By Jeff Salter
I can’t recall if I’d already “met” Michelle Kidd… or if I only encountered Michelle after her name was brought up by our mutual friend, Sharon Connell. Either way, I’m very pleased to have stumbled across Michelle’s path. It turns out that we share some interests and experiences. Among other things, she’s a writer, musician, painter, and crafter.
Born and raised in the heart of Virginia, Michelle Kidd is an author, quilter, and avid reader. She lives with her husband of 27 years, two sons, and her constant writing companions — a Yorkie named Baxter and a Bichon Frise named Lacy. She loves creating stories set in her native Virginia. When not writing, she juggles home-schooling and time with family. A lifelong writer, her earlier efforts so impressed her third-grade teacher, her story was adapted into a play and performed for the entire school. This small encouragement sparked a love of storytelling. Since then, short stories and writing competitions have led to her first full-length novel, which was a 2016 Kindle Scout winner and was published by Kindle Press. She’s recently completed her second novel and is currently working on a four-book series of family drama.
- You used the term “undercover introvert” while I use the term “coping introvert” — but I think we’re referring to the same phenomenon. Can you share some of your coping mechanisms (being an introvert in a world that consistently values extroverts and often marginalizes introverts)?
[ *** MK *** ] — Well, that’s how I refer to myself, but I doubt anyone else would since it isn’t unusual for me to strike up a conversation with strangers and engage (much to my children’s annoyance) in lengthy discussions. I say undercover because no one suspects how timid I am. This same girl is a complete wimp with it comes to crowds or online forums. I’d be the last to speak up in a group setting, and I find I’m often hovering over the keyboard, typing a response and deleting it five seconds later. That obscurity of the internet is empowering for some, but I find the faceless void intimidating.
- I know what you mean about total strangers confiding their life histories to you — happens to me as well. What is it about you that allows people to immediately feel that comfortable with you?
[ *** MK *** ] — Hmm . . . maybe because I make an effort to smile and make eye contact, lol. Sounds simple, but sometimes it’s a matter of not putting barriers around yourself when you’re out and about, taking the time to listen, and not allowing fear to hold you back (a constant struggle for me). Even shy people enjoy talking about their interests. You never know when someone’s just waiting for another person to give them a little encouragement.
- Like you, my love of words (and writing) began at an early age. Why do you think that happens to some people, but not to others? What are the variables?
[ *** MK *** ] — First impressions, maybe? For me, having a mom who loved to read was important. She visited the library during her lunch break, and I couldn’t wait to see what treat she’d bring home for me. My favorite was The Fat Cat by Jack Kent. I read it over and over. For those who aren’t familiar with the story it’s a children’s book, a Danish folklore, about a very naughty cat who ate everyone in his town. *spoiler alert* The huntsman cuts open the cat and everyone escapes. The cat gets a bandage on his tummy and looks quite contrite by the book’s end . . . Ha! Perhaps this explains why my writing veers to a darker side, before swinging back to leave the reader with a more hopeful conclusion.
- For years I also wanted to be a teacher… but tedious and archaic education courses “talked” me out of that career. What blocked you, besides not wanting to speak in front of others?
[ *** MK *** ] — Teaching is such a huge responsibility. Forming impressionable young minds is scary. I suppose when it came right down to it, I knew it takes talent to keep an entire classroom of students engaged. I’m much better with the one on one. That’s why home schooling my boys worked out well for me. Everyone learns differently, and I was blessed to give them the individual attention they needed.
- I’d love to hear more about your experience in that small recording studio.
[ *** MK *** ] — Oh, that! *Waves hand dismissively* It was a lot of fun and quite interesting to see how the different tracks are layered, but it’s terribly time-consuming. It’s one of those bucket list things you do. I’m much happier entertaining my boys (or embarrassing, as the case may be). I prefer randomly breaking out in song or making up lyrics on the fly.
- So you write, you create and perform music, and you paint. Not content with those three outlets, you also craft. How do you account for so much creative energy?
[ *** MK *** ] — And I quilt. You forgot quilting, lol. I enjoy the aspect of starting with a bit of this or that, shaping it into something unique. It doesn’t matter if it’s words, paint, fabric, or ideas, I love the process and endless possibilities.
- Journals and notebooks. Like you, I’ve kept many / most of mine. Yet I’ve known people who’ve discarded or destroyed their early writings (including poetry!). Can you picture yourself ever doing something like that?
