Interview with Michelle Lam

Today, we're visiting with author, Michelle Lam. She's here to tell us about her new novel, The Accidental Prophetess.

Q: Welcome, Michelle. Thanks for joining us. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

A: I’m a book-loving chocoholic English teacher from Canada. Right now I’m a part-time stay-at-home-mom of two little kids, and a part-time English teacher to a rowdy group of 6th graders. I love to travel, and have taught English in Thailand and Indonesia, and am currently living in Vietnam.

When did you begin writing?

I have always loved a good story. I grew up on a strawberry farm and when I was younger, my sister and I used to tell stories to one another to make the time go faster when we were picking berries. I have a folder of first chapters on my computer, but this is my first full-length novel.

Can you tell us about The Accidental Prophetess?

I’d love to! Natalie Richards (27) knows how to make a video go viral. It's her job, after all. But when she's fired over her latest video -- an ad for dish soap, of all things -- she complains. Loudly. In public. It's not her fault that those words were written down decades earlier. Within minutes she's abducted, whisked underground, and proclaimed to be a long-lost prophet destined to save the world. The threats against world peace are real. But then again, so is the need to breathe fresh air and have a decent haircut. Not to mention the two deliciously handsome men that seem to have secrets of their own. A cult is a cult, no matter how sexy the head of security might be ... right?

How did you get the idea for the book?

I was wondering how prophets discover their gifts. I mean, really, how does it happen? Do they just know that they are prophets? Unless there was some sort of secret society monitoring communications, and that society was looking for a prophet to be their leader…

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

I think Carla is my favourite. She’s not really a main character – she’s Natalie’s roommate. She’s featured a lot, though. I love her because she’s tough and she’s had a hard life, but she is fiercely loyal and funny to boot!

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

I had trouble (still have trouble, actually) turning off my internal editor’s voice. Eventually it’s time to publish your book, but you still think that you could just tweak it one more time …

What is your primary goal as an author?

I want to write books that are light-hearted, funny, and clean.

What projects are you currently working on?

Secrets, secrets! All I can say is that my next novel is going to involve graduate school, a library assistant, and a plot to cause a not-so-natural disaster.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Make friends with other writers. Join a critique group, and learn from the people who have gone before you. I know I’ve learned so much from others who have gone before me.
Please enjoy this excerpt from The Accidental Prophetess:

"I’d been holding my breath for a long time. I know how these things go. Okay, in retrospect, I realize that all of this knowledge has been gleaned from spy novels and CSI shows. But still, knowledge is knowledge. A girl gets abducted. Put in a car. Then there’s a damp rag held over her mouth. She slumps and wakes up in the trunk. Or doesn't wake up at all. I put that thought quickly out of my mind and pressed my lips firmly together. When the rag came, I would pretend to faint, and then when the car stopped, I’d make a run for it. It was a decent plan, considering the circumstances.

“We haven’t used the chloroform rag since child locks were invented,” said the neckless hulk of a man squashed in on my left. “You can breathe normally.” His partner snorted, but regained his composure quickly.

I let out my breath as nonchalantly as I could and devoted my time instead to memorizing our route. We were rolling through Manhattan behind tinted windows. I needed a Plan B. I dismissed the thought of trying to get help -- the windows were too dark for anyone to see inside, and I doubted trying to wrench a door open would work. So I stared intently out the window, committing everything to memory. After several turns I was hopelessly lost. I’ve lived here for two years, but I’ve spent the best part of those two years in front of my computer, setting up media marketing campaigns for my job.

My name is Natalie Richards. I am a marketing executive and I am really good at my job. Too good, actually, because I got fired today right after my latest video -- an advertisement for dish soap, of all things -- went viral. But I’d known my video would be good. It had just the right amount of sarcasm and pop culture references. Sometimes you just know when things are going to turn out, you know? I had maneuvered my boss to sign an agreement beforehand into giving me a large percentage of the advertising space. He wanted the ad space now that the video was viral, so he fired me. I fully intend to fight him on that one, but first I need to get out of this car.

“I kinda miss the damp old rag,” the man to the left was saying. “Delivering people now is getting boring. I feel like a taxi driver.”

“Taxi drivers don’t usually poke guns into people’s ribs,” I said, before thinking to check my tongue.

“That’s true. But most people don’t try to stun gun me.”

“Really?” I was genuinely surprised. When I had moved here from Rochester at least three people had told me to carry one for protection in the big bad city. “Why not?”

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