You’re a photojournalist and a writer Michael. What’s the common point between photography and fiction writing?
My novel’s protagonist is a photographer. “Write what you know,” they say ─ and I know much about photography. I’ve travelled, photographed, and written about the places I visited. I grew tired of writing fluffy travel articles and dived into the pit of dark, transgressive fiction.
- What is your journey to becoming a writer?
I started small, writing short articles to support the photos I took. It was a way to get unsolicited material across an editor’s desk fast, approved, and then published. The writing was sugary sweet to appeal to a wide audience. Fun topics coated in optimism provided the right amount of gloss to the stories I wrote. It worked. I sold sunshine with ease. Unfortunately, cheesy formulaic writing tends to sap the creativity out of one’s soul, especially when one has so much else to say from another side. So, I started going with my gut and exchanged the routine ‘happy ever afters’ for something more challenging. It’s not as warm and fuzzy but at least I’m not going against my creative grain.
- Where do you publish your stories? Why did you choose that platform to publish?
Smashwords is my work’s new home. I used the Amazon behemoth but was disappointed with the result. My teeny-tiny subgenre got lost in the noise. I have found that transgressive readers are more likely to scour the fringes of the Internet for content, rather than contend with the sign-up, pop-up riddled world of mainstream publishers. They’ll also come to blog sites like yours and then choose what to read based on what they discover here. I went across to Smashwords in 2020. Changing publishers was worth it.
- Tell us about your trilogy project. What inspired you to start it?
Desperation. Screaming into a laptop’s keyboard with the tips of my fingers was the best way to externalize all that’d been building inside. I needed to make sense of some turbulent emotions that arose after a long-term relationship ended. It was meant to be a standalone novel, a pseudo-biographical book of a young photographer navigating a troubled marriage, who also has a passion to capture the perfect photo of lightning. One thing led to another and, by the time I figured out where the story was going, I had enough ideas left over to write two more books. The second book wrote itself, and the third followed close behind.
- What are the elements or subjects that attract you most as a photographer and writer?
I like drama and theatrics – passion means a lot to me. Show me an image that produces fire and ice and you have me. The written word is no different. Passion in and around the bedroom is a big one – not ‘intercourse’ so much, but how people are drawn to each other and communicate their desire without saying it. Watching characters manage their words and actions is deliciously voyeuristic. I like seeing them squirm, especially new lovers who meet for the first time. Their uncertainties held against their electricity is a conflict I love to consume. Perhaps it parallels some of my kinks and shortcomings to which I easily relate. I love the gravity of expectation but, when the fuck is on, I plateau. I’m in no way repulsed by sex, just a bit more turned on by what happens before it.
- What genre do you categorize your books? Why?
Beta readers are honest. They used ‘psychological thrillers’ whenever they talked about them. It never sat well with me because the novels don’t follow the usual format associated with this genre – the obvious one being crime investigations. There aren’t any in my books, not in the usual sense anyway. The ‘crime’ is sexual abstinence – and there’s no law broken there. No law broken equals no crime to investigate or prosecute. I have villains, heroes, and a well-veiled happy ever after, but none of them is where you’d expect to find them. If you skew your head sideways and squint a bit, you’ll see them just fine.
- For you what defines a good story?
If it takes a chapter to describe a blade of grass, I’m out. I enjoy a faster tempo. I like character credibility instead. I should be able to wear the skin of one and feel what they feel, think what they think and why they think it. Light and shade also help. Dramatic, thunderous passages stand out more if they’re set against some well-crafted calm. I enjoy some good ups and downs!
- You also are hosting a podcast ‘Dirty Rabbit Hole Podcast’. What do you talk about there? What’s the focus of discussions? Can I join as a guest?
My podcast was created for those who live in sexless marriages and are forced to endure an abstinent life, without consent. (A new one, right?). It talks about health and mental issues, trauma, PTSD, religion, parental upbringing, guilt, shame, expectations, etc. Yes, please be a guest. I’d love to have you.
- One of the themes I see you’re integrating into your books and podcast is ‘sexless marriage’. Why this topic?
The ‘sexless marriage’ is fuel to my narrative’s fire. The books burn it inside fiction, but my podcast speaks from the cold truth of an open but broken heart. It’s a giant slice of personal experience (and embarrassingly raw) – while introducing the novels. I figure, if someone is in a sexless marriage and listens to the podcast, they’ll relate to it and find the kind of stories I write empathic and entertaining. I guess I’m looking for a very specific reader who feels they need to find someone who is on their side. This makes my little subgenre just a wee bit smaller.
My book’s blog is found at https://michaelformanwriting.com/clues/