Joining me today in The Loft is Madison Michael, who writes steamy contemporary romance. The author of the Beguiling Bachelor and B&B Billionire Bachelor Series, Maddy is also a blogger and indie publisher. A Chicago native, her stories employ the sumptuous backdrop of Chicago's elite society. Although she began her career in the business world, she soon turned to writing books. Maddy writes surrounded by feline assistants and when not writing, she can be found lost in a book, fighting for the rights of the mentally ill, or dining on Chicago's famous cuisine (hot dogs and pizza).
S: Welcome to the Loft, Maddy! Thanks for taking a leap across the border to Wisconsin to chat with me today. I don't often entertain authors from the land of da Bears!
Why did you become an author?
M: I was already in my 60s when I penned my first novel. In fact, I had no intention of writing a romance novel, although I had wanted to be a writer my entire childhood, and was a journalist through my teens and college. I worked on the high school and college papers, but when it came time to fight for a job on a newspaper, I went to grad school, getting an MBA and moving into the world of finance, banking and eventually, high tech. More than 30 years later, I dusted off my writing tools and took an online class titled, “How to Write a Romance Novel.” Eleven weeks later, I had meat on the bones of my first book and things took off from there. I have just completed the first draft of my ninth novel and I’m doing a complete rewrite of my first novel, "Bedazzled." That sends goosebumps up my arms. The little girl who dreamed of being an author is now a full-time author and CEO of her own company--Madison Michael.
S: Congratulations! Obviously, your detour into business paid off.
Do you write full or part-time?
M: While I am a writer first and foremost, as an independent author, I do so many other tasks. I spend mornings writing, but afternoons are filled with editing, education and training, advertising, promotions, networking, blogging, and the dreaded social media--a time suck if ever I saw one. It takes all of this to launch a book that readers can find and hopefully, love. I am fortunate though. The business of novels excites me as much as the writing of them.
S: Authors are always surprised when they learn they have to do more than write. They also have to promote. I was surprised at how time-consuming the business of writing is.
What is your writing process?
M: In the writing world, there are plotters and pantsers. Plotters have the story mapped out before they begin. Perhaps they have completed all their research and know their characters intimately. Many plotters can describe their story chapter by chapter before they write a single word. Yeah, that’s not me. Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants. That’s not me either. My process is to start with characters and to know and love them. I have to understand who they are, what their flaws are, and how love will change them. I start there, along with a very basic outline. But somewhere along the writing process, my characters take over. They morph and in doing so, change my plots and plans. I guess my process is to remind myself that I am not schizophrenic, that the characters are still fictional, but to let them determine the direction of the story. For me, that means revising my plot plans and going with the flow.
S: My characters always take over. I always know the beginning of the story but I never know the end.
What attracted you to the romance genre?
M: I grew up on romance--movies like “My Fair Lady” and “Sound of Music” and novels by Jane Austen and Barbara Cartland. My eldest sister could read a romance a day--she still can. I love modern romcoms, too. I can watch “Sweet Home Alabama” over and over. When I first considered writing, I thought I would tackle mental health topics. I wanted to convey a message, to make a difference. But I quickly discovered that my passion was passion. Life is tough. I want to crawl in bed with a hot book-boyfriend and escape reality for a few hours. That is the difference I have chosen to make in the world.
S: These days, everyone needs an escape, even if only for a few hours. I think it's so satisfying that as writers, we can provide that.
Do you write in other genres?
M: I wrote "Broken Time," which is a time-travel romance, and added adventure and suspense to "Bedeviled" and "Besotted" from my Beguiling Bachelor series, but ultimately, I return to contemporary, steamy romance. My characters are in their 30s, they have been dating a while and know what they want. My men are successful and powerful, and often so are my women. My novels are about escaping into a luxe, sumptuous world of designer dresses, private jets, mountain top retreats, and finding the perfect love.
S: I worked in Chicago for many years. I often got a glimpse into that world and it has always fascinated me.
