Well, readers, as promised, and without further ado, meet Michael Lee West (don’t you just love her Southern name)! Ms. West was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us. So while we hope you’ve already “met” this Southern author through charming books, but if not, here’s a great introduction — SIT meet MLW, MLW meet SIT.
SIT: You write from such a strong Southern point of view. Where were you born and raised?
MLW: I was born in the Louisiana Delta, raised on the Gulf Coast and middle Tennessee.
Have you been writing all your life, or when did you start?
I began writing during a childhood illness (got sick at Girl Scout camp) and my doctor put me on bedrest for the summer. My mother brought home stacks of books from the library; I went straight to The Carpetbaggers and Intern by Dr. X. A neighbor, who was working on her MA in English, introduced me to Little Women and Little Men, along with high fantasy (The Hobbit). I started writing my own stories on Big Chief pads from my father’s dime store. And never stopped, except to get a B.S. in Nursing (Mother thought I needed something to “fall back on” in case I got married and my husband died, a common belief in that era).
What is your writing style – do you write a little each day or write when inspiration hits?
I write every day.
What are some of your favorite books or literary influences?
Gone With the Wind is a favorite. I once owned a bed that presumably came from Margaret Mitchell’s childhood home (too heavey to move so we reluctantly sold it).
There were so many memorable characters in the book – Teeny, Miss Dora, Red Butler, Coop. Were the characters any of them based on anyone, or any parts of anyone, you know?
No, they’re totally fictional. They just sprang up and took over my life.
Teeny clearly loves food. What’s your favorite Southern food?
Cheese grits, made with milk and white cheddar, garnished with crumbled bacon.
The novel was based in Charleston, one of the South’s favorite cities. Tell us a little about what you love about Charleston, and how you decided the novel should take place in Charleston.
My older son is a chef; he graduated from Johnson & Wales (when the school was based in Charleston). But even before that, I’ve had this geographical romance going with the Low Country. My husband loves it, too. He applied for a rheumatology residency at the medical college. We were crushed when it didn’t work out. Years later, we bought and renovated an old home in Tennessee–nothing grand like the beautiful homes South of Broad, just a country “four-square,” but the heart-of-pine floors and wavy glass windows gave us a little touch of Charleston.
One of my favorite parts of the book is how you mixed recipes with scripture and songs. If there was a soundtrack to Gone with a Handsomer Man, what would the title track be?
Here’s a link to one of Teeny’s playlists.
Last, but certainly not least, is there a sequel in the works? The last sentence leaves us hanging and we’re dying to know!
Yes! A Teeny Bit of Trouble is the second book in the series. It will be published in April 2012.
So readers, there you have it. Come on back tomorrow for a little more Michael Lee West, including a great recipe from Teeny herself!