Sharon Michalove’s Journey Through Romance, History, and Intrigue

Sharon Michalove discusses her transition from academic historian to bestselling author, blending romance, mystery, and historical depth in her captivating novels.

Sharon Michalove, acclaimed for her blend of romantic suspense and traditional mystery, illuminates her journey from academia to becoming a prolific author based in Chicago. With a diverse background in history, a PhD in the history of education, and a lifelong love for hockey and culinary arts, Michalove infuses her novels with rich historical contexts, vibrant settings, and intricate plots that captivate readers.

In this exclusive interview, Michalove shares insights into her creative process, from drawing on her academic research to craft compelling historical narratives, to incorporating her passions for hockey and food into her contemporary settings. She discusses the transition from writing history to fiction, revealing the challenges and triumphs that led to her debut novel and subsequent series. Michalove also delves into the unique aspects of writing seasoned romance, featuring mature couples and second-chance love stories that resonate deeply with readers.

From her latest release, At First Sight, to mysteries set in Northern Michigan’s wine country like Dead in the Alley, Michalove explores how she creates vivid senses of place and authenticity through meticulous research and personal inspiration. She also shares her experiences contributing to Love at First Bite, a cookbook inspired by her novels, and how her love for cooking and food history enhances the narrative texture of her stories.

Join us as Sharon Michalove discusses her literary inspirations, the evolution of her writing style, and what’s next on her creative horizon in this engaging conversation with Reader’s House Magazine.

Your background includes a PhD in the history of education with research specialties in European history, polar exploration, and food history. How have these academic interests influenced your writing, particularly in crafting historical contexts and intricate plot details?

In At First Sight, my character Cress Taylor writes historical novels and I used research I had done on the fifteenth-century Queen of Cyprus as the basis of the novel that she talks about in a television interview. Last year I finally went to Antarctica on a cruise and wrote a short second-chance hockey romance about a couple that reunite on an Antarctic cruise. Melting the Iceman came out in an anthology in January. I just started planning a three-book series about printing and spying in the last quarter of the fifteenth century

You mention a lifelong love for hockey and a move to Chicago to attend more Blackhawks games. How does your passion for hockey and living in Chicago inspire and shape the settings and characters in your novels?

I’m a native Chicagoan and I’ve been a Blackhawks fan my whole life but going to my first live game at the age of sixty-five really made that birthday special and planted the seeds for moving back. I have a lot of hockey references in my Global Security Unlimited series, including a scene at the United Centre. I’ve just finished a second short hockey story and have a third one that is due at the beginning of August. These two will be out this fall.

Your first novel was published in 2021, and you have since authored multiple novels and short stories. What was the transition like from academia to fiction writing, and what inspired you to start writing novels?

Like many writers, I always wanted to write fiction. Fast forward from age ten to age sixty-seven. After many failed attempts at fiction, but a reasonable number of publications in history, I decided on one more try. I joined a Chicago writing organization called Just Write and showed up for several write-ins every week. I started taking online writing classes. I had a first draft in six months. The writing was definitely on the academic side, and the plot barely worked. Then came revising, revise and resubmit, and finally semi-finalist in the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author contest. By then my manuscript was first person, dual narrator, present tense. One more revision and it went to an editor and out to the world on my seventieth birthday. I haven’t looked back.

In At First Sight, you blend romance with suspense and mystery, featuring mature couples and second-chance love. What do you find most rewarding about writing seasoned romance, and how do you ensure it resonates with readers?

When I started At First Sight, I thought it would be a mystery but that didn’t work. Then I thought I’d write a romance and that didn’t work either. Somehow, the combination was my magic formula. As far as writing later-in-life couples, second chance seems like a good approach for many older couples, who have more history than younger characters. My short story, Aegean Persuasion, has a second-chance romance between two seventy-year-olds.

Dead in the Alley introduces readers to a mystery set in Northern Michigan. How do you approach creating a vivid sense of place in your mysteries, and what drew you to set this story in the wine and cherry-growing country of Lake Michigan?

I woke up one morning with the whole idea for this mystery in my head—characters, setting, and plot. I’d never been to that area of Michigan and tried to talk my characters out of it, but they wouldn’t have it. I did lots of research and I’ve been told that it’s spot on by Michigan natives who guessed the real place Sherburne is based on.

You’ve contributed to Love at First Bite, a cookbook inspired by your novels and life experiences. How does your love for cooking and food history play into your writing, and what role does food play in your storytelling?

The recipe from Love at First Bite is one that my Russian grandmother used to make. I’ve always loved trying new recipes and new foods and my characters are no different. Bay Bishop is a chef. I have a half-finished mystery that involves a cooking contest where all of the dishes have to be from Jane Austen’s era.

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