Author Spotlight: Michelle I. Mason
Aug. 20, 2021
We are excited to feature author Michelle I. Mason and her debut young adult novel, YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN DELAYED (Bloomsbury YA), out on September 7, 2021. Enter to win a copy!
|Cover Artist: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell/ Designer: Danielle Ceccolini|
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.
I’ve always loved writing, from when I was in elementary school. I used to write my own stories for fun; strangely, those early ones were often horror stories. It probably had to do with whatever I was reading at the time (maybe R.L. Stine?). I discovered romance novels when I was about 11 (young, I know!), but although I tried writing those, they weren’t the right fit for me.
Then, about 10 years ago, I had this dream for a story with a middle-grade protagonist. Middle grade and young adult books were rare when I was a kid, so I did a ton of research! I wrote a few MG books before discovering my voice was a better fit for YA. I love reading it, I love writing it, and I think in many ways I’m stuck in that age. I do all the adulting stuff, but I wish I didn’t have to!
Congrats on your debut YA novel book, Your Life Has Been Delayed. Tell us about the book and what inspired you.
Your Life Has Been Delayed is about 17-year-old Jenny, who boards a plane in New York in 1995, but when she lands in St. Louis three hours later, she and the other passengers are informed their plane disappeared—25 years ago.
In 2017, I tagged along on my husband’s business trip to Australia, and on our return flight, we left Sydney on Feb. 27 at 11:30 a.m. and arrived in L.A. on Feb. 27 at 5:35 a.m. Even though I knew it was just different time zones, it felt like time travel, and I thought: what if when you landed, it was a totally different year? The rest of the story just came from there.
Your story's premise sounds fascinating! Does some of your story take place in 1995, and if so, how much research did you have to do? Did you have a playlist while writing the book?
Only the first few pages take place in 1995, but I still had to do a ton of research, because 1995 is Jenny’s entire world view. So she’s looking at everything in the present from the viewpoint of a 20th century girl. I had to be on top of everything from what people were wearing and how people were using the brand-new internet to popular TV stars and just everyday habits. All of this informed how Jenny would react to a 21st century world. Because I was a teen in 1995, I found myself triple-checking my information. Memory is tricky—you think something happened around a certain year, but when you look into it, you may find you’re off by five or ten years.
As for a playlist, no. I am easily distracted, so I need silence while writing. However, I did create a playlist that represents the book: https://michelleimason.com/2020/11/24/9-months-to-release-your-life-has-been-delayed-playlist/
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
Long and winding! I queried six books over seven years before signing with my agent on my seventh book—which was Your Life Has Been Delayed. And signing for this book was a bit like a fairy tale after that long wait. I had three agent offers and an agent within a month of sending out my first queries. Once I signed with my agent, we revised and signed with Bloomsbury within three months. But then the wait for the book to come out was two years and extended further by the pandemic, so it’s been two years and nine months. If you’re counting, in all it’s been 10 years since I started querying! But I learned so much, and I don’t regret any of the manuscripts I wrote along the way.
I did a blog series on what I learned querying, in case it may be helpful to anyone else: https://michelleimason.com/category/querying/what-ive-learned/
What projects are you working on now?
I’m working on revisions for my second contracted book for Bloomsbury! It’s coming September 2022, and it’s another YA contemporary with a twist. I’ll be sharing more details about it very soon!
As soon as I turn that in, I’ll return to revising another YA I started writing back in 2019 that’s been very tricky but I hope readers will really love once I finish it. And I already have two more ideas I want to get started on!
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same you'd give to aspiring authors?
The advice I always give to aspiring authors is to persevere. As I already answered above, my journey to publication was long. So I’m going to reverse these two questions and say that I would also give this advice to my younger self. I had no idea how long it would take to be published, and I’m not sure I would have persevered if I’d realized, but who knows? I’m pretty stubborn, and I really wanted it.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
When I was younger, I was a soloist at several weddings, so you could say I was a wedding singer.
Where can people find you online?
My website: https://michelleimason.com/
Michelle I. Mason is the author of Your Life Has Been Delayed, forthcoming from Bloomsbury Sept. 7, 2021, as well as a second young adult novel in September 2022. Michelle spent ten years as a PR manager promoting everything from forklift rodeos to Hotel Olympics before deciding she’d rather focus on made-up stories. When she isn’t writing, she’s probably reading, watching too much TV, cross-stitching, baking amazing brownies, or playing the violin. Michelle lives in St. Louis with her husband, two kids, a dog, and two cats.