Q&A with Michelle Richmond discussion

Researching No One You Know

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message 1: by Carla Jean (new)

Carla Jean (inkstainedlife) | 1 comments Hi Michelle,

I found both The Year of Fog and No One You Know incredibly compelling. It's immediately evident that you did a lot of research for both books (unless you just happened to be an expert on both photography and coffee ...), which I thought was so interesting. A professor of mine once said, in reference to writing book reviews, that in a really good review you'll always learn something. That comes to mind when reading your books.

I'm especially interested, though, in the coffee information in No One You Know. (I'm a bit of an insufferable coffee snob/enthusiast!) How did you go about researching that information, and why did you select that particular job for that character?

message 2: by Michelle (last edited Jan 09, 2009 11:22AM) (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Hi CJ. Thank you for stopping by! (Everyone, meet CJ, an editor at Birmingham Magazine, and a great supporter of books!)

I like what your professor said about book reviews. When I read the book review section of the newspaper or magazine, I especially like reading reviews of biographies and historical nonfiction, which often discuss the subject as much as they discuss the book in question.

Well, I've been a coffee addict for about twenty years, and I suppose I became a full-blown "coffee snob" while I was researching the book. For years I'd been very adamant about grinding my beans each morning for each pot of coffee, but until I began doing the research, I put milk and sugar in my coffee. After attending a tasting and talking to a professional taster, I stopped doctoring my coffee with milk and sugar. The taster told me that she only adulterates coffee with other flavors if the coffee is very bad.

So I spent some time at a coffee warehouse, did tastings, hung around a bunch of local coffee shops, talked to owner of my neighborhood shop, Simple Pleasures, about roasting, and watched him roast beans...that sort of thing. And I drank a LOT of coffee! I'd also visited a couple of coffee farms--a large business as well as a smaller operation--in Costa Rica a few years ago.

As for why I selected coffee, I thought it would be fun to learn more about it (which it was) and I also wanted Ellie's profession to be one that relied very much on the senses, as opposed to the profession of her dead sister Lila, who was very cerebral and whose perception of the world was very intellectual.

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