As part of S.S. Michaels’ blog tour, complimenting the release of her début novel Idols & Cons, I have an interview with the author herself for you all to enjoy!
Jake Wolfram is the biggest, slickest, sickest pop star of our time.
Drug-dealing voyeuristic punk, Jake, is yanked from poverty and into the white-hot spotlight after witnessing a crime committed by his neighbor, Damien Tungsten, front man for the boy band, In Dreams.
Jake lives life on the run, hiding in the limelight, and resenting every single minute of it. He’s relentlessly pursued by his former friend, psychopathic visual artist, Patrick Salinger, who coerces Jake into helping him turn a grisly murder into a masterpiece.
Seizing control of the power he craves, Jake disposes of Damien, confronts Patrick, and lives a bad-boy rock-and-roll lifestyle as he hijacks Damien’s super-stardom.
But Damien’s not quite ready to let it go.
In her debut novel, Michaels uses biting wit and seething satire to bring the reader behind the scenes, to an explosive world where pop music grinds up against the cutting edge of art and drugs are the fuel that ignites it.
Bonnie: Idols & Cons, your debut novel, has a very strong and eye catching cover, what aspects do you feel it represents in the story?
S.S. Michaels: Yes, the cover is fairly evocative, isn’t it? I love it. As for what it represents… it’s quite literal: art and internal organs. Both play a fairly large role in my story.
Bonnie: Would you say transgressive literature is your specialised genre or only a genre you have visited?
S.S. Michaels: “Transgressive” is the label that was given to me by my first and second agents. When I write, it’s just what comes out. It’s not where I visit – it’s where I reside. I don’t necessarily set out to write something that will be perceived as “transgressive” – I just happen to write about characters who inhabit spaces outside the mainstream. I write a lot about drugs and ghoulish behavior and people you don’t necessarily think about too often, or I write about a different side of those people. An editor at one of the big publishing houses compared me to Chuck Palahniuk — to me, there is no greater compliment.
Bonnie: Is there a main goal you set out to achieve with writing Idols & Cons, whether it is message-wise or something else?
S.S. Michaels: My main goal with Idols & Cons was to have fun, first and foremost. It just so happened that I got caught up in this message about celebrities as prisoners in the spotlight. I don’t write to preach a message – I write to entertain, but if it enlightens anyone, that’s great, too.
Bonnie: Do you have any author role models who help influence and inspire you?
S.S. Michaels: I have been a huge fan of Steven King’s forever. Same with Peter Straub. Other favorites are the aforementioned Chuck Palahniuk, and Bret Easton Ellis. Do they influence me? I don’t know, I suppose I’ll read about that in my reviews. Do they inspire me? Definitely. Other writers who inspire me may not be household names yet, but they’re getting there, and I have a handful that I ask for guidance on a regular basis: Jeremy C. Shipp, John Edward Lawson, Kealan Patrick Burke, Cate Gardener, D. W. Grintalis… I am grateful to have access to so many professional sources.
Bonnie: When it comes to the writing process, would you say you are a pantser or a plotter?
S.S. Michaels: Well, I try hard to be a plotter, but somewhere around the middle of the book, I become a total pantser.
Bonnie: November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), have you ever participated in NaNo and what do you think of the concept?
S.S. Michaels: This is actually the second year I signed up to do NaNo. I’m not doing well – it’s just a bad month for me, but, I think it’s a good tool for getting a rough draft down on paper. As far as sending out what you write… don’t do it. No matter how great you think your story is on December 1st, it needs work.
Bonnie: You’ve worked in the film and television industry, in what ways do you find this may help your writing?
S.S. Michaels: In Hollywood, I started out reading slush for a film production company. It was filtered slush from agencies, but it was still slush. I had to read scripts and then write coverage on them, meaning I had to write out the log line, a short synopsis, and then a longer synopsis. That really helped me learn about plotting stories and, of course, writing the dreaded synopsis. Later on, I worked on music award shows, and a prominent boy band appeared on one, which set off some spark in my head that finally became Idols & Cons.
Bonnie: Can you tell readers what you may have planned when it comes to future writing projects?
S.S. Michaels: My next book, Revival House, is in its final editing stages and will be published by Omnium Gatherum sometime around February. Set in Savannah, it’s the story of a young undertaker, about to inherit his family’s failing funeral parlor, and his obsessions with an art student and immortality. It’s a wild ride and a great follow-up to Idols & Cons.
S. S. Michaels is a writer of transgressive fiction. She holds degrees in Business Administration and Film & Video Production. She has lived abroad, traveled widely, jumped out of an airplane, and driven a racecar. In film and television, she read slush and wrote coverage, then moved on to become a production coordinator. She finally served as a TV network financial analyst before leaving Hollywood. She lives with her husband, two kids, and two dogs.