Meet the Author: Michelle Betham

Michelle Betham is a British independent author of two novels. Her second novel, Too Much Trouble in Paradise, is a lighthearted, fun romance set mainly on the Spanish Canarian island of Tenerife. Molly Parker is a 30-something Geordie girl who moves to Tenerife with her best friend after her divorce from her professional darts-playing husband who she left behind in the North East of England. Molly settles into her new life nicely with a lovely home, a good job, and her fiance until her ex-husband shows up and declares his undying love for her, which could change everything.

Today, Michelle joins us to answer some of our questions to get to know her better. Enjoy! 

What was your favorite book(s) when you were a child?
Oh, definitely The Famous Five and Malory Towers series of books by Enid Blyton. I loved those books! They took me to another world, worlds so different to mine, but once I started reading them I couldn’t put them down! And those Famous Five books were the inspiration for a lot of our summer school holiday fun as children as we re-lived the adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne and George, riding around the streets on our bikes. Although, my small Yorkshire Terrier Sparky had been most unwilling to join in and play the role of Timmy! Those books gave me escapism, and they sealed my love of reading.

What is your favorite book(s) now?
To be honest, I’ll read anything from Jill Mansell to James Herbert! I grew up reading anything I could lay my hands on, so I’ve got a wide range in tastes when it comes to books. I do, however, have favourites. Anything by Jackie Collins for example. I love the way she can draw me into a story and before I know it I’m completely lost in the book! Great holiday reads. I like a good horror book, Stephen King and James Herbert being particular favourites – although I remember reading The Dark when I was about 13 and it gave me nightmares for weeks afterwards! All the Harry Potter books are a must-read for me. They made many a long journey to work bearable. Again, it’s this escapism thing. I just loved the way those books completely transported me to another world so far away from my own. And the fact that JK Rowling wrote books that appealed both to children and adults is something I admire greatly! But chick lit is by far my favourite genre to read. Authors such as Lisa Jewell, Jill Mansell and Marian Keyes are all favourites, to name but a few. And I loved the Shopaholic series of books by Sophie Kinsella. Good stories, a lot of humour, great characters.
When did you start writing?
As soon as I could hold a pen I think! I’ve always loved writing. Right from a very early age I was scribbling things down, making up stories. I’ve often been accused of living in a dream world, of having my head in the clouds but that’s because I’ve always been thinking about the next story, the next scenario, or making up another character in my head! I used to make up stories and write them down all through my childhood, and even in my teenage years I had notebook after notebook filled with ideas. I remember we had to write a novel in the Sixth Form at school as part of our English course and my teacher gave me some good feedback on mine. I wish I knew what I’d done with that actually. It could have been useful! Writing is a love that’s never gone away. It’s always been there. When one of my lecturers at college asked me what I’d like to have achieved by the age of 30, I told her that I’d like to have a book published. I had to wait another 10 years or so before that happened, but during that time I continued to write, continued to gather ideas, and I always knew I’d do it one day. Somehow!

When did you decide to become an author and why?
I decided to become an author, to pursue the dream seriously, about two years ago. It had always been my dream, but I’d always been too busy to dedicate the time needed to take writing seriously. There was too much going on for me to give it the time it deserved, and I wanted to be able to give it everything. But after we returned home from living on the Spanish Canarian island of Tenerife for a couple of years, and opened up our own IT business, working from home meant I finally had that time I’d always needed to concentrate totally on my writing. 

I’d also had a story in my head for the past 20 years, something which had started way back in the early 90’s and all through those years I’d collected ideas, created the characters, kept the story alive until the time was right to finally put pen to paper (or fingers on keyboard!) and write it all down. I did just that in the autumn of 2009, the result being my first book No Matter What, an epic romantic saga of love, jealousy, obsession and betrayal! It was the book I had to write to get it out of my system, and I’m very proud of it because it stayed true to that idea I had way back in the early 90’s. So, I’m always going to love that book.

