Q&A with Michelle Richmond discussion

The Year of Fog Thread

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message 1: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Hi, everyone. I thought it might be helpful to create a thread for each of the books, so this is THE YEAR OF FOG thread. I'm sure there will be crossover between the two threads, but for those who have only read one or the other, having separate threads may reduce the spoiler risk.

message 2: by Lisa (last edited Jan 07, 2009 09:49AM) (new)


I loved all the characters. I appreciated how The Year of Fog ended. I was sort of disappointed but it seemed so authentic that Jake would feel the way he did about Abby and the relationship. I thought it reminded him of the worst period of his life.

Michelle, I was wondering how you determined plot/endings. Both books have endings that are slightly unexpected.

Edit: Hmm...This might be better answered in The Year of Fog thread.


message 3: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Great question, Lisa!

I never know how a book is going to end when I start it. While I never feel that characters "speak to me" or "direct" the book, I do think that the ending is a process of discovery for me, something I figure out as I go along, often through a great deal of trial and error.

I hope to have endings that are layered, and that provide some sense of satisfaction without tying things up too neatly. I also like for an ending to go in a slightly new direction, so that no one reading the book can close it and think, "Oh, I knew it was going to end that way." With The Year of Fog, I wanted a sense of motion in the end, after the stagnation Abby had experienced for so much of the book--so I chose to make that motion very physical and tangible, in the form of catching the wave.

Overall, I think a novel should be filled with surprises that are, nonetheless, logical.

message 4: by Taelur (new)

Taelur | 2 comments Michelle, one of the things I enjoyed the most about The Year of Fog was the setting. I actually live in the Outer Sunset and it was great to see the area described in such detail. The neighborhood and the city actually became a character in my mind, as did the omnipresent fog.

Did you actually live in that part of town? And if you did, what role did that play in the writing of the novel?

message 5: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Hi Taelur. How are you? Very cool of you to stop by. I didn't realize that you live in the Outer Sunset (do you ever run into Cooley out there?). I live across the park from you, in the Outer Richmond. Actually, though, when I wrote most of it, I was living in Westlake in Daly City, right across Skyline Blvd. from those cliffs overlooking the ocean. I used to cut through the fence behind my neighborhood to get out to the cliffs. Living there was a huge part of the inspiration for the book. If I hadn't lived there, I doubt I would have written The Year of Fog (which, until right before it went to press, was titled OCEAN BEACH). I might have written a novel set in San Francisco, but it would have been very different were it not for the fact that I was so immersed, every day, in the coastal fog. Do you think it has an impact on your writing too?

message 6: by Taelur (new)

Taelur | 2 comments I actually don't run into Cooley and had no idea he lived out here, but I hope I do run into him. It would make living in the Outer Sunset actually worth the hassle.

The fog also does nothing for me other than make me regret my clothing choices when I get to a part of the city where the sun actually exists.

Speaking of which, I had a question about cameras. I walk past Adolph Gasser on 2nd St. every day on my way to work and I sometimes think about the way you used cameras as a way to discuss the concept of memory. Was that something that was with you from the very beginning or was it one of those serendipitous things that sprang up in the midst of writing?

message 7: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
I ran into him a few months ago when he was on his way to the Balboa in my hood. He loves walking, so if you haven't run into him yet, it's only a matter of time.

Well, yes, there's that problem with dressing for the tundra, only to find that, two miles away, the sun is shining.

Regarding memory and photograph--I can't exactly remember how that came out! It's hard to pinpoint which I decided upon first--making Abby a photographer, or making memory a central theme. Chicken or egg--who knows. But very early in the process of writing the book I had Abby's profession and the theme of memory in place, and I found that they sort of naturally played off one another.

My sister, who is a photographer (mistyrichmond.com), and who gave me a HOLGA camera seven or eight years ago, told me about Gasser. I took some photography classes in college, but that was ages ago, so I had her read the parts about developing photos and the darkroom, etc., to make sure I'd gotten it right.

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