An Interview with Michelle Buckman

Author Bio: Michelle Buckman studied computer programming in college. She has one son and four daughters. She is an author of six novels and an international conference speaker. Michelle Buckman leads engaging discussions on writing and faith. She is a member of The Writers View, Catholic Writers Guild, and American Christian Fiction Writers. Currrently she lives near the Carolina coast with her husband.

Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background and writing career?

I am an international speaker, instructor and novelist. I was born in New York, lived in Canada for five years, then moved to the Carolinas where I have lived ever since. My northern roots have provided an interesting viewpoint for writing about southern characters.

I began writing when my first child was born twenty-two years ago. At first I wrote computer manuals and freelance articles, while honing my fiction-writing skills. In 2005, my first novel was published. My sixth novel released in October 2010.

What genre do you write?

My favorite genre is women’s fiction, which is what my first (A Piece of the Sky) and sixth (Rachel’s Contrition) books are. I have also written two young adults (Maggie Come Lately & My Beautiful Disaster), a co-authored mystery (Pretty Maids All in a Row), and a futuristic dystopia (Death Panels).

What work(s) are you best known for? Could you please tell us about them?

Maggie Come Lately, my first young adult novel, was a Christy Award finalist. It is the story of a sixteen year old girl who has acted as mother to her two brothers for as long as she can remember. (Her mother committed suicide.) Maggie dreams of being a normal teen, a popular teen, When she rescues a girl left for dead in the woods, she is thrust into the limelight and instant popularity. When peer pressure pushes her to do things contrary to her core values, she must decide who she really is.

Rachel’s Contrition, my newest and favorite book, has received excellent reviews. Storyline: After the death of her daughter, grief-spawned delusions cause Rachel to lose her husband, her home, and custody of her son.Help arrives from two unlikely sources: a young teen, Lilly, battling her own demons, and a tattered holy card depicting Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. As Rachel grows closer to Lilly and comes to know Saint Thérèse, unbidden memories from her edgy past reveal fearful mysteries of seduction, madness, and murder… and a truth that will haunt her forever.

Can you tell us if you are working on a new project and what your goals for the future?

I am finishing up revisions on a middle reader that should release in 2011, and I have started a new (untitled) women’s fiction novel.

How do you write? (That is, where do you get your ideas, do you write in an office at home, do you write full time or do you have a fulltime job other than writing?)

I am a fulltime writer, but I do most of my writing in the middle of the night. Daylight hours are spent caring for my children and tending to the business aspects of writing-conferences, workshops, and promotional work such as interviews on television, radio, internet, newspapers and magazines.

Inspiration for my stories comes from a variety of places, often from things I hear in the news combined with personal observations of the world and people around me.

In the case of Rachel’s Contrition, I was sick at heart when I heard a ten-second news-blip about the accidental death of an infant. I couldn’t quit thinking of how such a tragedy must have affected the parents. How could they face one another with such a death yawning between them? I wrote some scenes, but didn’t work on the story in earnest until I saw several friends suffer the loss of their children. I empathized with their pain and ached over how it tore at the fabric of their lives and relationships. From that anguish, I wrote Rachel’s story-a tale of soul-wrenching sorrow and the harrowing struggle to heal.

I wrote Death Panels in response to the encroachment of government on American liberties. By setting the story in the future, I was able to accelerate and exaggerate the change in our nation, which I hope will encourage people to stand up for their beliefs.

Are there any particular authors who have inspired you in your own writing career?

Anne Tyler and Maeve Binchy

Do you attend workshops and seminars to hone your writing skills?

I did when I first started. Now I teach at conferences as well as conducting my own Intensive Writing Workshops in which I only allow 12 participants. The difference between the conference workshops and mine are that at conferences I teach on a general subject. At my Intensive workshops, I know from submitted samples what my attendees need to work on, and we work on mini scenes together so they don’t just hear but also apply the necessary skills. I’ll be offering one in May 2011. Interested writers can contact me through my website or on Facebook. ( or email me at

What themes do you pursue in your writing? What are your concerns?

Always contemporary issues. Past books have been on fertility, popularity, teen pregnancy, health care reform/government infringement, and the death of a child. Relationships are key to the plot and character development, and I write very layered, multi-faceted books.

What is the goal of your writing?

To make readers see life from a new perspective by putting them in someone else’s shoes.

Do you have any useful tips you might offer other up-and-coming writers?

Read, read, read, but don’t just read… study novels. If a book has you flying through the pages, stop to figure out why. Study sentence structure and descriptions and plot lines. Learn what makes the book work.

Have you chosen to e-publish any of your work? Was there any particular reason for this and would you recommend e-publishing to other writers?

Maggie Come Lately and My Beautiful Disaster are offered as e-books. My other books will be out as e-books later this year. E-book availability is usually determined by the publishing contract. (Most publishers expect a portion of e-book sales.) And it’s important that the correct format be used if it’s to be released to Kindle as well as the other e-book readers. The publisher takes care of that, but then it’s up to Amazon to make it available on the site.

I have not reserved a book to self-publish as an e-book, but may in the future. Again, it can be tricky because most contracts include clauses about rights or first refusal of additional books.

Have you won any awards for your work?

Maggie Come Lately was a Christy Award Finalist.

Have you had literary failures? What did you learn from them?

Interesting question. Listening to Rush Limbaugh back in the 90s, I saw where our country was headed, especially in regards to abortion and parental rights, so I sat down and wrote a futuristic book showing where our country could end up,creating a dystopia that included a baby targeted for euthanasia. Unfortunately, I wasn’t published yet, and had no idea how to sell the book. I sent it out a few places, but no one foresaw what I did.

Fast-forward to Obama’s election. My conservative media list broadened to include Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Glen Beck, and Fox News among others, and my concern for the direction of our country rose again as it became apparent what “change” the country was headed toward. I happened to move my desk about then, and found a hard copy of the manuscript hidden in a box of old papers. That same week, four people who read the manuscript back in the 90s looked me up online, called or emailed to tell me to get the book out. Realizing that had to be more than coincidence, I sat down with the stack of paper, typed it all in to my laptop and set to work revising it with all the current drama and accelerated issues that had developed since the first writing. The result is a story about our nation set in 2042 when Christianity is all but outlawed, the Unified Order of the World has the upper hand, and a man goes on the run as he strives to save an innocent Down syndrome baby from being put to death.

So at the time I first wrote it, Death Panels seemed like a failure, but God had a plan for it. It released in September 2010.

What do you read?

I read a huge variety from bestsellers to old tomes, but never romance novels or fantasy. I read writers whose voices hook me.

Click on the links below to read the opening chapters of Rachel’s Contrition and Death Panels:


Rachel’s Contrition

Death Panels


You can contact Michelle Buckman through her website at


If you would like an interview please email:

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