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Interview with author Michael Baron

I'm very pleased to welcome author Michael Baron to My Book Retreat today. Michael is the author of four novels, as well as several nonfiction books under a different name. I've reviewed three of the four novels here, so be sure to check out the links at the end of the interview! Also, as I mentioned yesterday, The Story Plant is giving away the e-book version of Michael's first novel, When You Went Away, for FREE through April 12. Then, from April 12 through April 26, they are selling e-book copies of his novel, The Journey Home, for just $2.99! I highly recommend you check them out! I've included links at the bottom of this interview.

Q. Welcome back to My Book Retreat, Michael! One of the things I’ve enjoyed about your books, including Spinning, is the depth of character development. What are your strategies for really getting into a character and making the reader care about them?

Before I start writing, I try to know everything I can about a character, including trivial things that will never show up in a novel. I want to know what a character would tend to order in a Chinese restaurant, where he or she would go for an ideal vacation, what his or her five favorite movies are. I find that by doing this, the characters become very real to me and therefore I can make them real for readers.

Q. When you write fiction, you seem to focus on stories of relationships. What sorts of relationships do you most like to explore in your writing?

I definitely have a special place in my heart for romantic relationships. I’ve always been fascinated by the dynamics and convolutions of love. I also love writing family relationships. Family has had a significant place in all of my novels, from Gerry’s relationship with his teenage daughter and infant son in When You Went Away to Hugh’s almost mythical relationship with his brother in Crossing the Bridge to the mother-son relationship between Antoinette and Warren in The Journey Home. The new novel, Spinning is in some ways about creating a family from thin air, as Dylan and Spring find themselves in a sudden, unexpected father-daughter situation. That was a new challenge for me, and I liked the idea of exploring a relationship that essentially happens all at once.

Q. You also write nonfiction books under a different name. Which do you prefer writing: fiction or nonfiction? What are some of the things you like and dislike about each?

I love writing nonfiction, but writing fiction takes me to another level emotionally.

When I write a nonfiction book, the part I enjoy the most is digging deeper and deeper into the research to find the most interesting things to write about. On the other hand, much of this work can be very slow, and a week can go by where I feel that I’ve accomplished nothing.

With fiction, I can write about things that are very important to me that I would never be able to write a nonfiction book about. For example, if I wrote a nonfiction book about fatherhood, no one would be interested because I don’t have the right professional credentials. However, in my novels, my characters can express all of my perspectives on parenting. For me, the toughest thing about writing fiction is shaping the story. I take a long time on this before I get started, and it can be quite tedious. I just want to start writing, but I know that I’ll make a mess of it if I don’t have the story in place ahead of time.


Q. What are you working on now? Do you have another novel in the works?

I actually have two novels in the works right now, and it’s something of a race to the finish to see which comes out next. The Story Plant would like me to commit, but I’m not entirely ready to do so. One is the first in a series about a New England family. The other involves a man making a mind-boggling sacrifice for the woman he loves.

Q. You've been compared to Nicholas Sparks a lot. Do you think this is a fair comparison? Do you enjoy his novels yourself? What do you enjoy reading? What are you reading now?

It’s unlikely that Nicholas Sparks would consider it a fair comparison. I’m flattered by it, though. He writes novels of the heart, and that’s definitely what I’m trying to do. I admire his work very much, though I’ve certainly never consciously tried to write a “Nicholas Sparks novel.”

As far as reading is concerned, I’m in between novels right now. I tend not to read much fiction when I’m writing fiction. On the nonfiction side, I’m in the middle of Patti Smith’s amazing memoir,
Just Kids. I love fiction about interesting characters and relationships and nonfiction about things that fascinate me.

Q. On your website you say, "I’m a pop culture junkie with an especially strong interest in music, I love fine food (and any restaurant shaped like a hot dog), and I read far too many sports blogs for my own good." So, what kind of music? And what dishes do you tend to order when you go out?

See? Now you sound like me when I’m trying to learn about a character. I’m a huge rock and pop fan with interests that stretch from the dawn of rock and roll to the latest releases. The new Decemberists and Adele albums are in heavy rotation on my iPod right now. I have equally expansive interests in food. I’m especially fond of chef-y places where each dish is an original. At the same time, I love hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants where I might order something I’ve had hundreds of times – Chicken Vindaloo, Schezwan Beef, Mole, Pad Thai – but it’s made with palatable passion and love.

Thank you so much for visiting with me here at My Book Retreat. I look forward to seeing which of your novels is published next. I'm sure whichever it is, I'll be reading it!

For more information about Michael Baron and Spinning, visit his website. You can also read my reviews of his novels Spinning, Crossing the Bridge and The Journey Home. And you can check out a guest post written by Michael about the meaning of home.

Here are links to download the FREE e-book of When You Went Away through April 12: Kindle edition (US) Kindle edition (UK) or epub edition

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