Meet a Retriever—Michelle Jabes Corpora ‘03, young adult author and editor

Published: Jun 5, 2024

Michelle Jabes Corpora promo photo for HOLLY HORROR: THE LONGEST NIGHT.
Michelle Jabes Corpora '03 promo photo for "Holly Horror: The Longest Night" (Picturesque Photography). "Even though it’s been 20 years, I am still dressing up in costumes," she says.
Meet Michelle Jabes Corpora ’03, English and theatre. Michelle is the author of nine novels, an editor for commercial fiction, and an avid student of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. She came to UMBC as a Linehan Artist Scholar in 1999 to study theatre before deciding to double major in English. Michelle has found that her background in theatre has been a helpful tool in her writing. Take it away, Michelle!

Q: What’s one essential thing you’d want another Retriever to know about you?

A: I am a 2003 alumna, a double major in English and theatre. Today, I am the author of nine novels for young readers, and have been an editor of commercial fiction for 17 years for both big publishing companies in New York and a book packaging company based out of London.

My latest novel, Holly Horror: The Longest Night, is scheduled to release on August 13, 2024. It is a young adult horror story and the terrifying sequel to Holly Horror.

The first book in my newest series, a trilogy that was pitched as “Ancient Egyptian Game of Thrones for YA readers,” is slated to be published by Sourcebooks Fire in Summer 2025. Stay tuned!

​Q: What is your WHY? What brought you to UMBC?

A: Initially, I came to UMBC as a Linehan Artist Scholar studying theatre, but once I began my years on campus, I realized I wanted to supplement my studies with a major in English. The experiences I had in both academic departments went on to inform my choice of career in book publishing, and the way that I write novels. Learning about drama helped significantly with my approach to character, plot, and pacing.

Pictured right: Michelle as ‘Cleo’ AKA Fraulein Kost in a 2001 UMBC Theatre production of Cabaret.

Michelle Jabes Corpora in a 2001 UMBC Theatre Production of Cabaret as Cleopatra AKA Fraulein Kost.

Q: Tell us more about your career. What do you like most about writing and editing?

A: I am an author as well as a senior commissioning editor at Working Partners, Ltd. Fiction has always been my passion, so I love working creatively every day and writing books for young readers. But it’s been a long road to get where I am today!

After receiving my bachelor’s degree in English and theatre from UMBC, I went on to earn a master’s degree in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. After that, I did some weird stuff. I was a wedding singer for a while. I also worked with animals in a vet’s office and at a wildlife rehabilitation center. Eventually, I moved to New York and worked as an assistant editor at Greenwillow Books before getting my job with Working Partners. All of these serendipitous events eventually led me to the #AuthorLife.

Author photo for Michelle Jabes Corpora
An author photo of Michelle Jabes Corpora (Picturesque Photography).

​Before I wrote books with my name on the cover, I was a ghostwriter for a world-famous middle-grade mystery series. I wrote my first five novels in that series, and enjoyed every minute of it. It was an honor to be a part of a legacy that is cherished by so many. Looking back, all those detours were exactly what I needed. Not only do different experiences help you become a more well-rounded person and writer, they allowed me both to meet people who would become so important in my career, and teach me—through learning to be an editor—what really makes a good book. It also taught me to embrace my “chameleon” self—I’ve always loved many different genres of fiction, and felt that it was somehow a personal failing that I could never choose just one. Today, I’m happy to say that I’ve written mysteries, historical fiction, horror, and fantasy, and I see no reason to stop now.

UMBC is a place that allows people to find their way in the world, even if your journey might take you off the beaten path.

Michelle Jabes Corpora ’03

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

A. I live in Frederick, Maryland, with my dear husband, my two wonderful daughters, two guinea pigs named Fireball and Olive, and a rescue mutt named Charlie. When I’m not writing and editing books, you can usually find me at Crazy 88 MMA, training in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Competing at tournaments and being promoted to blue belt in BJJ were some of the proudest moments of my life. Some people may see videos of me rolling around on the floor and fighting my friends and think that I’m crazy. I can neither confirm nor deny the validity of this statement.

Q: What’s the one thing you’d want someone who hasn’t joined the UMBC community to know about the support you find here?

A: UMBC is a tight-knit community. Even though it’s a public state university, it has a private college feel with big university resources. It’s a place that allows people to find their way in the world, even if your journey might take you off the beaten path.

Q: What’s your favorite part of being a part of Retriever Nation?

A: I meet so many other UMBC alumni out in the world, and we always have great stories to tell about our time on campus. It’s a wonderful shared experience that always feels personal.

* * * * *

UMBC’s greatest strength is its people. When people meet Retrievers and hear about the passion they bring, the relationships they create, the ways they support each other, and the commitment they have to inclusive excellence, they truly get a sense of our community. That’s what “Meet a Retriever” is all about.

Learn more about how UMBC can help you achieve your goals.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Scroll to Top