Author and Vampire Diaries fan Michelle Hazen has discovered breakout success publishing her Vampire Diaries fan fiction in Kindle Worlds. We had the opportunity to ask Michelle a few questions about her experience writing in Kindle Worlds, the craft of storytelling, and what’s next for her. Also, make sure to check out her latest The Vampire Diaries In Time We Trust trilogy: Trust in Darkness, Trust in Fire, and Trust in Betrayal.
What inspired you to write for The Vampire Diaries world?
I love the world, because vampires give us room for so much brutal suspense and exciting fight scenes, but they also give us a sense of history and time. Their immortal existence is a poignant reminder of what is important in life: what keeps you going year after decade after century. But for as much as I admire the universe of The Vampire Diaries, it’s the characters that have me fascinated. No one is ever completely good or completely evil, motivations and alliances shift, but there are incredibly strong bonds between the characters. You see powerful romantic love, but also intense friendship and family loyalty. It’s a very emotional show, with dizzying high points that create the perfect catalyst for fanfiction inspiration.
What will fans of The Vampire Diaries love about your books?
In my books, I stay true to the action-driven plots that keep the show crackling with tension, but I spend more time on the romantic moments between lovers, the close moments between friends. Also, The Vampire Diaries show was structured to center around cheerleader-gone-vampire Elena, but over time Damon—the bad boy with the heart of a kitten and the morals of Hannibal Lector—has emerged as the true fan favorite. All my stories revolve around Damon, in all of his impulsively violent, wise-cracking glory.
What inspired you to bring your The Vampire Diaries stories from fan sites to Kindle Worlds?
I was excited by the idea of reaching a wider audience. All those people that watch The Vampire Diaries but have never heard of fanfiction, who buy books on Amazon but have never visited a fan site. I think Kindle Worlds is a great way to reach out to people who are unfamiliar with fanfiction and say hey, if you like The Vampire Diaries show, here is a way to spend time with your favorite characters in scenarios that you wished had played out on your television screen. If you didn’t like a particular season, or you wanted to see a different couple get together, Kindle Worlds is the place to do it, and for cheaper prices than most books are sold for.
What has been the most surprising thing about writing for Kindle Worlds?
The support from Amazon. I have one self-published novel and I thought that publishing with Kindle Worlds would be very much the same lonely experience. But instead, Kindle Worlds is like the best parts of being self-published and having a publisher: you can get your finished manuscript to print in days instead of months, you can have total creative license over your plot, but you also get marketing support to get your books advertised in places where people can find them.
If you had to pick a motto or mantra, what would it be?
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage – Anais Nin
Every great hero/heroine should have ________________.
Contradictions. A completely consistent character is a boring character. One of my favorite things about writing Damon is that he is a seething mass of contradictions. He’s sweet and yet ruthless, loyal to some people and frighteningly amoral and vicious toward others. A character like that leaves you a lot of room to build a very complex, emotionally involving story around them.
What elements make up a good love story?
To write a great love story, you have to include something no one would expect, and also elements that are very familiar. You want your reader to smile at some point and be like, “Yes! I totally fought with my boyfriend about leaving the cupboards open!” and then you want them to be swept up in the ultraviolet emotions of falling in love, to the point where they forget to blink because they are so involved with what the characters are feeling. So the best romance novel is like the best real-life love story: it’s so intense, it feels like your first, even though it isn’t.
What’s next for you and your writing?
I adore writing for Kindle Worlds, but I also like to create my own original fiction. Right now I have a post-apocalyptic trilogy that I’m querying to agents, the first book of which was awarded Quarter Finalist status in the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. I also have a New Adult romance I’m hoping to query to agents within the next few months.
At this point, I’m wildly addicted to writing, and I’m so grateful that I can pursue a career in something I love so dearly, because honestly—obviously—even if it didn’t pay the bills, I’d just do it for free.