Inman) and my mother. What a treat. What an experience! There were writing workshops and we even got to meet a real author. I still remember his name: Bruce McMillan (I should really look him up!). He even brought some of his books with him and I remember getting signed copies of two of them. And I’m thinking, was this really a writer’s life? Getting the day off from school and writing workshops and celebrity? I knew then and there that I wanted to be a writer.

It just took longer than I thought for it to happen.

A lot longer.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
For me, I enjoy creativity as an outlet to escape the real world. I find it magical that writers can create people and worlds and bring them to life through the written word, where there was once only a blank page. I adore creativity and innovation, which would explain my adoration for David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, et al. And it is much more important than mere entertainment. Storytelling is also a powerful mechanism for social change. Just look at Uncle Tom’s Cabin, To Kill A Mockingbird, or any of the haunting cautionary tales of George Orwell. Look at the important issues that Star Trek was able to delve into – and slip past the censors - by the use of allegory. Storytelling teaches us important lessons and opens our eyes to the real world. Funny how that works.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
My favorite book of all time is Animal Farm. I find it brilliant, laugh out loud political satire, but also a sad, accurate portrayal of humanity. Of the social chasms and hypocrisy that inevitably fester when you put enough people together. I actually wrote Billy Tabbs (& The Glorious Darrow) as an ode to Animal Farm.

I consider Orwell a prophet. Not in the religious sense, but in his uncanny ability to highlight human frailty, and to project it going forward. Whether it’s Animal Farm or 1984 or Coming Up For Air, Orwell had the uncanny ability to decode human nature and human ambition. To shove the selfishness and hypocrisy right in our faces and defy us to live our lives differently.

I’d written somewhere else that I wished he were still alive today. That I missed him, even though he died a quarter century before I was born. And I do miss him. I really do. I think he’d have a lot to say, and it would probably commence with “I told you so.”

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Stephen King said it best: write every single day. That is the best advice I have received, and it is the simplest. Neil Gaiman wrote something similar. He wrote that you write one word at a time until it is done, adding that it is just that easy, but also just that hard. These may seem like trite pieces of advice, but maybe they’re trite for a reason.

In your new book; THE INTROVERT, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
Well, since you asked so nicely, I suppose so (internal thought: is Jean ever going to ask me about THE INTRO…oh here we go, nevermind).

THE INTROVERT is a black humor crime novella. It tells the story of a peculiar young man who does not fit well in society, preferring instead to spend his time alone with his dog Molly. The story is told from his erratic point of view, and often from his thoughts, which can be very stream of consciousness. It can be brutally violent in one moment, hilarious in the next (the shift sometimes occurring sentence to sentence). This may be jarring to some people. It is different. I trust your readers may not have ready anything like it before. If the early reviews are any indication, there will be strong reactions either way. As long as they know what they’re getting into!

What part of Donna did you enjoy writing the most?
Donna, as readers will discover, is the introvert’s love interest. I have to admit that I found Donna difficult to write, because she had to be somewhat na├»ve in order to put up with the protagonist. You will understand once you read it. I’d worried that I might take some flak for her portrayal (one of my reviewers deemed Donna TSTL - too stupid to live). I worried a bit about that as I wrote her. That she would come across as clueless and the book as misogynistic. The fact is that the introvert has peculiar views about everything, including women, and specifically Donna. But I found her to be a necessary foil for the introvert, and she plays a pivotal role in the story.

For those who are unfamiliar with your main character, how would you introduce him?
The introvert is different. He is an introvert, of course, but there’s much more going on under the surface other than simple introversion. His thoughts can move from peaceful to violent very quickly, thinking of people as “red and open” when they do something that offends him. The thrust of the story is when – or if – he will allow those thoughts to become reality.

He has a distinct way of thinking and expressing himself, such as wanting to “achieve it” with Donna, much of which occurs through internal dialogue.

Here’s one example. He’d just been considering violence against a police officer when he noticed his knuckles. You will see how his thoughts shift quickly and randomly in his mind.

“I decided not to do it because I knew he didn’t deserve it and because I’d already started into my breathing exercises and was trying to imagine the consequences. That’s when I looked at my knuckles and saw how tight they were wrapped around the steering wheel and I wondered where the blood around my knuckles had gone and wondered if the same blood stayed close by the knuckles waiting to go back to where it came from or if it just ran off and mixed with the rest of my body only to be replaced by new blood and then finally the officer’s voice drew back my attention.”

