I think I am pretty much the luckiest person in the world to get to work with Mikael Short. Not only does she write amazing books, but she is a wonderful human being. My favorite moment with Mikael? When we met in person and looked at the Christmas displays in New York City together. The world is a magical place with Mikael, and I am so excited that she can share a bit of her magic with you in today’s interview.
• What is your book about?
Crimson Oppression is about learning to face your problems head on and finding help in those around you—all through a story about a young man and woman dealing with the same vampiric disease that threatens each of their lives in different ways. Cisandra has grown up with the Virus yet faces a bloody addiction, while Owen is just finding out that his body is trying to kill him to get him to the second stage of the disease. It’s a dual-perspective journey of trying to save each other while weaving in the importance of family and discovering that blood isn’t always redder on the other side.
• What inspired you to write your book?
It all started with research into blood and heart diseases, actually. About eight years ago, I wondered, “What if vampirism were an actual disease?” From that research, a very accident-prone boy came to mind. Owen’s story started falling out of me until Cisandra came along, then it was like starting over from scratch again since they have two very different stories even if they are intrinsically connected.
• What was your writing schedule like?
For Crimson Oppression, it was squeezing writing in during slow times at work or in the dead of night while avoiding homework in college. Doing character sketches in my school notebooks in the beginning while I was bored in class.
There was a gap of about 3 years where I didn’t touch the story since Cisandra came out of nowhere. I tried to figure out her story, but it never felt authentic. So, I let it go. I came back to writing it in 2013 after Cisandra finally decided to clue me into her story. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is what got me moving; thus, I plowed out Cisandra’s story in a month. The following year, I wrapped up the rest of Owen’s side of the story during NaNoWriMo again.
In general, my writing schedule is a work in progress, ha! I’ve been working on being more consistent. I often write one scene at a time, so I typically won’t stop until the scene is done. If it’s a long scene, I’ll be there a while. Overall, I’m a bit of a binge-writer, but I work well with goals and accountability. When I set an end date and a goal (with the help of a community or other motivator), I can pound out pages a day. Otherwise, I could go days or weeks without writing anything—but I can always feel it when I haven’t written anything for a while, so I usually fix that quickly, even if it’s journalling. I’m getting into 750words.com to help me build a daily routine… I like the badges you can earn there for streaks!
• How long did it take you to write the book?
In total, from 2008 to 2015. Was all of that used? Nope! When I first tackled Owen’s story, I only worked on it for about a semester before the new character threw her paperclip in the cogs. Then, it was a month of writing for Cisandra in 2013, a month for Owen in 2014, and then three-four months of weaving their stories together to make it the full-bodied story it is today. Actually, the one-year anniversary of the release date is August 25, so it’s cool to look back at all this about one year from when it was published.
• What motivated you to hire an editor?
I knew that this was going to be the story that I wanted to publish in whatever way I could—which meant that I wanted to do it right. As an editor myself, I knew having another pair of eyes go over everything was crucial. That outside perspective can tell you what’s working (or not!) in your story, and catch those little areas where you mess up since, as a writer, you can become so enmeshed in your work that you don’t see the flaws, misspelled words or extra commas (not a fan of Oxford commas, for the record). Editors help with that. Someone needs to carry the red pen, and babies must be killed (metaphorically, of course).
• What was the process of working with an editor like?
It involved sending the manuscript, going over her notes and questions a couple times, and getting on Skype/the phone to really hash out everything… That sounds so basic, but it’s true. It’s quite a bit of back and forth, but that’s to be expected. Because of how this story had to grow and change, it took about a year and a half of working with my editor to get everything squared away for release.
However, my editor (hi, Sarah!) was so essential in formulating the story that wanted to be born. At first, I was just going to focus on Cisandra’s story, but then when all of her feedback and questions involved stuff that Owen knew and experienced, I knew I had to go back to his story to round everything out. I’m so grateful for her help in better lighting the way for my story to come through how it was supposed to.
• Where can we purchase your book?
Crimson Oppression is available as an ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and also my own website. The next thing is to get hard copies in people’s hands! If you know of designers/resources who can help with that, hit me up. 😉
• Where else online can we find you?
My main hub is mikaelshort.com. However, I’m a big tweeter and have a lot of fun with Instagram—both under the handle @MikaelShort. YouTube is where I post music/vlogs on occasion (I’m a singer/actor as well as a writer). And I’m on Snapchat, too (as blondekel13). Pretty much, I’m all over the place!