Q&A with Michelle Richmond discussion

Something I loved...

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message 1: by Jacki (new)

Jacki | 1 comments I just wanted to say that I thought it was so funny and clever in No One You Know how, at one point, you poked a little bit of fun at yourself by having a 'fog related book' show up on the bookshelf that 'drug a little in the middle'. When I read that, I just had to laugh. It was like a little inside joke for people who had read your other book & I thought it was cute.

message 2: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Hi Jacki. Oh, you caught that! I'm glad you liked it. On the one hand, I thought maybe I don't have enough books under my belt to start being self-referential, but on the other hand, I thought it would be a fun nod to Year of Fog readers. Only a handful of people have mentioned it. Good eye!

message 3: by Sue (new)

Sue Daniels | 5 comments I also thought it was very funny and enjoyed the joke.
Sue Daniels

message 4: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Thanks, Sue!

I have to say, it's really nice to have people recognize the reference, because it means you've read not one, but TWO of my books! For an author (at least this one), it's always an honor to know that someone has read my book, so when I hear that someone has read one and then made the effort to read another one as well, it's doubly satisfying:)

message 5: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) Michelle, I also loved it and got a good laugh out of it and mentioned it to several friends who had read The Year of Fog but hadn't yet read No One You Know. Both books were excellent, but I haven't read your other two books yet.

message 6: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Hi Lisa. So you saw it too! How great. Now I'm going to have to put something about No One You Know in The Year of Fog.

Thanks for stopping by!

message 7: by rivka (new)

rivka You're not implying that you're one of those authors who comes out with revised editions of their books, I hope?

(kidding. mostly . . .)

message 8: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) Michelle, Yes, I enjoyed it so much that I included it in my review.

message 9: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Rivka--oh, goodness, no revised editions or sequels! I have too many other things I want to write:)

message 10: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
I saw that, Lisa--thanks!

message 11: by Camille (new)

Camille | 4 comments Count me among Michelle's fans who enjoyed the allusion to "FOG."
I loved the math in "NO ONE .. " and wonder if you have always liked math, like it now after your research ... or both?

message 12: by Michelle (last edited Jan 07, 2009 05:50PM) (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Hi Camille! How are you? Thanks for stopping by. (For others browsing this thread, meet Camille Minichino, author of The Oxygen Murder and a number of other great mysteries!)

I'm glad to hear you liked the math. I NEVER enjoyed math, and in fact, my mother was shocked when she discovered that I was writing a book that employed math. I've spent most of my life being intimidated by math, but as soon as I decided that Ellie's sister Lila would be a math prodigy, I knew I had to get at least nominally acquainted with the subject. I had no idea when I began that I would spend months reading biographies of mathematicians and books about famous conjectures, or that Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology would become one of my favorite books.

What I now appreciate about math that I didn't before was how creative a field it is, and how interesting many of its practitioners are. And I have a great admiration for the incredibly exacting standards to which math proofs are held, beyond all other fields of science.

message 13: by Laurel-Rain (new)

Laurel-Rain | 1 comments I, too, caught the reference to "Fog" in "No One..." and I had a little chuckle. It felt like being in on an "inside" joke.

message 14: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Hi Laurel. Glad you caught it, and liked it!

message 15: by Camille (new)

Camille | 4 comments I'm so glad math caught up with you, Michelle. You wrote as if you've always known it and loved it as Lila did.
When can you tell us what you'll tackle next?

message 16: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Oh, Camille, that is wonderful to hear! I was fearful when the book came out that I'd be getting a lot of emails from mathematically inclined people saying, "You got that all wrong!" That's why I chose the Goldbach Conjecture to be the one lila was working on before she died--its basic terms are so simple, I actually understood it. But every time I do a reading, I have to go back and review the conjecture beforehand, just in case someone asks me about it. Most of the math research I did has sadly filtered through the pores in my brain.

message 17: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherielulu) | 1 comments Where do you get your stories/inspiration from? A dream? Something you see while passing by? Or is an idea you always had? And you do always know the ending/major plot twists before you write or does it just come naturally?

message 18: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Hi Cheryl. Thanks for the question.

The inspiration is usually a combination of things. With The Year of Fog, I began with an image of a young girl on the beach near my house on a foggy day, a moment from my real life. I knew I wanted to write a book about San Francisco, and I knew that I wanted to tackle the complexities of memory. At some point early in the process, all of that coalesced into the germ of the idea for the novel. I began with that opening scene and wrote from there, not knowing how it would end.

With No One You Know, I began with the idea of two sisters who were very different from one another. A big part of the inspiration was the Graham Greene line "A story has no beginning and no end..." So from the beginning, I knew that the book would be, in large part, about storytelling. I knew that the younger sister had died twenty years before, and that she was a math prodigy. But I had no idea who would be responsible for her death, or how the book would end.

Sometimes things come naturally, but mostly I spent a lot of time thinking things through, figuring it out--how one event might set other events in motion, how various elements will echo through the book. Writing a novel for me is a process of putting a huge puzzle together, only the puzzle pieces aren't laid out before me; I'm carving each piece as I go along, and figuring out its place in relation to the other pieces.

message 19: by Camille (new)

Camille | 4 comments Nicely put, Michelle. I'm always impressed by the amount of research some writers do, and your books are always so rich, building around a theme in a very satisfying way.

I'm hoping to see you at Towne Center Books on Saturday 1/24 at 1 PM (555 Main Street, Pleasanton, CA for those of you in the area!) The wonderful bookstore is celebrating its 15th year in business.

message 20: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Oh, it would be wonderful to see you there! I love that store. They are (as you know) so kind to local authors.

Right now I'm researching the medical field--the narrator of my next novel is a doctor of internal medicine. I fear I may have bit off way more than I can chew. I'm spending a lot of time hanging out at the VA.

message 21: by Camille (new)

Camille | 4 comments Did you read the wonderful novel by Ian McEwan, "Saturday." The protag/narrator is a surgeon.

This brings up another question: do you think you're helped or hindered by reading another author's "take" on a theme?

message 22: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Oh, I did read that a while back! Great book. It also took place in one day. I read somewhere that McEwan spent a year with a neurosurgeon to research the book. Fortunately, my narrator is in internal medicine, so I won't have to do anything like that. I don't think I could stand to see someone's brain cut open.

When I'm researching a particular subject, I read widely and voraciously in nonfiction, but I steer clear of any novels that tackle too similar a subject. I'm usually looking to come to an understanding of the factual information regarding any given subject, but I'd rather approach the subject fresh, from a fiction standpoint, rather than crowding the circuits another fiction writer's angle on it.

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