Michele Peters – Member Spotlight

Meet Michele Peters. Mesmerized by books from the time she learned to read, Michele enjoyed writing as well. “I’ve always been an avid book lover, devouring fiction and non-fiction alike. From reading Mary, Queen of Scots in the 4th grade to Gone with the Wind in 8th grade— to most Roald Dahl, Hilary Mantel and Agatha Christie stories in existence. I particularly love anything historical and mysteries.”   

A major turning point occurred for Michele as a preteen. “My 7th-grade class was studying Greek mythology. We were given the assignment to write our own myth. My story centered on how ‘evergreens’ got that name. The teacher was so impressed with my story she gave me an A++ and asked me to read it in class. Being extremely introverted at that time, it was daunting, but I did it. When I finished she asked to speak with me after class. I will never forget her words that day; they are rooted in my mind. She told me I should seriously consider a writing career. Her encouragement was the beginning of a life path I love.”  

“I’ve been blessed with ongoing encouragement and support for my writing career. One of my closest friends throughout high school, who is still a dear friend today, gave me a graduation gift that sits on my desk always—a Roget’s Thesaurus—that’s before we had Google or the Internet. The inscription read, ‘for your future career. Can’t wait to read your first book’. ”

Challenging college projects did nothing to dampen Michele’s enthusiasm for writing. “My capstone project/thesis had to be approximately 40,000 words. I asked the professor if I could go over that count. The other students thought I was crazy. But my thesis topic was on a comparison of characters from early Russian literature to early American literature and it deserved the extra effort.” Michele’s thesis exceeded 90,000 words. She graduated Summa Cum Laude and her professor told her she, “…wrote a compelling paper and I should think about becoming a writer.”

Michele’s writing career includes a variety of venues and genres. “A friend of mine worked for The Boston Globe. After reading my work, she encouraged me to look for freelance options. I  became a stringer for a local newspaper in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri and wrote for the lifestyle section. Eager for assignments, I said I’d interview anyone and write about any topic they wanted. They assigned me articles ranging from men’s ties and cufflinks to the glamour and glitz of holiday clothes and how to properly wear a hat. The freelance work allowed me to make my own hours while raising my young children. It taught me how to be flexible and work with a huge range of editors—as well as interview a variety of subjects. My friends continually kidded me on the variety of topics and articles I have written for feature articles and columns—from fashion and travel to NASCAR and motorsports to theatre focusing on Shakespeare.” 

“My two most incredible assignments were a reporter’s dream. I was assigned to write a cover story on small-ship cruising for AAA Magazine and sent on a 10-day cruise to the British Isles on Azamara Cruises. For months after the articles appeared, Azamara Cruise Line said they were still booking cruises because people mentioned they read that article.”

“The second assignment occurred while working for Arizona State University. My department partnered with the Arizona Science Center. I had the honor and privilege of interviewing Pascal Cotte of Lumiere Technology when the Science Center had a special exhibit on The Genius of DaVinci. The lively Frenchman with a charming accent, had an outsized personality and massive sense of humor. The interview lasted over two hours. I could barely contain myself when he told me how the Louvre contacted him to use his groundbreaking technology on one of their paintings. Escorted by an entourage that included two armed guards, he moved to a room in the lower level, where they locked the door behind him and the curator. When the curator lifted the cover on the painting Pascal said he almost fainted. The painting was DaVinci’s Mona Lisa! He asked if he could call his wife because he only had one day to complete the work and he would probably be there the entire night. When he phoned his wife he said, “I’m not coming home tonight, I’m going to be with another woman…Mona Lisa!” She let him stay the night.

Michele’s career path rivals an Agatha Christie novel for unusual twists and turns. “It seemed no matter how I started out, in corporate, university or non-profit, whether it be in development at the Saint Louis Art Museum, in database marketing or the Manager of Marketing and Development for the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at ASU I always ended up in event management and eventually writing of some sort,” she said.  Michele’s professional endeavors also include working as the Director of Marketing & Development for the Court Appointed Special Advocates of St. Louis County, which trains guardians-ad-litem representing abused and neglected children in court, and for the Southwest Shakespeare Company as Managing Director. Both positions also required writing expertise. “They say some things are ‘written in the stars’ I guess I was destined to be a writer—no matter how long it took me to get here.”

Now pursuing a full-time writing career, under the name Chelle (Shell) Chadwyck, Michele is working on her first novel. Similar to the lead characters of her favorite books, her debut mystery features intelligent and very capable female protagonists—who come together in New England to find a missing friend. “It’s full of twists and turns, and I love writing it.  I’m also working on the outline for a historical novel that takes place in medieval England. The book has been stirring in my brain for years and my main character continues to live just under the surface.  She’s trying to tell me something and wants to get out in the world. In between those two projects I’m finishing a short story that I plan to submit to an anthology.”

Michele is sincerely grateful for the amazing support she has in her new career. “My husband and children know this is a lifelong dream and goal. They are very supportive and give me the encouragement and space to write. I have a Do Not Disturb hanger on my office door and everyone knows when this is on my office door they can only come in if there’s a fire or someone is critically ill. They joke that the rule doesn’t apply to Rocky or Sophie, my two dogs. If they scratch on the door I let them in.”

“I also have a friend of forty years who keeps tabs on me weekly and asks if I made time to write. In fact, it was my visit to her and a spur-of-the-moment decision to attend a program at a library where I met the brilliant author, Ellen Byron, who told me about Sisters in Crime and strongly encouraged me to join—and I did. I’m also a member of the Historical Novel Society.” She is excited about the support and comradeship she has found. “I also belong to two carefully sought-out critique groups and enjoy the friendships of many other authors who are incredibly helpful and supportive.”

Michele is both a founding member and a charter member of the Sisters in Crime Grand Canyon Writers chapter, in addition to being its first President, serving from its debut in September 2020 through December 2022. Under her leadership, the chapter grew from seven members to more than 170 members in 28 months and created groundbreaking programs to assist and support writers of all genres and levels of experience. “It has been a privilege and honor to work with the Board of Directors and the committee members, and to meet the amazing members of our Sisters in Crime Grand Canyon Writers chapter. I’ve learned so much and made incredible friendships,” she said. In October, Michele was elected to serve as the 2023 Treasurer for the chapter.

She’s been an enthusiastic volunteer for many communities. “I enjoyed working as co-director of the Arizona Historical Novel Society, and on a variety of Sisters in Crime committees, too.” The Midwest native also served on the Board of Directors for the Southwest Shakespeare Company, then asked to serve as Managing Director and as an event coordinator for the Humane Society of St. Louis for fundraising, Variety Club of St. Louis charity golf tournament and annual Telethon, along with other fundraisers. “It means a lot (to me) to volunteer in some way to make the world a better place—especially for animals or children.”

She is very close to her family members. “We have two wonderful children—both on autopilot now. My son and his fiancée live in Scottsdale. My daughter and her husband live in New York. And, we share our (Scottsdale) home with our two rescues. Sophie is part Mini-Pin and part Chihuahua. Rocky is part Papillion and part Chihuahua. It might be more accurate to say they let us live with them,” she laughed.  

Michele has a lot on the calendar, including time with her favorite writing organization. “I look forward to working with the Sisters in Crime Grand Canyon Writers leadership and chapter members in 2023. It’s an exciting time to be an author,” she said. 

Contact Michele at authorchellechadwyck@gmail.com. She’d love to hear from you!

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