Welcome Michelle to Sally Lunns. When I invited you here I really wondered whether this was the right place to do this interview with you. Given the content of your novels, it occurred to me that maybe we should have been doing this while enjoying the steamy roof top pool at the city’s Thermae Spa!
Firstly can I ask you how you got into writing?
I’ve always loved writing. From a very early age I’ve been making up stories, scribbling down ideas, and throughout my whole life people have accused me of having my head in the clouds, or living in a dream world, so what better way to turn that dream world into a reality than getting those stories down in book form? I love escaping into another world, and after finally summoning up the courage to put pen to paper – so to speak – that’s exactly what I did! I tried the usual route of looking for an agent/publisher at first, but after fast realising that the rejections were just going to mount up at a time when it didn’t seem like new authors were what publishers or agents were looking for, I turned to Kindle Direct Publishing to get my books out there – and I haven’t looked back!
I love making up stories, love creating characters. For me to be able to do this, to write books and turn those daydreams into something real, it really is a dream come true for me.
Your novels have a reputation for steamy, racy escapism. What was it that made you decide this was the way to go?
For some reason, it’s a genre I just feel completely at ease writing, and that’s quite unusual for someone like me, someone who’s quite shy and reserved! It’s also a genre I love reading, I suppose. I love losing myself in sexy escapism. I’ve also written a couple of more light-hearted romantic comedies – which I did love writing – but something always pulled me back towards the sexier side of romance. And as I was writing ‘Striker’, I think that’s when I came to the decision to stick with the sexy and the racy, because I just loved writing that book!
Did writers like Jackie Collins inspire you?
Oh, absolutely! Jackie Collins is one of my idols! I’ve even got an autographed photo of her that sits on my desk, spurring me on every day. I love her books, and I’m also a huge fan of Jilly Cooper, too. I guess I just like that kind of glamorous, sexy escapism – something a little bit over the top! I mean, Dallas is one of my all-time favourite TV programmes, so I think you can see what I mean!
Where does the inspiration for your characters come from?
I use pop culture a lot to inspire me, especially when it comes to creating new characters. I like to have a really clear idea of what my characters are going to look like before I start writing their story, so I always take a look at favourite actors/musicians as a kind of reference, and I always find someone who I can use as muse, if you like, although it doesn’t always happen straightaway. But I can just be sitting watching TV, and someone will appear on screen, and I just know that they would be perfect for a certain character, as was the case with Jim Allen, my fictional football manager in ‘Striker’. I had a vague of idea of how I wanted him to be – he was American, tall, in his forties, and of course he had to be handsome – and one day, when I was watching an American drama series called Person of Interest, Jim Caviezel appeared on screen and that was it. I had my Jim Allen! That’s how it works for me.
However, whereas that is the case for my more racy romance novels, for one of my comedy romances – ‘Bon Voyage’ – a couple of the characters in that book were very much inspired by some of the people me and my husband met on various cruise holidays we’ve had over the years. And we met some quite bizarre people, believe me!
If you could choose another type of novel to write what would it be?
Horror. I would love to be able to write a book that could genuinely scare people, much the same way as James Herbert’s ‘The Dark’ scared me when I read it!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I actually quite like cooking. I wouldn’t say I was a particularly brilliant cook, but I do like to have a go, and I love to bake cakes, biscuits and bread more than anything. Maybe I’ve been watching too much of the ‘Great British Bake Off’!
I also like to watch movies, and sit down in front of a decent TV drama. That’s what I do to relax.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
I loved to read anything, really. As long as it’s got a decent story and some great characters then I’ll certainly give it a go! But, in particular, I love reading contemporary romances – both of the steamy and not-so-steamy variety. I also like a good saga, and horror! I absolutely love reading horror stories! I’ve been a big fan of Stephen King’s books for a long time, but I especially love James Herbert as a horror writer. Herbert’s books have, as I mentioned before, literally scared the hell out of me (although maybe I shouldn’t have been reading certain ones at such a young age!) and I love the way he can do that with words alone.
And lastly, you can invite four celebrities to dinner with you. Who would you have and why?
Ok. First celebrity I’d invite would be Keanu Reeves, because I have had a huge crush on him ever since I saw him in ‘Point Break’ back in 1991. It was a pretty terrible film, but he looked so gorgeous in it! Yes, I’m that shallow! He may not be the best actor in the world, but I love the fact he’s quirky, different, and I fancy him. Simple as that.
Second celebrity I’d invite would be Peter Kay, because I just find him hilarious! ‘Phoenix Nights’ is probably my all-time favourite comedy series, and I love watching his stand-up routines. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen them, they still make me laugh out loud! Even reading his autobiographies I was laughing. Love him!
Third celebrity would probably be Jimmy McGovern, because I’d love to be able to pick his brains and find out how to write brilliant TV dramas like he does. Programmes like ‘The Street’, ‘Accused’ and ‘The Lakes’ are some of the best dramas I’ve watched. I love his work. And I’d love to be able to write a good northern TV drama like he can.
Fourth celebrity I’d invite to dinner would be, and this is a tough one because, quite frankly, I have a list as long as my arm of people I would love to invite, but I think, this time around, it would probably be David Tennant – mainly so I could berate him quite severely about leaving Doctor Who! It hasn’t been the same since his departure, and I’ve never quite got over that…
Many thanks Michelle for a great interview, so nice to meet you! Being an author is my first love but blog interviews come a close second. I love meeting fellow writers and learning not only about them but also what motivates their writing and also in your case, those inspirational men! Thank you.
For more information about Michelle and her books check out her social network links below:
Amazon UK link for Striker – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BL6RN3E
My blog – http://michellebethamwriter.blogspot.co.uk/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/michellebetham.romanceauthor
Twitter – https://twitter.com/michellebetham (@michellebetham)
Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/writerchelle/
2 thoughts on “A Saturday Tea and Talk at Sally Lunns with Michelle Bentham”
Fabulous to see you here, Michelle! You *must* have a go at a Horror novel some time, I think that would be fabulous. Great chat, ladies, always enjoy eavesdropping over at Sally Lunns! X
So interesting. I too think you should have a go at horror. I’m glad you didn’t eat all the cakes! Good luck with all your write. 🙂