Mark Fisher Interviews Christian Author Michelle Griep

In this post Mark Fisher interviews Christian author Michelle Griep.

About Michelle Griep

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, Undercurrent, and Gallimore. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or www.writerofftheleash.blogspot.com or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

An Interview With Michelle Griep

Q: Do ideas for your novels come to you all at once, like in the middle of the night? Or do they have to germinate forever before they end up on the page?

Michelle: Yes and yes. Example: one time I was driving alone, at night, in the middle of a horrific storm and saw a flash of something in front of my headlights. Could’ve been a cow, but hey, I live in the city. Maybe a thug lord on a late night smack down? Nope. So I wondered what if it were a knight in armor, caught in a time warp? And so was born my story idea for Gallimore, my first book. What . . . don’t tell me you never imagined something freakish waltzing past your headlights in the middle of hurricane force winds.

Q: Do you tend more to plot out every chapter of your novels or write “by the seat of your pants”? Or have you used both methods at once?

Michelle: I started out as a seat of the pants writer because hey, life’s a game and writing should be too, right? Wrong. Once I started getting deadlines, as in contracts, as in if I don’t meet that deadline there will be a legal slicey-dicey knife at my throat, then I embraced the concept of plotting in a quick slap hurry. No longer did I have the leisure to meander through a story.

So now I plot out my story with sticky notes on a canvas, two per chapter, usually. Each sticky contains the bare bones of a scene. I color code them so I know whose POV (point-of-view) the scene is in.

Michelle Griep HeadshotQ: You’ve written two novels of historical fiction/fantasy/historical romance, if I may call them that. What attracted you to the medieval settings in these books?

Michelle: Because Vikings and knights are the real-life superheroes of the past. Strong. Courageous. And with the aid of centuries and fuzzy memories, larger than life. But I also found out that just because I’m attracted to hunky fighting men, the majority of Christian readers are not. So I switched over to historical romantic suspense.

Q: Which part of the novel gives you the most trouble or do you seem to spend the most time on? The first chapter? The middle of the book? Or the ending?

Michelle: The first chapter is always a bugaboo. You need to grab the reader by the throat and squeeze, but not too hard. Backstory must be woven in but only with spider web threads. There’s a fine balance between intrigue and information.

Q: Is Christian fiction still important in today’s world?

Michelle: Absolutely. Truth is truth, whether it’s recognized as truth or not.

Q: Do you tend to develop your characters first or a plot?

Michelle: Yes. Both. It’s kind of a simultaneous thing for me, though I suppose I lean a little more heavily on my characters as to goals/motivations/conflicts before I figure out exactly what kind of peril they’ll face.

Q: How do your characters come to you? Do you create them in advance or just start writing to see who shows up on the page?

Michelle: I spend time with my main characters before I write them into a story. Granted, it’s sometimes awkward when I make dinner reservations for three but only one of the chairs seats an actual human. Other characters pop up unexpectedly, kind of like those whack-a-mole games.

Q: Is chocolate addictive? Do you think someday they’ll develop a cure?

Michelle: Let’s face it . . . chocolate is crack. And if there is ever a cure, I’m NOT taking it.

Q: How and at what point does the spiritual element enter into your planning of a novel?

Michelle: I leave the parable telling to Jesus, so it doesn’t come into my plotting. I do, however, craft spiritual characters who are on a journey, either toward God or away from God. Therein lies the spiritual element to my stories. Anything else would be beating the reader over the head with a two-by-four Bible.

Q: What do you enjoy doing more than writing?

Michelle: What? You mean there’s something other than writing? Huh. I’ll have to ponder that concept.

Q: You’ve said you like to visit the historical settings of your novels. What was the most enjoyable location you’ve been to?

Michelle: Ironbridge. Hands down. No question. I’d move there in a heartbeat. Ironbridge is the birthplace of the industrial revolution in England. It reminds me of the Shire.

Q: What advice would you give a new writer in the Christian market today—maybe like, ah, someone like me—who is just publishing their first book?

Michelle: A successful writer writes. Don’t get sidetracked on the marketing or reviews or anything else. Move on to your next writing project. There’s always a story to be written . . . so write it!

Thanks, Michelle. I will take that advice.Brentwood's Ward Cover Peek

We’re Giving Away A Copy of Her Latest Book, Brentwood’s Ward!

Michelle has graciously offered to give away a signed copy of her latest book, Brentwood’s Ward. To enter the drawing for this, click on the GIVEAWAYS button in the sidebar or sign up for Mark’s newsletter in the panel on the right. (If you are viewing this through Goodreads, please go to my web site.) The contest will run from April 24 through midnight May 1. Please note that the free book won’t be shipped until the first week of June.

Here’s what the book is about:

There’s none better than NICHOLAS BRENTWOOD at catching the felons who ravage London’s streets, and there’s nothing he loves more than seeing justice carried out—but this time he’s met his match. Beautiful and beguiling EMILY PAYNE is more treacherous than a city full of miscreants and thugs, for she’s a thief of the highest order…she’s stolen his heart.

Available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers.


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Book Review: Undercurrent, by Michelle Griep

In this post Christian author Mark Fisher reviews Michelle Griep’s novel Undercurrent.

A Review of Michelle Griep’s Undercurrent

Novels of Christian historical fiction set in the Middle Ages are few and far between. I ordinarily don’t read historical romance, but this story has enough action, medieval setting, and just plain good writing to carry me through. In fact, I really enjoyed Undercurrent.

Undercurrent-coverChristian Historical Fiction With a Love Story?

In what category would we place this book? Historical romance? Fantasy? Christian historical fiction with a love story? Really, it’s all three. Griep drops us into the late tenth century Viking world via Cassie, a linguistics expert whose boyfriend has just made her solitary life complete by telling her it’s over. This is right before she boards the ferry where she’s guiding her group of undergrad students on a visit to England’s Farne Islands. On the passage, she listens as the captain, an old salt way too full of his own stories, warns the group at length with an ancient tale about maidens disappearing on the solstice. Then, what do you know? Cassie later finds herself sucked through a vortex to a place where time’s gone backward and there’s not a cell phone or indoor toilet to be had.

A Viking World

Meanwhile, Alarik is the tenth Century pagan Viking who wakes from a hangover beside his dead brother, killed with Alarik’s own knife. But he can’t remember anything that happened the night before. Ragnar is Alarik’s cousin, the lone Christian whose faith is as strong as his sword arm. Alarik flees in his ship, plucks Cassie from the sea, and so begins her adventure in an era so different from her own, she doesn’t realize at first where she is.

Conflicts Aplenty

What are the conflicts in this book? Cassie’s struggle to deal with the Viking age. The charge of murder made against Alarik. Ragnar’s struggle to deal with his brother and his unexplained attraction to the strange foreign woman who appears suddenly to upset his life. And Torolf, the villain whose plots and ambition to rule Rogaland threaten them all.

Griep does an excellent job of bringing the Viking world to life, fleshing out the characters, and exploiting the difficulties Cassie has adjusting to that world. She also shows us how Ragnar’s faith shines through and affects everyone. This is a great read, even for those who don’t usually read historical romance. I highly recommend it. Check out her web site: michellegriep.com

Next week, we’ll return to our look at early medieval culture with the question, What did they eat?