Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Interview with Michaela Jordan and Giveaway - October 26, 2011

Please welcome Michaela Jordon to The Qwillery as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge interviews. Mirror Maze, Michaela's debut, was published on October 25, 2011 by Pyr.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a panster?

Michaela:  I am definitely a panster! I feel strongly that the action MUST evolve from the characters and their interactions. Sometimes in my reading, I feel that the ‘characters’ are simply doing what the plot outline tells them to do, without clear and convincing motivation; I often don’t bother to finish such stories.

But, of course, one must have some story. So I usually start with at least two, preferably three, very vivid scenes in mind. Long ago, I used to jump in with one scene, but I slowly realized I was writing a lot of interesting openings that had no place to go. So now I insist to myself on at least two, so that the second will provide a direction for the first.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Michaela:  I never feel like I’m writing—it seems more like taking dictation—so I am often totally oblivious to where I am going or how long it will take me to get there. Sometimes I even scare myself. When I first sat down to write Mirror Maze, I was not planning a novel. Just the opposite—I was working on something else, and only meant to jot down a quick short story while I still remembered the idea, and then get right back to the piece I was working on. A short story is 5,000 words, right? When I reached 20,000 words, I typed “The End”. But I was lying, and I knew it. It was only the end of Part 1. In fact, Mirror Maze turned out to be 135,000 words, which is no short story.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Mirror Maze?

Michaela:  I blush to admit it, but I was watching a silly TV show (very silly, but one of my favorites) and I had just that afternoon been reading a story that featured a succubus. It quite suddenly flashed across my mind that it would be very easy to slip that succubus into that TV show, if I only changed one little thing…. Of course, I changed a great deal more than one little thing in both the story and TV show before I was done; I hope with all my heart they are both now unrecognizable.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Michaela:  Strangely, I do not view this as one question, but two. I should admit first, that I have never been conscious of an influence on my writing since I was seventeen and wrote an “Edgar Allan Poe” story for a class assignment. But of course there are influences, just not conscious ones. They would be the books I read when I was young. I spent most afternoons after school with my dear grandmother—who was certainly an Edwardian, if not a belated Victorian—in her house full of darling, breakable ornaments and bric-a-brac, many of them so valuable that it was worth my life to touch them. (She had never heard of child-proofing!) So the safest place in her house was the library, which was full of beautiful, hard bound classics—often in matched sets. All of it very old-fashioned stuff. I grew up on Dickens, Dostoevsky, Scott, Bronte, Verne, Kipling, Stevenson and James (Henry, not William—I got William much later in life). I don’t actually read those much any more, but I absorbed them, and they shaped the way I put words together.

These days, I am still something of a literary snob (but not too good to indulge in an occasional manga!). I love Michael Chabon and Thomas Pynchon (whether they are writing SF or not) but within the field my favorite authors are probably Neil Stephenson and Iain M. Banks (not to neglect Banks in his mainstream incarnation—I adored Whit!) which leaves out all the stuff between my early years and now. Philip K. Dick and Rudy Rucker, Octavia Butler and Kaje Baker. There are so many books! How can we play favorites?

TQ:  Describe Mirror Maze in 140 characters or less.

Michaela:  You want short answers? Now you tell me! Mirror Maze is about karma, and the price of the past. It’s also a warning that demons are not glamorous and magic is dangerous.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Mirror Maze.

Michaela:  Lots! Every other page, some silly detail would come up—things like: when did the bell go into Big Ben? Or how much would you pay for a pocket knife? A woman’s hair?

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Michaela:  The easiest was Cecily who was not even part of my original idea. She volunteered when I needed a viewpoint character and Jacob turned out to be incapacitated. But she was perfect for the job—so observant and articulate. Jacob was the hardest—and he was the one the original story was supposed to be about. He’s such a private person. I spent most of the book trying to get to Jacob’s story.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in the book?

Michaela:  A very hard question to answer! Maybe the opening, when Jacob comes home to find his dead fiancée waiting for him? Or Dr. Chang facing the astral mirror? Or Col. Beckford magically escorting Cecily down the stairs? Or Livia, either searching the attic or dressing up as a boy? Or….? I admit it. I love every one of my own words. I have no favorites.

TQ:  How many books are planned for the series?

Michaela:  This was never conceived as a series, and I thought I had genuinely concluded the story, tied off every loose end and closed every question. But… My husband keeps asking me if I couldn’t perhaps follow up with the next generation. There were children, probably not unscarred. So maybe I’ll talk to my editor about that.

TQ:  What's next?

