About the book:Red Tape is a tale about a single mom, Chelsey Alton, who is trying to balance her family and career when things start to go haywire at her job in a quirky little town named Sunshine, located at the Jersey shore. She encounters an irate resident, corruption in the government, and destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy. When Chelsey starts to figure out the truth behind the mayhem, she finds herself framed for a crime she did not commit. She narrowly escapes several attempts at her demise, only to find herself in a much more precarious situation.
Interview with Michele Lynn Seigfried:Michelle, how did you come up with the title Red Tape?
First I thought of calling it The Government, but everyone told me that was boring. They were right, it is boring! Then I thought of making my character of Robert Triggers, the irate resident, saying how he hates government red tape. Hence, the name Red Tape was born.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
Yes. I am a full-time municipal clerk. I’m actually answering these interview questions while at the International Municipal Clerk’s Association Conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?
All of the above! I feel like I’m so all over the place when I write. I can’t seem to sit down and write out all chapters in order. I often don’t know if I’m writing chapter 2 or chapter 15 when I’m typing along. I try to do an outline too, to help me get the order of things straight in my head, but I usually don’t stick with it because the characters and plot take on a life of their own.
What do you do to market your books?
In addition to book tours, I have done book talks at a local libraries. I’m also schedule to be at the Collingswood Book Festival in New Jersey in the fall. I periodically do giveaways and promotional pricing, so watch my Facebook page and Twitter accounts to get in on the deals and prizes!
Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
Yes! Bonnie, “Tex,” and Kathy Norcia.
Bonnie’s personality and off-the-wall comments are inspired by a friend of mine, who wished to remain nameless. I find her hysterical.
Tex is named after a police lieutenant at my work, Scott Texidor. He is an awesome guy, and he graciously allowed me to use his name in the book. The character of Tex has a similar personality to the real Tex.
Kathy Norcia is a municipal clerk in New Jersey and is a friend of mine. She also graciously allowed me to use her name.
I like writing characters who do and say things I never would, as well as characters who do and say things I wish I could. Do you have characters who fit into one of those categories? Who, and in what category do they fall?
Bonnie absolutely says things I would never say in a million years. I think that’s why she is my favorite character. The way she describes the mayor, the way she gawks at the firemen, and how she speaks her mind. I would be likely get fired if I spoke like she does at work.
If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?
Again, I have to go with Bonnie. Bonnie is described as beautiful, rich, has a beachfront home and a nice family. Definitely Bonnie.
I wouldn't mind being her too! With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck on a deserted island?
I’d have to say Kris. He doesn’t really appear until the end of the book, but mmmmm, is all I can say about him! Officer Williams would come in a close second.
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
With a fifteen-month-old, times and places for me to write are limited! That leaves after she goes to bed at night, sitting in the front of the TV with my laptop.
Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.
One weird thing is that we have a three-eared rabbit in our neighborhood!
A nice thing is that we live within an hour’s drive of the beach, the mountains, the casinos and two major cities – Philadelphia and New York.
One fact is that we live along the Delaware River, which is great for fishing and boating.
You won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?
My freedom! I’d quit my job in order to have more time to do the things I love to do.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy arts and crafts, spending time with my family, traveling, wine tasting events, fishing boating, and lots of other activities!
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Near a beach on the island of St. John. It is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen!
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a children’s book (I’m also the illustrator!) and also a sequel to Red Tape.
Book Excerpt from Red TapeIt was Columbus Day and I was thrilled to have a four-day work week. I was due to meet Bonnie for lunch. I lived a little closer to Jackson than Bonnie did, but since I had to drop off Mandy, I told Bonnie I would pick her up.
Bonnie’s house was powder blue today. “You had your siding painted again?” I asked her.
“I get bored and now that I’m no longer employed, I have too much free time on my hands.”
“Your husband must want to kill you.”
“Just a little. I told him I did it for him since he hated the pink. He keeps telling me to find another job.”
