Monday, November 6, 2023

Q&A with Michelle Paris




Michelle Paris is the author of the new novel New Normal. She lives in Maryland.


Q: Your novel has been described as “loosely based” on your experience as a young widow. How did you create your character Emilie?


A: In New Normal, the main character, Emilie, deals with the emotional turmoil of being widowed suddenly. She wants the world to stop until she’s ready to live again. And she fears she’ll never feel normal again. But most of all, she misses her husband, and she can’t believe he’s gone.


Emilie’s experiences are similar to mine. Much of what she goes through actually happened to me (good and bad).


I chose the name Emilie because when my husband died, we were in the process of adopting, and Emilie is the name we had chosen. The character Emilie helped me grieve the loss of the failed adoption.


While New Normal deals with a very serious subject, I chose to tell Emilie’s story in a light-hearted way because humor helped me get through a difficult time. Grief can be all encompassing. In my own personal journey, I found nothing made me feel better than laughter.

Q: How was the novel's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: I picked the title years ago—way before the pandemic. My therapist actually helped me realize that my life would be different, and not necessarily bad, just different. And different would eventually feel normal. I thought the title perfectly describes the moving on process.


Q: Did you know how the story would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I love this question. I love a happy ending, and I always knew New Normal would have one. I actually wrote the ending mid-way through the book. It made sense to me to have Emilie write a How-to guide because she was so lost in the beginning.


I also wanted her to get a chance to confront an old flame that hurt her. What’s more satisfying than turning someone down that broke up with you? Truthfully, I put that in as my own personal revenge moment. And it felt great. I’ve had readers tell me they loved that part, too.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: New Normal is a story about never giving up hope. I wanted Emilie to have ups and downs but eventually come out on top. I wanted the reader to know that it is possible to overcome tragedy. I want readers to never give up hope.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I just finished the edits to my second novel, Eat Dessert First, which will be published by Apprentice House Press in the spring of 2024.


It’s about an overweight baker learning that self-love is more important than romantic love. It’s told with the same light-hearted humor as New Normal. I believe very strongly that romantic heroines should come in all shapes and sizes.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: You can check out my website at


Thank you for this opportunity.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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