Welcome to another Author Highlight, a series where we feature authors like ourselves. You’ll find author interviews, tips, stories, poetry, and more. We aim to entertain, promote, and inspire. Other interviews can be found here.

Michelle J


Michelle J (she/her) is the author in upstate New York working in Human Resources. Her debut is the YA fantasy novel, The Divide that Binds Us, releasing April 18th, 2025 from Midnight Meadow.

Her writing journey started when she received her first video game, Kingdom Hearts on her 8th birthday. As she learned about storytelling through video games, she explored gameplay and writing as ways to express herself and make sense of the world.

Having struggled with depression and anxiety since age 14, Michelle weaves mental health into her writing, highlighting its importance to break stigmas.

Some of Michelle’s hobbies (that aren’t reading and writing) consist of spamming her husband’s inbox with Instagram reels, drinking tea, kickboxing, learning Japanese, and forgetting to drink water.

About The Divide that Binds Us

In a world where dragons are the life source, their sudden mysterious deaths slowly push Zeala into peril. When nineteen-year-old Alice Reid investigates the cause, she runs into members of a rival paramilitary organization for the first time. The encounter takes a violent turn, igniting Commander Rio Shackler’s curiosity for two reasons: Alice can summon a mythical being, and clues about the deaths conveniently point to her. With Rio’s mission to enforce dragon safety, he pursues Alice to eliminate a potential threat. The two clash, unaware of the other’s agenda, and unknowingly fueling their divided organizations.

As more dragons perish, the world withers from the depletion of its life force. Trees die, fires lose oxygen, grass dries out, plants wilt into black rot, and the water supply dwindles. Alice and Rio find themselves on opposite sides of the truth but with a common enemy that binds them. In order to work together, they must set aside their bickering, scheming, and contrasting personalities, but mutual loathing won’t be their only obstacle. Questionable deities, a nefarious cult, and corruption brewing in the heart of the monarchy threaten each step they take toward saving their world. If Alice and Rio can’t unravel the mystery in time, the feud between their organizations will be the least of their worries.

Releasing April 18th, 2025 from Midnight Meadow.

Author Interview with Michelle J

Thank you for appearing on our blog. Tell us about your upcoming release, The Divide that Binds Us.

A: TDTBU is set in a fictional world dependent on dragons. So, when someone starts killing them, the natural response is to figure out who, right? Wrong. The monarchs don’t want anyone involved and it’s a little sus. This tosses Alice into a secret mission into figuring out who is doing it and running into issues along the way from a rival organization, aka Rio being that issue. He’s probably the biggest thorn because he vehemently thinks Alice is the cause behind the dragon deaths.

Q: What do you think readers will love about your main character, Alice Reid? 

A: I believe readers will enjoy Alice’s friendship with Billie and Evangeline, and how she can often come across as a tired girl who doesn’t want to deal with the crap that’s tossed her way. Imagine just existing and having your own goals, but the universe is like “LOL just kidding!”

Q: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

A: Someone who loves dragons in a second world that’s contemporary and not high fantasy. My ideal reader probably loves anime, reading about friendship, enemies to allies, hate at first sight, cults, and is okay with minimal to no romance with multiple POVs.

Q: If dragons were suddenly real, what would your first action be?

A: Most likely sightseeing! I’d be terrified to approach one, but watching from afar? I’m down for that.

Q: Your book has some tea drinking – what’s your favorite tea?

A: Organic Throat Coat with Lemon Echinacea by Traditional Medicinals. It’s probably for if you aren’t feeling well or have a scratchy throat, but it tastes SO good that I drink it anytime.

Q: Do you have any hobbies? What do you do in your free time?

A: Besides reading, I play video games in my free time. Sometimes lying somewhere cozy and simply existing is pretty neat. I’ve been learning Japanese but pivoting back to Korean lately!

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

A: Video games, movies, TV shows, and music! Music is probably the biggest one though because I can draw a lot of emotion into the scenes I write. Video games and TV (mostly anime) helps my imagination go into overdrive.

Q: What are some of your recent favorite reads?

A: I really enjoyed Return to Midnight by Emma Dues (releases 8.27.2024), Thieves’ Gambit by Kayvion Lewis, and Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim. Each had their level of pacing and experience that took me on a layered journey!

Q: Would you rather your book get adapted for a video game, movie, show, or audio drama and why?

A: An anime would be awesome! I think it’s easier fitting the content into episodes rather than squeezing everything into a 1-2 hour movie.

Q: What are you currently working on?

A: I’m working on my second round of revisions for my tea heist story so I can send it to beta readers to read over the summer. Completely different universe from THE DIVIDE THAT BINDS US.

Tell us in the comments

What’s your favorite dragon(s) from other media?

Thanks for joining us for another author interview!

Connect with Michelle J at her website and check out her other socials below. Add TDTBU on Goodreads and preorder!

Readers: J&K also love video games (which inspired Trials of the Innermost some). We love finding connections with other authors! Tell us in the comments – what’s your favorite dragon(s) from other books, games, shows, etc.?

Author Highlight and Historian's Record - R.D. Pires

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