Sunday, April 10, 2016

Weekend's Book Affair/#Book Tour:Once Upon a Lie by Michael French

Greetings, Intellectual Minds!

I'm sure you'll look at this post and think to yourself, "Hey, didn't I see this the other day?" Let's face it, you can't pull the wool over an intellectual mind's eye, not that we're trying to, but thought you should know we had a little hiccup and breakdown in communication regarding the interview segment of Michael French's Once Upon a Lie.  In other words, crap happens, but it's ok because we have Michael's interview ready to go.  I've been hearing quite a bit of buzz about this story and its characters, so much so, I've decided I'm going to add it to my roster of reading.  It really sounds like the type of book I'd love and one I'm positive you'll love as well.  So once again, please show your love for Michael French.  Happy Reading!  

Originally Posted Thursday, April 7, 2016 -- Interview Included Below!

Normally, Weekend's Book Affair wouldn't post in the middle of the week, but you're a part of a very special Blog Tour presented by Sage's Blog Tours!  Author, Michael French, is a graduate of Stanford University and has won several award-winning books, screen plays and many more.  You can find all his social media connections and book info. at the end of the post.  Please follow the links, buy the book and show your love for this talented writer. Without further ado, please give our special guest a warm welcome.  Sit back, relax and enjoy!

Weekend's Book Affair 
Proudly Presents, Author, Michael French

Book Description/Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Once Upon a Lie is about two strangers who become unlikely friends, only to unintentionally put each other's life in jeopardy. Jaleel Robeson, a gifted, eighteen year-old black man, falsely accused of murdering his father in a small Texas town, is on the run. He assumes a new identity in 1980s Los Angeles as a successful student on his way to college. Alexandra Baten, a restless sixteen year old while girl, lives in a privileged Toluca Lake family but feels trapped by her parents' values. One weekend, she rides her bike into a run down neighborhood, meeting a young black man selling lemonade. Thus begins a friendship between opposites, at least on the surface, but they learn they have more in common than they imagine. Told from each character's point of view in alternating chapters, we become involved in a gripping tale of two Americas where discontent and violence always lurk under the surface. When they erupt, no one is safe. Once Upon a Lie is both a family drama and a crime drama, as well as an exploration of interracial love, mother-daughter relationships, and redemption through courage.


Michael R. French graduated from Stanford University where he was an English major, focusing on creative writing, and studied under Wallace Stegner. He received a Master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He later served in the United States Army before marrying Patricia Goodkind, an educator and entrepreneur, and starting a family. In addition to publishing over twenty titles, including award-winning young adult fiction, adult fiction, biographies ad self-help books, he has written or co-written a half-dozen screenplays, including Intersection, which has won awards in over twenty film festivals. He has also had a long business career in real estate, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His passions include travel, collecting rare books, and hanging with friends and family. He describes his worst traits as impatience and saying "no" too quickly; his best are curiosity, taking risks, and learning from failure. 

1. It’s quite impressive that you write screenplays. Michael, please tell my readers how you got into it?

When I first started writing screenplays, about five years ago, I thought creating dialog was everything. I like writing dialog in my novels, so it wasn't hard for me, but I soon learned that a film tells a story with the camera more than the pen. For me, watching films is mostly an intellectual exercise, including reflecting on the story's emotions. I want to understand how everything works together. You develop a sense of scene construction, camera angles, editing, music, actors' facial expressions and voice tone. Ninety percent of directing is probably casting. Getting the right actors is so critical, so if you're embarking on a screenplay, be very clear about the type of actor your characters call for. Two years ago my son and I penned a movie called Intersection, which he directed. We are fortunate that it has done well on the festival circuit and has distribution offers. We've just finishing a second screenplay, called The Reunion, and hope to begin shooting in September. It's a tale of a high school party that went terribly wrong fifteen years earlier, but those responsible kept quiet. When a class reunion comes years later, the truth works its way to the surface, and lives are altered. Lots of surprises.

2. Can you give us a little background into what Once Upon a Lie is about? 

Thematically, the novel is an intersecting tale of two Americas--the poor and the privileged--that starts in the eighties and continues to 2014. A young black man is on the run from a crime he didn't commit in Texas, and takes up a new life as a squatter in southern California. He has the talent and determination to pull off his reinvention in a new high school...until one day he connects by chance with a young white woman from a wealthy community. They are so different on the surface, but they share a connection that binds them to one another--a connection, however, that ultimately tears their lives apart...and then brings them back together. It's a love story that is not wrapped up in ribbons.

