Interview with Michael Nelson
Author of Bless Me Father and For I Have Sinned
Where are you from originally and where do you reside now?
I was born in Chicago, IL and lived in the early projects. Since then I have been to every state in the U.S. and 5 of the 7 continents, mostly for work and a couple for fun. After a lifetime of travel, I now live in a very small town in northern Illinois.
If you currently reside somewhere besides where you were born, what’s the story that lead from there to here?
That story is contained between the lines of my books, and much too complex to detail here. I have walked a crooked path to get to this point, both complex and, in my opinion, interesting.
What made you decide to write and publish your first book?
At the end of his life, my father, presented me with a diary that he had kept during WWII. Throughout his life he would never speak of it, no matter how hard we pressed him. After reading it I understood. The horror of the war, and the effect it must have had on a small town farm boy explained to me why he had been so emotionally distant his entire life. If I’d known I might have had a better relationship with him. I decided not to let that happen to my children and set out to document some of my own life. With a little color, and embellishment it became a novel, then 2.
How would you describe your books to first time readers?
I really like this review. Mostly because it succinctly describes the stories as well as I could ever hope to. “The hero of this poignant novel travels the world in search of himself. His encounters are as numerous as those of Don Quixote and, often, as amusing. This is a heartfelt story of a burdened soul struggling to survive and grow. Travel with him. It will do you good! Daniel Jacobs, M.D”
Who do you feel is most likely to connect with the topics you write about?
Older readers will remember the turbulent times that take place in these chapters. My hope is that younger readers will experience the adventure and excitement. I hope that both of them will perceive the lesson
What unexpected or surprising thing did you learn during the process of writing and publishing?
First and foremost, that I liked to write. For someone that couldn’t pass high school English and hated writing letters throughout my life that was a revelation. Secondly, I think, that I wasn’t too bad at it.
If you could, what advice would you give to your past self before embarking on this journey?
Try and make it fun, be honest and don’t fall in love with a story line. If it feels wrong it probably is.
How many people would you ideally like to reach with your books?
I don’t know if there’s a good answer for this question. I certainly would like as many people as possible to like my books. I love these stories and I’m proud of how the books turned out, so I want people to enjoy them. I’ve occasionally fantasized about selling a bazillion copies, but in reality, I’d be happy if they reached enough people so that I could afford to keep writing.
What has been the biggest challenge and frustration during the process to date?
I loved the writing part, and the editing taught me how to become a better writer. The marketing part is beyond my understanding. Marketing, particularly the self-marketing portion of all this, is a labyrinth of wrong turns, confusion, and a lonely road.
What’s your biggest strengths when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?
I love the writing part
What’s your biggest weakness when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?
Marketing, marketing, marketing
When do you think you will write your next book?
I am finishing the 3rd as we speak and hope to have it to the editor in another week or two. This will finish the initial series of Emmett Casey chronicles. Many readers have contacted me, asking that I write more about the other people that he meets along his journey, so we’ll see what happens after this last one.