Michelle Bellon lives in the Pacific Northwest with her four quirky and beautiful children. She loves coffee, Superman, rollercoasters, and has an addiction to chapstick.
She works as a registered nurse and in her spare time writes novels. As a multi-genre author, she has written in the categories of romance suspense, young adult, women’s fiction, and literary fiction. She has won four literary awards.
Connect with the Author here:
Breathe in, breathe out.
This mantra gets Tessa Benson through the day.
The man she loves walks all over her, and she just wants to get by without her heart shattering to pieces. If she could find her voice, she’d scream.
Everything changes in one night, when she’s snatched from the streets and tied to a bed, a camera set up to capture her dying moment. And the person who paid to watch her die...is still out there somewhere.
Tessa prowls dark neighborhoods in a quest for justice, but she doesn’t find the killer. Not until they strike again…in the place Tessa is least expecting, and where it hurts worst.
Q & A:
1. If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?
That my children find their inner warrior and achieve their full potential. For the human race to get back in touch with true empathy and kindness so that we might stop self-destructing as a whole. To feel proud of myself and satisfied with my achievements.
2. Where do you write?
Typically, in bed, at night, while the children are sleeping.
3. How long does it normally take you to write a novel?
That has changed over the years. When my children were younger and I was home with them, I was able to dedicate a lot more time to my writing. I could write the first draft within three to four months, sometimes shorter if I was really on fire. Now that I’m a single mom and working full-time, my writing time has dwindled down significantly. This last book, Breathe In, took me almost exactly a year to write. Then I did rewrites and edits for the next couple of months after that before finding it a home with Limitless Publishing.
4. What are your inspirations?
Anything and everything that has stirred emotion within me. Often, this stems from dark emotions as I face challenges or struggles in my life and then watch as those struggles bloom into my own personal growth and become positives. Those periods of my life stir creativity as I imagine story lines and characters facing their own personal challenges that, while fictional, strike a chord in my reader which allows them to connect with the experience in their own way. Writing has become an outlet, as it often does for writers. It’s very cathartic.
5. How did you come to write this particular book or series?
A lot of my ideas come to me while I’m driving. The concept behind Breathe In, was no different. Not to go into too much detail, but to summarize, I was in an emotionally abusive marriage for many years. Anyone who has lived with any kind of abuse will tell you that a person can lose their sense of who they really are while immersed in that kind of toxic situation. You question everything about yourself: who you are, what you want. You don’t even trust your own thoughts and feelings. Doubt clouds everything.
Well, I was definitely immersed in self-doubt and personal angst as I struggled to make that relationship work On a day that my spouse was particularly angry and verbally destructive, I left for the day in an attempt to gather my thoughts. I drove an hour and a half to see my best friend. On the drive, listening to loud, angry music, I was in touch with only two emotions: feeling powerless and feeling rage. In my rage, an image came to mind of a broken-spirited woman rising up against those who have taken her power. In only a few moments, I could see her so clearly. First, a spineless push-over she thinks of herself as only weak, but after facing extreme adversity and darkness, she kicks ass and takes her power back. I could see her evolve out of her weakness, work through her rage through violence and destruction, a vigilante of sorts, and finally find peace as she discovered her inner warrior. I named her Tessa that day. Finding that character gave me a sense of purpose. I knew there would be many women that would relate to her on a primal level. It took me a few years to start writing this story as my own personal life evolved but I’m so glad I finally gave her life. I believe she will inspire many.
6. What was the hardest part of writing your book, and how did you overcome it?
The hardest part was making sure I didn’t hold back. I desperately wanted everything about Tessa’s story to be raw and dark and painful and beautiful all at the same time. I wanted the reader to feel her shame and pain and struggle right alongside her. However, I found myself a few times softening a scene here and there out of fear it might make the reader uncomfortable because maybe it’s too raw or too frightening. Each time I found myself doing this, I went back and rewrote the scene exactly how I imagined it, without a filter. I want the reader to feel uncomfortable, and even cringe at times, because some of what Tessa goes through is terrifying. It should evoke that sort of response while also inspiring a fighter spirit.
7. What is your writing drive? The power that keeps you going when your writing gets difficult?
That’s such a good question for anyone who is crazy enough to go into this business. Why in the hell do we do this to ourselves?! Because we all know, it ain’t easy and it’s a whole lot of work for very little pay off. Yet, we cannot stop. Why?
Because we simply cannot give up. These stories and inspirations inside of us have to come bubbling out or else we will go mad, or sad, or crazy. It’s our passion. It’s our burden. It’s our release.
8. How did you come up with the title?
This book had about 14 million names before I finally settled on one. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But seriously, it had a lot of names. In the end, we settled on Breathe In because Tessa says, “breathe in, breathe out” like a mantra throughout the story. First as she faces her anxieties and then ardently as a more sinister plot unfolds.
9. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of a family member?
For this story: Me.
For the first time ever, it wasn’t an outside source that I leaned on for this story. It was me and me alone. It was my drive to share Tessa’s evolution with my readers. It was a need to connect with my audience as they experienced those emotions through her. I know who I am and what I’m made of. I know what I’m capable of. That understanding, is what Tessa sought and found. It’s what all of us seek.
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