Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cinders blog tour: Interview with Michelle Davidson Argyle

Hi folks!  Today it's my pleasure to host the wonderful Michelle Davidson Argyle on the blog.  Michelle is a bloggess extraordinaire, running regular posts at The Literary Lab along with her co-bloggers Domey and Scott.  She also blogs occasionally at The Innocent Flower and is co-blogger at Adventures in Writing.

Michelle recently self-published her novella, entitled Cinders.  All this week she has been touring around the blogosphere, answering questions and garnering entries in her amazing release giveaway.  For all the details, check out this post here.

On to the interview!

SM: Your life is becoming a book.  Give us your one-paragraph elevator pitch.

MA: Michelle's life isn't going the way she planned. She just self-published a book when she would not have considered such a thing a few years ago, and although things are going well, she's got an energetic child turning four years old who keeps her from moving at the rate she'd like to. Her only wish is to keep her family happy, keep writing, and move to the Pacific Northwest, but it seems as if her husband will never finish school, and she'll be stuck in the Rocky Mountains forever.

SM: You've talked some in the past about the process of designing the cover for Cinders.  [For those who don't know, Michelle is an avid photographer.  She designed every aspect of the novella, from the cover to the typography.]  What was the thought process that carried you to the choices you made like?  I guess what I'm getting at here is was this your first idea for the cover or did you go through more?  What led to choosing to show Cinderella so far outside the palace when so much of the story takes place within it?  Or any of the other aesthetic choices you made and would like to talk about?

MA: Ah, the cover.  I haven't received many questions regarding the cover, so this is fun!  At first, I wanted a closeup of Cinderella's face with her hand held up, cupped, a pile of ashes in her palm.  I did a test photo shoot for this and failed miserably.  The ashes looked awful, and no matter how I had the model hold her hand or hands it looked wrong.  It didn't match what I was going after at all.  That was when I decided to go for Melissa's (the model in the cover) offer of making a full-length gown for the cover.  I went ahead and spent the money on all of the material and two weeks later we had the dress.  I then set up my studio and did the shoot.  I really didn't know what I wanted on the cover until I was browsing around iStock for castles and ended up, on a whim, typing in English Moors.  That's when the photo you see in the background came up.  I knew it was perfect-- exactly what I wanted!  So I figured I'd put Melissa in front of that background in some standing position, and that's what we came up with.

The flowers...those have to do with symbolism in the story and are quite intentional.

The crown...exactly what I envisioned when I wrote the story.  That was difficult to find!

As far as placing Cinderella outside the castle, yes, that was intentional.  I thought of having the castle in the background but it felt all wrong.  She's stuck in a constant decision to stay at the castle or leave, and I loved showing that decision in the cover.  I wanted it to feel organic and natural, like the colors of her gown.  I also love the path shown on the cover...leading to the forest where Cinderella ultimately realizes who she loves.

SM: Did you run through a variety of endings for Cinderella to encounter or did the story's inception include the exact ending you gave it?

MA: The ending of Cinders is interesting.  At first I ended the story at the cliffs...with Cinderella throwing the flowers into the sea.  This was what I had envisioned during the entire writing of the novel. Perhaps that's where I should have left the end, but the more I thought about it, the more the ending did not feel finished at that point.  It felt unsatisfactory to me in many ways, so at the suggestion of my editor (Sherrie Peterson), I wrapped up several loose threads in the story by adding one more scene at the end.  I also left the story on a more hopeful note with this ending, and I'm very happy with it now.  It feels true to the end I wanted to convey from the beginning.

SM: Do you harbor any regrets with Cinders?

MA: No regrets at all, nope!  There were some formatting and typo errors in the original copies I had printed but they are fixed now.  As far as self-publishing goes, I am absolutely thrilled with my decision! I've had one offer from a small press to take on Cinders under their imprint, but after careful consideration, I've said no to the offer.  I will be self-publishing two more fairy-tale themed novellas, and I'm very excited to keep them all my own and have complete creative control over everything.  I will traditionally publish other works in the future, but these three novellas will remain my little pet project.

