Excited to have author Michelle Ham on the blog today! Learn about her book and get to know her in this fun interview.
Just Deal with It by Michelle Ham
Twelve-year-old Gypsy Sharpe wasn’t too worried about starting high school, but that was before her foster sister moved out. Before her best friend started acting as though she’d been sucked into an alternate dimension. Before she noticed the absence of monkey bars in the (so-called) school playground.
That was before glamorous nightmare Mahalia Maher sashayed out of the shadows to sabotage Gypsy’s carefully-laid plans.
The only thing to do is get happily lost in her favourite Aussie Sci-fi TV show – the setting for a magical universe where alternate realities exist, evil is easy to spot and friends are always loyal.
But how long can Gypsy hide from her problems before this reality raises its complicated head? Will she find a way to slip into a superior dimension for good, or face up to her fears and ‘Just Deal With It!’?
Tell us about your work!
The work I’ve published independently is YA and MG, respectively. The manuscripts that have yet to be completed are more adult fare. I don’t know for sure, but I think that means I’m more partial to writing for younger readers. I enjoy writing uniquely Australian stories full of humour and hope. My first YA book, Sway is filled with heaps of pop culture references and verbose characters. I was consuming a lot of Buffy and Gilmore girls while writing it and to me, it shows! It’s personal to my life in a lot of ways at the same time, as it’s about the challenges and conflicts of being a teenager questioning the religion she’s grown up with.
My second book, Just Deal With it, is a story quite separate to my own. I think it’s true what they say – the first book is often autobiographical and after that you want to write other people’s stories! Having said that, there are minor aspects of the book that reflect the life and times of my twelve-year-old self, even though I’m not adopted and living in a house complete with a revolving door of foster siblings coming and going! Still, the kids in our neighbourhood DID treat our home as an unofficial safe-house. I think I relate in at least a minor sense.
What was your favourite book growing up?
Hard to pick just one. As a young girl I loved the Frog and Toad books. The illustrations were so warm and cosy. They sat in their little cottage eating freshly baked cookies and drinking tea. That’s the dream.
As a middle-grader (although we don’t have middle-school in Australia), I loved the irreverent books by Aussie authors like Paul Jennings. The schoolyard rhymes books, ‘All Right, Vegemite!’ and ‘Far out, Brussels Sprout!’ were also favourites (again, lots of pictures. And mentions of snot.)
Then it was The Babysitters’ Club and my sister’s old Sweet Valley High books – I loved the romance and drama, but I wished Elizabeth would teach her evil twin Jessica a proper lesson instead of those weak revenge plots she carried out.
I have a special love for middle grade books as that’s when my love of reading began. Why do you like writing middle grade books?
I didn’t know I liked writing them until my eldest daughter suggest I write one! Both our girls were super proud of me when I released ‘Sway’, but they wanted me to pen something they’d be allowed to read prior to their thirteenth birthdays! It was a labour of love and I had a blast writing it. It took me back to those heady days of year seven, when friendships were changing, hormones were erupting and everything was mortifying. Where ‘Sway’ was quite romantic, ‘Just Deal With it’ was the opposite of that – Gypsy finds her peers’ romantic interests in each other quite off-putting. I had fun with that. Gypsy is sometimes selfish and spoiled – I dredged up some cringe-worthy memories of how I was often-times the same! All part of growing up for those lucky enough to take good things for granted.
What is your favorite book as an adult?
Again, hard to pick just one! I’ll pick three – High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, Where the Heart is by Billie Letts and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Oh, and Mama Flora’s Family by Alex Haley. Four.
I always reread my favorite books. Do you reread books and if so, which one(s) have you read over again?
I don’t do it a lot, but I’ve definitely re-read the books mentioned above at least once.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I like to shoutout indie authors – some of my faves are Heather Novak, Rosalind Chase and Ashley Finley. Rebekah Mallory wrote an amazing memoir too. My fave trad pubs are Mia Sheridan and Tilly Tennant.
A lot of creatives (artists, writers, musicians) have talked about how the pandemic has impacted their creativity. How has it been for you?
The first few months of lockdown had my survival brain take over – my creative outlet became baking rather than writing. Even reading became difficult. I didn’t beat myself up over it though; it was a weird time, and I knew I wasn’t the only one whose writing ceased once the news came out and our lifestyles changed. I came out of that cave and wrote again when I was good and ready.
There are zero cases here in Victoria, Australia (if only for now) but the government is bungling up the whole vaccine part – there’s not enough to go around. Life feels relatively normal though, for the most part.
All I know is, I have no interest in writing about the virus. It doesn’t even rate a mention in my latest book, which is set in the current year. I notice that my kids don’t talk about the virus that much, apart from the odd joke (they also joke about Trump – kids these days like to joke about Trump. It’s a thing.) So I figure the kids in ‘Just Deal With it’ wouldn’t say much on the topic either. They have bigger fish to fry!
What are you working on now?
Re-gaining my sanity! Seriously though, I’m focusing on getting ‘Just Deal With it’ out to readers and just enjoying the ride. I’m dabbling in one of my adult contemporary projects, but otherwise I’m simply enjoying time with family and friends, beta reading, regular reading and enjoying working from home while it lasts.
Where can we find you online?
I’m mostly active on Instagram – see @michellehamwriter. I also have a facebook account known as Michelle Ham – Writer.
This or That Questions:
Autumn or Spring?
I’m loving Autumn right now so I’ll go with that one!
Ocean/Lake or Mountains?
Ocean, closely followed by the mountains. Preferably both.
Coffee, Tea, or soda?
I’m trying to cut out caffeine. I like herbal tea and soda water with a splash of the good cordial.
Aussie singer Dan Sultan – I’m going to see him again next month! Oh and the guy who sings for Ranbir Kapoor in my favourite Bollywood films, haha!
Song you could listen to on repeat for hours:
Nadaan Parinde by A.R. Rahman (mimed by Ranbir in the movie ‘Rockstar’) Prepare to be wrecked if you watch it!
Favorite show to watch:
I love watching 70s/80s Aussie soapie Cop Shop with my husband, but I also had a blast re-watching the IT Crowd with him last night. The Mighty Boosh is my comfort show. Also love Stranger Things.
Actor/Actress who you’ll watch in anything:
Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone. Michael Raymond-James. John Cusack. I would add Mark Ruffalo but I don’t have much patience for superhero movies.
Bio: Michelle Ham is an independent author who's thrilled to have fulfilled her dream of completing and self-publishing her very own novel. She loves writing and reading Young Adult fiction, playing with her two young daughters, going silly over fandoms, singing along loudly to musicals in the car, exploring little country towns and twirling around in vintage frocks
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Author of the Landry's True Colors Series, the Cecily Taylor Series, the Star Series, and Dating the It Guy.
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