[ *** MK *** ] — Heavens, no! Tossing out things like that would be the same as tossing out friends, and I’d never do that. I have poems, stories, and just about everything I’ve written since I was a child. My first book was made of paper and tied with string (and yes, I still have it).There’s something about looking back at where you’ve been and remembering the journey.
- What else can you tell us about that 1915 yearbook you found in the retirement home? [I mean, other than it inspired your first novel.]
[ *** MK *** ] — Hmm . . . well, for someone who loves history, it’s a wealth of information on trends, conversations, and inspiration for young adults living in that time. The yearbook isn’t all that different from what you’d find today. But it was an excellent resource for slang, advertisement, and a snapshot of what it was like to be a teenager in 1915.
- Are there spiritual themes in all of your fiction writing?
[ *** MK *** ] — Yes. My faith is important to me, and I’d like it to be at the heart of everything I write. While not always directly a message of salvation, my characters often express their faith and use it to overcome the adversity they face. I strive for the right mixture of faith without being preachy. Readers enjoy inspirational reading, but not necessarily a sermon.
- How did you decide which publishing route to undertake?
[ *** MK *** ] — When I completed Timeless Moments, Amazon offered the opportunity for a writing contract with their Kindle Press line. It was a smaller imprint, and writers submitted work through the Kindle Scout Program. Once submitted, the manuscript went through a thirty-day vetting process. I’m so grateful the editors took a chance on a first-time author. It’s been wonderful having the Amazon name behind my book. I’m sure I’ve sold more copies than I’d ever sold on own. My second book is now complete, and I’m working on my next project, a four-book series.
- If sales (money) and critics (reviews) were immaterial to you, what genre and length would you write?
[ *** MK *** ] — It would be great if those things didn’t matter, wouldn’t it? They’re important, to be sure, but I write what I love, regardless. I enjoy strong, character-driven stories that fit into several genres. I have an eclectic style. I’m a sucker for a story inside a story, so my books tend to be on the lengthy side. I’d love to write romance, but just when I least expect it, a dead body pops up to spoil a perfectly good love story.
- Have you ever encountered people who seem unable / unwilling to comprehend that writing is something you are driven to do?
[ *** MK *** ] — I find most people are pretty receptive when you share what you do. I believe there is a natural curiosity, especially for those who read.
- Give us at least one example of someone who has contacted you and expressed how much your writing meant to them.
[ *** MK *** ] — Oh! I love that question. One of the greatest joys is hearing from readers. I’ve been humbled and honored (and honestly still amazed) how Jewel’s story continues to resonate with readers. One dear lady wrote, thanking me for writing such a wonderful book. It helped her endure a surgery where she had to remain face down for a week. When reviewers take the time to track you down and thank you for writing, it has to be one of the most satisfying aspects of what we do.
- In the conversations (about writing) that you’ve had over the years, what is one writing question which you’ve WISHED had been asked of you… but never has been asked?
[ *** MK *** ] — I have to say your questions have been so different than others and definitely challenging. Maybe one I’ve never been asked and would like folks to know is how I’d want to be remembered as a writer.
- What’s your answer to # 14 above?
[ *** MK *** ] — How would I like to be remembered: It would be amazing to have it said of you that you were an author who cared about her reader. When someone opens a book, they’re opening their heart and mind. They are trusting the author. That’s a unique bond, and if we do our job correctly, it’s a bit like magic, isn’t it? When we paint our pictures with words, when we engage a reader’s senses, touch upon some forgotten memory or introduce them to new characters . . . well, there’s nothing else like it.
What’s hidden in the dark will be brought to light . . .
When Jewel Wiltshire marries, she vows to love, honor, and obey. Little does she know that her husband’s secrets will push her faith far beyond anything she can imagine. For two years she remains a prisoner until a mysterious stranger appears offering friendship and hope.
Jack Vines has the Victorian home of his dreams—or so it seems until he discovers an intriguing beauty lurking in the shadows. Stunned, he finds they share the house but live a century apart. She is a prisoner of the past, shrouded in a world of dark mysteries. He holds the keys that will protect their future. When her letters suddenly stop, can he unravel the mystery that threatens to alter both their lives forever?
Timeless Moments is a spine-tingling suspense laced with faith and love that you won’t want to put down. This stirring novel seamlessly weaves together two characters in an intricate balance of emotion and hope that all things are possible.
[JLS # 436]