An Interview with Michele Ashman Bell

Today, I have the opportunity to interview one of my favorite authors and good friend, Michele Ashman Bell.

Michele's books were among the first I picked up when my reading interests turned from Harlequin romances to LDS romances. I can honestly say that several of her books were what addicted me to the LDS market. I finally found books that totally fulfilled the romantic side of me, without all the page-skipping smut. There are several very well-read novels by Michele on my bookshelf right now. Which books have been "loved" the most (aka - quite worn out from reading over and over and over and over):

Love Lights the Way

Without a Flaw

And now, what you've all been waiting for . . . my interview with Michele!

QOTC: How did you come up with the actual Butterfly Box for The Butterfly Box series?

Michele: After spending time at booksignings, especially at Women's Conference, I noticed how many women came in groups i.e., groups of friends, groups of sisters, groups of neighbors, groups from wards. For me personally, my sisters and my daughters are my very best friends, and without them I would probably become a mental case. Women develop wonderful bonds with other women, a support network, that helps them through the hard times, and shares with them the wonderful and good times. I love this element of being a woman and sister in the gosple. I love it! That's why I decided to write about a group of friends who stay close throughout their lives. I knew it was something other women could identify with.

QOTC: Do you have your own personal "Butterfly Box"?

Michele: Mine is my cedar chest that I actually made in a wood shop class in high school. It's pretty ugly, but it has all my treasures in it. Stuff from dances in high school, treasures from special vacations or gifts from loved ones. Things my kids have made for me in school, like their hand prints in plaster of Paris, and necklaces or pictures. Of course, there's weird stuff too, like I even have my wisdom teeth (along with all my kids teeth they've lost through the years). Most
of this stuff is junk to other people, but to me they are priceless treasures.

QOTC: What's your worst shopping-for-modest-clothing moment?

Michele: Sheesh! Which one. I'm serious. Taking a daughter prom dress shopping is definitely the worst experience of life. My oldest daughter has competed in a few scholarship pageants and we were trying to find a modest evening gown . . . ha! We finally gave up and drowned our sorrows in fudge covered ice cream sundaes. Consequently, we ended up getting a strapless gown and sewing on sleeves. The scene in the book where Lauryn ends up making modifications to her evening gown is taken from first hand experience.

QOTC: Can you give us some hints about the next Butterfly Box book?

Michele: The next book is Jocelyn's story. You may have noticed in the first book that she has a small box which she's put in the Butterfly box which she hasn't been able to bring herself to tell her friends what's inside of it. In the second book, Jocelyn will go on her own journey to heal from her past and hopefully find herself and love, and become strong enough to reveal her secret.

What do you kids think about having a popular author for a mom?

Michele: My kids would probably laugh if they read that question. To them I'm the person who drives them everywhere they need to go and stays up late helping with homework, or telling them to clean their rooms and put their dishes in the sink. I guess I lead a double life, although I don't think of myself as anyone special. Just a very lucky girl who gets to spend time in the wonderful world of fiction and imagination, writing stories, and have other people actually read those stories and
like them. I'm still amazed by that yet I worked dang hard to make it happen!

QOTC: How does your hubby steal you away from your computer for date nights?

Michele: Oh my gosh! These questions are cracking me up. We aren't really
that great at date night, we usually double date with our kids. My husband travels a lot so he is pretty good at letting me tag a long when he goes someplace fun. I rarely let him go to New York without me. (Hence the setting for A Modest Proposal) We love to travel together (he says because I'm a trooper and I don't whine). I always vowed that if I got published I would never let my writing interfere
with my family time. I have a hard time getting to the computer but it's worth putting my family first.

QOTC: What's your absolute favorite part of writing?

Michele: Research! I love doing research. Either traveling to a new place or learning about a skill or vocation I know nothing about. When I wrote my Viet Nam novel the research nearly killed me. I wrote part of it from a male perspective, about a war I knew nothing about, in a country I knew nothing about. Still, I loved learning about all of it. Each project allows me to grow in new ways. I even certified in scuba diving so I could write about it in a book. It seriously scared me to death and I wrote about my experience in the book, Finding Paradise. I still have nightmares.

QOTC: To end our interview, I've saved the one question each of your fans is dying to ask: What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Michele: I love pralines and caramel, but I also love raspberry frozen yogurt.

QOTC: Mmm . . . yummy!

A big thank you to Michele for stopping the Queen of the Clan and hanging out. We enjoyed getting to know you better!

Would you like to comment?

Annette Lyon said...

Great interview! Michele's one of my favorite people on the planet. She's so genuine. I'd like to be like her when I grow up. I'm a pralines and caramel gal too!

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Annette - I just love it when adults say they want to be ... when they grow up. I'm so glad it's not just me who thinks that way! :)

Glad you enjoyed the interview. Have a fabulous day!