Interview & Contest: Michele Zurlo

Jen:  Today we welcome Michele Zurlo to Romancing the Book.  Michele, will you share a short bio with us?
Michele:  I’m a wife, mother, teacher, and when I have spare time, a writer.  My life isn’t half as interesting as my characters’ lives are.  My childhood dreams tended to stretch no further than the next book in my to-be-read pile, and I aspired to be a librarian so I could read all day.

Once I started writing, steamy, sensual stories poured from my fingertips, and now I’m addicted.  I hope you enjoy reading these tales as much as I enjoyed writing them.

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Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Michele:  Well, let’s start with the blurb for Re/Paired.

Keith Rossetti grew up the hard way–fleeing from his older sister’s fists and finding addiction at a young age. It’s a miracle he was able to make it into the FBI, and he fiercely guards his relationships with a handful of close friends.

When Katrina Legato’s brother brought home his Marine buddy all those years ago, she fell head-over-heels in love. Ten years have elapsed, and she hasn’t forgotten that toe-curling kiss he gave her for her eighteenth birthday. She knows he’s a demanding Dom who doesn’t respect his submissives or keep them for long, but if that’s all she can have of him, then she’ll take it.

When refusing Kat sends her to another Dom, Keith rethinks his decision. He plans to show her exactly why he’s not a suitable life partner for anybody. But Kat, one of the only women he’s allowed into his heart, isn’t what he expected. She’s no pushover. She demands more from him than anybody ever has, and he finds himself wanting to be the man she thinks he is.

As she repairs his damaged soul, a stalker targets her. Is it just a coincidence that his mother pops back up in his life and his sister is suddenly calling his office?

Origin: I came up with the core idea for this series right after I wrote Letting Go. I kept having false starts and abandoning the drafts. Eventually, the right inspiration struck, I changed the majority of the story (only the opening scene in Re/Bound and the character’s names stayed the same,) and the series was born. The idea for Re/Paired came to me as I was writing Re/Bound. Keith jumped out at me (and at more than a few readers) as someone who needed his own story. At the same time, I thought Katrina would make a sweet submissive. Who better for someone who has seen all the ugly life has to offer than someone who finds the good in everybody?

Jen:  At what age did you discover writing?  Tell us your call story.
Michele:  Like most writers, I started at a young age. People told me writers didn’t make much money, so I became a teacher. I love my job and don’t regret that path for a moment. About six or seven years ago, one of my students won a huge essay contest when MLB commemorated the 40th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color barrier. His big win netted me a laptop (him too) and a visit from Jackie’s daughter, Sharon. Sharon and I spent some time talking. I told her that I wished I could write a book. She furrowed her brow at me and asked why I thought I couldn’t. So I wrote Tomorrow Cries, which I published under another name. Then I wrote Letting Go, which ended up being fairly successful, and things progressed from there.

Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Michele:  I choose 3-5 key words and repeat them until I memorize them. Later, the words will trigger  my recall of the idea. It’s how I  make my OCD work for me.

Jen:  What’s the most challenging aspect of writing?  Easiest? Most rewarding?
Michele:  The most challenging aspect of writing is simply finding the time. I work two jobs and parent two wonderful kids who are very active in sports. Most of my writing is done in the wee hours of the morning. My old dog likes to get up between 4 and 5. I can’t go back to sleep once I’m up, so I spend the extra time before I have to get ready for my day job writing. I pick up another half hour in the evenings when my kids are reading before bed. In the summers, I get a lot more time to work while my kids play.

The easiest part of writing is the first 20K of a new novel. It usually just pours out of me. Then I’ll stare at the screen and think, “What now?” That’s when I have to figure out the major conflict and all that plot-related stuff before I can continue.

The most rewarding part of writing is when I get a letter from a reader who enjoyed the story or who loved the characters. I spend a lot of time with those characters, and they each contain little pieces of me.

Jen:  Who has influenced you as a writer?
Michele:  I have a B.A. in English and a M.A. in literacy. I’ve read classics from every culture and from every time period. Classically, I think I learned a lot from Shakespeare. I teach A Midsummer Night’s Dream every year to my 8th graders because I like it so much, and it’s just a fun play. The Bard definitely knew his way around characters and plot, and he had a wicked sense of humor. I like that his heroines were strong, everybody made mistakes, and the endings were happy (unless it was a tragedy; then it was just fitting.)

Of course, I also learned history by reading romance novels–mostly Johanna Lindsey. I discovered her in 7th grade when my aunt gave me some books to read. I don’t think she cleared it with my mom first, but now J.L. is one of my mom’s favorite authors as well. I think their influence on my writing is pretty equal. My first erotic romance, Letting Go, was based on a premise taken directly from a J.L. novel, though I did turn that whole “forced marriage” idea on its ear.

Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Michele:  Free time? What’s that?

Jen:  What’s next for you?
Michele:  I’m working on several things right now. I don’t do serious writing until June, when school is out. At that time, I’ll focus on finishing one of my projects. One is Re/Imagined, which would be the third in the Doms of the FBI series. I’m also working on Awakenings #6 and a mainstream-ish love story about an OCD hand-washer/compulsive liar and the lead singer of a rock band. I do love an OCD heroine.

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11 thoughts on “Interview & Contest: Michele Zurlo

  1. Maria D. says:

    Great question and the answer for me is that I don’t really know. I would like to think that I would be brave and do whatever it takes …but the reality is that I’m a pretty shy person so other than maybe speaking up…I might not do anything…really a sucky answer but it’s me…lol…Thanks for the interview with Michele – cool to find another Shakespeare lover and one who likes A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Thanks for the giveaway

  2. Tammy S. says:

    I think it would depend on how it would effect others. If I knew it would hurt someone close to me I would probably do nothing, otherwise I would go for it.

  3. erinf1 says:

    As long as it wasn’t illegal or would hurt anyone else, I think I’d do what I needed to to keep/find/maintain true love 🙂 Congrats to Michele on the new release! Thanks for the fun post!

  4. Anne says:

    It’s unusual to read about abuse by a woman in a book, much less a romance. Why did you decide to include it and how pivotal is it to the story and Keith’s development?

    • Hi Anne–The abuse happened in Keith’s past, and so it was pivotal in shaping his character, and it definitely affects the way he interacts with women and views relationships. I think abuse by females is more common than we think, so I didn’t really consider the gender when creating his backstory. By then, he had two older sisters. I think from her perspective, she was probably a very angry little girl who was left to her own devices. I work in public schools, and I’m constantly surprised by how often kids are left to fend for themselves.

  5. June M. says:

    I think if it was someone that I was truly in love with, I would go to almost whatever lengths necessary to be with them. As long as it did not hurt anyone and was not illegal, I c would do whatever my heart told me.

  6. Joanne B says:

    I’d like to say I’d do whatever I could, within reason, but I’m basically a shy person, so I’d probably just sit back and let whatever happens happen. If it was meant to be it will be.

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