“I’ll drive today since you drove last time.”
“Works for me! That means I can have a couple of drinks.”
We hopped into my car and I turned out of her driveway toward the causeway. Driving in my Honda Accord was quite a large step down from Bonnie’s fancy Mercedes. Bonnie turned and looked behind her.
“That’s strange,” she said.
“What’s strange?” I asked.
“That black sedan behind us. It had been sitting across the street from my house for the past hour and now it’s following us. All the windows are tinted.”
“You’re starting to be paranoid like me,” I told her. “It’s not surprising they are following us; this is basically the only route off the island.”
We continued driving off the island and through Madisen Township. I opted to take the back roads to Jackson to avoid traffic.
“Speaking of being paranoid, I have a story to tell you about the elevator at work...” I started to say when I was interrupted by the sound of a car revving its engine and speeding up behind us. I glanced into my rearview mirror and could no longer see the bumper of the black sedan. Then smack! We were jolted forward upon the impact. The black car hit us. I slammed on the brakes and the sedan swerved to my left into the lane of oncoming traffic.
“What the hell?” Bonnie screamed as we felt a second impact in the side rear panel of the driver’s side. My car was pushed over into the right shoulder. I held tight to the steering wheel, trying to force it left. It was all I could do to keep the car on the road. The black car slammed on its brakes and shot behind us when a tractor-trailer was approaching it head-on. It then revved its engine again, coming for us from behind.
Bonnie yelled, “Speed up! They’re going to hit us again.”
I frantically pressed the pedal down like she said. I could barely think. I tried to reach over to my purse and grab my cell phone, when whack! We were hit again, thrusting us forward. My head hit the steering wheel. My purse and its contents went flying. I was afraid the airbags would go off and I wouldn’t be able to see. My heart was pounding. I was terrified.
“They’re trying to kill us,” I said in a panic to Bonnie.
“Well, they’re not going to be successful. See if you can get them to pull up alongside of you again.”
“What? Are you out of your freaking mind?” I shouted. “You want me to get next to them? They probably have guns!”
“Well, so do I,” Bonnie said as she reached into her purse and pulled out a small handgun.
“Where the heck did you get a gun?” I asked.
The sedan pulled into the left lane again and increased in speed in an attempt to get alongside of us. I crouched as low as I could behind the steering wheel, took a deep breath, held it, and tried my best to hold the car steady. My whole body was trembling.
Bonnie rolled down her window and climbed halfway out, aiming and shooting at the black car. “Pop, pop, pop.” She fired three times. I heard car tires screeching and I looked into my rearview mirror to see that the mystery car had veered off the road and was smoking. I started to breathe again.
“Good shot,” I said as I sped off down the road as fast as my demolished Honda would go, trying to get away as quickly as possible.
“Thanks. My husband and I go to the shooting range on occasion. It’s a hobby of ours. We went this Saturday. I had forgotten to take the gun out of my purse. Good thing!”
My heart was in my throat. My hands were shaking uncontrollably and I was still in a frenzy. I had gone into survival mode and now that the adrenaline was wearing off. I think I was going into shock. “Are they following us? Where do you think the nearest police station is? Are you going to get in trouble for shooting a gun? Would you call 9-1-1 from your cell phone?”
“I’m already dialing. I don’t think they are following us, but keep driving just in case. Make a bunch of turns so they don’t know where we went. And no, I don’t think I’ll get in trouble for shooting a gun. I have a permit, and it was self-defense. And, if I do get in trouble, it’s better than being dead. Plus, I have enough money for a good attorney.”
About the author:Michele Lynn Seigfried is an author and public speaker who was born and raised in New Jersey. In her debut novel, Red Tape, she draws from her personal expertise in the area of municipal government, in which she has served for over fifteen years. She holds state and international certifications in the areas of municipal clerk and vital statistics. She lives in Bordentown, New Jersey with her husband and daughter.
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