Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Live hard, love hard: An interview with contemporary romance author Michelle Betham

Today I'm talking with contemporary romance author Michelle Betham about her books No Matter What and See you At The Show. Both explore life and love in a show business context.


1) Tell us about your books.

No Matter What is an epic contemporary romantic drama, the story of India Steven, who's an ordinary twenty-two year old girl from Northern England, with an ordinary job, and an ordinary life, until a chance meeting with Hollywood movie star Reece Brogan catapults her into a new and extraordinary life in Los Angeles – from legal secretary to movie star almost overnight, she can hardly believe how fast it all happens. But things are never quite what they seem, because one thing Reece hasn’t been is completely honest. He hadn’t intentionally gone looking for the perfect leading lady for his new movie, but he had intentionally been looking for India.

It's a love story, but one full of twists and turns, spanning almost twenty years in the life of India, and the people around her; her best friend, Charley Miles, who harbours feelings of resentment towards a life she feels she deserves just as much as India, and whose attempts to get that life for herself result in circumstances nobody dared believe were possible; young and incredibly handsome movie star Kenny Ross, a man whose relationship with India becomes far more complicated than he could ever imagine; Hollywood hot-shot Michael Walsh, a well respected actor-turned-producer-and-director with a dangerous obsession that ultimately leads to a series of shocking events; and Reece Brogan, the man who gives India her wonderful new life, but a man who has a very good reason for doing so.

A story of love and betrayal, jealousy and obsession, hidden secrets and second chances, No Matter What is a rollercoaster of a ride through two decades, telling the stories of people who, due to circumstances thrown upon them, or just fuelled with a desperate need, will do anything – anything – it takes to get what, or who, they really want. No matter what…

See You At The Show is the story of Stevie Stone - a sexy, sassy real-life rock chick, Mark Cassidy - a handsome, sexy-as-hell but arrogant rock star who thrives on his status as a true Rock God, and Daniel Madison - an ambitious, well-respected, successful politician with the perfect marriage, and the perfect life.

Very different people from two very different worlds. But when those two worlds collide head on, when one chance meeting sees wild and beautiful meet the perfect English gentleman, it sets off a chain of events that sees one man take a journey into a world he’s never experienced before, whilst another has to face up to things he never thought he’d have to face at all. And Stevie herself has to come to terms with a secret past she’s tried hard to keep under wraps as her life becomes increasingly complicated…but the past has a habit of catching up with you.

A sexy, edgy romance, it mixes the worlds of rock 'n' roll and politics, and tells the story of what happens when you really can't help who you fall in love with.

2) Both of these books have a strong show business component as part of the plot and setting. What drew you those aspects when writing this book?

I've always had an interest in show business - I studied Performing Arts, worked as a Media Technician, always harboured a secret desire to be an actress, and I suppose I've always had a fascination with the world of "celebrity"; the glamour, the people, the pure escapism it can provide. I'll admit to, on many an occasion, day dreaming about walking the red carpet at a movie premiere, or hanging around backstage at rock gigs, and, being sensible enough to know that was never going to happen in real life, I thought the next best thing was to create characters that did all of that for me! Hence India in No Matter What and Stevie in See You At The Show. I wanted to write books that take people away from their ordinary lives for a little while and transport them into somebody elses world, a world far removed from their own, and I hope I've managed to do that in my books. Because if anything can take you away from everyday life for a little while, it has to be the world of show business!

3) So, both rock stars and movie stars are representative in these books. So, really, which do you prefer?

Oh, now that's a hard one! I love my movie stars, and I love my rock stars... if I had to choose? I think I'd have to go with the movie stars. Although I couldn't actually tell you why!

4) What kind of process do you use when designing your characters?

I start off with a brief outline - their name, a description of how they'd look, personality traits, their relationship with other characters, that kind of thing. I try to picture what they'd look like in my head, how they'd act, what they'd be like as a person if they were real. But it isn't until I actually start writing the story that the characters really grow into themselves. They always develop as the story goes on, things always change, even if it's only slightly. And I love the fact that happens, that the story itself drives the characters forward, determining how they finally turn out. I always find it quite exciting, seeing how they develop and progress. I think creating the characters is one of my favourite parts of the whole writing process.

5) What does the word "romance" mean to you?

To me, the word "romance" doesn't necessarily mean all that hearts and flowers stuff, and all the other stereotypical things people sometimes associate with romance. To me it means just having someone there who cares, who listens, who puts you first. Simple things, really. When someone squeezes your hand and smiles at you for no reason, or just says 'I love you' out of the blue, that's romance. But, then again, romance comes in all kinds of different forms, as you'll see if you read my books!

6) Do you have any works in-progress you could give us a hint about?

Yes, I do! I'm actually working on the follow up to No Matter What right now. I just loved writing about the characters in that book, and I found it really hard to say goodbye to them once I'd finished that story. They became almost like friends to me. So the obvious thing, it seemed, was to write a follow up! This new book continues just a few months on from where No Matter What left off, and I hope people out there want to read more about those characters and their glamorous - and sometimes not-so-glamorous - lives. It's more romance, more movie stars, more escapism, all set against the backdrop of Las Vegas.


Thanks, Michelle.

You can visit Michelle at her blog.

Book links:

No Matter What
See You At The Show

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