Michel, DeLauné

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Michel, DeLauné

PERSONAL:

Born in LA; daughter of Elizabeth Nell Dubus; married Dan Fried (a photographer); children: one son.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Westchester County, NY. Agent—Eileen Cope, Trident Media Group, LLC, 41 Madison Ave., 36th Fl., New York, NY 10010. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, actor, and producer. Has worked as an actor in theater, television, and film; founding producer of Spoken Interludes, a salon-style reading series that also offers writing programs for at-risk teenagers.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Thomas Wolf Short Fiction Award; Pacificus Foundation Literary Award, for short fiction.

WRITINGS:

Aftermath of Dreaming, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

In her first novel, Aftermath of Dreaming, DeLauné Michel tells the story of Yvette Broussard, who keeps waking up in the middle of the night screaming despite the fact that she seems to have a good life and a promising future as a young, attractive, and increasingly successful jewelry designer in Los Angeles. Even her boyfriend, who was scared off by commitment, has come back into her life. However, it is the handsome movie star Andrew Marden, twenty years her senior, whom she starts thinking about when she happens to see him one day with his wife. Yvette met the actor years earlier when she was only eighteen, while working as a waitress in a restaurant. They had a longtime secret affair and the sight of him has her once more longing for her former lover, even though he was narcissistic and would not commit to her. As Yvette grapples with her ongoing attraction to Andrew, she must come to grips with many issues in her life that she has kept buried and has avoided. "A promising debut with room to grow," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor of Aftermath of Dreaming. In a review in Booklist, Kristine Huntley wrote, "Michel's crisp writing and keen observations make her a writer to watch."

Michel told CA: "Ever since I can remember, I knew I would be a writer. However, at the age of five, I saw Funny Girl, related to Fanny Brice (but that's another novel), and decided to move to New York as soon as I could to be an actress. My parents, God bless them, thought that was a great idea and were always extremely supportive, in all ways, of such a precarious dream.

"I guess you could say my family served as my own personal MFA writing program. It's unusual to be part of a family that has so many published writers, and that had an impact on me. My Uncle André (Dubus; one of his stories was the basis for the film, In the Bedroom.) was always very supportive of my writing. I sent him the first two stories I wrote, and he wrote back that he wouldn't change a word on either of them. That was extremely encouraging to me. My mother, who is also a writer, was always generous and supportive, and so are my cousins, André Dubus [III], (House of Sand and Fog) and James Lee Burke (New York Times best-selling mystery writer.)

"I think of my literary family background as being the Southern experience squared. Meaning that the most important thing in life down South is telling a good story. And God knows, that's what matters most to writers. Dinners in my family lasted for hours. There were five daughters and two parents, all highly verbal, and everyone had a story to tell. And they weren't short! My husband, a Yankee, teases me all the time about how long it takes me to tell him the simplest thing. While I, in turn, don't understand these terse and taciturn Northerners, but viva la difference.

"My formal education ended after high school. I left Baton Rouge for New York at eighteen, had a brief and unremarkable fling as a model, and then studied acting with teachers from Juilliard, the Actor's Studio, the Neighborhood Playhouse, and Yale Drama School. The standards were extremely high. The theatre was sacred ground, and you had to make yourself worthy to be part of it. It is an education for which I am forever grateful. I had tough, demanding, intelligent, and provocative teachers who taught me where I was strong, and where I was weak. So in terms of writing, I guess I am an autodidact, though I do think the acting training was enormously beneficial. It taught me a great deal about character development, building an arc, when to start a scene, and themes.

"I feel blessed that my training was in this form because if the elements aren't there in a play or script, it really shows. As one of my teachers used to say about the masters (Chekhov, O'Neill, Shakespeare, and Williams), 'There is no emotion you can have that won't be supported by the text.' These writers had written real people, complicated and difficult, with conflicting motives. The lesser writers paint characters in one or two colors, so there is very little room in the role to have a real experience.

"I tried to write my novel the way it felt to act Chekhov, so that each moment was lived and full of life. So that anything was possible, but that the inevitable had to happen. It's what Chekhov (regarding his play, Ivanoff) said, that if a gun is shown in the first act, it has to go off in the third act. But everything that happens in between needs to be lived as if it might not."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 15, 2006, Kristine Huntley, review of Aftermath of Dreaming, p. 28.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2006, review of Aftermath of Dreaming, p. 152.

Publishers Weekly, October 4, 2004, John F. Baker, "Big Deal for Debut Novelist," p. 20.

ONLINE

DeLauné Michel Home Page,http://www.delaunemichel.com (September 29, 2006).

Spoken Interludes Web site,http://www.spokeninterludes.com (September 28, 2006).