Q1. Hello, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.
Hello! I’m Michelle Segrest from Sweet Home Alabama, and I’ve been a professional journalist for 34 years. Writing and reporting is my passion and I’ve published more than 30 nonfiction books. I also love sailing, tennis, world travel, reading, and adventure of all kinds! I’m 55 and have two adult children, one grand baby, and two beagles (Cap’n Jack & Scout) who are the stars of my children’s book series! In 2018, I departed on a journey to sail the world in a tiny sailboat, and yes, that included a three-week Atlantic Ocean crossing!
Q2 Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title ‘Life on a 20-degree tilt’?
Life on a 20-Degree Tilt is the first book in my Living Life Sideways series. When you live on a sailboat, you are almost always on a heavy tilt. You walk on a tilt, you cook on a tilt, you pee on a tilt. You are just sideways—all the time! That little fact made coming up with the name of the series and Book 1 pretty easy. The cover image shows me looking at the horizon during a sunset. It represents the “calm after the storm” which is the big reward for all the challenges that sailing heavy offshore waters represent. This book series is most definitely “stormy” but I wanted to try and also share the reasons I continue to sail even when the seasickness, storms, and a dangerous skipper sometimes made me want to stop the journey and go home.
Q3. What were the key challenges you faced while writing your book “Blinded by Love & Loyalty’’?
Writing the second book in my memoir series was challenging because this part of the story introduces some of the heavy relationship challenges that began to surface between the skipper and myself. It was a toxic relationship, but I had a hard time understanding that I was being manipulated at the time. I was very dedicated and loyal to the man and the relationship, and that caused me to ignore a lot of the red flags that in hindsight I can now clearly see. Throughout the second book, I wrestled between the intrigue of the escape from the ordinary, the thrill of the adventure, exploring some awesome exotic locations and trying to balance all those great experiences with the personal battles. I truly was blinded by love and loyalty and could not see the signs that were telling me to get away. I believe a lot of women in abusive relationships experience this at times and that’s why it’s so hard to get out.
Q4. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
Cheryl Strayed’s Wild influenced me greatly. Her testament of courage about walking 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail while battling personal demons was very similar to my own journey of sailing the world while battling personal challenges. She didn’t always love it, but she kept going. And I was determined to do the same thing. I also love all of Lin Pardey’s books as well as Edna Buchanan. I recently began reading some of Jodi Picoult’s books, and I’m finding a lot of inspiration in her work, as well.
Q5. What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?
There are so many cool places to visit in the U.S. At the moment, Boston is my favorite—mainly because my 24-year-old son, Bo, lives there. Boston is full of interesting American history and it’s also just a very friendly town. The people are amazing! I always say it’s the smallest big city in the world! It has everything a big city has to offer but it feels like a small town.
Q6. Is there lots to do before you dive in and start writing a book?
I generally create an outline and have an idea of where to go with the story. But generally, the finished result doesn’t look much like the outline. In the case of the Living Life Sideways series, I worked from very detailed journals and told the story chronologically. It was a little easier because it’s a true story. I got some help from my content editor to weave in some background stories to bring it all together.
Q7. How long did it take you to write your book ‘Captain of my soul’?
Writing The Captain of My Soul took about two weeks. It was difficult because this, the third book in my memoir series, is the darkest part of my story. Reliving some of those dark and dangerous times was difficult, but it was also a big help in my healing. I always encourage victims of domestic violence and narcissistic abuse to at the very least journal their story and all their feelings. Even if they don’t publish their story or share it with others, writing it all down is a very healing process. But we warned, Captain of My Soul is dark — it is very unsettling and disturbing in places.
Q8. On what platforms can readers buy your book set of “Living Life Sideways”?
All my books are available exclusively on Amazon. The individual books are available on Kindle Unlimited, hardcover, paperback and audio. The boxed set launches as an ebook and on KU on Jan. 24 and is available for preorder until launch for just 99 cents. After that it will be $6.99. The boxed set audio is also available on Amazon, Audible and ACX.
Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?
I mostly write nonfiction, but I’ve been told my books read like fiction. Especially when writing a memoir, I think it’s important to really open yourself up and share intimate details that others can relate to deeply and personally. Sometimes this is difficult because you have to expose all your vulnerabilities and often even your own character flaws. However, I think that’s what makes memoir’s special. Even though the story is personal and unique to you, it’s amazing to see how other people can relate it to their own experiences.
Q10. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
The book includes the good, the bad, and the ugly about my journey. There are some amazing experiences as well as deep, dark and often disturbing times. Some of the abuse is subtle, but some is revealed in vivid and terrifying detail. So I guess I would just want readers to know that if you are a victim of domestic violence or narcissistic abuse, then the book may be triggering. But I also believe that if you can get through those parts, you’ll also find the book healing and maybe even inspiring!
Buy the box set of Living Life Sideways on Amazon