Friday

An Interview with Michael-Ann Ward, Author of DEVIL'S BAY

Michael-Ann Ward
The Writer's Edge will periodically be interviewing undiscovered writers who are looking for that big break into New York publishing. Our first author in this series, Michael-Ann Ward, hopes to be a rising star on the women's suspense and thriller novel scene. She's been writing for over ten years with most of her successes being in women's fiction, including romance. Devil's Bay is her first foray outside the romance arena. She is also a former editor for Champagne Books.

Log line for Devil's Bay: Known in years past as a courageous whistleblower who exposed billions in corporate corruption during the Iraq War, a high school teacher living a new life in small town USA finds her reputation smeared and her loved ones threatened after the corporate CEO she sent to prison begins to enact her merciless revenge.

WE: Thanks for the interview! So what made you decide to move into women's suspense or thriller fiction with Devil's Bay?

MW: I was looking to write something different for a change, plus I'd heard the genre was a hot one for writers, but most importantly, the concept of a female version of Cape Fear was too good to pass up. The idea actually came up in a conversation at hotel bar in Seattle during the PNWA Conference... Matter of fact, the idea was so good I was astonished it had never been done. I jumped on Amazon that night and fished around for it, or something like it, but came up empty handed.

WE: What better time for a novel like this, especially now that women have far more presence in the corporate world?

MW: Precisely, and IMO, the novel has more depth than the original because the story and theme involve a large infrastructure of corporate villains who have their talons in the government--a bit House of Cards in that way. There is more than one antagonist, but the primary one, Macalister Stone, is a super bitch worthy of challenging the Robert Di Nero or Mitchum character in Cape Fear. Being an ex-CEO of a defense company, she's shrewder and inspires more psychological terror.

WE: Well, we've read Devil's Bay, and it is fantastic. At the risk of sounding boilerplate, the story does seize you by the throat and squeeze tighter as each page turns. We adore the heroine Lexi and despise the corporate bastards out to destroy her and all she loves.

MW: But we never leave the Cape Fear setting behind. She's living in a small town, trying to reinvent herself and escape her past.

WE: Why did you choose a small town?

MW: I like the Cape Fear setting, it was far away from Washington. She could get a job as a high school teacher there, reinvent herself and start over, plus it was cheap to live. As you know, her husband is ill and can't be a bread winner.

WE: By the way, we understand you're represented by Talcott Notch. 

MW: That's correct. Paula Munier is repping the work even as I speak. I couldn't have a better agent for this novel.

WE: Thank you for talking with us about Devil's Bay, and we wish you best of luck!

MW: Thank you!

Saturday

Timeless and Valuable - Editor's Rejection Bullets


Betsy Mitchell at Del Rey, imprint of Random House, was inspired to look at the numbers and reasons she rejected the manuscripts submitted to her.  Betsy’s tally starts with March of 2009 and runs to the end of the year.  During that time she passed on 133 manuscripts.  I found it very interesting.  Just remember not to let it get you down.
 
Here is her list of reasons why:

  • Not what Del Rey is looking for (meaning we had enough on our list already of whatever subgenre was on offer): 22
  • A good manuscript but not right for our list (included a couple of nonfiction SF-related titles more suitable for a small press, the odd children’s book, etc.) 14
  • Not a genre that’s doing well right now (horror, mostly; some foreign novels being offered for translation, anthologies whose concepts weren’t strong enough) 18
  • Simply not good enough (a combination of mediocre writing and/or storytelling) 43
  • Contains major plot flaws (the story was too predictable, or the author made a choice I didn’t agree with which affected the entire manuscript) 5
  • Main characters not strong or likeable enough 3
  • Needs too much editorial work (a manuscript has to be 95% of the way to book-ready for me to be willing to take it on) 7
  • Falls between genres (these were some of the most frustrating ones I had to reject; several were quite beautifully written but would be hard to promote in such a tough marketplace) 14