Michelle says “As for me I’d rather wait for the perfect time for things to happen and unfold on their own. We can always achieve greater things if we work hard and if we never give up. So, there is nothing that I would give up to become a better writer because everything that I have and everybody around me is what makes me a better writer.”
Q1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
My first book “After – Rain Skies: A Million Stars” was written in support of Perak Women for Women Society (PWW), Ipoh, Perak Malaysia during their One Million Stars To End Violence campaign. It’s a collection of true and inspiring stories of victims and survivors of abuse and violence in prose and poetry.
I was a teacher by profession, teaching literature, speech & oral communication, creative writing, drama, and theatre arts. I graduated with a Master of Education majoring in English in the Philippines, (University of San Agustin, Iloilo City). I am also a graduate of Mass Communications major in Journalism (Centro Escolar University, Manila). I resigned from my teaching job after 15 years and concentrated on being a full-time mother to my four daughters. Currently, I am active in my writing profession and works as a freelance creative writer. I am a published author at Spillwords NYC, where my poems “What If Snowflakes Don’t Fall in Winter?”, “Kiss”, and “Love Dance” were all nominated as publication/post of the month for July 2020, August 2020, and May 2021 respectively. My poem “Again” is published on three platforms, on MEDIUM -an International Writers and Readers Space, AFRICA WRITERS CARAVAN, and at WOMAWORDS LITERARY PRESS In June 2021. Some of my poems were also published in other international literary magazines and journals. My books “After – Rain Skies”, “What If Snowflakes Don’t Fall In Winter”, “Oh, Dear One!”, “I Would Fly To Where You Are”, and the Amazon Bestseller "I Will Love You Forever, Too" are available via Kobo.Com and Amazon (paperback copy, ebook, and kindle file) Everything I write is always inspired by the people around me. Sometimes, someone, I know would do or say something interesting and I would have to write about it. Or I would be having coffee at a café and I would overhear people’s conversations and get inspiration from there. My life has really been shaped by my identity as a mother. I would do anything for my children. A lot of my works have them as my inspiration in mind. I passionately blog at www.michelleanyonnavajas.com, where you can find my prose and poetry on love,life, motherhood, and my advocacy on abuse and violence.
Q2. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
My writing process has changed since my first publication in 2019. For one, I started writing more often than I used to. I have also begun to create social media accounts that will connect me to my readers not only through limited engagements.
Q3. If you could tell your younger writing self, anything, and what would it be?
I would tell my younger writing self to just continue writing, continue believing in your dreams and never ever give up because with perseverance, dedication, and hard work you will achieve it.
Q4. What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success for me means being able to see my poetry published on different literary platforms worldwide, apart from getting it published for wider distribution and readership. It also means, reading various book reviews by different readers worldwide.
Q5. Does your family support your career as a writer?
yes, my family is very much supportive of my creative pursuits.
Q6. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
I don&’t believe in the idea of having to give up something to be able to achieve another thing. As for me I’d rather wait for the perfect time for things to happen and unfold on their own. We can always achieve greater things if we work hard and if we never give up. So, there is nothing that I would give up to become a better writer because everything that I have and everybody around me is what makes me a better writer.
Q7. Who’s your Inspiration in the literary field?
W.B Yeats, Sylvia Plath, Shakespeare, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Burns, Oscar Wilde, John Milton John Keats, Tennyson, Robert, and Elizabeth Browning are my greatest classical influences. And for the contemporary authors/poets, I have Paulo Coelho, Mitch Albom. Lang Leav, Micahel Faudget, Cecilia Ahern, Margaret Atwood. The internet has also produced noteworthy poets such as Rupi Kaur and Atticus.
Q8. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
My books are a collection of poetry and so I am not required to do much academic and technical research to complete one, except if any of my poems are about a particular subject or topic that needs verifications and the like. My first book "After Rain Skies" was published in 2019, which was about abuse and violence, so I had to interview women and children who were/are victims of abuse and violence. I also worked along with a non – governmental, non – profit organization in Malaysia that runs a shelter for abused women and children.
Q9. What’s the turning point of your life when you realize you want to be an author?
I will never forget my 10-year-old self telling my father, "I want to see my name in the magazine or newspaper or publish my own book someday". And even though it took me years to finally be able to publish my first book, but I am and will forever be grateful to my 10 -year – old- self and my father.
Q10. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
For the last 2 years, I published five poetry books with an average of 100 poems in each book.
Q11. What are your favorite literary books?
I grew up reading fairy tales. And still read them even as an adult. Fairy Tales do not just tell us the story of a damsel in distress being rescued by a prince, but it tells us that no matter what happens the good will prevail over the bad. And it is through fairy tales that developed positivity – to see the good in even the worst situation, to see the good in even the evilest of person, and that for me is important. Fairy tales do not just tell us stories of hope, courage, and determination but it makes us dream bigger, greater even in the presence of fear, troubles, and obstacles – that is to hope even when hope is seemingly lost, to be brave even in the presence of fear and be determined even if you are uncertain. Apart from Fairy Tales, I love the classics too. The works of W.B Yeats, Sylvia Plath, Shakespeare, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Burns, Oscar Wilde, John Milton John Keats, Tennyson, Robert, and Elizabeth
Browning are my greatest influences too.
Q12. Why have you selected to write in this genre?
I write poetry; narrative and prose poetry mostly. I did not purposely concentrate on this genre, it was just that over the course of my experience I realized I love to tell stories, and I do not just tell a story, I want to tell it in such a way that my readers will be engaged, intrigued while at the same time feeling the heart and the soul of my pieces. I write to awaken a lonely soul, and I write to make a heart bleed for love when it is broken and even when it is happy.
Q13. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Each poet/writer has certain poems and stories that are very personal. It could be their own personal experience, personal heartaches, personal joy, or personal triumphs. But for me, whether it is personal or not I make sure my readers will see their own stories, their own struggles, their own joys, their own hopes, their own dreams in each and every poem I write.
Q14. Do you make sure you connect to whoever writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
Writing is very spiritual for me. Not necessarily the Religion thing, the different beliefs we have. It is spiritual because I make sure that I am connected to my own soul whenever I write something. Each piece is a collective effort of my mind, my heart, and my soul.
Q15. What’s the best way to market your books?
We can market our works/books right in the comfort of our own homes. Gone are those days when we have to go out and conduct actual book tours and book signings. With the outbreak