Michele Ceron: Author of Cape Heights
Kasey Rodriguez: Let’s start off with what led you into this genre of writing. What was your inspiration?
Michele West Ceron: As a kid, and young adult, I loved both creative writing and I also loved daytime TV soap operas. I was a soap addict for many years, actually. I watched almost every soap on TV at the time. As a child one of my dream jobs was to be a soap opera writer. In 2001 I had found on a message board forum an original daytime TV soap opera being written as a role play by a few women. They were looking for more writers and I was happy to join their writing team. But after a couple of years I wanted to create my very own soap opera so in 2003 I created Cape Heights with the assistance of a few of the writers from the other soap but I created the bones of the characters and stories myself
Bobbi Brandt: Me too. I watched Luke marry Laura with my mom. We both cried.
Michele West Ceron: that seems to be the one soap moment everyone remembers. I don’t really remember it as I was, like, 4 or 5 at the time. Lol!
Kasey Rodriguez: So how does one go about creating a character for a soap opera? What is the process for that? And how, if at all, has your overall process for creating these characters changed since you first started writing?
Michele West Ceron: When I first created Cape Heights I started off coming up with families first. First I thought up what the race of the family would be then came up with the last name. Then I started to think, well, how many family members? Rich or middle class? Good or bad in general or are some family members good while others are bad? Then I started coming up with individual names for each character in a family, their age, their occupation, and if they are married or single or in a new relationship or will later enter into a new relationship. Once I had those bones in place I started to flesh out the personality traits and the past history of each character. I purposely made my soap very racially diverse because most soaps are almost exclusively white characters with a few minority characters. I wanted a much larger mix of race and a large quantity of minority characters as I feel like that better reflects the way most towns in America are. You almost never see more than one Asian character in a soap if you even have one. I have an entire Asian family in addition to another Asian character outside of that family for example.
Since I started writing Cape Heights again in 2018 I used almost all the same characters as before but I have added around ten or so new characters since then. This time the process is much different, more haphazard. I seem to think up new characters almost on the fly. If a situation calls for a new character, it just comes to me. And I come up with their back story and personality mostly as I start writing for them. I already have some idea before I add them in the mix on what their back story and personality will be, but it’s more general. Then I just come up with the specifics as I write for them.
I actually keep thinking up new characters which is getting out of control because it’s making the town way too overcrowded. Lol
Kasey Rodriguez: I was about to ask if you run into the issue of having too many potential characters floating in your head at once.
Michele West Ceron: For me, it’s so far not a problem to keep track of the characters but for the reader it might be too overwhelming so I’m starting to rotate some characters out. As in having some leave town for an extended period of time and then come back later.
Kasey Rodriguez: I guess my next question would be, how do you decide who to “kill off.” when this happens, and have you had push-back from your audience in the past in making those decisions?
Michele West Ceron: So far I haven’t killed any characters off. It’s difficult for me to part with any of them, even the bad apples. I do have plans to kill off at least two but it won’t be until much further down the road. The thing about killing off a character in a soap is that it’s often regretted later which is why on soaps, characters are often brought back from the dead, which I HATE. Lol.
I do actually have plans to bring one character back from the dead but she was never a played character, she’s been believed to be dead for 25 years so it’s not the same in that she was a played character, killed off, and then brought back to life.
Bobbi Brandt: It got so bad on day time soaps that you could never actually believe anyone was dead. Even if they died in real life… you felt like somehow they would bring them back. lol
Kasey Rodriguez: Have you ever been contacted by a displeased fan regarding the outcome of one of your storylines?
Michele West Ceron: So far no and that’s surprising because I have MANY controversial storylines/topics/relationships in my books. LOL. I have reasons for both a very liberal person to be offended as well as a very conservative person! LOL. I had one bad review for my first book but the woman was vague and didn’t say why she didn’t like it. I also have a good amount of cursing in the dialog.
I’m still not well known yet so I don’t have that many fans. Hopefully I will have more one day!