What's your definition of romance?
M: My definition of romance is a relationship that allows both partners to flourish and be happy. In a perfect romance, partners support each other’s dreams and goals, they provide a shoulder when you need to lean, and a leg up when you need to stretch and grow. It is cozy but offers space, full of passion and laughter. For me, a romantic partner offers constant opportunities to discover new things about yourself, the comfort to be lazy together, and the confidence to reach for new heights.
S: Wow, that's a near perfect definition!
What is your favorite thing about writing romance?
M: I hate to admit it, but the sex scenes are my favorite thing to write. They are also the hardest to complete well. When I finish writing a hot scene that titillates the reader and conveys the passion, the intimacy and the connection of two people in love, I feel great.
S: When I start blushing, I know I have written a sex scene well!
Have you ever experienced what you consider the perfect romantic evening?
M: Perhaps I have softened the memory over time, but years ago I went on a date that I thought was perfect at the time. It was a glorious summer night. We were in a convertible and we did a summer blockbuster movie and burgers. Doesn’t sound very romantic, but the whole evening had the feel of something out of a Sandra Dee movie. It was filled with laughter, an easy camaraderie, and some hot sex to top it all off. Okay, that part wasn’t very Sandra Dee but…
S: But those are the memories that put the steam in those sex scenes!
Do you remember your first kiss?
M: Oh my God, I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 13 and kind of skinny. He was 15 and on the swim team--tall and muscular. He was also very handsome and more than a little cocky. I was hanging out in front of the house, hoping to see him, I imagine. He lived down the street and we had just discovered each other a week or so earlier. Finally he walked by, chatted me up for a few minutes and then kissed me. I felt it to my toes, seriously, and everywhere in between. He bowed me over his arm, holding me just the right amount of tight, using just the right amount of tongue. When he released me, I stood dazed and aroused and wanting more. Instead, he lifted me up and dropped me into a nearby garbage can, butt dangling down, legs draped over the side, and walked away. I wriggled a long time to get out of that can, but the kiss lingered way longer.
S: I certainly hope you used that scene in one of your books! That's too precious to lock away!
What was your worst date ever?
M: I’ve had a few, but the first one to come to mind happened when I was 16. First date, older boy. It was a bitter cold night, winter in Chicago. We tried to get into an NC-17 movie and of course, I was turned away. Then we went to a pizza place that was closed, and finally the car got stuck in a snowdrift and we had to call friends to come dig us out. All in all, a disaster. We dated for several years.
S: Well, if you kept dating, I'm guessing that was a "no harm, no foul" situation.
What attracted you to your current partner?
M: I fell for my ex-husband on our first date, and I fell hard. He was in town for one night only and we met at a dinner party. I went home that night and told my family, “If I can contrive to see him again, we’ll get married.” I was right. It took one date to fall for Michael, too. We met online, so he still calls our first date "an interview,” but it was dinner, so I think that counts as a date. He was smart and funny, chattier than most men, and we had so much in common. About halfway through dinner, his phone rang and he apologized but took the call. “It’s my daughter, calling from college,” he told me. “I can’t pass up a chance to talk to her.” I don’t know why, but that touched me--the fact that he was a loving father. He was a good kisser too, which didn’t hurt. We just celebrated eight years together.
S: You have some wonderful stories. Great inspiration for writing romance.
What would you like people to know about you?
M: What a broad question. Here are a few things. I love cats and I love dogs. Big dogs. I’m addicted to coffee and Diet Dr. Pepper. I love people, but I covet my privacy. I write romance, but I’m told I'm not romantic. I'm a junky for news, tons of it, but I love to escape with a good novel. I'm addicted to sugar, yet I am always on a diet. Writing is incredibly hard work, but I do it for the fun.
S: Maddy, this has truly been a delightful conversation. Thanks so much for joining me today.
If you'd like to learn about Maddy and her books, please visit--