3. Besides the writing, which is half the battle to any good book, what else do you feel an author needs to have to make him/her a great storyteller?

Imagination can't be overlooked, of course, both in the plot and making interesting characters that are relatable and have something to risk in the story. You also have to create credibility by knowing your subject matter backwards and forwards. Readers quickly figure out whether or not you know what you're talking about. Finally, you have to be emotionally involved in your story, energized by it, in love with it, no matter how many time you rewrite it and might want to give up. The love for your characters can't be overestimated. 

4. How long were you in the U.S. Army and what did you do while serving, if you can tell us? 

I was drafted in 1968, during the Vietnam conflict, and because I had a Masters degree in journalism, I ultimately became editor of the Fort Ord weekly newspaper. There was nothing special about the paper, but in my two years I learned a lot about bureaucracy, fate, and street smarts. It was a tense time with a lot of soldiers being levied to Vietnam....I was fortunate enough to remain stateside. 

5. What types of movies do you enjoy?

I don't have a favorite genre--I see all kinds of movies, particularly indie and art house films. There are certain directors and actors and screenwriters I will go out of my way to track down. I love watching great craft unfold before my eyes, figuring out why it works. There is definitely magic in every art form.

6. Did you have a calling to be a writer, or did you happen, by accident, to discover writing was in your blood?

I started writing as a melancholy, semi-rebellious teenager. I had no idea what I was doing but my stories were therapy and got me through rough patches. When I got to college, I was attracted to great writers and books, wanting to figure it all out. I had some fantastic teachers/writers. 

7. Because you’re familiar with screenplays, how do you feel about Hollywood taking creative licenses to great literature and changing it into its own view, which I might add, vastly differs from the view my mind’s eye gave of having read a good book?

Reading a novel is a highly personal experience, as your imagination translates words into images that may be unique to you, and fills you with certain emotions. When Hollywood gets hold of a novel you never know what may come out on the screen, but everything is explicitly spelled out and you either like or don't like the director's interpretation. It's just a different experience, a different art form, a different set of aesthetic values, than a book. 

8. What character presented the most challenges in Once Upon a Lie?

Getting into the head and heart of Jaleel, the black protagonist, was tough at times. To stay in character, to get his moods and thoughts right, to make him sympathetic without being a stereotype....that took some work. Getting into the personality of the other protagonist, sixteen year girl Alexandra, was easier. Essentially, Alex was me, growing up in a real community called Toluca Lake. I hope that anyone living in Toluca Lake today who reads the novel agrees that I got the community subtext right. 

9. How do you balance your family and writing life?

When our son and daughter were growing up, my wife and I had a real estate company and everything was a daily juggling act. Baby siting, cooking, going to Scouts or tennis lessons, helping with home work...not easy. I'm sure it's even harder today. Being empty nesters now means more time to write, but it still seems that things get rushed if you aren't careful. 

10. If you could pick any famous mystery/suspense novelist, who would come close to your style of writing?

Stephen King blows the lights out in that regard. But there are many other masters of the genre...I respect them all. 

11. What sets Once Upon a Lie apart from other books?

Lie is a pretty rich tapestry that combines disparate elements: an interracial love story, parental betrayal, generational differences, crime, violence, foiled dreams, and finding hope in the most unlikely places. There are plot and character twists that are hard to see coming. I think the ideal novel informs and entertains in equal measure. 

12. Do you watch reality shows? If so, which ones are your guilty pleasures and why?

I'm not a big fan. Sure, reality TV is "real" in one sense, but some shows are excruciatingly boring, others offend me because of their values, and still others limp from one episode to another. If I want guilty pleasures, I watch cage fighting.

Mello & June would like to thank Michael for his time and we certainly apologize for having left out the interview.  Actually, in the nine years of doing this, I believe this may have been a first where wires crossed.  Luckily, Michael's a good sport about it.  Please make sure you check out Once Upon a Lie by clicking the links below.   Until next time, Happy Reading Everyone!  Keep those Minds Sharp!

Connect with Author/Buy the Book:


Connect with the Novels two main Characters online 

Alex Baten 

Jaleel Robeson 

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

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