Hi fellow bookworms!!!
Welcome to another of my Author Interview posts.
This time I had the pleasure of doing a Q&A/Author Interview with the one and only Mike Wells.
As always I absolutely love doing these posts and was super excited when Mike agreed to participate in answering some of my questions, so a very big THANK YOU to him for taking some time out from his busy schedule to answer them.
Here’s a little more about Mike:
Mike Wells is an American bestselling author of more than 30 “unputdownable” thriller and suspense novels, including Lust, Money & Murder and Passion, Power & Sin. He is also known for his young adult books, such as The Mysterious Disappearance of Kurt Kramer, The Wrong Side of the Tracks, and Wild Child, which are used by English teachers in high schools and colleges worldwide. Formerly a screenwriter, Wells has a fast-paced, cinematic writing style. His work is often compared to that of the late Sidney Sheldon, with strong and inspiring female heroes, tightly-written scenes, engaging action/dialogue, and numerous plot twists. He currently lives in Europe and has taught in the Creative Writing program at the University of Oxford.
Questions & Answers:
What made you become a writer and did you always want to be a writer?
“I’ve always wanted to be a writer, almost as far back as I can remember, to age 6 or 7. Also my mom was a successful writer of both fiction and nonfiction. See seemed to enjoy herself.”
Before starting the Baby Talk series or your other books did you or do you ever share your book ideas with members of your family or friends to see if it is worth writing? If not why?
“Yes, my wife is my “first reader” and is usually involved to some degree in the creation of the story, characters, and plot. I also bounce some ideas off a few other people, other family members and a couple of fellow authors I trust in terms of how they think readers will respond.”
Do you have set times for writing and working on book ideas? or do you just go with the flow as they say.
“I pretty much write every day (Monday through Friday) for 3-4 hours, sometimes Saturdays, too. This includes editing, outlining, and all activities except promotion, which takes another hour a day. But I also find myself thinking about my stories at all hours, 24/7, while doing other things, and that’s when I get a lot of ideas and breakthroughs. I have to enforce some self-discipline to get a book done. Inspiration only carries you so far, I’ve found—there are always knotty, difficult parts of the book that have to ploughed through. Writing is very hard work, at least writing books that are engaging, flow well, and hard for readers to put down.”
How did you come up with the idea for the Baby Talk series?
“I actually have a blog post about this – I saw a clip of a six-month old baby on the America’s Funniest Home Videosshow and the idea came to me and snowballed in my mind, the way most good ideas do.”
Did you or do you use story boards to map out your books? If so would you be willing to show your readers an example.
“No, I think story boards are generally just used by screenwriters (they are sketches of what the viewer will see on the screen). I use written outlines but not very detailed ones.”
What was the hardest scene to write in the Baby Talk Series?
“Definitely the scene were Baby Natasha starts pulling out Susan’s hair in the car. When I heard the narrator read that part in the audiobook format, it gave me chills. Despite the black humor factor, it’s a very dark scene, probably the darkest in the book.
Readers can download Book 1 of the Baby Talk series free here and see if they like it.”
What did you edit out in your final draft of your new book Baby Talk: Daddy’s Back?
“My rule of story structure, pounded into my head by my wife, and I thank her for that, is never to include any scene that does not advance the plot. For this reason, in my early days of writing I used to have to cut out a lot. Now I’m much more aware of the problem of including needless material, which I think plagues all writers, and simply don’t write those “marching in place” scenes in the first place. In Baby Talk there was only one that I remember, after Natasha kills the small town cop, in which Neal continues on and thinks about how he feels about her and how evil she is, etc. It did not advance the plot at all, and I was also telling too much and not showing. That scene landed in the trash bin.”
Have you written/hidden any secrets in any of your books?
“Maybe, you’ll have to tell me if you think you spot one. I do include surprise appearances by minor characters in one book/series who are main characters in another (example: the truck driver who appeared in Baby Talk#3 and said, “Your secret’s safe with me”). Sharp readers will recognise him from another series, if they’ve read it.”
As you have written books in different genres have you ever thought about using another name and why?
“Yes, I’ve thought of it, but because I use social media as my main promotional tool, that would mean creating more accounts under those different pen names, and publishing the books under separate names, etc. as well. This sucks up time and resources and becomes quite complicated. Also, more importantly, when you create a pen name for a new book or series, you are starting over from scratch, like a brand new author, at least in the eyes of readers. Nobody knows you. Which means you have to slowly build up your reader base from zero. No thank you! It’s taken me almost a decade to build up my Mike Wells readership the point were I can actually make a modest living from my writing, so I prefer to publish all my books under my own name—my real name—and hope that readers will give me the benefit of the doubt. Meaning, that they won’t assume that just because I’m an adult suspense writer known for my Lust, Money & Murder series, I’m not a good young adult fantasy writer, too, for example.”
