Author Interview: Michelle K Pickett

10:08 PM

Michelle Pickett: Author of PODs
Hello book buddies, Phil here! Welcome to the first ever author interview here on Stack of Hardbacks. Today we are interviewing Michelle Pickett, author of her YA debut novel PODs, and probably one of my favorite people ever.

PODs is about a world where a deadly virus is taking over the earth, the only way to escape the virus is to be chosen to live in a POD, an underground facility that only a select few are allowed to enter, there the chosen must wait out the duration of the plague. Our main heroin, Eva, is chosen to live in the PODs and must leave her family and friends in order to survive! To hear more about this awesome book go check out my review right here --> :D.

Serious Questions

So I know this question is a total cliché, but what was your initial inspiration for PODs, did it come to you in a dream, or did some real life experience trigger you to start writing?
I’d love to say that I had a dream that inspired the book or some other “ah-ha” moment, but I didn’t. I really can’t point to any one moment and say, “That’s when I decided to write PODs!”  I think the story started rolling around in my head after my husband and I had a conversation about the “super-bugs” or “super-viruses” resulting from the overuse of antibiotics that doctors have warned the public about the past few years. Around that time my mother developed a case of MRSA after a hospital stay. It was a rather strong strain of the virus and was resistant to many of the medications she was given.

Once I have a small idea I generally start playing a “what-if” game. I ask myself what if this happened, and then this, and then what if that was to happen, and then someone did this and then that happened and so on until I have a sketch of the story in my head.

Did you put a lot of research into crises strategies while writing PODs? Do you think something like the PODs would ever actually be built if there were ever to be a national crisis?
I didn’t do much research. Most of the POD system is a world of my own creation. I did bounce ideas back and forth with my editor about things such as carbon dioxide scrubbers and water containment and filtering systems. I lived in the area of New Mexico that I used as the setting for the PODs so I knew the wind and solar power set-up was something that would work.  My publishing house, Spencer Hill Press, is spectacular. When my editors combed over the manuscript one of them actually did research on the size of a typical MRE (meal ready to eat) and proceeded to figure how much cubic space would be needed to house enough MREs for the people in the PODs for the 15 months they lived there!

In one review a blogger mentioned that I should have housed male and female occupants separately. I actually have a reason they weren’t. If you read the book you’ll understand what I mean when I say “cut-off.”  The PODs were filled with half male and half female residents so that in the event that a substantial number of cut-offs occurred there would still be enough male/female pairs to repopulate the country. Otherwise an uneven number of male-to-female PODs may have survived. That’s why I used the birth control method mentioned in the book. So, although I didn’t do much in-depth scientific research, there was a lot of thought and planning involved to “try” and cover all the possible scenarios.

I don’t know if anything as advanced as what I have in my imagination could be built as quickly as was needed in the book in a real-life scenario. That’s why I used the premise that the POD system had already been in place as a precaution of a meteor shower or nuclear attack.  Who knows, maybe something like them already exist. I’m sure there are some conspiracy theorists out there that may be able to give us some insight on that issue. 
Cover of PODs by Michelle Pickett

Did you base Eva off of yourself or anyone else in particular, if so what aspects of you could be found in Eva?

No, I’m not nearly as bad-ass as Eva. I would totally be a wimp! I don’t base my characters off anyone in my life. That isn’t to say that after I write a book and sit back and re-read it I don’t sometimes see tiny bits of personality traits of people I know in my characters, but it is completely unintentional.

What was the hardest part about writing PODs? The easiest?
The hardest was time. Writing isn’t glamorous.  It’s a lot of hard work and usually involves gallons and gallons of Red Bull (or coffee for other people).  But mostly it involves time and lots of it. There are some days I work for twelve to fourteen hours on writing and editing. Add to that my daily chores that have to be done and I have very little time for quality time with my family, and that is the hardest.  But I make up for it on the days that I don’t have many ideas to work with. Those days I spend with my family. They’re golden.

The easiest is getting sucked into the characters’ world. They pull me in. Some days their voices are so loud in my head I can’t help but follow them on their journey. And they’re persistent. When they have a story to tell, they won’t stop until they’ve had their say and that’s why there’s a second PODs book. PODs was written to be a stand-alone, but the characters weren’t done telling me their story so I wrote The Infected, which releases in November 2014.

Fun Questions!

What is your favorite snack to eat while writing?
Reese’s peanut butter cups. I eat way too many while I write! I just returned from BEA in New York City and while I was in NYC I visited Times Square. I found myself in Hershey’s World of Chocolate where there was a two-pound peanut butter cup. Coincidence? I think not! Ha!

Do you have any funny stories from when you were writing PODs?
My son dared me to write the “save the books!” line in the scene when the old man interrupts the newscast. He totally thought I’d delete it. He’s gonna owe me his allowance this week when the book releases and that line is still in it.

Is there any song or particular type of music that really gets you pumped when writing?
Oh, wow, I listen to everything when I write. It depends on what book I’m working on, which scene, which character is talking to me that day, and things like that to determine what I listen to on any given day or even any given hour. One minute I might be listening to classical music and the next Pitbull or Maroon5. It just depends on what’s going on in the world I’m visiting. My website has a lot of the songs from my PODs playlist and there are a few different songs on my channel, I think.

You are chosen to live in the PODs, and lucky you! You are allowed to choose the 9 others that will join you for the next 15 months in solitary confinement! But there are rules, you must choose: 3 of your favorite authors, 2 characters from PODs, 2 of your favorite literary villains, and 2 of your favorite literary heroes! Who do you choose and why??

Gee, I thought I was going to get off without having to answer any really hard questions. Hmm, well, this is tough. I’m going to pick three authors who are living and currently writing amazing books (partly to help promote my fellow authors and partly because it helps narrow the field a little!). So, Sherry Ficklin/Tyler Jolley (They collaborate so I’ll count them once), Lisa Amowitz, Kimberly Ann Miller. The two characters from PODs I’m picking might surprise you, but they are Roy and Judy because even though they are minor characters in the book I just loved them. They were different than any of the other characters, especially the Chosen. They were colorful and made me giggle at some things they thought and said, many of which weren’t able to be in the book, unfortunately. We’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the sequel. My two villains are Hannibal Lector, because just wouldn’t that be interesting?! And second Josh because he was so good the first time around. My heroes would be Jai Raventhorne from the novel Olivia and Jai by Rebecca Ryman (My favorite of all time). He’s a hero disguised as a villain. I love that about his character and Ms. Ryman wrote him expertly. And finally, Aidan St. Delphi from the Covenant series because, well, if you’re a fan of the series c’mon, do I really have to say why?

Thanks so much Michelle! PODs comes out TODAY, June 4th 2013, so go order your copy NOW! Also click on these links to be taken to Michelle's personal channel, as well as her website, twitter, and author profile at Spencer Hill Press! 

Thanks so much Michelle, and I think I can speak for most everyone when I say we can't wait to see what you do next!

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  1. Thank you so much for hosting me, Phil. I absolutely love you, and the rest of the blogging community. You do so much for author's careers. I know reading and writing reviews and then keeping up your blogs and vlogs takes a lot of time--A LOT of time, and I want you all to know that I, and most authors, appreciate all that you do.

    I so wish we could have met at BEA. Hopefully next year! In the meantime, maybe we'll come across each other at other events. I'll be signing in Houston in November in you are anywhere around that area. I definitely want to meet you--I'm such a fan of your video series on youtube!!

    Michelle :)
    Author, PODs available June 4th
    Milayna available March 11, 2014
    The Infected, a PODs novel available November 2014


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