Friday, June 19, 2009

Interview with Michele Stegman

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Michele Stegman. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Fortune’s Pride. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Fortune’s Pride is set in Charleston, SC in 1742. It is about two people with far too much pride, and a heroine with a secret that she fears could destroy any hope for a future with the hero.

She wonders if she can give up the man she loves before her secret destroys them both.

As long as no one knows who Irish really is, she will be safe. But Tyrus Fortune seems determined to uncover all her secrets. Can she fully love him without revealing her true self to him? And if she does, will it also put him and his family in danger?

Tyrus Fortune returns home after two years determined to unmask the woman who has found her way into the hearts of his family. He is sure she is a fraud--until he begins to fall in love with her. Now he only wishes she will trust him with her secrets and her love so they can face the future together.

Fortune’s Pride is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Fortune’s Pride is the name of the hero’s plantation. But part of the conflict in the book comes from the hero and heroine having too much pride so the title has a double meaning.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

In graduate school my history teachers told me I put too much romance in my history papers. I decided to put in more and write romance instead of straight history.

I had tried writing science fiction and romance but wasn’t selling. I decided to take a writing class. Since the class was taught by a romance writer, I decided to write a romance so I could get good feedback. That was the first book I sold so I just kept writing romance.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I wanted to write a four book series about four siblings. Although this is the second in the series it is about the oldest child, Ty Fortune. He was going to inherit his father’s plantation, Fortune’s Pride, so I made pride the central conflict in the book. Both the hero and heroine have far too much of it. For the heroine I wanted to write a character that was not like me. I have noticed that the heroines in many authors’ books are very much like the author. I think it is unavoidable. But I wanted to see how different from myself I could make this heroine. I’m not sure how well I succeeded since core values remain the same.

What are your favorite historical research books and why?

Food in History by Reay Tannahill helps me get food right. And my college English history textbook gives me much of the basic history I need. From there, I branch out to a lot of books, newspapers, and web sites to do research.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Mr. Meachum in my first book was really fun. He was a pirate, but he was kind of a rotund, fuddy-duddy, accountant. I like doing the unusual. Who else would have put this guy on a pirate ship? I liked him so much, I gave him a minor role in my second book. I love doing minor characters because I can really play around with them.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

I usually visualize a scene with the hero and heroine, some action. Then I start asking questions. Who are they? Why are they here? How did they get into this situation? One answer usually generates more questions. By the time I’ve finished answering my questions, I not only have my characters, I have a plot.

What are some common speech terms, dress modes, transportation or housing facts that you found interesting for your time period?

I love the clothes from the 1700’s. To me, when I undress my characters, it is much more romantic to talk about a chemise, fichu, petticoats, and silk stockings than it is to mention bras and panties and pantyhose.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

James Michener’s big historical sagas are wonderful. I like the way he follows a family through so many generations with so much accurate historical detail. That’s why I want to eventually carry my Fortune series all the way down to the present day in several books. I also enjoy the poetic flowery phrases in Kathleen Woodiwiss’s early books. And I like the way every word is necessary in Mary Jo Putney’s books. I like flowery language, but I don’t want it taking over.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I just try to write the very best book I can and let each one come from my heart. If I do my job right, I think my readers will do my promo for me by recommending my books to their friends.

What do we have to look forward next?

My next book, Conquest of the Heart, is a “conquest” book, set in England in 1067. But it is really different! I wrote down every cliché I could think of about conquest books and turned them all around. For instance, the hero is not a big Norman bastard who comes conquering. He is one of the conquered, a Saxon! He has to marry the heroine, a Norman woman close to King William, in order to keep HIS land!

Thanks, Michele Stegman!

Michele Stegman will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away... She's also giving away a copy of Fortune's Foe to one of our lucky commenters today. (Check back on Monday to see who won)

Michele Stegman doesn’t just write historical fiction, she lives it. She lives in a 170 year old log cabin with her husband, spins, weaves, makes her own soap, and bakes her own bread. She has also travelled to many Third World countries where the people live much as they did hundreds of years ago. With a major in history and this experience she can bring history to life in her books. But she still loves modern conveniences and gadgets, especially electronics!

Check out author’s website at


Anonymous said...

Good Morning Michele. Thanks for blogging with us today. I've been to Charleston a few times growing up, and loved the city. I always wondered what it would have been like to live there a few centuries ago. Though I certainly do love today's modern conveniences too. It's so much easier to buy soap than make it. I've tried:) Have a great day with us.

Keri Stevens said...

I was raised on Michener. My father was a high school history teacher who used Michener's works alongside our regular texts (it was a small school--having Daddy teaching my class was less than fun). But talk about rich works!

Billie Warren Chai said...

Hi, Michelle.

I love history and have visited several plantations. Don't know that I want to live there but the one I would have lived in was on the river outside of New Orleans--good ventilation in the summer with the windows open.

We visited Drayton Hall in Charleston last year. It is in restoration and you can really see the techniques--thick brick walls, interior construction and plaster decoration.



Treethyme said...

Michele - I love that when your professors complained you had too much romance in your history papers, you decided to put in more instead -- that's the right attitude!

Kira said...

Great interview! It's obvious how much passion you have for your books. Not only from this interview but from reading them myself. I'm reading Fortune's Pride right now and everything she said about the character development and setting is right on. Very great book so far!

Ida Plassay said...

Great interview!
Your books sound very interesting!

Anonymous said...

Great picture, Michelle. You look lovely. Many congratulations on our release, and wishes for many more to come.

Anonymous said...

Crap!! I meant YOUR release. *blushes* Sorry about that.

Carol Webb said...

Thanks for stopping my Michele. Your book sounds wonderful. I just love historicals, but I wouldn't want to live back then though!

Congrats on your release!

Estella said...

How in the world do you find time to write, with all of the other stuff you do?

Michele said...

I do a lot more things than I listed. I also watercolor, tat, knit, rubber stamp, play piano (I'm our church pianist), etc.
But when you really want to do something, you don't have to FIND time for it. You MAKE time for it. Writing has to come first. Then I do all the other things on the side.

LDee said...

Hi Michele,
Great interview. I love Michener books too. Big books that you never want to end.