Michelle Cunnah began writing in fourth grade—short stories and adapting well-known fairy tales into scripts that she and her school friends would enact in class. Mainly because she liked to spin her own happy endings, but also because she had compelling voices in her head who wanted to be heard. But don’t worry—she always knew that these voices were imaginary and not real.In her teens Michelle discovered her grandmother’s wonderful collection of Mills & Boon romances (now Harlequin Mills & Boon). Despite other peoples’ disdain and dismissal of the romance genre as being somehow not worthy, not literary, Michelle fell in love with these books because they provided her with entertainment and escapism. At the time she was studying heavy-duty authors in school—D.H. Lawrence, Albert Camus, Emile Zola and Annette von Droste-Hülshoff to name a few—and found the Mills & Boon romances to be a welcome relief. Michelle promised her grandmother that one day she’d write a romance book, too.
For ‘O’ level English Language Michelle wrote her first short romance. She scored a B. Her teacher said that she couldn’t give Michelle an A because although the story was well written it was just too "women’s magazine." Michelle promised herself that she definitely would write a romance one day, just to spite that English teacher.
Around the same time Michelle discovered a treasure trove of Mills & Boon romances in the school library. One day, just as she was choosing her latest stash, the librarian pulled her to one side. She took the books away from Michelle and told her that she had to read "proper" books. This reinforced Michelle’s conviction that she would write an "improper" book, just to spite that librarian, too.
Michelle spent several years writing twenty romances and having them all rejected.
In 1998 Michelle moved to America with her family. She joined the Romance Writers of America (RWA), a professional writer’s organization for those serious about being published in any genre of romance. She also joined the New Jersey Romance Writers (NJRW), her local chapter of RWA. She learned a lot about the craft of writing (and discovered that she’d been doing a lot of things wrong), and about the publishing industry in general.
In 2002, ten years after getting her first rejection letter, Michelle acquired a literary agent and sold her first book, 32AA, to an imprint of HarperCollins. This was followed by the sequel, Call Waiting, and a third women’s fiction book, Confessions of a Serial Dater. Michelle also writes teen fiction as Michelle Radford and has had two books published in this genre to date. Almost Fabulous and Totally Fabulous. Michelle is currently working on book number #6.
After several wonderful years in America and the Netherlands, Michelle can now be found just outside London, England, where she spends her time either attached at the hip to her computer, or struggling to remember the UK English words for cell phone, sidewalk and spackle. If you'd like to find out about Michelle's antics with travel, telephones, red tape and other life stuff, check out her latest life disaster at her blog, here.
These days Michelle reads a lot of proper books. She still reads and writes improper books, too.
Thank you Michelle, and we look forward to your talk on Saturday 14th. Anyone interested in coming along, the Writebulb group will take place in the upstairs meeting room in Chelmsford Library from 2-4pm.