Ty Langston aka Michele Villery is the author of numerous books such as By Sunset: A Dragon races Tale, Crave, Decadent Dreams as well as short stories. I recently chatted with her about her writing process, what inspires her creatively, advice she would give writers, the Indy Geek podcast, and the touching story behind her pen name. Read what she had to say below:
Why did you decide to become a writer?
“Basically, I like interesting people, places and things. People who are contributing something to the world. We all do, whether you’re doing something for your children or if you’re doing something for your family. Everyone has a story. It’s how you tell it and if you make it interesting, that’s the best part. That was what always attracted me to writing news. It wasn’t about the fame or the glamour. It was about wanting to know more about people, places and things and to find out what makes certain things happen. That’s why I like writing. I love the world around us. I like learning about what makes the world go around, whether it’s the things that you wear or the places that define people.”
Under what genre would you classify your writing?
“Romance. The stuff I’m working on now, it is romance primarily. I guess I’m a romantic at heart. I’ve always believed that there is someone out there for everyone. Doesn’t everybody?”
What was the hardest obstacle you encountered in writing and publishing your books?
“Rejection is always hard, but it is what it is. I kinda come to the conclusion that if you’re going to get into this, be prepared for rejection and it doesn’t have to be personal with the publisher. It’s a business so you may write something that doesn’t meet their business needs so they’ll pass on it. You also worry about people liking your stuff. Or the message you’re trying to convey may not be what the reader sees. I’m always worried about that. Am I saying it right? Am I doing my job? Is it coming across in a positive way? Even one person gets it, that’s good. If there are a couple of people and they tell me in a constructive way that they’re not seeing something, I have to question that.”
What writers inspire you?
“Harper Lee. I was always a huge fan growing up. E.L. Doctorow, the author of Ragtime. That was one of the first books I read that had fiction mixed in with history that I really liked a lot. There are so many. I like Stephen King. My mom…this is so funny…I’m a huge Jackie Collins fan and I was reading Jackie Collins because my mom is an avid reader. Call it a bad influence, but my mom got me into Jackie Collins when I was like 12 years old. I am a huge Jackie Collins fan and I am a huge fan of Harlequin Romance. I would get all the Sweet Valley High books and the Harlequin teen books. I love John Jakes. I’m a huge North and South fan. I love Lace, the miniseries and the books. The other night, I started Felicia Day’s book. I really love Felicia Day’s book.”
Let’s talk about By Sunset: A Dragon races Tale. What would you say is the message of the book?
“It’s been awhile since I looked through the book, but I would say that the book has a message of love. There’s a lot going on with it. It’s basically love. There’s also a message of loyalty. Julian wants to make sure because his family has been down for a long time…Julian wants to make sure that his family is back the way they should be.”
If you could do anything differently, is there anything you would change about the book?
“I’d make it longer. It was very short so I’d make it longer. I would explain Elena’s back story a little more. The second book in the series explains more about what happened with the family.”
What advice would you give writers just starting out?
“Write as much as you can. Also, watch conversations. I watch a lot of people’s conversations whether it’s at a mall or your friends talking or people in a grocery store yakking. I watch their expressions. I watch the dialogue. I watch their body language. They always say write what you know. Writing what you know can be great, but sometimes, it’s writing the unknown, that’s the best stuff because you’re learning about something new. I say, if you can, try to write every single day. If you can’t, write maybe every other day or every couple of days. I was diagnosed with depression in June and I hadn’t written in about a year because it just crippled me. One of the things that helped me was that someone told me to write in a new direction and basically, I started journaling, literally journaling everything, free writing, like “I’m in love with my cat” or “I’m fed up with this.” You’re getting your thoughts and feelings out. It has helped me to help myself and has made me a better writer. I would say if you can’t write every day, write as much as you can. Try blogging. Writing doesn’t just have to be book writing. Do interviews. You get to meet interesting people. It keeps your mind occupied and you think of ideas. You can pick up so many things. It keeps you inspired.”
You are a co-host of the Indy Geek podcasts. Can you tell us a bit about that?
“Indy Geek podcast probably won’t come back until October. Indy Geek podcast is hosted by Tory Rush and myself. Basically, we talk about all things geek culture from the female prospective. It’s pretty much pop culture. We do books like the original Night of the Living Dead. We have a webcast called Beyond Supernatural. We’re going to be doing that again in September. We have Lynn who writes the Fangasm books. We have the Black Girls Nerds founder. It’s great to get feedback from people. We used to do it live, but I think we’ll probably tape it.”
Are you working on any projects that you can share with us?
“My current work in progress is called The Knockout. It’s a MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) sports romance. Pretty much this guy fights for his family. No matter what, you fight for your family. He comes off of a 5 year retirement and there’s different circumstances why he disappeared when he was on the verge of superstardom.”
You write under a pen name, Ty Langston. How did you come up with that?
“Ty is my middle name. Langston is my late grandmother’s last name. I chose that as a tribute to her.”