Out of all the books you have written which one is your most favourite and why?
“That’s like asking which of my daughters is my favorite. There is no answer to that, I love them all, could never choose one over the other.”
Are you friends with any other authors? If so who and how do they help you with your writing?
“I’m not one of those authors with a zillion other author friends, the type that is involved in tons of co-promotion and book bundling. I’m far too independent and picky for that, despite whatever marketing benefits it may offer. I have three very close author friends who I am willing to seriously recommend to my readers, and that’s it. These are the authors I have co-authored books with, by the way—I know their writing style, attitude towards writing and readers, and so on, almost as well as I know my own.”
I personally loved all three books in the Baby Talk series but, I’ve seen a few negative reviews, how do you deal with these?
“My books aren’t for everyone.”
What did you do with your first advance?
“I have never received an advance from a publisher. I don’t like the idea of getting paid for what “may” be. I live a totally debt-free life. I would never, say, organize a crowd funding campaign for an unwritten book. In my opinion, any kind of financial debt robs you of your freedom, a lesson I learned the hard way.”
How do you come up with the names of characters in your books?
“Usually the names just come to me, but sometimes I browse lists of baby names and family names, particularly for foreign (non-American) names or names that were popular during a certain time period, since names go in and out of style. The final choice is always made intuitively, though—it has to be a name that seems to fit the character. Also, I do try to operate under another constraint, and this is that the character names in a give book should start with different letters and be of different lengths (number of syllables). If you have a Leo and a Lea and a Lou in one book, readers will hate you for it, particularly fast readers. When you name characters this way, it’s like scattering speed bumps all over your books that slow readers down—they have to constantly stop and think “Wait, was that Lea or Leo who said that?” Also having very different names makes it easier for all readers to keep the characters straight in your story.”
How many unpublished or half written books do you have? What do you think the reason for this is?
“I have some, maybe five. The reason is, I didn’t know how to write fiction well enough back when I wrote them, simple as that. It would be too much trouble to go rework them now, I would rather develop new material.”
What format do you prefer when it comes to reading physical books, e-books or audiobooks and why?
“Hardbacks, but I don’t have the money to buy them or the space to store them. Also I dislike reading books with tiny print. So, I almost always buy ebooks and read with the type set pretty large. Audiobooks are great fun for “reading” a story with your friends or family, a group experience, kind of cool. Or for “reading” a story hands- and eyes-free. Plus, a talented narrator, like a talented actor, can bring a lot to a character. It may or may not be what the author had in mind but audiobooks are not books, it is a different medium, just like film.”
Have you ever gotten reader’s block? If so how long did it last and how did you get out of it?
“I’m not sure exactly what you mean by this question, because there are several different definitions of reader’s block. If you mean not being able to finish or get into a book, when that happens, I simply change books. For me, this is a matter of a) the author not trying hard enough to make the story engaging, or b) the author has made it plenty engaging, just not engaging for me. I never force myself through a book for any reason. I finished school a long time ago.”
If you weren’t a writer, what career would you have chosen and why?
“Roller coaster designer. Seriously, I have had several careers in my lifetime, one of which is teaching, which is something I still do in summers, at the university level. I’m not an author who has spent his life sitting at a keyboard cranking out books. If I had done that, I don’t think I would have much to write about.”
If you could turn back time, what would you change and why?
“Nothing. There are no mistakes, Grasshopper.”
What’s the worst and best job you’ve ever had?
“Delivering newspapers and being an indie author.”
When being interviewed what question or questions do you absolutely hate being asked? Please be honest even if one of the questions is on here.
““Tell us a little bit about yourself.” I don’t like that question because it’s so open-ended and makes me feel very self-conscious when I try to answer it, not only in interviews, but in any other setting, like in a meeting or at a social get together. I usually just mutter something true that makes me sound dull as dishwater to move on as quickly as possible.”
For those of you who are wondering, yes I did ask Mike this question, but thanks to his answer I have come up with something alternative for my future interviews.
Are you working on any new books? When will we have the pleasure of reading it?
“Yes, thanks for asking. Lust, Money & Murder, Book 13 – Face-Off. Should be out around the end of the year (December 2018 or January 2019).”
Is there anything you would like to add for your readers?
“Yes! Thank you all so much, including you, Mani, for reading my books, posting reviews, and generally putting up with me!”
That’s the end of my questions and answers with Mike Wells. Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed it, and if you haven’t already read any of Mikes books then you need to go and check them out.
You can read my reviews on some of the books I’ve read by clicking on the book images below:
Also if you would like to know more about Mike or even download some of his books you can connect up with him using the following links: