Michelle Shocklee is the author of several historical novels including Under the Tulip Tree. Her work has been included in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books, magazines, and blogs. Married to her college sweetheart and the mother of two grown sons, she makes her home in Tennessee, not far from the historical sites she writes about. Visit her online at michelleshocklee.com.
Let’s learn a little more about Michelle.
How or why did you become a writer?
I’ve always loved the written word. Long before I started writing my own books, I was an avid reader. When I was in my late 20s, I began work on my first novel. I had a lot to learn, and it took many years with a lot of life in between, before my first novel, The Planter’s Daughter, was published in 2017. I thoroughly enjoy the process of research, letting the imagination run wild, and finally putting it all down on paper (or computer screen!).
Why do you write Christian Fiction?
For me, writing my stories is an expression of my faith and hope in God. More than anything, I want the books and articles I write to bring Him glory and reveal this truth: that ultimately nothing matters more than our relationship with his Son, Jesus Christ. Our time on earth is so short, so I want to use every moment to point people to Him. I don’t “preach” in my books, however. I simply let the lives of my characters go on a faith journey in much the same way you and I experience as we traverse this life.
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
My husband and I work as Estate Caretakers. That means we live and work on a large property (in our current job, it’s a 600-acre gorgeous Tennessee farm!) and help the owners with anything and everything. We love it!
Tell us a little about your books.
I write historical fiction. History was not my favorite subject when I was in school, but I’ve since become a history nerd. I love visiting historical sites and letting my imagination run wild with ideas. History books fill my bookshelves these days, many that once belonged to my parents who were also avid readers. I truly believe we can learn from much from the past and the lives of people who’ve gone before us.
Tell us a little about your current book.
Under the Tulip Tree is about a young woman, Rena, who accepts a position interviewing former slaves for the Federal Writers’ Project. There, she meets Frankie Washington, a 101-year-old woman whose honest yet tragic past captivates her. As Frankie recounts her life as a slave, Rena is horrified to learn of all the older woman has endured—especially because Rena’s ancestors owned slaves. While Frankie’s story challenges Rena’s preconceptions about slavery, it also connects the two women whose lives are otherwise separated by age, race, and circumstances. But will this bond of respect, admiration, and friendship be broken by a revelation neither woman sees coming?
Why do you consider this book a modern-day parable?
When I began writing Under the Tulip Tree in 2018, I could have never imagined the racial division it would release into in 2020. Sadly, the same issues Rena and Frankie face in 1936 and the 1860s are the same issues we are dealing with today. Their story, while fiction, speaks to the answers found only through forgiveness, friendship, and unconditional love. Listening to one another is so important. As Jesus spoke parables to his followers, Frankie tells her story to Rena, reminding us that we all have a story worth telling.
Thanks so much for being our guest today, Michelle. Your job sounds wonderful. I love Tennessee.