Author Interview with Paula W. Millet by Diane G. (icesk8tr)
I would like to thank Paula W. Millet author of her first book Angelique’s Storm for taking the time to be with us today. Congratulations on the publication of your first book!
Thanks for inviting me! I am excited to connect with the PaperBackSwap community to discuss my book.
In looking at your web site, we see that you were a teacher for many years. What inspired you to become a writer, and does the teaching background make it easy for you to make this transition?
Indeed. Teaching high school English and Speech was my “professional” career, having spent decades in the classroom, so my interest in literature and fascination with words has its roots in that part of my life. When I retired, I had the time to pursue some of the interests I had deferred when the time demands of balancing work and family were too great. Writing a book was always on my bucket list. I like to refer to this as my second chapter.
What is a quick synopsis of Angelique’s Storm?
Probably the easiest way to describe the plot is to give you the synopsis from the book cover:
The rain came down in heavy sheets and the wind howled around her as the angry surf churned in response. But she had battled the storms of life before, and she would not be intimidated, not by nature’s fury nor by a man, even one who once had her heart…
When the beautiful plantation-born socialite Angelique Latour is swept off her feet and quickly wedded to a swarthy scoundrel, her world is turned upside down. Although schooled to be a charming, proper Creole belle, her fine education does not prepare her for the cruel irony that leaves her penniless and alone. Haunted by loss and betrayal, she refuses to be a victim, tapping into her own resourcefulness to save herself in a world where men traditionally hold the power and position. And just as a unique opportunity for reinvention, redemption, and romance presents itself, forces of nature and the universe plot to spoil her happiness, driving her hopes with a hurricane’s fury into the wide expanse of the Gulf of Mexico. Angelique’s Storm weaves a powerful tale of suspense, treachery, and survival against the backdrop of pre-Civil War South Louisiana
What gave you the ideas for the story Angelique’s Storm?
I currently work part time as an educator at Tellus Science Museum. We have a program for our school groups called Galactic Weather. And one day, while in the lab, I started thinking about life before modern meteorology, the peril of being unable to warn people of impending storms. Weather forecasting has saved many lives, hasn’t it? That was a pivotal moment for me, giving me the basic premise for Angelique’s Storm. The conflict, and plot were the vehicle from which the story could be told as I began to weave a romantic historical tale of these ill-fated characters caught in one of the most disastrous storms in recorded history, which interestingly enough, has had very little written about it, either in fiction or nonfiction. Of course, I became totally captivated by Angelique in the process.
You really brought this story to life with your writing and made me feel like I was right there with Angelique! How much of your childhood and background played into this?
Growing up in South Louisiana, specifically Terrebonne Parish, provided me with a rich cultural heritage. Weekends were spent at “the camp,” which almost always included a boat ride out to Last Island. And as a child, I thought it was the most magical place on earth, a pristine sandy beach to explore with wild abandon, while the grown-ups fished in the surf. I can’t remember the first time I heard the story of when it was a lively resort more than a century earlier, the holiday destination of choice for the well-heeled bourgeoisie. But those tales always ended with a vivid description of the devastating hurricane that whipped through the island, destroying everything in its path. The tragedy seemed to cast a somber shadow over the beauty of the place, but in my mind, it was all so dreamy and romantic and terrible.
My interest in the last barrier island never seemed to wane as I grew into adulthood and sadly watched it slowly erode into the Gulf, its vulnerable position causing it to grow smaller and smaller with each decade. I happily brought my own children there to collect seashells and catch blue crabs, to build sand castles and swim in the salty water. And I shared the history with them as well, a legacy passed on to the next generation. When I moved to Georgia, I had to visit one last time, just to say goodbye.
It seemed appropriate, then, that I would chose this mystical place as the setting of my debut novel. And while I certainly felt a kinship with the island, researching the stories of those who lived, played, and died there renewed my enthusiasm for writing a story about what might have happened. My imagination took it from there.
How long did you take to write the book?
