A few months ago, a self-publishing author, Michelle Corbier, reached out to Unwritten about her soon-to-be-published book Dark Blood Awakens. I immediately jumped on the chance to get a new novel within my grasp, excited to read something that involved a travel nurse, like myself, in areas of the world I had visited. Come to find out, Michelle is a pediatrician hoping to make writing her second full-time career.
Needless to say, I was hooked! I had the pleasure of talking to her this past month, asking her questions about her book, writing in general, and everyday hobbies. Here’s what she had to say.
What inspired you to write this story?
Michelle Corbier: “I had this crazy dream about a vampire in a hospital. They had created this system of eating people admitted there. It honestly sounded like a horror movie, and as much as I do enjoy horror, I only watch it with the lights on. And they remain on.
The majority of the books I’ve written so far have been thrillers or mysteries, and my coworkers have supported by reading and suggesting ideas. Dark Blood Awakens, DBA for short, was originally started in 2018, but it wasn’t until the pandemic that I had more time to really dive into it. I would share pieces with friends or coworkers and ask them what they thought, and they kept giving me positive feedback. Eventually, I decided to just look into publishing the book and went the self-publishing route.”
How did you find out about Unwritten?
MC: “It was through social media, but I can’t remember which platform. It was either Twitter or TikTok. I scroll through videos or pages of different sites to get information on essentially anything, and that’s when I came across Unwritten.”
Did you ever take a writing course or received a master’s in writing?
MC: I considered it. But I have friends who got their MFAs and said it wasn’t worth it. We’re in some organizations together, and for my age group, it probably wouldn’t change much regarding having this degree versus not. I did take free writing courses during the pandemic, though. There were plenty online, and the newsletter on my website has information on things like this too.
Do you personally have family or know anyone that delves into the art of Kasi kasi or voodoo?
MC: Personally, no. My family knows people as they live on the border of Louisiana and Mississippi. Voodoo is treated differently here in the US than in Haiti and other countries. It’s a way of life for them, but in the US, we treat it as a “fad.”
Zauber, Mwindaji, are these real or fictitious names?
MC: I’ve always found mythology interesting, especially other countries’ versions. My ties are to Haiti since was my ex-husband is Haitian. He actually speaks Creole, so he was able to help me translate a language for the book. Zauber (Zaw-ber) and Mwindaji (m-when-daj-ee) are two terms frequently used throughout.
When it comes to writing, what’s your “typical” or even atypical approach to setting the story up?
MC: It’s not the typical way — I call it patchwork. I’ll write a chapter or scene somewhere and then eventually tie all of it together. My original script for Dark Blood Awakens was 170,000 words, which I ended up splitting into three books. I just kept writing and writing until I felt it was finished.
Is there a specific author that you look to for inspiration?
MC: I have quite a few. They’re within the Urban Fantasy/Horror genre, with some being even YA authors. Brandon Massey, Deborah Harkness, Sarah Mass, Melissa De La Cruz, and Tomi Adeyemi are some of my favorites. I really loved the cover of Tomi’s book, Children of the Blood and Bone, as well as its African mythology content.
Do you have any advice for the younger generations who aspire to be authors?
MC: The younger generations are fearless — they see it, want it, and go for it, whereas my generation is more cautious. We’re the ones that follow the plan of what’s laid out for us. I also discovered how easy it was to self-publish a book. This way is also not as expensive as the traditional one. The main parts that are pricey are the editing, advertising, and marketing for your book. I would also say that you need to have tough skin when writing, similar to how it is working with children. They’re brutally honest, and within the writing world, editors can be the same.
What has surprised you about becoming an author? For example, is there a specific audience that is drawn to your books?
MC: I classify myself as an author in my fifties, an empty nester, and with time on their hands. So naturally, I was writing for that sort of audience. But I realized soon after that not many people my age actually read urban fantasy. With Makeda being younger in this book, I expect the audience to be around her age, twenties to thirties.
One thing that surprised me was the entire process of self-publishing. The main thing that I didn’t like about traditional publishing was not being committed to an agent. Instead, you receive edits from an editor and get asked to change your work countless times. It just seemed too formatted for me.
What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not working on your books?
MC: I currently live in North Carolina, and my favorite pastime is baking. measuring the ingredients and creating something tasty is like an exact science. When I’m not baking, gardening and bicycling are two other things I enjoy doing.
Obviously, this is not the end of Makeda’s story. Do you know how many books you hope to write for this series? Any idea when to expect the second book?
MC: As I mentioned earlier, I had to split the original story into three books. I do, however, have more outlined. There is a prequel you can anticipate. It’s going to be published this year, but it’s best to read it after the first book to understand the whole story. I can tell you the second and third books for DBA will delve more into Haitian Voodoo.
Is it strange to see your books out in public, knowing it’s something you physically wrote yourself? Do you ever read your book once it’s finally published?
MC: I actually do not have my books in stores. As a self-published author, you get charged if your books don’t sell. And I didn’t want to see a stack of my books just collecting dust. I do love hearing feedback on my books, though. This can be done on Goodreads or KDP (Kindle direct publishing). Once my book is published, I do go back and read it and absolutely enjoy seeing others have it in their grasp.
Michelle’s ultimate goal this year is to find her audience and publish five books. So far, she is on track with DBA, which was released on January 31. She also has another story that will be released in February. For those looking for a new series to sink their teeth into, Dark Blood Awakens is one I cannot recommend enough! There’s a little bit of everything in there for everyone, from history and adventure to horror and a tad bit of romance. Makeda will be your new favorite heroine for 2023, for sure.