Michelle Paisley – All In Her Head

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My new novel, All in Her Head, takes readers on an enlightened journey into one woman’s psyche. Bridget Holiday is a middle-aged cynical freelance writer who is obsessed with her weight. She meets Kate, a beginning hypnotherapist who wants to help her confront her past demons, but unknowingly regresses Bridget back to a time before her birth, when she is still in spirit form.

Her yoga teacher/massage therapist mentor, Rosalina, helps guide her through this new astral world, where Bridget meets up with her dead boyfriend in her dreams and meditations. When faced with her own life-or-death crisis, Bridget realizes her only hope for salvation is to embrace the life she has.

Tell us something about yourself.

I’m based in Sacramento, California, where I graduated from college with a degree in English. I’ve been writing since childhood, starting with fake newspapers when I was in 5th grade, moving on to teen-aged angst-ridden poetry (my first publication was in Teen Magazine) and worked several years as a journalist after college. My first book, “Yoga for a Broken Heart” was published in 2007 by Findhorn Press. This is my first fiction novel.

What inspired you to write this book?

About 20 years ago I was in a near-death accident that took me to this other realm beyond description. Then two years ago, I injured my back and was out of work for a few months. Out of boredom and to help with pain management, I took an online hypnotherapy course that was fascinating. During that time, I also was obsessing on my own weight, which I gained pretty rapidly from bed rest. I always wanted to write fiction, and the story came together and just poured out of me.

How did you choose the title?

As a yoga teacher, I was taught that the primary reason for yoga, at least from the perspective of the ancient yoga sutras, was “to still the chatter of the mind.” Like many people, I tend to over-analyze situations, especially when I am focused on them. I thought people could easily relate to the title.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

I received many a rejection first, but my goal was never about getting famous, just about being heard. I listened to my gut instincts about who to query, and followed through with it!

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I believe good writers are avid readers. I have had my nose in books all of my life, and so writing has just been a very natural progression.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I have my morning coffee meditation, read for at least an hour, check my emails, and try to write a little something every single day. I feel writing is just like exercise—you have to have the discipline to do it regularly to get results and to keep the creative juices flowing.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

Bridget was the name on a headstone at an old graveyard near where my grandmother lived and was later buried. As a child I was fascinated that she died in childbirth at the age of 15 in the 1800’s. Her name always stuck with me.

Her last name, Holiday, came from a tradition with my 9-year-old daughter, Olivia, who likes us to have fake names when we vacation. Olivia also came up with the character Tara, just a name that she likes, and Hana, from the famous curvy road/town in Maui, Hawaii.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

This book honestly transformed me. I myself was feeling pretty burnt out and cynical when I first started writing it, but as I recalled my near-death experience from two decades prior, I began to feel hopeful again and tackled my own demons. I ended up losing 40 pounds and got out of ‘going nowhere’ relationship. I practiced what I preached, and learned to love myself, and then of course I found true, lasting love.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I already wrote the sequel, which is equally as good. But if I had to do it differently, I might combine the books into a larger read.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

I read so many different types of books that this is always a hard question for me to answer. It depends on my mood. I like guilty pleasures like “Good In Bed” by Jennifer Weiner and “Something Borrowed” by Emily Giffin (both are incredible speakers!) as well as old literary classics like Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” I love just about anything written by Paolo Coelho and Richard Bach, and I read lots of self-help stuff, too, from Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

Again, the sequel, “All Over It,” is finished and waiting for a good publishing offer. I’m also mid-way through “All She’s Got,” which takes a minor character from the first two books, Hana, and makes her the antagonist of the new story, which is ultimately about the perspective of three friends getting over their past secret tragedies to succeed in life and love—oh, and win a national singing contest, i.e. American Idol (I call U.S. Sensation.) I admit to watching such reality TV only because I like to observe the talented underdog believe in him/herself to make it to the top!

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Keep writing because you love it and because you have something to say, something to share. Have the discipline to do it regularly and often, make it a habit and eventually, with patience, you just might see it published.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Women of all ages who secretly, or not so secretly, think constantly about their weight, appearance, image, fitness level, finances, etc. and who wish they could get their mind to just SHUT UP so they can find some semblance of inner peace. It’s also for men who live with such women, or men themselves who similarly obsess on such matters. Funny enough, I’ve gotten more positive reviews recently from men than from women, so I guess it is pretty universal.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Visit www.michellepaisley.com or www.SBPRA.com/MichellePaisley or at Author’s Den