Interview with Michelle Gamble-Risley
Michelle Gamble-Risley is an award-winning author with over 20 years in the publishing, public relations, and marketing business.
Holly: How did you start writing?
Michelle Gamble-Risley: I started writing when I was a 10-year-old girl in the 5th grade. My teachers encouraged me to do it and praised me the whole way through. I continued to show an aptitude in English all throughout high school and was recommended for AP English when I was a sophomore. They used to recommend that class for seniors. So I shined early on in this area. Like my character Brea in California Girl Chronicles, I got straight A's in even in graduate school without always attending the classes. I just didn't paint my fingernails in class.
Holly: Over the years you have been an editor, writer, publisher, marketing expert and screenwriter. Did you set out to accomplish this or is it something that just happened by chance?
Michelle Gamble-Risley: I set out to become an editor and writer and went to college and got the proper credentials to do so. I never set out to specifically do anything except eventually write a book, which turned into several books. I always showed talent as a writer, and I was quickly hired as a magazine editor and it all went from there. I did not set out to become a screenwriter for sure. A friend approached me to work on my first script, and we sold our first two together -- one of which turned into the Showtime movie, Virtual Seduction. I took a break from screenwriting in 1998 to focus on family. I returned to screenwriting when I felt I could balance it between work and my private life. I have a screenplay titled Beauty School I am working on selling, and California Girl Chronicles has strong interest from some Hollywood producers to convert the book(s) into a TV series.
Holly: You launched 3L Publishing in summer of 2009. Now in 2012 can you tell us how you think it is coming along and is it what you hoped it would be?
Michelle Gamble-Risley: I never hoped it would be anything. It's another one of those opportunities that dropped into my lap. After my debut book, Second Bloom, won an award from the Indie Excellence Awards and was an honorable mention in several other award programs including Writer's Digest, I had authors just show up and ask me to publish them. I seized the opportunity to do something I feel passionate about. Now some 30 books later, I have the perfect team, and we're poised to do great things in 2012. I love my authors, and I am blessed and fortunate to get to do what I love. I know 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com) is breaking traditional rules and setting new standards, and I'm thrilled to be its leader.
Holly: You published your first novel also in 2009 with Anne Marie Smith called Second Bloom and go on to publish another in that year written just by you called SMASH. Can you tell us a little bit about these novels and your first book publishing experience in the author seat?
Michelle Gamble-Risley: I think it has been a great journey of discovery. I've learned so much about the audience. I've learned so much about the industry. Second Bloom was a labor of love, and a book I wanted to share with the world. I left corporate in 2006, and I reinvented my life. I wanted to shout from the rooftops, "You can do it too." Second Bloom became my message to the world that said, "Here's how you can be anything you want to be." I never dreamed it would become an award-winning book. When the awards came in, I was genuinely pleased and touched to be recognized in this way. Above and beyond anything else, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to touch and hopefully transform lives.
Holly: The following year you came out with two more novels, both with co-writers, I have to ask is it different writing with other people? Easier, more difficult, complicated?
Michelle Gamble-Risley: I love collaboration! You do have to have the right authors to collaborate with. I've found that it can become lopsided either on the writing and/or marketing side. One author cannot sit back and allow the other one to do all of the writing or all of the sales and marketing. You should only do it with someone who will carry their fair share of the workload on both sides. When you do find the perfect balance, it's very rewarding to share the experience with someone else.
Holly: I think I am noticing a pattern here with the two books a year. *grin* Did you set out to write two a year?
Michelle Gamble-Risley: Like everything else, absolutely not. I can't help myself. I love to write. It's an addictive process for me. When inspiration strikes, I go with it and make time. I already wrote book two for California Girl Chronicles, which is titled Brea's Big Break. I will release it in the summer of 2012. Next up, Victoria Andrew and I will finish and release the sci-fi parody entitled, We're All Dead, which pokes fun at our cultural obsession with zombies and vampires. Victoria is a zombie expert, and I love True Blood and the Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series. So, we're having a blast poking a stick at our own obsessions.
Holly: One of those books you published in 2011 was your newest--California Girl Chronicles: Brea & the City of Plastic. I admit the title alone intrigues me. Can you tell us a little bit about this novel?
Michelle Gamble-Risley: Brea is my favorite character of all my fictional work. She came to me while on vacation in Alaska last summer and just begged me to give her life. The title hit me first, which often happens to me, and then Brea sort of wiggled her way into my imagination. I have to tell you many early readers love her too, and a scant few don't like her and have more than said so. She can galvanize a reaction for sure. Brea is Carrie Bradshaw transplanted to Los Angeles. She's fun, direct, witty, outrageous, outspoken, misguided, wonderfully flawed, and just someone I would be friends with if she were real. She is also exceptionally smart, beautiful, and a magnet for sexual drama. I have her stories mapped out through at least five books. So you will hear more and more about her in the near future. Plus, Hollywood is "courting" her to make her a TV star.
Holly: What was your inspiration for the novel or the chronicles as a whole?
Michelle Gamble-Risley: I love Sookie Stackhouse. I wanted to write another female heroine with spunk, who is nobody's doormat. I wanted her problems, though, to be based in reality and not the supernatural. I felt that a real character faced with the challenges of real life would be far more relatable to other women. Brea has, in fact, been praised as very relatable to women of all ages -- so mission accomplished.
Holly: Can we expect two more books from you this year--maybe the second California Girl Chronicles?
Michelle Gamble-Risley: Yes, as I mentioned Brea's Big Break releases in summer 2012. Readers will have their answer about the big cliffhanger: does Brea reunited with Kale? Since she doesn't kiss and tell, I won't blab and ruin it. Brea also has many adventures to come. Her character arc won't be fully realized until at least five books. You will start to see her personal growth and maturity in book two, although she never loses her sense of humor. Three subplots run through book two; and yes, three equally as frustrating cliffhangers exist. Book two also delves deeper into the politics of Hollywood with plenty of sexual subterfuge to keep you hooked to the end.
Also, expect We're All Dead to release in summer 2012 as well. We'll be focused on selling it at science-fiction conventions. I will also be on a major market book tour.
Holly: Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?
Michelle Gamble-Risley: I hope you fall madly in love Brea. California Girl Chronicles was a labor of passion. I love Brea, and I hope you love her too. You all fall in love with her, and I'll keep writing her. She's so much fun to explore. And while the book is loaded with great sexy fun, pay close attention. It says a lot about what it's like to work in Hollywood and sexual politics. While a superficial read might be a great escape, Brea is by no means shallow. Pay attention to the undertones of the book. She has some very real messages about self-esteem, confidence and making dreams come true. I personally hope other women will find the good parts of her inspiring and the flawed parts interesting and fun.
Holly: What do you do in your free time?
Michelle Gamble-Risley: I prefer not to speak about my private life. Suffice it to say, I have a full and amazing life and I am grateful for all of it. And I'm grateful there are people out there who want to read my books.
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Brea's Big Break (California Girl Chronicles, #2)-- Expected Publication Date: Summer of 2012
We're All Dead-- Expected Publication Date: Summer of 2012