Becoming an author wasn’t something I wanted to do on a whim. It’s been a lifelong dream, writing is something I love, and to be able to do it every day is a privilege. I want to be able to take people to another world – just like some of my favourite authors have done to me – to allow them to get lost in my stories, to get involved with the characters I create. That’s why I wanted to become an author. But, more than anything, I just want people to enjoy my books.
How did you come to the decision to self-publish your novel(s)?
I’d tried going down the conventional route of trying to acquire an agent with all three of my completed novels, but all I ever got back were rejections. Some came with some useful and encouraging advice, but the majority were the usual one-line rejection e-mail. And for a time I let it get to me, becoming more and more disheartened with every rejection I received, leading me to re-edit all three novels quite dramatically, convinced it was my writing that was the problem, when it was mainly the fact that new authors just weren’t worth agents taking a risk on right now.

I kind of hit a brick wall at that point, not really knowing what to do next and I let that dream of becoming an author slip further away, thinking it was never really going to happen. But then a friend of mine sent me some information on self-publishing eBooks on Amazon, and after reading up on it and realizing how easy it was (as long as you have an IT expert husband with you!), I suddenly got all that excitement back and the dream was re-born!

I re-edited (again!) No Matter What and Too Much Trouble in Paradise – my first foray into the world of chick lit -- and got them up there on Amazon as quickly as I could. I have a third completed novel yet to be published because I'm still re-editing that one, and I've also started work on a new novel, another foray into chick lit set in my native North East England, and I think it's going to be another fun one to write.
What is the most challenging part about being a writer? What is the most rewarding?
From a personal point of view, the most challenging part about being a writer is the discipline it takes to really knuckle down and give writing a novel the time it needs. It’s difficult to get into a routine when you first start out, and it’s hard not to get distracted sometimes. And writing can also be quite a lonely job because you have to spend a certain amount of time on your own with only these characters you’ve created for company, so it’s important to get out and remember there’s a real world out there too!

The most rewarding part of being a writer, for me, isn’t just finally seeing your books out there and available to buy after decades of doing nothing but dreaming about it, it’s when people tell you they enjoyed reading them. When I see a good review for any of my books, or someone tells me how much they enjoyed the story or how involved they got with the characters, that’s what makes it all worthwhile to me. To know that my books can generate real feelings in people, that they managed to get involved in the story, that’s the best reward for me. Because that’s why I write.

Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?
You’d be surprised! I get inspiration from so many things! I can be watching a TV programme or a movie and suddenly something will just pop into my head and I’ve got to go and write it down before I forget. I never go anywhere without my notebook and pen!

One of my main sources of inspiration, though, is music. I’m a huge music fan and so many records have inspired stories or characters for me. I can hear a song and get a whole chunk of storyline out of it just by listening to the lyrics.

But, of course, a lot of inspiration has also come from real life. We lived in Tenerife for a number of years, and I really wanted to write a book set on that island because I loved living there and it’s somewhere I’ll always hold dear. It’s a beautiful place. So, that’s where I got the inspiration to write Too Much Trouble in Paradise, the story of a recently divorced woman starting out on a new life in a new country. I used a lot of my own experiences of living abroad and put them in the book. But my Geordie background was also an inspiration. I was born and brought up in the North East of England, which is a very friendly, very funny part of the world and I think us Geordies have a wonderful sense of humour! A lot of the characters in the book are Geordies and I hope I’ve managed to portray some of that Northern English humour in there! Molly – the main character – has a lot to deal with in Too Much Trouble in Paradise and I hope she manages to deal with it all in the only way a good Geordie girl can! I suppose you could say real life and a very vivid imagination are the best forms of inspiration for me!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Never give up! If you love writing, then keep on doing it, and don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s an impossible dream. With the advent of eBooks and digital self-publishing it has become easier, but it is hard work. I am only publishing my books as eBooks at the minute and right away you’ve lost some potential readers who still haven’t warmed to the idea of Kindles or reading books on PC’s, so you have to work extremely hard at marketing your own work. But it’s not impossible to achieve your dream, if you’re willing to put the work in. I’m still fairly new to all of this, so I’m still learning as I go, but I’ve met some lovely people along the way and learned some useful and valuable advice. In reality, when you self-publish, the real work begins after you’ve written the book, but don’t let that put you off. It can be fun! So, if you really want to become an author, and you love writing, then go for it. Never give up. Just be prepared for hard work! 

For more information about Michelle and her books, you can visit her blogs at and
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