Michaela:  Right now I’m working on two books. I never work on just one piece at a time. Unlike some writers more experienced—or more fortunate—than I, I occasionally experience blocks. When I just can’t think what to say next on one manuscript, I pop over to another one, so I need never be without invisible friends whispering in my ears. I generally have a primary and a secondary, although they have once or twice changed places.

My first next book (how’s that for a tangled phrase) is Jocasta and the Indians. It is also set in the Victorian era, but instead of a dark fantasy, it is a rollicking steampunk adventure. My second next novel is Invasion, an SF novel (because one can’t live forever in Victorian times) about the arrival of an alien spaceship. I’m very excited about both.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Michaela:  And thank you for hearing me out!

About Mirror Maze

Mirror Maze
Pyr, October 25,  2011
Trade Paperback, 368 pages

Cover Illustration: © Cynthia Sheppard
Jacob Aldridge is still utterly devastated by the death of his fiancée when he suddenly encounters her doppelganger. Livia Aram’s uncanny resemblance to the late Rhoda Carothers so transcends coincidence that Jacob becomes obsessed with her. The intensity of his passion terrifies her until her compassion is roused by his desperate plight. A demon is stalking him, a succubus-like entity that feeds on human pain and desire. With the help of Jacob’s sister, Cecily, and Livia’s guardian, the mysterious Dr. Chang, they overcome the demon. Or so it appears. . . .

Jacob, Liva, and Cecily are all victims of a single curse, a curse which entrapped and destroyed their parents before them. Now fate has drawn their descendants together again, and the curse is playing out. Nothing can help them, until Cecily’s husband returns from abroad. Colonel Beckford has been missing for years; he has seen strange things and acquired strange powers in his absence. Now he will do whatever it takes to free his wife and eliminate the demon and its curse once and for all.

About Michaela

     Ms. Jordan was born—but not raised—in California, of which she remembers nothing but the sea. Her mother always thought she was destined to write, from the day she won her first poetry award at the age of five.
     But, armed with a Bachelor’s degree in Drama from Bard College, she chose instead to launch a theatrical career that spanned nanoseconds. Sobered by that experience, she embarked on the Serious Business of Earning a Living. She studied programming and entered the workforce as a computer-literate administrator. In the meanwhile, she continued to scribble stories and chat with invisible playmates.
     Eventually, she was forced to admit that her mother had been right. Mirror Maze is her first novel to appear in book form, although the discerning reader may also have seen Blade Light, which was serialized in Jim Baen’s Universe.
     She lives in Cincinnati with a grumpy cat, a long-suffering husband, and a variety of invisible playmates.

Michaela's Links


The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a trade paperback copy of Mirror Maze from The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Have you ever been in a maze and where? 

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Wednesday, November 2, 2011. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. I love that Michaela sat down to write a 5,000 word short story and ended up with a 135,000 word novel!

    I have only ever been in a corn maze. It was at a farm about 20 minutes outside of my hometown. I have been meaning to go to one this season but it seems like the weather never cooperates.

    Thank you for the interview and giveaway!

    I am a follower.

    ssosborn at gmail dot com

  2. I've been to a maze in Howard Castle in England. It was pretty cool!
    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 mentioned it on my blog

    impy80 at hotmail dot com

    Thank you for this giveaway!

  3. The only maze I've ever been in, are the huge cornstalk mazes we have at farms around Halloween! I am a follower. Thank you for the giveaway!

  4. I've been in a maze one time, but it was in a glass wase, it's really fun but not practical. Thanks for the interview and the giveaway ! I'm a follower


  5. I've never been in a maze, although it sounds like fun if you were with a group of friends.

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC Follower
    +1 Tweeted (!/RebeLovesBooks/status/129230474383081472)

  6. I have been in a corn field maze before. It was fun, that is if I don't recall Children of the Corn.

    I am a GFC follower.

  7. I have never been in a maze. Someday though. Thanks for the chance.

  8. +1 comment: I've never been in a maze, although it sounds like fun

    +1 tweet:!/PandoraSWolf/status/129248843622658048

    +1 follower

  9. I've been in several green mazes. Last year I did a huge corn maze in Michigan and had a blast. I went with a 30 year old and 73 year old co-worker and wasn't enthusiastic to start, but we all had a great time.
    GFC Anne38

  10. I have never been in a maze before. Please enter me in contest. I am a follower and email subscriber.

  11. Congratulations on your debut, Michaela!

    I've been in corn and hedge mazes, and a couple of small mirror mazes in carnival fun houses. They're fun and challenging, but you have to make sure you have plenty of time! :)

  12. This book sounds like a terrific debut! Congratulations Michaela!
    I have been in a maze before in a fun house and I totally freaked out! I can't stand not knowing how to get out of anyplace I'm in!