As you can see above, he is potentially a very dangerous man, yet many readers have found an innocence about him, finding him impossible not to root for. Personally, I tend to think of him as an anti-hero. We’ll see if your readers agree.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?

I recently finished my third book – RELICS – which is a family driven mystery spanning two decades. I am just now underway on the follow up to THE INTROVERT.

So far I only work on my own projects, but I’d consider a commissioned work if the project was right.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

I would introduce Totter (from Billy Tabbs) to Squealer (from Animal Farm). They are the propagandists from each book. Oh, the conversation they would have!!! Honorable mention would be introducing the introvert to Rodion from Crime and Punishment. Someone would certainly wind up “red and open” from that sit down. The introvert was largely inspired by Crime and Punishment. I found the the protagonist just fascinating.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
I am painfully honest, sometimes to my detriment. Assuming you don’t consider that response a lie, then this was the easiest question to answer. If you do, we have something of a paradox.

Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
Either my brother or my girlfriend. Each are excellent vessels for commiseration.

What is your favorite room in your home and outside environment?
Where is the Nutella and beer stored again? The kitchen, yes, the kitchen! Too easy. You need to up your game, Jean.

As for outside environment, I love a cozy pub or coffee house where I can sit down with my laptop and write for hours. I enjoy being alone amongst people. The energy. The white noise. But ultimately, while not factually alone, I am left alone to do my own thing.

Which is the hardest thing you ever had to do?

What number question is this? Have we reached a baker’s dozen? This interview is in the running.

But it probably comes down to law school and writing the bar versus getting published. Both were tough. But believe it or not, getting published took more effort.

Who was your first girlfriend?

I’ve never been asked this in an author interview. Leanda Henry. As I understand she’s married with kids now. We were young. I was not a good catch at the time. Very much in need of direction, or, as Jean Luc Picard might put it, “He was a damn fool. Selfish, ambitious, very much in need of seasoning.”

Yes, that was the second Star Trek reference I have made in this interview. You may draw any conclusions you wish.

When was the last time you cried?
You mean aside from the Leanda thing?

Really, it has been a long, long time. I’m not a crier.

Neither is the introvert. He actually talks about that in the book.

Yes, that was a deflection.

Next question.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
The fifties. I think I would have done well in those days. My dance moves and my hair styles might have seemed current. Also wouldn’t hurt that I was a white male.

(Sadly, it doesn’t hurt these days either, but let’s not go down that particular rabbit hole just now)

What is your greatest adventure?
I once took a train ride across Canada and ended up in Snoqualmie Washington where I made a pilgrimage to Twin Peaks. That was fun. It was also a really long time on a train. I would encourage anyone who does that to at least pick a train filled with sordid characters. Maybe then you’ll end up in some Agatha Christie style murder-mystery adventure. Otherwise you’ll find yourself sipping $7 Coors Lights for four days while clawing against the windows in a futile attempt offset the crippling loneliness. Believe it or not, there are pros and cons to both scenarios.

Thanks for having me, Jean. 

A vacuum salesman by day, the introvert lives a quiet life alone with his dog until a work relationship and a dark secret from his past team up to create an uncomfortable imbalance in his otherwise ordered life, one that soon finds him squarely at the center of a murder investigation. With his thoughts continually urging him to make people “red and open” and to “achieve it” with his girlfriend Donna, what follows is a sometimes brutal, oftentimes hilarious, and absurdist account of the life of one very anti-social and unexpected anti-hero.

There are books that will captivate you from the very beginning and there are others that don’t. Although The Introvert may start off very slow, author Michael P. Michaud sprinkles bits of interests here and there, just enough to keep the reader at bay. The buildup to the tale however, is cleverly weaved and soon readers are caught off-guard and find themselves immersed in this black humor story.

The unnamed main character likes to keep to himself and repeats his daily routine of selling vacuums and taking care of his dog, Molly. He rarely speaks to others until his work colleague, Donna, pursuits a relationship with him. Things were going along well until his landlord comes up missing and he is named the main suspect. The ensuing events would soon have our main character in a go through a mixture of emotions.

This is a very entertaining book. The scenarios that the main character allows his mind to are just a fun read. It is a quirky and quick read with a plot that has no certain road to where it will go but Michaud’s intense writing style is enough to keep readers flipping the pages. This black humor story is thought provoking with a very fascinating character who is not only an introvert, but could very well be a psychopath.

You can purchase The Introvert at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MICHAEL P. MICHAUD for making this giveaway possible.
2 Winners will receive a Copy of The Introvert by Michael P. Michaud

1 comment:

  1. The book looks like a lot of fun! Thank you for the contest!