Meet the Exquisite Quill Authors

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Author Inteview: Michele Zurlo

Exquisite Quills Welcomes Michele Zurlo

EQ: Welcome to EQ! Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Michele: I'm Michele Zurlo, author of over 20 romance novels. I write contemporary and paranormal, BDSM and mainstream--whatever it takes to give my characters the happy endings they deserve.

I'm not half as interesting as my characters. My childhood dreams tended to stretch no further than the next book in my to-be-read pile, and I aspired to be a librarian so I could read all day. I ended up teaching middle school, so that fulfilled part of my dream. Some words of wisdom from an inspiring lady had me tapping out stories on my first laptop, so in the evenings, romantic tales flow from my fingertips.

I'm pretty impulsive when it comes to big decisions, especially when it's something I've never done before. Writing is just one in a long line of impulsive decisions that turned out to showcase my great instincts.

EQ: Tell us a little bit about your most recent release.

Michele: It’s a new mainstream romance series called Kiss Me. Kiss Me Goodnight follows Lacey Hallem as she navigates life and love. Here’s the blurb:

I’m Lacey Hallem, and I have a few secrets. These aren’t them: I wash my hands a lot and lie when I’m stressed. Also, I have horrible taste in men. That’s how I knew Dylan was trouble the first time I saw him…

Life can be challenging for Lacey, especially when things don’t come in sets of six, but she’s smart and funny and able to keep her demons at bay—most of the time. She might have sensed trouble when she set eyes on Dylan, a delectable musician in a vintage T-shirt, but that doesn’t stop her from thinking about him, or spending more and more time in his company.

Enter Thomas. Wealthy, handsome, and completely adoring of Lacey (flaws and all), he’s everything a man should be. So why can’t she convince her heart to fall in love?

Prepare to be swept up in Michele Zurlo’s emotional and compelling story of learning to trust yourself, facing the past, and finding strength you never knew you had.

EQ: Pick out one of the best lines in your novel. What do you love about it?

Michele: He oozed sexy badness, and whoever says they don't have a weakness for that has a serious case of the pants-on-fire syndrome.

I love that line because it’s so very Lacey. As a consummate liar, she’s good at calling them like she sees them. This line is from the first time she sees Dylan. He’s with his sister-in-law and nephew, but the kid looks enough like Dylan that Lacey assumes he’s with his wife and child. She’s fighting her attraction to him because she’s sworn off married men. This line also plants Dylan in the center of Lacey’s mind. From now on, nobody is going to measure up. It ignites her demons and forces her to face them head-on. She’s s strong-willed, opinionated woman who definitely comes into her own. I’m so proud of her.

EQ: Describe how you came up with the plot of your novel.

Michele: I had a concussion, and I stopped writing for a few months in the fall of 2012. When I started again, the character in my head was an OCD liar/handwasher who had only engaged in relationships with married men. As I explored the character, asking myself what would compel somebody to do that—and what would it take to make readers connect with her—I came up with her back story. It was horrific and tragic, yet she persevered. This is the story of how she comes to terms with pieces of her problem—admitting to herself that she is worthy of being loved. Of course, things don’t magically fall into place. Hers is a tough road, full of bumps and bruises, heartache and joy, but she travels it with a great sense of humor that sees her through some outrageous situations.

EQ: What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your writing?

Michele: Writing mainstream romance is the biggest risk I’ve taken to date. So far in my career, I’ve had success with erotic romance, specifically BDSM-themed stories. Though this definitely  has heat, it’s not erotic. It’s not focused on their sexual relationship, but rather Lacey’s heart-wrenching emotional journey to a place where she realizes her self-worth. The revision process was rather interesting—it was the first time I’d ever been told by an editor to delete sex scenes instead of add them. I love Lacey (and Dylan,) and I hope you will too. Here’s a little excerpt to get you going:

After the show, I introduced my best friends Jane and Luma to Dylan’s band. Thank goodness neither of them looked at the men like they were a buffet.

Gavin looked at Dylan and clapped Levi on the back. “We should clear out.”

“No, you shouldn’t.” Heads swung and everybody looked at me. It was a little disorienting. I won’t be going on a stage anytime soon. I swallowed. “I mean, this was your first performance. There have to be a hundred women and more than a few men hanging out in there who enjoyed your show and wouldn’t mind meeting you. Mingling will help build your fan base.”

I needed to shut up before somebody asked me if I was a publicist. Knowing me, I would probably answer in the affirmative. I have a major in finance with a minor in business administration. Nothing there speaks to this situation.

“Sorry. Just throwing out ideas.”

Jane and Luma chuckled nervously. Jane moved closer, probably ready to drag me away if I kept going.

Levi nodded thoughtfully. “Good ideas, though. They make sense. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re heading back inside.”

Daisy linked her arms through Jane and Luma’s, and the three of them went first. Levi and Gavin followed.

Dylan held the door for me, which led to a hallway behind the stage. He grabbed my hand, holding me back when I would have followed everyone else through the door into the main room.

I cocked my head and gazed up at him.

“You liked the show?”

“Very much. I’d even see it again.” I still think they need some backing vocals. “I especially liked the last song. That’s where you took the name for your band?”

He nodded. “I wrote the song a few years ago.” His eyes clouded over the tiniest bit, a combination of nostalgia and melancholy.

I was about to ask him if he was okay when he tilted his head down. The right moment had finally come. He was going to kiss me. My lips tingled with anticipation. My senses came alive, attuned to every molecule of this moment.

He pulled me against him, holding me so I could feel the hard length of his thighs (yes, thighs, you perv) against mine. But that wasn’t enough. Taking one step forward, he moved my back against the wall. Throwing caution to the wind, I gave in to my urge to run my hands over his chest. I broke my gaze from his, putting off a moment I knew would blow away every kiss I’ve ever had.

You don’t think I’ve set my hopes too high, do you?

Buy Kiss Me Goodnight from Amazon or Barnes and Noble

For a complete list of titles and other fun stuff, go to or @MZurloAuthor.


Jane Leopold Quinn said...

What a fascinating premise for a book, Michele. I love Lacey's flaws and the promise of a happier life for her. And speaking of OCD, one time on TV someone described an OCD person as even combing the fringe on her rugs. My husband and I both looked at each other and said "What's wrong with that?" It's nice to be OCD with a partner.

Rose Anderson said...

Love this! [He oozed sexy badness, and whoever says they don't have a weakness for that has a serious case of the pants-on-fire syndrome.]

:) Best luck with your newest, Michele.

E. Ayers said...

Well, that sounded super good. Isn't it amazing how some little thing will trigger and a character forms? A Compulsive hand washer? LOL I just had to go buy it. and it's on the top of the pile to be read next! Wishing you lots more sales.

D. Ryan said...

Jane, I see nothing wrong with OCD. Everybody should be at least a little OCD.

Thanks, Rose and E.!

Danita Cahill said...

Sounds like a great book. I really enjoyed the line you shared.

Jennifer Lane said...

How sad that she is only attracted to married men! I hope she doesn't get with a man with ADHD because ADHD and OCD are a tough combination ;-)

Great interview!