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower
    +1 tweeted:!/jwitt33/status/129256011080024065

    jwitt33 at live dot com

  13. Yay! I have been dying to read and review this book for my own blog: I actually have been in a maze, but only for Halloween purposes :) It's always so fun to try to find your way through a good corn maze, the smell of corn always remind me now.
    GFC Krystal Larson

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. I usually take my kids to the local corn field mazes around this time every year. they are really fun i just dont reccomend taking small children when it starts to get dark!

    +1 follower
    +1 comment
    +1 tweet!/harley_chick883/status/129263487208783874


  16. I was 5 or 6 when I went into a fun house by myself. The beginning was a very short mirror maze but to me it was very long and twisted. They had to tell me which way to go. ha ha ha

    +1 Comment
    +1 Follower

  17. Thanks for a great interview! I hadn't encountered this book before and it sounds great!

    I've only been in a maze once and it was a corn maze attached to a haunted house. Of course, we went at night and it seemed like it took us forever to find our way out. Don't know if I'd do it again, but it was scary!

    GFC ~ erin

  18. i've being in a corn field maze when i was a child (thema that year" robin hood")

    +1 comment
    +1 follower via GFC: isabelle frisch ( perhaps i'm listed as miki idon't know sorry)


  19. I've been to a maze in Paris and in italy. Fascinating but I ended up being nervous!

    GFC follower

    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  20. I have been in corn mazes but that is it. I have seen them in books and have found them fascinating.
    debby236 at gmail dot com
    I am a follower

  21. Never been in a maze - I think it would be scary!!!

    old gfc follower

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  22. I have been in a few corn mazes if that counts! I would love to go into and actual Maze though!

    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

  23. Yes, I've been in a few corn mazes. The best on in New York at the Headless Horseman Haunted Hayride.

    +1 GFC: ML
    +1 Tweet:!/Rogue237/status/129382933160148993

    mljfoland AT hotmail DOT com

  24. I've never been in a maze.

    GFC: Mary Preston


  25. Yes! I've been in a lot of mazes, actually. Somewhere in Jutland, Denmark. :)

    +1 for being a follower!


  26. No sad to say I have yet to be in a maze.There is a really big one about an hour from my house but I always keep putting it off.

    +1 GFC Follower

    bookflamereviews at gmail dot com

  27. I believe I was in some sort of a maze for kids at a fair when I was a looong time ago..but I'm not certain..perhaps it is an old dream :)


    +1 comment
    +1 follower


  28. First: congrats on your first novel!
    I've never been in a maze - the thought of being stuck in one of those huge garden mazes made out of hedges (I'm sure they have a name)scares me silly, so, unless I knew that my knight in shining armor was at the end of the maze - you will never see me near one of those things in this life or any other!
    +1 comment
    +1 GFC as MJB
    msmjb65 AT gmail DOT com

  29. the cover looks so beautiful

    thanks for the giveaway =D

    +1 comment
    +2 follower

  30. I have been in a maze. As a kid, we went on a field trip to Williamsburg (sheesh I can't recall). I just remember us running through a maze and it was all muddy. I was a mess when I got home! LOL

    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  31. we;ve done the corn mazes.. i got lost in a mirror one and ended up with a bloody nose.. not my best

    alainala At hotmail DOT ca

    i am a follower

    (and this book looks amazing!!)

  32. I've never been in a maze and I don't think I'd want to be- I'm kinda claustrophobic.
    Thank you for the giveaway!

  33. I do not believe I have every been in a maze and I think I have a slight fear of them. May this is residual fear after watching Harry Potter LOL not sure. Thank you for sharing with us today this lovely interview and giveaway opportunity.
    +1 comment
    +1 I am a follower
    +1 tweeted:!/ZDz59001/status/131562906008551424


  34. No, I have never been through a corn maze. I have been looking the past 2 years for someone to join me, but have been unsuccessful.

    Will you go with me next year?
    P.S. No cell phones permitted!

  35. I apologize for taking so long to post a comment. I'm not as internet savvy as I should be.

    Thank you very much for all the congratulations.

    And yes, I've been in a maze (not counting fun-houses). It was an English hedge maze. This was before I saw The Shining or I might never have had the nerve!

  36. I thought I'd see who won the giveaway and ask them how they liked the book. But apparently that information is confidential!

    So, if you won, I would love to hear what you thought. You can reach me on Facebook or at my website

  37. I thought I'd see who won the giveaway and ask them how they liked the book. But apparently that information is confidential!

    So, if you won, I would love to hear what you thought. You can reach me on Facebook or at my website