Thanks, Michelle, for a great interview.  I know I'm not alone in wishing you all the best with your future endeavors.  If Cinders is any indication, we'll be seeing great things from you in the future.

Note from Michelle on the contest: This is SO easy! Just fill out the form below for each time you comment on one of the blogs involved in the tour. Each entry is a chance to win one of the prizes. Only one entry per blog, thanks!

The form can be found here.

Be sure to check out the other tour stops:

Sunday, September 19: Michelle McClean
Monday, September 20: Danyelle Leafty
Tuesday, September 21: Jamie DeBree
Wednesday, September 22: Breanne Braddy (J.S. Chancellor)
Friday, September 24: Authors Promoting Authors
Saturday, September 25: Katie Salidas


  1. Thanks for hosting me, Stephanie! And thanks to everyone who stops by today!

  2. Great book, great interview... And I love the cover!

    And yet here I am, pondering how you might have made the ashes work. Probably would have had to spike them with at least two fillers, one for color depth and one for volume-enhancement... Hmm....


  3. Great interview! Loved reading about your cover design process. Very intriguing.... :)

  4. I also love reading about the cover design. And how self-publishing has been such a positive experience for Michelle. Way to go!!

  5. I just love that there are no regrets! PERFECT!

  6. You did the cover! How cool is that?! I'm on all the time for my job, so I went to look for your background photo:

    Great choice!


  7. It's intriguing the realize that through self-publishing, Michelle retained all artistic control. Congratulations Michelle and thanks for hosting Stephanie.

  8. I just loved the cover. Michelle you did such a great job with it!

    Great review Stephanie!

  9. Great interview! It was fun to learn more about the cover and the ending. What a fun week for Cinders! :D

  10. Beautiful cover and I loved the idea of the ashes in her hands but I can see why that would be hard. Great job, Michelle!

  11. When I first saw the cover, I was trying to figure out where you had gone to do the shoot. It doesn't look at all like a cut-n-paste. :)

  12. Great interview! I loved hearing about how you came up with the cover, Michelle. Thanks, Stephanie, for sharing this interview.

  13. Stephanie, thanks for asking about the cover as it was such an enhancement to the tremendously written book by Michelle.

  14. I must say that I love the cover. It's so beautifully done.

    It's facinating to know the thought processes behind it :-)

  15. Awesome interview! what a great question about regrets, and a great answer!! i'm hoping to read this soon!

  16. My copy of Cinders arrived yesterday! I can't wait to dig into it. :)

  17. Fantastic interview! I'm so excited for you, Michelle! The Pacific NW is lovely :-)! Thanks for your sharing your experience about self-publishing too!

  18. great interveiw. loved your books and many more to come

  19. Great interview. I love your cover. Good luck with your book.

  20. Thank you everyone for stopping by today! Thanks, Michelle, for letting me host you on your tour!

  21. Thank you, Stephanie! This was a lot of fun, and it was really fun to talk about my cover more in depth!

  22. Great interview. I think it's great that so many self-published are really wonderful stories. I would imagine it takes a lot of courage to self-publish and then the work that goes into promoting it.

  23. Thank you, everyone, for commenting!!! You have made this blog tour a lot of fun for me. Forgive me for not answering you all individually. I've tried to do that elsewhere, but after six blogs and six days I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.

  24. You did a fantastic job on the cover! Not to sound snarky, but I get turned off to a lot of self-published books solely for the fact that the cover looks unprofessional. And if it looks unprofessional on the outside, then I assume it's going to be unprofessional on the inside. I realize I SHOULDN'T necessarily make assumptions like this, but it's my gut reaction
    Anyway, point being, your cover looks great =)

  25. Angelique: Thanks! Yes, I know what you mean. I do the same thing...judge a book by its cover. I do it all the time even though I know I shouldn't. I think it's a natural habit. I'm glad you like mine!

  26. Great interview -- and I have to echo all the other comments about the book cover -- it is so pretty, striking, and professional looking! Knowing more about Ms Argyle's relationship with the cover model has made me appreciate it even more!


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