Why hello there you guys.. ;)
Today, I have invited the very cool Michaela Haze to the blog to write about WHATEVER she wants (which could be anything at all, read it and find out!), as part of the blog tour for her debut novel, The Bleeders, kindly organised by the fab Casey at Dark Readers!
*please note that this post contains some swearing.
I was told by the lovely Iffath that I could write about whatever I wanted. Oh the conflict! At one point I wanted to write about my love of shoes but I am not Carrie Bradshaw, next my mother suggested I take a photo of my bedroom and show the world just how messy I am—it wouldn’t make a good blog and I don’t know why I thought about it, but my mother seems to bring it up a lot so I thought there was some important interesting thing that maybe I was missing.
OKAY!! MICHAELA!! ENOUGH WITH THE PSYCHO-BABBLE!!
I am going to tell you how I became a writer—and when I thought about this I realised that I can make this long or I can make this short. I am going to go for a middle ground, or at least try.
It started when I was still in school about the age of eighteen—and if anyone has read my author’s bio they will probably know that that was only two years ago. After an assignment to create a film trailer with any content I wished, I stumbled along the idea of daemons, the pale blue eyes and decided to try and expand my short trailer (Which got full marks baby! Yeah! Not that I am bragging…) into a full screenplay.
But when I got to forty pages I got stuck. I sat down at my laptop that was seldom used (It had no internet connection and the only thing I used it for was SIMS 2) and decided as an exercise that I would write the beginning, in prose, to see if it would help the story straighten out in my mind—which is normally a jumble, as you will probably notice from the little monologue alongside this story.
Did I mention that this was at the end of my a-levels and when I was meant to be revising for the exams that would get me into University (I had a place in Oxford studying Japanese Studies) I was at home, glued to my laptop, unable to sleep or eat. It was as if the story possessed me. But I wasn’t writing for anyone other than myself at this point. I had to get this story out. The story was called Human Skin and was about 300 pages long, about a girl whom wakes up with no memory in a world where daemons exist. She has a daemon brand on her skin but it human. That was the first novel I ever wrote and it took about 3 weeks.
I continued this story and actually wrote five full length novels for this when one of my friends (who was angry that I had started making excuses to stay in my house rather than leave it) suggested I try to publish it. I laughed but there was a lot riding on that, if I could get them to publish my first novel HUMAN SKIN then maybe they would publish the rest, maybe I would have a series.
On the day I got my results, which would decide whether or not I would study Japanese in Oxford, I received a call—a literary agent wanted to read my full manuscript.
Literary agents are basically that filter that you have to go through before a publisher will even look at you—they filter the cream from the crap.
Needless to say I had to make a choice. Japanese Studies or becoming a writer. I had fallen in love with writing, it was exorcising my daemons—and believe me, I have a lot (not to sound attention seeking…)
I chose writer. I was excited. Three weeks later I received my manuscript for HUMAN SKIN through my letter box with a big stamp that said ‘Thanks but no thanks’.
By this point I had so many rejections that I was actually scared to open my mail. (150+)
I was beginning to think that maybe they were onto something, maybe I wasn’t the writer my friends and family thought I was. I had written fan fiction and people had always called it beautiful, but what if I was shit and just didn’t want to believe it?
Looking over my letters now, the ones I sent out to agents and publishers alike, I thought they would have appreciated that I was young (just turned 19) and had already written five novels, but no. After reading a few interviews the phrases used most regarding young writers were “How can you write about life if you have no experience of life?”
This irked me.
I sunk further into a depression, confined to my bed. This was mad easy by the fact that I had forgone university for a year to become a writer. With a part time job that demanded my time on weekends only, my weekdays were free. Maybe Human Skin wasn’t destined to be published.
Then I stopped sleeping.
The idea for THE BLEEDERS came simply from an argument my little brother and my mother had outside of my door at two in the morning. My brother happens to be a practicing drug addict (and also my cousin, adopted into my family because of his mother’s heroin addiction—believe me, my life could fuel a soap-opera’s storyline’s for at least a year) They were hissing at each other outside of my door. And I will never forget what he said, even if he has forgotten.
I don’t blame him—if you have read THE BLEEDERS my mother and Sophia Taylor’s mother are shockingly alike.
“I FUCKING HATE YOU! WATCH YOU BACK YOU SPITEFUL BITCH! I KNOW PEOPLE! I’LL PAY SOMEONE TO KILL YOU—200 QUID AND YOU’LL BE OUT OF MY LIFE FOREVER.”
He slammed his bedroom door. I heard him pacing. My mother went to bed, crying.
I sat up in bed—I had had the idea of the asylum, of the girl echoing Henry’s name over and over, but I didn’t have a place for it. I had no place to go back to.
The hitman was born.
Reluctant to send out any more manuscripts to agents or publishers, my fear of rejection was at an all time low. I gave the book, chapter by chapter as I wrote it to my mother to read.
Her bitchiness equated to honesty—if something was bad, she would tell me and without even realising it she would change the story as it went along. She would suggest things that would be stupid and hurtful to the storyline, but from that I could pick bits and make it unpredictable. Which is what people tend to describe my writing as…
I sent it to literary agents and it got taken on, but whereas before I held my age as a sign on my chest I kept it a secret. I even changed my name a little bit, before I was going by the pen name of Mickey Haze (Mickey is what everyone has called me ever since I ended up in the asylum and didn’t want to be the same person…but…yeah…that’s a weird story. Trust me I am not insane.)
Now I was Michaela Haze. Which is my name anyway, so fate pretty much worked out there.
After five months, I had a half edited manuscript when I received another call. They didn’t want to represent my manuscript anymore. Mainly because I was being stubborn. The Bleeders begins and ends in an asylum with some romance in the middle. They wanted to cut out the asylum and turn my book into an older version of Twilight.
Whilst flattering I said no. If anything I wanted to be Sixth Sense + Twilight + Heroin and addictions = The Bleeders.
I wanted assurance; I posted my book as an ebook on Kindle, for free, making about 25p a copy.
Someone had stumbled upon my book online, mainly because I posted it on a thread called ‘if you have self published an ebook and want people to read it, name it here!’
I posted, rather humbly still believing that if I loved my novel, maybe, just maybe someone else would love it too. All I wanted was for someone to read my book and tell me “This book made me cry.” Or “This book made me laugh.” Or even the faithful “UGHHHHH Fia Taylor pisses me off sometimes.” I wanted people to feel. Nothing else, really. I didn’t care about the money.
Then I got an email. Dirty Jeans Publishing—a very small print on demand publishing company wanted to take on my book, basically to put their name on it and edit it and such.
So that was a complete yay moment. They aren’t Penguin or Bloomsbury, but at least I am out there, even if you have to search for me.
My original book is still on amazon.com—complete with gaping errors, but as of the end of February it will be even better and I get to go to bookstores and sign copies.
So yeah…that’s a little bit of my story. I tried to keep it short…but I do love to ramble on.
*giggles* There's nothing wrong with a bit of rambling! Haha, thanks SO much for that Michaela! It really brightened up my day. I love hearing stories about how people became a writer..it makes me think that there could be hope for me..one day..LOL ;)
Check back in a few weeks when I'll be reviewing The Bleeders.
For the full tour schedule, go here.