Kasey Rodriguez: That’s exactly our goal with our Author Spotlight page!
Bobbi Brandt: I read some of it and it’s very good. I’m sure it will grow. It’s just so hard getting through the oceans of books right now with self publishing.
Michele West Ceron: But even all the controversial issues I have in my book are not put in there for shock value or to push a political agenda, it’s purely character driven and also reflects different issues that are relevant to the times we live in.
Bobbi Brandt: As they should be.
Michele West Ceron: Oh thanks, Bobbi!
Kasey Rodriguez: This genre of writing is obviously a passion of yours. Even so, have you found yourself in a sort of lull in creativity in the past or even recently, with the extended quarantine due to COVID?
Michele West Ceron: Yes. Last fall when I was working on Volume 4 I got into a lull for about one month where I didn’t write hardly at all. Then in the beginning of COVID-19, I wanted to write more because I had way more time to do so, but there were weeks here and there where I wasn’t in the mood due to everything going on and trying to keep up with it all. So Volume 5 took me about a month longer to do than I expected. I’m writing Volume 6 currently and this one is taking me the longest but not because of COVID-19 or lack of creativity but because of things going on in my everyday life and personal life that have been distracting me or not giving me the time to write.
Back in July I was having major computer issues. I was trying to get my computer fixed for a few weeks but it wasn’t working so I had to get a new computer. So that pushed me back. Then over the last six weeks I’ve had a lot of changes going on in my personal life that is taking up most of the space in my mind, so my writing has been sporadic lately because of that. I should have had Volume 6 finished this month but it’s looking like at the earliest it will be finished and published will be the end of November but most likely it will be sometime in December.
Bobbi Brandt: My writing is generally humorous… so with everything going on in the world I’ve had a lull. I’m just starting to find the humor in everyday life again.
Kasey Rodriguez: That is completely understandable! I know that a lot of artist’s and author’s will, even inadvertently, reflect their current mental state into their work. Do you find that this is true with your writing, as well?
Michele West Ceron: Hmmmmmm. For the most part, no. The only time I would say that might be true is if a new romantic spark in my life has been lit then that can contribute to writing love scenes for my characters! Lol!
Bobbi Brandt: Okay, just a couple more questions.
Michele West Ceron: Sure, no problem. This is fun.
Bobbi Brandt: If you had to pick another genre to write, what would it be?
Michele West Ceron: Oh wow, that’s hard! I read pretty much every genre…
I honestly don’t know.
Bobbi Brandt: Or would you like to write, say, for TV maybe? Or do you prefer the book platform?
Michele West Ceron: I could see myself writing for TV. In a way that’s what I’m already doing. I write my books exactly the way they would appear if they were a real soap on TV.
Bobbi Brandt: One last thing. Tell us something about Michele Ceron that we can’t learn from reading your Bio.
Michele West Ceron: Ack! Hard question! Let me think on it…
I’m a very inquisitive person. I love to learn and explore in depth a wide variety of topics. I love evolving as a person and I am open to possibly changing my mind/my opinion on any topic. I’ve always been extremely introverted but can be very extroverted in the right situation. I no longer care what people think about me for the most part so I’ve evolved to being a very blunt and honest person. If you don’t like it, oh well. The majority of people don’t seem to mind my bluntness even when it’s on the harsh side.
Kasey Rodriguez: Well hopefully I can get there someday. LOL!
Bobbi Brandt: Well, we’ve found you very easy to talk to and this has been a real pleasure.
Kasey Rodriguez: Yes, thank you for giving us some “behind-the-scenes” of soap opera writing. We really enjoyed this and hope it helps your work reach many more viewers!
Michele West Ceron: Thank you ladies! This was great!
Indie Authors Help Each Other With Honest Book Reviews
Michelle also runs a Facebook group “Indie Authors Help Each Other With Honest Book Reviews.“
“This group is for indie authors who are looking for and really want honest reviews of their books. The purpose is for indie authors to read books by other indie authors, then give an honest review even if that honest review is a critical one and not glowing one.”