BOOK BEAT Naples Sun Times March 28-April 3, 2007
by Philip K. Jason
For Michelle Weston, a fourth-generation Floridian, Naples has been home for all but the first year of her life. She grew up and graduated from Naples High School (in 1994) as Michelle Brundage, married her husband Greg in 1996, and finished her BS in Accounting at the University of South Florida in 1997. Weston worked for several years as a land development accountant, beginning at Bonita Bay Properties, before deciding to follow her dream of becoming a writer. Now, writing as M. B. Weston, she has published her first novel, A Prophecy Forgotten, which has just been released by ArcheBooks Publishing.
Because Weston loved fantasy fiction from childhood, she had no hesitation about plunging into this field. When I asked her if there was any part of the bookstore aside from the fantasy section where her book might be shelved, she said “Young Adult.” In fact, by test marketing the book, Weston discovered that while adult readers enjoyed it, the story had an especially strong impact on young adult readers. She even tried it out on her local church youth group, for which she is a volunteer leader, and they loved it.
So, even though this book was not conceived of in terms of the young adult category, Weston’s affinity for young adults somehow came through in it and she is perfectly happy to have something that will appeal to these readers – the same readers who enjoy Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings (about which she remembers doing a book report when she was thirteen).
Michelle Weston is not only interested in young adult readers, she is also interested in motivating and teaching young writers. To that end, she has formed a young writers group within the Naples area chapter of the Florida Writers’ Association. Weston loves speaking to youth and knows how to hold the attention of adolescents. But whatever the age of her audience, she wants to help others to value and develop their writing talents.
It does not take long to discover that for Michelle Weston the spiritual life and her church are very important. Religious motifs can be found in her novel, but she would prefer that readers discover them for themselves rather than have them announced. It is fair to say that there is warfare in A Prophecy Forgotten – good and evil are in vivid conflict. Jokingly, Weston says it’s kind of like J.R.R. Tolkien meets Tom Clancy.
The promotional description reads as follows: “A Prophecy Forgotten tells the story of Davian, a battle hardened major in the special operations division of the cherubian military. While Davian is on assignment deep in enemy territory, he is called back and sent to Earth to guard seven-year-old Tommy—a boy who has been prophesied to save Earth. As Davian guards Tommy, he discovers that some of his fellow soldiers are plotting to kill the leaders of his homeland and take power. He must find a way to return home and warn his government before the traitors can succeed.”
One of the most enjoyable parts of the creative imagining that goes into writing Weston’s kind of fantasy novel is making up the rules for the fantasy world. How does it operate? How is it different from the world we all share? In this case, inventing the appropriate weaponry for the warriors was part of the challenge and part of the fun.
When we sat down together, Weston was anxiously awaiting the appearance of this first novel, its launch date having been postponed a bit. (By the way, if you want to meet with her, suggest a coffee shop.) Already, however, she is well along on its sequel: Out of the Shadows. Together, and perhaps with additional titles, these form “The Elysian Chronicles,” which Weston calls “a para-dimensional fantasy series.” The first volume is now available from archebooks.com and will soon be available from major online and traditional booksellers.
Weston knows that it will be hard for her to establish herself in such a competitive arena, but she is committed to taking on the inevitable marketing responsibilities. To help generate interest in her work, she has developed a website with her targeted audience in mind. Visitors to elysianchronicles.com will find it connected to a newsletter and a blog. The blog can be reached independently at mbweston.blogspot.com. And the Elysian Chronicles merchandising is underway, beginning with t-shirts. A talented speaker and motivator, Michelle Weston is ready to talk to your writing group or club. Anyone can contact her via the website.
Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at firstname.lastname@example.org.