As part of The Stars Are Falling Blog Tour, it is my very great pleasure to be interviewing the author of this fantastic new book, Michelle Birbeck. If you’re a sci-fi fan, you really must get this book! Now, fanfare please . . . no, louder than that . . . please welcome, Michelle Birbeck *APPLAUSE*
CC – Hi Michelle, thanks for joining me today. Are you ready for me to grill you a little?
MB – So long as it’s for no more than eight minutes on a medium heat, otherwise I’ll burn.
CC- Oh, very good, starting off with a little joke, ha ha ha! I can see what sort of interview this is going to be *laughs*. Okay then, let’s make a start.
What inspired you to create the story and take it in this particular direction?
MB – The Stars Are Falling started with one image and three titles. The image was shooting stars filling the night sky and a young girl running away from something. The titles were The Stars Are Falling, The Stars Are Shining, and The Stars Are Rising. Obviously I went with the first one, because it fits the book so well. About eighteen months after I first had the idea, I came back to it. There was something I wanted to enter, but I didn’t have a finished manuscript that wasn’t part of a series.
So I decided to write one.
Despite only having thirty days until the end of the submission period.
Between the Skype text conversations, cooking dinner, and the Skype phone conversations, I had a full plot and all my research done the day I decided to do it. Ten days later, I had a fully written manuscript and two of my best friends reading it through for me to give me notes.
Intense is about the only way I can describe those ten days. I had 40 Marilyn Manson on repeat for the entire time (I have a thing about repetition when I’m writing). And all I did was write. Maybe eat a little, too.
CC – Wow! That does sound very intense. You did incredibly well to get it all done in ten days. I’m guessing you lived on caffeine and got hardly any sleep! Now onto the next question. Are any of your characters based on real people?
MB – Although I try not to directly base any of my characters on real people, I am absolutely positive there are bits of everyone I know in there somewhere. My character’s personalities come together as I write, instead of me writing them down before I begin.
With the characters for The Stars Are Falling, that is especially true. I had such little time to write it in that most of the planning I did was surrounding the Stars themselves and the plot line. The characters just all sort of fell in together and developed their own traits. Fortunately, most of them were pretty evident from chapter one!
From Alexis stumbling up the stairs, and Mark following with his cat calls, to Dale helping the pair home, and Jenny ditching them for a night under the stars. And they worked so well as a group, too, which I liked. They each had their own area of expertise, and they each had their own issues.
CC – I know exactly what you mean about characters just coming together and developing their own traits as that’s what happened with my books. Now, is there anything you would love to expand more on in your book that you couldn’t?
MB – I’ve had a lot of people give me strange looks when I say that The Stars Are Falling is a science fiction book. A lot of those tell me that they don’t like science fiction. To which I say, that’s ok, because it’s science fiction for people who both do and don’t like sci-fi. It has alien invasions, plenty of action, and a fast-paced, fun storyline, but isn’t full of advanced technology and spaceships.
CC – I must admit, it’s usually the advanced technology stuff that sometimes puts me off sci-fi, but your story is so much more enjoyable to read! Is there a message in your book you would like readers to grasp?
MB – The main part of the book is the reason why the Stars fall to Earth and start killing everyone, and that’s because we’re killing the planet. So there is a big message there about saving the world, but there are also several other messages hidden in there that came about as I was writing. One of those is that it really can take just one person to save the world.
CC – I agree we’re slowly killing this planet and yes, it can just take one person to change things – if only they could get the right people to listen. So, do you have a favourite character in The Stars Are Falling?
MB – Dale! Hands down, I am completely and utterly in love with Dale. He’s been through a lot of stuff, and he’s still standing tall and taking everything in his stride. I love his strength in the face of everything. And he is so cute and adorable! He’s tall, dark, and handsome, with a dash of geek thrown in.
CC – Tall, dark and handsome? Ooo any chance of throwing him my way when you’ve finished with him? *Laughs* What are some of the books you’re really into right now?
MB – I’ve recently started reading Agatha Christie. I’m not very far in, but I love Hercule Poirot! And I can’t wait to read more. I’m hoping to be able to read some more after the launch for The Stars Are Falling.
CC – I’ve never read Agatha Christie – you’ll have to let me know what you think of them. So now you’ve got me wondering. Is there a certain author you admire and if so, why?
MB – I adore Richard Laymon. And this is where all the people who know me groan. I’ve answered this question the same way for year now. But the answer hasn’t changed. No matter what other books I read and how much I love them, Laymon in the one that I love the most. I still have all of his books, every last one, and there isn’t anything that I dislike about them. From the characters to the plot to the location to the way they are written. They are all fantastic.
CC – Hmm I think I remember reading something of his many years ago but can’t remember what it was. What author do you hope to meet one day?
MB – It would be nice to meet Richard Laymon, but that’s not going to happen unless ghosts start popping out of the afterlife. So other than him, I would love to meet JR Ward, especially if she’d be willing to dish some secrets about my favourite characters!
CC – If you’re in a cartoon, which character would you be?
It’s been a long time since I sat and watched cartoons on a regular basis. So I’m going to go with Berk. I’d like to be Berk from Trapdoor. Just because he is awesome, and I have his plushie sat on my bed every night.
CC – Oh, he’s cute! Name one superpower you would like to have.
MB- Flying! Think of the money I’d save on international flying. Not to mention the calories it would burn flying that far! Though I expect customs would be interesting.
“And how did you arrive today?”
“With which airline?”
“But you said you flew.”
*Me doing chicken actions.* “Yep. I flew.”
CC – Is there a supernatural being you would like to be and why?
MC]like to be a werecat. A giant, cuddly kitty cat that can run around scaring people. Also, just because I adore big cats, and I’m not fond of the sight of blood, so being a vampire is out for me. But being a werecat sounds like fun.
– If you could travel through time, where would you go?
Ohh, this is a question I have been asked before, a long time ago. And my answer is still the same. I’d go to Rome. Because I want to hear the song Nero played as Rome burned. I expect it would be a heart-warming occasion. (And yes, I will stop with the bad jokes now.)
And Five Fun Shorts!
1) What makes you cringe?
Cracking bones. People breathing on me. People touching their eyes. The sight of blood. There’s a whole list of things!
2) Favorite dessert?
Cake. A nice, moist cake with strawberry and cream filling, and marzipan and icing on the top.
3) Dog or cat person?
If my husband asks: cat. If not, I like big, fluffy dogs.
4) Savoury or sweet snacks?
Depends on my mood. Although, I am always in the mood for cold roast chicken with a bit of salt on.
5) Favourite season?
Late spring. It’s not as hot as summer, the nights are getting longer, and it’s not as cold as spring. And there are so many pretty flowers!
Thanks again for joining me today, Michelle and good luck with ‘The Stars Are Falling’.