Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Interview With Author Michelle Oucharek-Deo

The Girl in the Peach Tree

Michelle Oucharek-Deo was born in British Columbia, Canada and continues to reside in BC with her husband, son and golden doodle, Lily. Michelle is a Registered Art Therapist and has been practicing in the field of Creative Arts and Counseling for over 22 years, offering guidance and support to individuals and families in her community. She started writing at the keen age of seven and enjoyed every unpublished moment of her writing career, but when the The Girl in the Peach Tree began to emerge, she knew it was time to jump, have courage and publish her first novel.

1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
“I spent my whole life writing and expressing myself through my short stories and journals. When I was eight my mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She survived the surgery, but lost most of her sight and was declared legally blind. I had to find ways to deal with the loss and change in my life, and my writing became the key. I turned to it as a lifeline and always dreamed of begin a writer and public speaker one day. But my life jumped and whirled and art therapy became the way that I helped others and expressed myself until, one day at 42, I needed more. I needed to become the woman that I was supposed to be and so I sat down and decided to write the 30 day novel; 1000 words a day. The rules identify that you are supposed to just keep writing and not review your work. After two days, I was already editing and hooked. I loved it!! Writing my story gave me such a level of joy as an individual, I knew I had to keep going. So I did. It was not easy fitting it all in; mother, wife, daughter, sister and therapist but who said the things we want in life are supposed to be easy, but I kept going… I knew I had to write, and I believed that the stories I could tell would make a difference in people’s lives.”

2. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader?
“The story is about a young woman; Maya, who grows up in a household where depression touched every aspect of her life. As an adult she discovers she needs more out of her life; more love, more adventure, more of everything! She doesn’t like the person who she sees in the mirror and realizes that something has to change. Fate sends her on a trip to Portugal and in the process she meets both a man whose heart has been aching to find the truest kind of love, and a group of woman who help her discover who she was meant to be. I believe true love and friendship, self-discovery and courage are the roots of this story.”
“When I started writing the book I thought my target market was for woman 18-40 years old. My first beta readers confirmed that I was on the right track. They loved it. The romance, adventure, mystery, the good-looking Portuguese flight attendant. I was hoping that the story could inspire woman to really look at themselves and have the courage to seek out their deepest truths and to experience pure joy. So, when my 13 year-old son begged me to read the story I was a little hesitant. Then my friend’s 14 year-old daughter stole it out of her room to read it. Neither of them could put it down. They loved it too but for very different reasons. I think the other surprise for me was when a male colleague almost 50, told me that ‘this was a very important book and the world needed to read it.’ He made me cry that day. It was the first time I really understood how far my story could reach and that women and men of all ages could relate to the universal themes that I touch on in the book.”

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?
I hope that when a reader finishes my book they will walk away feeling like a kaleidoscope of color. Believing that true love and passion and a hope for a better life is just around the corner and that everyone deserves the experience of falling head over heels in love; yet the love alone does not define the characters, but gives them the energy and the drive to become better than they were before. That is what I hope for everyone! I am an old romantic who believes in true love and the possibilities of what it can bring to someone’s life.

4. What should remain with them long after putting it down?
My hope is that people see it as a powerful story of all different kinds of love. Romance, passion, family duty, and learning to love one self. So much fiction is meant only as a means to escape, and that is a wonderful gift to a reader but I believe that ‘The Girl in the Peach Tree’ is more than that and offers a fictional depth that will draw the reader in and when they reach the last page will leave them feeling that their investment of time and heart was well worth it.

5. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
·         Never give up.
·         Even on days when you think you are ready to throw your manuscript into recycling …keep going.
·         Find people who believe in you and what you are doing.
·         Pick a time and write every day.
·         Have the courage to read your story out loud. It makes a huge difference!!!!
·         If writing is your passion, then never let anyone or anything stop you.
·         And one last thing. You are a writer because you write, not because you are published!

6. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
I think technology will continue to evolve at amazing speeds, but that the creative process will always remain the same. Every writer has to go through it to get to the other side. I am also a believer that although e-books are the wave of the future, and most of our children read and process everything online, print has and should always have a place in the publishing world… at least for the next 100 years.

7. What great challenges did you have in writing your book?
Oh that is a great question. In general I have always been a confident person. Then came along the notion of writing this book. It was at that point that all the vulnerabilities and doubts and even my Grade 4 ‘C’ in spelling became an issue. I am laughing now, as I tell the story but, it wasn’t funny. There were many day of tears and fretting over my ability, and fearing that ‘ I couldn’t do it’ and then fearing, ‘What if I can?’  At one point in my process I was in a car accident; hit head on by a young woman who was texting. I was in pain and trying to heal and was so angry at her. I felt like she had taken away my ability to focus and create. In the end though, I took my 20 odd years of therapeutic experience and applied it to myself and made a choice. I decided that no matter what happened from there on out, I was going to write this story and not let anything stop me. I am glad that I did that, as only a year later my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer after never having smoked a day in her life and 10 months after that my father was diagnosed with ALS. So my challenges were plenty, but I faced them head on much like my main character and created the life that I wanted and finished the book.

8. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
Simply, my book has the power to transport the reader away from their everyday lives and drop them into someone else’s. It can be read curled up by the fire or in an airport waiting lounge. The reader gets to experience love and adventure, exotic food, betrayal and a little bit of mystery. It is filled with characters you want to protect and others you want to destroy. I love all the characters, especially Jade, (she was so much fun to write!), and even after reading it for the 20th time I am still cheering for a happy ending…it must be the old romantic in me.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.
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