Today is a really awesome day on THE KATY because I have Aria Michaels, author of “Killshot” and “Before the Sky Fell” with me! (I reviewed Killshot the other day)
Thank you for joining me today, Aria! I thoroughly enjoyed Killshot and Before the Sky Fell. I need more and can’t wait for the sequel.
Bio: Aria Michaels is the author of the Best-Selling young adult dystopian novel Killshot (Icarus Series, Book One) as well as its companion novella, Before the Sky Fell. In addition to her career as an author, Aria Michaels is an avid reader, die-hard zombie fan and enthusiastic lover of bonfires and red wine. When she is not glued to her computer pouring out the voices in her head, Aria can be found playing in the dirt with her boys, painting, or binge-watching The Walking Dead with her husband. Don’t let her mild-mannered smile fool you…this woman has lofty ambitions that include complete global domination. She is determined to live in a world where every pair of yoga pants comes with a free book, an iced caramel macchiatto and a magic force-field that repels the sound of screaming children (of which she has six). In the meantime, Aria is hard at work on the next installment of the Icarus Series, reveling in her role as instigator of literary mayhem and stealth assassin of fictional characters. For more information about Aria Michaels and the Icarus Series, be sure to check out her website at www.ariamichaels.com
What made you want to be a writer? Did any certain books, authors, or movies inspire you to pursue writing as a career?
I have always been the creative type. I started drawing, singing, playing music and writing from a very young age. I was torn between being greater than Picasso and being the next Laura Ingalls Wilder. While I hadn’t the means to achieve it yet, that dream stuck with me even when life threw a few hurdles in my path. I lost my way for a while but four sons and two step-sons later, the universe shoved me back onto the right path. A couple years ago, I had a pretty serious health crisis that almost took me away from my family. Sometimes it takes something like that to make you realize there is a difference between existing and living. A year later, I published Killshot.
My biggest inspiration- that one literary voice that hit me and made me believe I could really do this was Author Elle Casey. I have always been a big YA fiction fan but her Apocalypsis series was the first post-apoc dystopian series I had ever read. I gobbled her words up and finished all four books in less than a week and have been an avid fangirl ever since. Her style spoke to me in a way that none before it ever had.
Where did your love for Apocalyptic/Post-apoc/Zombie lore come from?
Actually, my love for the lore is rooted in film. I have always loved horror movies, even as a young child…there was just something about that hint of danger that fueled my imagination (and my nightmares, as it turned out). Still, I couldn’t stay away from the fear inducing high that was the horror genre. I saw Night of the Living Dead when I was maybe ten years old and I was hooked. Since then, I have seen pretty much every Zombie movie ever made (the good and the bad). It is my sincere hope that one day the Icarus Series will be on the big screen. I wouldn’t even wait for the DVD on that one…I’d pay full ticket price and everything! (laughs)
Do you have any advice on finding time to write while balancing family life?
Honestly, there is no magic answer to that one. Writing is now my full-time career (in addition to my Etsy shop), so I suppose I juggle the same types of things that any other mother of six would. Basketball games, dentist appointments, karate, and homework; it’s all part of the package. The best piece of advice I can offer is to be flexible and be prepared to compromise. My boys understand that from the hours of noon and three, mom is working. In exchange, when my “office hours” are closed, they have my full attention. We play games, catch up on our day, make dinner and hang out. If I get the chance to get back into the writing cave after they go to bed, that is a bonus. My priority will always be taking care of my family. Thankfully, my husband and my boys understand that sometimes that means that mom has to focus on herself in order to make that happen. Whatever schedule or agreement you decide on, commit to it and set the expectations as soon as possible to avoid any confusion or hurt feelings.
I just finished reading “Before the Sky Fell”, the companion novella to “Killshot” and felt such raw emotion in the lives of Liv and Beans. Do you have experience with the foster care system or something else in your life that you pulled the emotions from for their story?
While I have not been in the system myself, I have had some first-hand experience with those who have. Once upon a time, I was a psychology major. As such, I did a brief internship with social services. Needless to say it was eye-opening for me. At that time in my life, I had a tenuous relationship with my own family but seeing the struggles these kids faced each day really put things in perspective for me. Those children left a mark on my heart.
Is Liv like a daughter to you or is she you in a sense?
I connected with Liv’s character more than you will ever know. Her overall attitude in life, her single-minded determination and even her desire to control the universe…all me. Many of Liv’s experiences are based on my own; the mural she painted, her part-time job at the local diner, and her tendency to fiddle with her hair when she is upset or nervous. I poured so much of myself into this character that I feel as though we are kindred spirits. If anything, I would say that Liv is my sister.
If you were in Liv’s post-apocalyptic situation would you have taken a leadership role?
Without a doubt. Call it Type A personality or maybe I’m a just a control freak, but I somehow always seem to fall into that role- even if I am not consciously trying to.
While reading Killshot, I was blown away by the scientific knowledge the characters possessed. And it was written in away that I could understand, which I appreciated. Do you have any background in science or tech fields or are you just really good at research?
That is a huge compliment Katy, mostly because I absolutely DESPISE research. Thing was, it was absolutely vital to the foundation of the story. All together, I would say I probably did at least 100 hours of basic research for Killshot. The difficulty was that a lot of what I wrote about was theoretical science, at best.The last major solar flare occurred in the 1800’s and none of today’s tech existed back then so I had a lot of balf-baked theories to sift through in order to figure out how it would all go down. Once I had the science of it hammered out, I actually enlisted the help of my 12 and 14 year olds. I tweaked it and edited, simplified and smoothed it out until even they understood what was happening. The last thing I wanted was for the story to be drowned out by overwhelming factoids and over-complicated science. Glad to hear I hit the mark!
Anything else you want to tell readers or aspiring writers out there?
Aspiring Writers…You CAN do this, you just have to decide to do it. Sit down, put pencil to paper (or fingers to keys) and make it happen. It doesn’t have to be perfect or amazing the first time around. That is what beta readers and editors are for. Once you have your word-baby, KEEP WRITING. It’s so easy to get swallowed up in the numbers, marketing and muck of social media in an effort to be the next big thing. The best thing you can do to ensure your longevity is to keep writing. Your best marketing tool for your book is to write the next book. Just keep writing and when you are done writing, write some more. For the love of God, don’t stop.
Readers…Ironically there are no words that can accurately express how much your support means to me. Writing has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl but I honestly never imagined that I would make it this far. It’s one thing to put your words out there into the universe but it’s quite another to have those words embraced with such enthusiasm. I have never been so proud, or so humbled in my life. I know, as do so many of us who put our words and our hearts into your hands ever day, that without all of you I would not exist. I will forever be grateful for that…for each and every one my readers.
“There is nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” –Hemingway (…and he pretty much nailed it)