Posted on June 3, 2020 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Today we're interviewing author Michael C. Bailey.
Bailey is an independent author from central Massachusetts who kind of hates writing bios. He left a fifteen-year career as a reporter, blogger, and editor for his hometown newspaper, the Falmouth Enterprise, to focus on his creative writing.
He has also written theatrical scripts for the New England-area renaissance faire scene, and is the fight director for the Connecticut Renaissance Faire.
SADYE: How did you come to see yourself as a writer, and what inspired you to seek publication?
MICHAEL: I’ve been a storyteller since I was young, but I spent most of my life thinking I’d grow up to tell stories as a comic book artist or cartoonist.
I drew obsessively throughout my youth, and after high school I enrolled in the Joe Kubert School in New Jersey, founded and run by the Silver Age comics legend himself.
What I learned there was that art was not my true calling. I simply wasn’t skilled or talented enough to cut it as a professional artist, which Joe himself confirmed during a frank discussion about my prospects in the comics industry.
But he also affirmed my belief that I was a storyteller at heart and urged me to find another means of expressing myself.
I gave writing a try, found that it clicked with me on a level art never did, and the rest is history.
SADYE: What have been the most surprising, rewarding, and challenging parts of your writing career?
MICHAEL: The surprising and rewarding parts are the same: that my writing has touched and affected readers.
One reader wrote to tell me how one of my stories, which involved a main character dealing with the loss of her grandfather, helped him deal with his own recent family loss.
Another reached out to tell me how a character dealing with PTSD made him, at first, deeply uncomfortable as he was dealing with his own case of PTSD, but spoke to his own experiences and made him feel hopeful about his own future.
They were both deeply humbling experiences.
SADYE: What message or theme would you like readers to take away from your work?
MICHAEL: I’m not consciously a message-oriented writer, but I’ve come to realize my stories frequently extol the virtues of “found family.”
My characters are able to endure their low points and aspire to greater things by relying on the people they’ve chosen to be close to, often more so than their blood relations.
I grew up as the family weirdo, and it wasn’t until I found other weirdos that my life as a whole took a big turn for the better, and that idea has crept into my work.
So I guess the takeaway from my work is that there are people out there who will love and accept you for who you are, even if who you are is different and maybe a little damaged. You just have to find them.
SADYE: What advice, as relates to your writing career, would you give your younger self?
MICHAEL: Read more, and write more so you can get to the part where you don’t suck that much sooner.
There’s a popular philosophy among writers — and I’ve heard variations of the quote for pretty much every creative art form — that every writer has 10,000 bad pages within them, so the more you write, the faster you get those bad pages out of your system.
I’d also tell myself not to worry so much about following a “proper writing process,” because there is no such thing.
I got so hung up doing things in an ordered, disciplined, organized, and rather mechanical way — the “right way,” some writers insisted — that it impeded my creativity.
When I learned that being a little messy in my approach was perfectly okay and focused more on simply creating, things really fell into place for me.
SADYE: What experience in your past or general aspect of your life has most affected your writing?
MICHAEL: My time as a reporter taught me to write quickly, efficiently, and how to always be mindful of your word choices, because even little choices can badly miscommunicate information or steer the reader in a wrong direction emotionally.
My experience writing theatrical scripts helped improve my ear for dialog, especially for exchanges between multiple characters, when you have to convey information in a manner that sounds naturalistic, convey the individual characters’ respective personalities, and do so in an efficient manner that holds the audience’s attention.
My experience as a stage combat performer and theatrical fight director has shown me how to develop exciting fight scenes that balance realism and theatricality, and tell a story in their own right.
Having so many varied and contrasting professional influences has proven a surprising benefit to my life as an author, so hooray for having a somewhat chaotic career path!
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Categories: Author Interview