Thursday, October 13, 2011


Welcome friends to another author interview. Elliot Grace is visiting today. Of all the blogger author/friends I know, El is an amazing inspiration for us all.

A true artist and humanitarian, El's SOUTH OF CHARM explores hidden truths shown through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy.

Before the interview I would like to share with you an excerpt courtesy of Good Reads.

We're huddled in the far corner of my bedroom. Arms wrapped around our knees in the dark. The approaching footsteps grow louder. Ominous thuds. Our mother, but somehow not. She's standing outside my door. We listen to the creak of the hinges. My sister clenches my arm. "She's coming," she whispers. "She's broken."

Pretty powerful writing ... wouldn't you say?

I'd like for all of you to get to know the man behind the words. 

He is a special man with a big heart.

Welcome to In Time ... EL

Thank you, Michael

What intrigues me most El, is why you wrote such an intense story for middle graders. Even though I know many children fall victim to their parents's abusive behaviors, would a ten-year-old read this book? 

-Over the summer I coached a youth baseball team, a group of ten year old boys out to make a name for themselves.  Our third baseman was new to the area, a gentle giant who rarely communicated with little more than the occasional nod.  I later found out that he was a victim of child abuse, now being raised by his grandfather.  My son took a liking to him, who's since made it common practice to stop by the house just in time for dinner.  For this boy, my story is adequate.  Our starting pitcher on the team comes from a set of loving parents, high school sweethearts who are often spotted holding hands after two decades of marriage.  For this family, "South of Charm" would be better suited for his parents.  Every ten year old is unique in their own level of maturity.  For some, my story is not only acceptable, but perhaps something they can often relate to and take comfort in.  For others, well, perhaps waiting a few years would be the appropriate decision. 

I find it interesting that you played to this market. Will parents feel comfortable having their children read South of Charm?  Or, are you marketing to an older reader featuring an mc who happens to be middle grade age?

-When the book originally hit the shelves, my first reaction to finding it in the adult section was a level of angst.  Something that became an ongoing dispute with my publisher.  It was then brought to my attention that "To Kill a Mockingbird" was also an adult story with a younger mc, as was King's "Stand by Me."  Not that "Charm" is anywhere near the benchmark that those two stories eclipsed, the comparison eased my tension a bit.  I penned "Charm" without the genre curve, choosing instead to travel alone, allowing my readers to decide for themselves upon which shelf the book deserves to be placed.  My goal from the onset was to write a story capable of capturing the attention of our youth, while causing my adult readers to quietly ponder its content as well.

There are so many things that I admire about you. When had you and your wife decided to parent foster children? Giving of yourself in such a way is truly selfless and wonderful. Has the experience been more difficult than you had imagined? Has it been more rewarding?

-Fostering those in need has been a goal of my wife's since before we had children of our own.  Then, when we felt that our three kids were mature enough to handle a visitor or two, we pursued our licensing.  In all honesty, every day is an all new undertaking.  Currently we have four foster children, along with our own three, living under one roof, making for an interesting degree of dysfunction.  Every child whose entered our home, arrives with their very own bestselling memoir.  Some feel the need to share their stories, while others bottle it up.  The trick is in gaining their trust.  When that happens, regardless of what the weatherman is reporting, the sun's shining bright upon our home ;)

Do you plan to continue to foster children after the fledglings in your care fly the coop? I know these questions are rather personal, but your heart is so large, I think our community should know how special a person you are. Your novel was written to show the world the hardships of life that often start at the beginning of life. Sad, but with hope. Hope for a future where a child could have a safe and loving home.

-Thanks Michael for your kind words.  Yes, we have no plans of slowing anytime soon.  

Now that South of Charm is touching lives, what is your next project/projects? Will you continue to write about sensitive issues, or will you go in a completely different direction? Is there a genre that intrigues you that had always wanted to delve into, but for whatever reasons haven't?

-I've been playing around with two YA projects lately, both of which I'm excited about.  And while I'm not a fan of sequels, Danny Kaufman, the youngster from "Charm," may sneak into the drama as a teenager from time to time.

My last question. What is your escape? What secret place do you lose yourself in when entering the literary world?

-With a house full of kids, that can be a challenge!  I often sneak out the back door, laptop hidden under my arm, to our recently renovated shed along the farthest reaches of our property.  I sit under the porch and hammer on keys until my muse finds contentment, (or my wife needs help with the bathing of toddlers ;)

Thank you EL. It was quite the honor having you here today. I'll look forward, as we all will, to your next book. 

To purchase SOUTH OF CHARM, click here for Amazon.
Kindle edition or paperback edition. Also Amazon UK here. Kindle edition

EL is also having an amazing contest. For all the details visit his blog, So Close, but ...

For all you interested in my second entry for the Rule of 3 blogfest, I will be posting it later today.

Have a wonderful day everyone!


  1. Foster parenting must be a challenge. Not sure I could handle seven kids under my roof!

  2. 7 children under the same roof? Isn't that the Chinese character for Chaos?

    Elliot, I have a good friend who fosters infants. She is a combination Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin. You two would hit it off.

    I believe we write the best we can and let our readers decide what to call it. Hopefully, they won't call mine Merde!

    To get away for a time is so important for each of us, whether we are writers or not.

    Michael, a great interview, but I expected no less of you. Elliot, great answers as always. Too great really. DayStar is waiting for you at Meilori's now. Don't worry. Sam will be there. Me? I'll be hiding under the table. Some friend, huh?

  3. Oh, I added you on my sidebar. Have a look. Is DayStar steamed. LOL.

  4. Great Interview, Michael. I look forward to our chat on the 21st, Elliot.

  5. I have South of Charm setting on my bedside table ready to dig in. Can't wait to read it!

  6. Awesome interview!

    Seven kids--wow.

    I love it when characters reappear in following novels, either older or different; as a looser connection than one found in a series.

  7. Hey Alex, as a young man, I once thought that marriage would inevitably be the toughest challenge I'd ever face...Oh how wrong was I! Thanks again Alex for following along ;)

    Hey Roland, counting down the days to Meilori's. I'll be hopping over shortly!

    Hey Wendy, the 21st will be a treat! Thanks for following along ;)

    Hey Karen, you're a sweetheart, thanks so much! I pray you enjoy it.

    Hey Eagle, just hopped over from your most excellent post to find you here. Thanks so much!

    Hey Michael, this made for an afternoon to remember...a gathering of some of my favorites, all of us supporting each other as we strive toward our goals. What a hoot!

    Thanks so much, I owe you one.


  8. An excellent interview Michael, thank you.

    Elliot, you already know how I feel about your book, but i wanted to add my heartfelt thanks for what you and your wife are doing for the children in your care. Good foster parents are worth their weight in gold.

  9. What a wonderful, open, insightful interview. Elliot and his wife are an amazing gift to those children they're fostering, and I'm sure his book will be a treasure to many, many people. I'm happy to report it's next in line on my TBR list.

    Thanks for the interview, Michael. (And for your fun comments on my Disney post. :))

  10. I enjoyed the interview Michael and El. Foster parenting is so challenging, and to try to work and write at the same time must lend to some serious distractions :)

    Have a good weekend you two.


  11. Interesting interview and book. Thanks to both of you.