Amazon’s #1 women’s author comes to Washington

Published 2:41 pm Friday, December 24, 2010

Staff Writer

After a lucrative writing career, a No. 1 bestseller on Amazon’s website and receiving stellar reviews of her work, former Washington resident Michelle Buckman returns for a book signing in the new year.
The daughter-in-law of Melanie and Tommy Buckman of Washington Park, Buckman is an author and international speaker offering writing workshops across the Carolinas. She will have an exclusive book signing from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 8, at I Can’t Believe It’s a Bookstore.
Featured in several network trade shows, bookseller associations, as well as the South Carolina Book Festival, Buckman’s two new novels – “Rachel’s Contrition” and “Death Panels” – inadvertently debuted in the same week.
“They weren’t supposed to come out at the same time,” she said with a laugh. “But with a publishing error, it just happened that way.”
Within days of the release of “Rachel’s Contrition,” the book hit No. 1 on Amazon’s bestselling women’s fiction list and has remained in the top 10 ever since.
“I had no idea that would ever happen,” she said. “I don’t think anyone could hope enough for a bestseller.”
Growing up in Ontario, Canada, she said she spent many long winter nights reading an abundance of novels which inspired her to begin writing stories of her own.
“My family moved to North Carolina while I was a teenybopper,” she said. “Which was a great relief for me. I’d had enough cold to last me a lifetime.”
Buckman added she discovered peace while spending afternoons walking the endless Carolina beaches with her husband.
“With over half my life lived in the South,” she said, “I have discovered the advantage of writing like a southerner from an outsider’s point of view. I take walks on the beach as a way to reflect on life, but also as inspiration.”
Buckman credits her youth as the beginning of her writing journey – a journey that has taken her to new heights. Her inspiration for her stories, she said, comes from a variety of places, often from things she hears in the news combined with personal observations of the world and people around her.
Although Buckman is Catholic, she said she never set out to write about her faith.
“Simply put, my faith is such a part of my life that it comes through in my writing,” she said. “My characters’ decisions are steered by their beliefs, just as mine are.”
Such was the case for Rachel’s Contrition, when Buckman heard a 10-second news blip about a the accidental death of an infant.
“I couldn’t stop thinking of how such a tragedy must have affected the parents,” she said. “I thought of the parents’ anguish and decided to write a story that expressed the depth such a loss has on parents. How could they face one another with such a death yawning between them?”
Buckman wrote parts of the book, but said she didn’t work on the story in earnest until she actually saw a couple friends suffer the loss of their child.
“I empathized with their pain and ached over how it tore at the fabric of their lives and relationships,” she said. “From that anguish, I wrote Rachel’s story, a tale of soul-wrenching pain and the harrowing struggle to heal.”
Buckman describes the book as a story about a mother stricken with grief over the loss of her child, how her world seems to cave in around her, and the emotional distress it places on her marriage.
“It’s not light-hearted by any means,” Buckman said. “It’s a painful story with no easy answers, but it offers the promise of healing. It’s a novel for anyone who has been deeply wounded by life.”
In Death Panels, however, a thriller based on the legalities of what the government can and cannot do in the year 2042, Buckman said she focuses on the government controlling every portion of people’s lives.
Buckman said it’s a story based in the not-too-distant future in which the current political battles over life and freedom have reached an explosive crossroads.
“I wrote it in response to the encroachment of government on American liberties,” she said. “By setting the story in the future, I was able to accelerate and exaggerate the change in our nation. Which I hope will encourage people to stand up for their beliefs.”
Inspired to write Death Panels in the early 90’s while listening to Rush Limbaugh, Buckman said she saw where the country was headed, especially in regards to abortion and parental rights. She said she worked on the book and created a view of the future that included a baby targeted for euthanasia.
Not knowing if the book would be received well, Buckman shelved the manuscript. It wasn’t until a couple years ago she found it in her desk.
“The same week I found it and brought it out, four people who read the manuscript way back when looked me up online, called and emailed to tell me to get the book out,” she said. “I revised it a little and placed it in the year 2042.”
The actual writing process for Buckman usually takes a year per book. However, the preliminary notes, character sketches and plot ideas often begin years earlier.
“I honed my craft for years, which included casting aside bad manuscripts,” she said. “I studied master authors to decipher how they achieved tension and develop prose that captivated the senses.”
Buckman also attended writing critique groups and joined online writing groups to learn from professionals.
With a review from a notable recording artist, Jordin Sparks – former contestant on American Idol, Buckman has since received great reviews.
“I was completely drawn in by her characters and real life issues that she tackled in the story,” Sparks said on Buckman’s website. “In her second book, My Beautiful Disaster, she drew me in even more with her compelling story about Maggie’s best friend. I could not put the book down for three days straight. You want a good read? You’re looking at it.”