About ten months, although I did take four months off at the midway point. Life sometimes gets in the way, making it hard to commit to the routine of daily writing. And then, my muse took off to Belize, leaving me to fend for myself. The inspiration returned in February, when the cold winter months motivated me to complete it. Within six weeks, I was ready to edit and revise the draft.
Did you stay within your planned outlines, or did you ever write yourself into a situation you could not get out of?
I knew where I wanted the story to end and had already mapped out a powerful climax in my mind, so I worked backwards in the outlining, which was the basic skeleton of the story, with only a couple of pages of key points. I also had random sticky notes posted everywhere, jotting down ideas whenever one came to mind. Much to my delight, the details and characterization magically appeared, often surprising me in the process. So I think I am a plotter, but I also like to fly by the seat of my pants when necessary.
How do you deal with the times you may encounter writer’s block?
Does opening a bottle of good wine count? Sometimes, you have to just take a break and wait for the creative juices to flow once more. Forced writing often comes across as such, right? And then, there is that fickle muse. She does like wine, though.
We see that Angelique is a very strong woman who seems to be able to get through anything. Is Angelique anyone you know, or a combination of people in your life?
The world has always been influenced by fearless, loving women, those survivors, who have had the faith, and fortitude to weather the storms of life without giving up or becoming bitter. There is beauty and power in that determination. And so I think that Angelique is a metaphor, patterned after so many of the female role models I have known in my life, both friends and family. I hope that this book indirectly honors them.
Being a person who never liked history, your book actually compelled me to look up the events from that time frame and the story of the Last Island. Were you always a history buff?
I never pictured myself as a writer of historical fiction. I tend to think of it as the names, dates, and places that we were all forced to memorize in school, which killed any interest in the past for me. Or so I thought. But I have come to understand that there are remarkable stories of people who lived through amazing moments in time, tales handed down to us through documents and fragments they left behind. This allows us to piece together a fascinating puzzle, envisioning what might have happened, to indirectly view history from a human perspective.
And yes, Angelique’s Storm combines much of the conflicting accounts of what happened on that fateful day and night of August 10, 1856. But the story itself is fiction, a romantic tale of the horror of nature’s fury and the triumph of the human spirit had we been there to witness it.
Do you enjoy reading books yourself? If so, what types of books do you enjoy?
I have always been an avid reader; I think most writers are, don’t you? I used to anxiously wait for the bookmobile to make its way through our neighborhood as a kid. (Do they even have those anymore?) And I had a library card from the moment I was old enough to get one. Books have taught me, comforted me, transported me. Goodness knows, as both a student and teacher, I read the classics, those timeless works from the masters. Now, I tend to like contemporary fiction, with real settings and believable characters, but a good storyline will entice me to read almost anything, especially if it is well written and unique. Let’s just say, I don’t limit myself to one genre. Most readers don’t, especially with so many exciting choices out there.
Will there be another book in your future?
The allure of Angelique’s story has compelled me to delve further into the fictional tale, so yes, there will be a sequel, Angelique’s War, which takes our heroine into the Civil War and its challenges. I am currently halfway through the rough draft, which I do believe is going to take the reader on a wild ride. I plan to release it next spring. The third book in the trilogy will be Angelique’s Peace.
I also have completed a work of contemporary fiction, a novel that now needs to be tweaked. Once I finish the editing, I will release it. I am hopeful that will happen next summer.
And because I like a challenge, I already have an idea for another trilogy, which, ironically, will be cultural, historical fiction as well.
Where is your Angelique’s Storm available? How can readers keep up with you?
It is currently available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. I have an author page linked to the book there. I also have a Facebook page (Paula W. Millet, author) and a website (paulamillet.com), where I blog regularly. And you can find me on Goodreads, too. I enjoy connecting on a more personal level with readers, so I hope that your community of booklovers will feel free to join in the discussion or contact me directly. I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks so much for spending time with us today!!
Thank you! I have enjoyed it. Writers are always hopeful that something they have written will find a way into a reader’s heart, so I appreciate the opportunity to connect with your membership.
Ms. Millet has generously offered a brand new copy of Angelique’s Storm to a PaperBackSwap member who comments here on the PaperBackSwap Blog. A winner will be chosen at random.