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Life & Work with Michelle I. Mason

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle I. Mason.

Hi Michelle, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I’ve always loved writing since elementary school, but I didn’t think of it as a career option. As I also loved reading, I decided to pursue an English degree and perhaps work in publishing as an editor. But when I got to college, I found a new passion for public relations. After graduating from Baylor University, I worked in PR for ten years, which incorporated my writing and editing skills differently.

One of the clients I worked with during my time in PR was the St. Louis Speakers Series, and I had the privilege of going to hear Mary Higgins Clark speak. She sparked my desire to write fiction once again, but the road to actual publication was not a quick one. As I wanted to see my books in schools, public libraries, and local bookstores, I chose to pursue traditional publication, which can be a rather lengthy process. After seven years (and six shelved manuscripts), I finally connected with a literary agent in 2018, and things moved along quickly. She sold my debut young adult novel; YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN DELAYED, in a two-book deal to Bloomsbury.

People are often shocked at how long it takes for a book to come out after announcing a deal. The original timeline was two years, but it was stretched out a bit more thanks to the pandemic. YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN DELAYED, released on Sept. 7, 2021, and it was the culmination of so many of my dreams. I celebrated with friends and family and saw the book in bookstores and libraries, just as I’d always hoped. My next book, MY SECOND IMPRESSION OF YOU, will be released Sept. 20, 2022, along with the paperback of YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN DELAYED.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a smooth road?
Pursuing traditional publication is not for the faint of heart. It takes most authors years and multiple manuscripts to connect with an agent (or sometimes with a small publisher). It can be very disheartening as the rejections pile up. For the unfamiliar, the way it works is that authors send out query letters (basically a cover letter describing their book) to agents along with sample pages. Depending on the agent’s policy, they may send a rejection, request additional pages/the full manuscript, or never reply.

Before YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN DELAYED (my debut book), I queried six other books that racked up a total of 500 rejections. There were requests in there too, but think about it–500 rejections! That’s a lot of times to be rejected and keep trying. I always tell people that if you want something, you have to persevere. Particularly in a field where there’s a lot of competition, it’s often about pitching at the right time.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I write young adult novels, which means the characters are teenagers. My books are set in the real world but with a twist of something speculative. So, for example, in my debut novel, YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN DELAYED, the main character Jenny is a 17-year-old girl who gets on a plane in 1995–and lands 25 years later. In my upcoming book, MY SECOND IMPRESSION OF YOU, 16-year-old Maggie has the worst week ever and receives a text offering her the opportunity to relive her best day. I love it when readers come away from my book; saying it made them think about something in a new and different way.

What are your plans for the future?
For the immediate future, the launch of MY SECOND IMPRESSION OF YOU is this September. I would love to meet readers at one of my launch events at local independent bookstores here in St. Louis—The Novel Neighbor (Sept. 20), Main Street Books (Sept. 24), or Left Bank Books (Sept. 26). Details for the events are on my website. Beyond this book release, I’m revising another young adult novel along the same lines as my others–set in the real world but with a speculative twist. I’m also researching another novel, so more books are in the works!

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