Q&A with
#1 New York Times Best-selling Author

“I did not personally have an easy life. I am where I am now because I worked very, very hard. All the main characters in my books may not start out particularly strong—as a matter of fact, some of them are downright mushy. But, by God, by the end of the book, they are their own women. I love writing about strong women who persevere and prevail, because that’s what I had to do in my life. I guess in a way I’m constantly telling my own story. Do I have a message? It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, what matters is where you’re going and how you get there. Anything’s possible.” – Fern Michaels

With so many novels of yours published—many of which are New York Times best sellers—did you ever imagine you would have such a prolific and successful career as a writer? How did you first get started on the path to becoming an author?
Never in a million years did I imagine I would be where I am today. I think I knew someway, somehow, I was going to write something someday in the fourth grade when I wrote a story about a tadpole and the teacher gave me a big red A. What put me on the path to writing years and years later was when my youngest son went off to kindergarten and my husband told me I had to get a job. Being a wife and mother did not qualify me to go into the outside work force. Plus, and most important, I didn’t have a car to get to and from work. So, I thought I would try my hand at writing a book. It was that simple. What was even more amazing was that the storytelling came easy to me. Please note, I did not say the writing came easy, it was the storytelling part that worked for me.

What are your favorite subjects to cover?
Two reoccurring subjects in my books are dogs and strong women who persevere and prevail.

I try to include a dog in every book I write. I am an absolute animal lover. Writing about them—what they are capable of, their unconditional love—just makes me feel good. I smile and laugh out loud a lot of the time because my dogs sit right here with me while I write. I talk to them when it isn’t going well. They just look at me or bark and I get back to work. I cannot imagine sitting down to write without them at my side. It would be impossible. I hope that never happens. They’re my best friends, and truth be told, I like them more than I like some people.

Over the years I’ve shared my heart and home with some amazing dogs who have provided plenty of material for my books. Everything I write about animals doing in my books, my dogs have actually done, or at least tried to do! My rescue hound, Lucy, knows how to open the refrigerator, which she does four or five times a day. I had two golden retrievers named Jam and Jelly, and they could buckle up their own seat belts. Jelly knew how to lock the kitchen door. Jam was the bigger of the two, and she knew how to ring the doorbell, which was just too high for Jelly to reach. Charlie, a Yorkie, was so smart he didn’t have to do anything. He knew to the minute when it was time to eat and when it was time for our usual walks. He would head to the bedroom before I could get out of my chair at 10:57. He was never off by more than a minute.

What is your favorite book or story related to dogs? What is your favorite dog character of all time?
Winston in my own book, Mr. and Miss Anonymous.

What is it about the characters—especially the female characters—in your novels that allows for you to connect so deeply with readers, and how did you first conceive these women on your pages? Is there any thread of you in any of these characters?
What is it about the characters—especially the female characters—in your novels that allows for you to connect so deeply with readers, and how did you first conceive these women on your pages? Is there any thread of you in any of these characters?

While many people know you through your writing, not many people are aware of your charitable work, which includes buying bulletproof vests for dogs and creating day care centers set up for the needs of single mothers. You also created the Fern Michaels Foundation, which grants scholarships to needy children. How did you get involved in these projects and why is philanthropy such an important part of your life?
When I was a kid my old Polish grandmother said something to me that I didn’t understand at the time but do understand now. She said, “When God is good to you, you must give back.” I do my best. A day doesn’t go by in my life that I don’t thank God for all he has done for me. How could I do less? I have a new project right now with our local police department in the town where I live. With the passing of my daughter way before her time, six years ago, I wanted to do something in her memory. So I made sure every officer in the department had a defibrillator and was trained to use it, a thermal imaging camera, plus every officer now has a Taser, along with training, and hiring a new police officer every year to help safeguard the people in my little town.

Throughout all the years you’ve been writing and promoting your novels, what have been the most rewarding and memorable experiences for you?
Oh my gosh, there are so many. I’m going to give you two, but they are sad. A lady’s daughter emailed me and said her mother was dying, literally dying, and had maybe a month to live if she was lucky. She had read the first two books in the Kentucky Series and wanted to know how the third one ended because she wouldn’t be here when it came out. The third book was done and in production, but it was months to go before it would be in stores. I called my publisher, Kensington Publishing, and somehow they found a way to get the galleys to me to send to the daughter. The daughter emailed me later and said everyday she read to her mother and finished the book in time. The second incident was almost identical but this lady was a friend of someone who had brain cancer and was in a hospice. She wanted the fourth Sisterhood book so her friend could read it to her. I sent it along with a room full of flowers. You just can’t forget things like that, ever. And I never will. I like to think I make people’s lives a little happier with my storytelling. Now if you want to go in the other direction, I was inducted into the New Jersey Literary Hall of Fame along with such notables as Mary Higgins Clark, Peter Benchley, Belva Plain, and many others.

How do you motivate yourself?
I play soft music, and line up my desk with munchies and cokes. I love to eat junk food as a reward for writing. When I finish so many pages, I eat something, more pages and I get a coke. By the end of the day, it’s all gone.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
Oh, boy! I can do all sorts of things between the pages of a book. I call it magic. I can kill off characters if I don’t like them, I can make couples fall in love and live happily ever after. I can build bridges and buildings, and put them where I want in make believe locations. I can create something out of nothing with just words and my imagination. I can make people rich or poor, make them beautiful or give them warts. It’s a very powerful feeling. And then getting a fan letter that says I did good makes it work for me. In my opinion there is no higher high.

Can you briefly describe your perfect day?
Waking up with four dogs nuzzling my neck, the sun is shining, the coffee is extra good, the shower is invigorating, and my workday gets off to a pleasant, low-key start until I turn on the computer and I have to decide if I’m writing mayhem or something sweet and juicy. Work till three in the afternoon, take the dogs out for an hour, feed dogs, meet up with my kids and go out to dinner to a place where we all bring home doggie bags. Return phone calls and emails. Settle down with the dogs and read a good book. It doesn’t get any better than that. Weekends are different. My daughters and I SHOP!