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An Interview with Michelle Lindsey

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Michelle Lindsey has been writing professionally since she was 14. She has worked as a staff writer, columnist, feature writer and freelancer for newspapers and magazines. When she was 10, she interviewed President (then Governor) Bill Clinton for a small local newspaper of which she was the founder, publisher and editor. When she was 16, she won an international essay contest in USA Today. Her short stories have won awards in multiple contests. Her work has appeared in both print and web-based publications on 5 continents. She has also worked in politics, diplomacy and documentary film. Additionally, she does humanitarian and philanthropic aid and advocacy work around the world with a special focus on orphans and rescue dogs. She has orphanages in Uganda, South Africa and Zambia. Michelle has lived in 12 different states and currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with her best friend and rescue dog Bogart.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

I always have ideas for stories or novels running through my head, and a loose version of this one had come to me a few years prior, and then resurfaced at a time when I was going through a deep tunnel of grief in my own right (the grieving process is central in this story). I like working with the premise of taking one or two central characters who are going through similar or disparate difficult circumstances, throwing them together against a tumultuous backdrop or setting, raising the stakes, then letting them traverse the journey of discovery, growth, change, healing and renewed hope and purpose. That is the essence of the journey that my characters Maryn & Alexandra take amidst the backdrop of WWII in the Pacific in my novel.

Tell us the story of your book’s current title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

It actually came right to me. I feel we are blessed with light when we need it most, hence The Light We Find.

Describe your dream book cover.

The ocean, vast and wide, the light of the sun reflecting off it, and a piece of paper floating upon the sea, with a yellow butterfly resting upon it.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

My book soundtrack is extensive…

“Hallelujah (Vancouver Olympics version)” by KD Lang, “Fall On Me” by Andrea & Matteo Bocelli from the Nutcracker film, “It’s Not Over” by Mandisa, “Ronan (Taylor’s Version)” by Taylor Swift, “Epiphany” by Taylor Swift, “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” by Danny Gokey, “See You Again” by Carrie Underwood, “Fix You” by Coldplay, “Thank God I Do” by Lauren Daigle, “Tennessee” by Hans Zimmer from the film Pearl Harbor, “Yours Forever” by James Horner from the film The Perfect Storm, “Justice” by Patrick Doyle from the film Murder On the Orient Express, “Bethany’s Wave” by Marco Beltrami from the film Soul Surfer, and “Slipping Through My Fingers” by Meryl Streep from Mamma Mia.

What books are you reading (for research or comfort) as you continue the writing process?

I am a student of history, and I formerly lived in Hawaii, so I am well versed on WWII and the Pacific. Specific geography, and the timeline of WWII era control of certain islands and regions of the Pacific basin, is central to my story, so I have geeked out a bit on a fabulous National Geographic book with detailed maps and timelines of WWII in the Pacific. I am a stickler for facts and accuracy, so I want to make sure I have everything correct. As far as other reading, my tastes are eclectic and run the gamut from non-fiction reads in history and politics, to women’s fiction and historical fiction novels, to mysteries and thrillers.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

Oh goodness, my background feels like a checkerboard at times. I have worked as a staff writer and freelancer for newspapers and magazines and have written columns, essays, feature articles and interviews. I have written short stories. I have worked in politics and diplomacy. I worked in documentary film for a brief period which was extremely educational and fascinating. I also do humanitarian and philanthropic aid and advocacy work.

A couple of fun tidbits—I once had lunch with Meryl Streep and she read one of my short stories. She is absolutely the kindest, most gracious, special, extraordinary human being imaginable. She is amazing. I will never forget her kindness. She is a ray of light and inspires me continuously.

And my other fun bit—in 2015, I ran and completed the Pikes Peak Ascent race, which is a grueling half marathon from the base to the summit of Pikes Peak. An unforgettable experience and a blessing indeed.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I began writing short stories, essays and articles at a very young age. Writing was as much my home as anything physical. It was never what I did but rather who I was. People would continually remark that I had a gift. I was young though, and I didn’t think much about it at the time, or with any significant depth. At 14, I was hired as a staff writer for a magazine. At 16, an essay of mine was chosen as the winner of an international essay contest in USA Today. At 18, I was hired by a newspaper and given my own column. By the time I entered my early twenties, I began to feel and realize what people had been telling me for years—that writing was my gift. I do believe that God gives us all a gift in this life. I feel extremely blessed that writing is my gift and I just want to use it every day in a positive way to put something good into the world—whether that is through fiction or through advocacy efforts, I just want to shine a light, spread hope and make a difference.

Where is your favorite place to write?

My writing desk in my apartment.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I absolutely must have coffee before I even attempt to write. It’s like a power switch for my brain. I also say a prayer before I write. And I am not one of those cool writers who can sit in a coffee shop or a noisy, bustling spot and write and create. I need a quiet environment where I can focus and hear myself think. My dog is usually sitting somewhere nearby as well. He always lets me know when it is time for a break.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I hope readers come away inspired, with a renewed sense of hope, and a faith and belief that no matter how dark the night or difficult the struggle, there is light on the other side.

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