Interview with Michele Ashman Bell

   Posted by: GG Vandagriff   in Authors

When I started reading LDS fiction about four years ago, Michele’s books really appealed to me.  Her characters were so well developed.  Coming from the world’s idea of a romance novel to Michele’s, I was unexpectedly charmed.  Then I sat next to her at a signing.  She radiated kindness and warmth.  Every person who came up to her to talk received her full attention.  She asked them all about their lives, their hopes, their dreams.  She radiated the Spirit.  I am truly honored to call her a friend.  This interview reveals a little bit about how she became the woman and the writer that she is.

GG:  Michele, you are such a light and a beacon to so many people.  From
whence springs that inner joy that you radiate in your person and your

Michele:  Good heavens, GG, you’re even poetic in the way you ask
questions!  Since I don’t perceive myself as a person who radiates
anything (except heat when I’m having a hot flash) I am not really
sure what the answer is.  The only thing I really know is that I
believe we choose each moment of every day whether or not we are going
to let our circumstances dictate our happiness.  I always try and find
the positive in people and in life situations.  I think that once you
internalize this attitude it really does project outwardly.  Plus, I
live in a fantasy world, that might have something to do with it.

GG:  If it isn’t too personal, how do you prioritize your life?

Michele:  I learned this lesson the hard way.  Whoever is reading
this, please learn from my mistakes.  When I first started writing I
put my writing in front of a lot of important things namely callings
and even time with my family.  For ten years I worked at getting my
work published and became so frustrated because it just didn’t happen.
Then, I got called to be Young Women President and I was forced to
put my calling and family first, and basically put my writing on hold.
Once I learned to balance the important stuff and ALWAYS put my
family and church obligations first, I began to see success and was
finally published.  Proving once again that the Lord can make more of
our lives than we can.

GG:  Why do you write?

Michele:  I write because I can’t not write.  My mind is constantly
whirling and spinning stories and scenes and book ideas.  It has since
I was a little girl, as far back as I can remember.  I’ve always been
a daydreamer and had a big imagination.  It’s gotten me into trouble
plenty of times, but it is the source of creativity and every chance I
get I encourage children and adults to embrace their imagination and
let their creativity soar, even if it means sometimes you have to
crash and burn.  Even though it took me ten years of rejections before
I got published, I don’t regret anything I learned during that time.

GG:  What do you picture your life to be like in ten years?

Michele:  I’m finally realizing that having children grow up doesn’t
mean life gets easier.  I think it gets more complicated, so I’m
thinking I’m going to still be very involved with my children and my
grandchildren, enjoying time traveling with my husband (and good
friends) and I know that I will be doing my best writing then.  I
still have so much to learn and so many ideas inside of me.  I get
excited when I think about what the future holds.

GG:  How do you nurture the writer within?

Michele:  I’m not the best person to ask this because I’m not doing
very well at this.  I think that ideally the best way to nurture the
writer within is to feed our creativity by experiencing new and
wonderful things; places, people and cultures.  Reading, researching,
taking time away from the craziness of life so you can really let your
thoughts gel and ideas take shape and form, then spending time to
write and let it flow, would be like a dream come true.  Going to
workshops and conferences, writers retreats and research trips, all
would feed the muse.  With my busy life and family I’m lucky to get an
hour or two a day to write.  BUT, as long as I keep my priorities
straight I do believe strongly that the Lord is making up the

GG:  What is your writing process?

Michele:  Once I get an idea for a story, usually as a result of
discovering a great setting, becoming interested in finding out more
about a certain social issue, or creating a character that really
fascinates me, I start brainstorming.  I will research and find out
all I can about a place or an issue or a person.  From that research
I’ll get more and more ideas.  I will work up an outline and revise it
constantly until I feel like all the components of the story are the
way I want them.  Then I begin writing.  I always begin with prayer (I
need all the help I can get).  I never write on Sundays either.  I
will usually revise my outline throughout the writing process because
the characters sometimes have minds of their own and mess it up.

GG:  How do you manage to be the mother of such creative children and to
keep your own creativity alive?

Michele:  Not very well.  I’m tired.  I get such fulfillment and joy
seeing my children make their dreams come true that I forget to take
care of myself.  I think this is a mother’s curse and blessing.  I do
everything I can to help them but I try not to push them.  When the
desire comes from their heart then I become passionate to help them.
Their success means more to me than my own success.  But, bottom line,
if I could get more sleep at night I would be a lot more creative and
productive.  Seriously.

GG:  I know you are an aerobics instructor.  What do you feel this pursuit
adds to your life?

Michele:  Teaching aerobics does wonders to help me feel strong and
healthy, not just physically but mentally also.  I hate getting up at
6 am to workout but when I’m done I feel like I can conquer the world,
until about 2:00 in the afternoon when I almost fall asleep at
stoplights or at the computer.  I also love the ladies I teach.  They
are a source of strength, support and therapy for me.  Exercise is
crucial for our bodies and minds.  The quality of my life is better
because I exercise regularly.

GG:  What advice do you have for those of us who are creative, but struggle
with balancing our lives?

Michele:  Good luck!  Just kidding.  Like I said earlier, it is all
about priorities.  If you do the things that matter and are most
important, then you can ask for heavenly help to make up the
difference.  That’s the only way I can explain the success I’ve had.
Once you understand and believe this principle, and have enough faith
to do it, things become much more simple and good things start to

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 at 7:49 pm and is filed under Authors. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 comments so far


I so want to be Michele when I grow up. What an inspiring interview. Thanks, GG, and thanks, Michele. You’ve inspired me to become a better writer, and more importantly, a better person.

August 26th, 2009 at 8:15 pm
Joyce DiPastena

A lovely interview with a lovely person! Thanks for sharing this with us all, GG!

August 26th, 2009 at 9:53 pm
Susan Anneveldt

What a lovely interview. Both the questions and the answers were really thought-provoking. I feel inspired, and need to start reading Michele’s books…

August 27th, 2009 at 6:35 am

Great interview, GG. I have long admired Michele and her abilities to write, be a mom and fulfill her church duties. She is truly amazing.

August 27th, 2009 at 8:24 am
Michele Bell

Is it tacky to post a comment? I hope not, because I want to tell each of the women who already posted how much I love and admire them. Kathi, Joyce and Rebecca are such incredible women and authors. And Susan, thank you for taking time to read the interview. GG, you came into my life exactly when I needed you. I love this wonderful sisterhood we share and the great blessing women/friends are in my life.

August 27th, 2009 at 9:32 am

Michele-Susan is a friend of mine from the Netherlands. I adore her. She’s a great fan. Her desire to read your books means a lot!
And everything everyone said is TRUE!

August 27th, 2009 at 10:33 am
Rachel Ann Nunes

Loved reading more about Michele! Great interview. She is so right about priorities and how life seems to become ever more hectic, even though the children are somewhat grown. Thanks!

August 27th, 2009 at 11:32 am

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