Sunday, July 7, 2013

Virtual Coffee Interview with Michelle Shine

I am excited to post my first Virtual Coffee Interview with Michelle Shine, a fiction writer based in London. Michelle's debut novel Mesmerised will be available in September 2013. I know Michelle through our writing group and in fact we got a publishing deal around the same time - something we still have to celebrate.

Hi Michelle - I'm just noticing a funny symmetry with our photos, it must be a writing thing - So tell us how you started writing.

That's a difficult question as I can't remember a time when I didn't write, but I haven't always taken my writing seriously. It was when I wrote a novella, The Subtle Art of Healing that was long listed for a Cinnamon Press prize in 2007,  that I began to think that maybe I should. 

Mesmerised is about a real-life character who was the subject of a Van Gogh painting. Can you tell us about him? What drew you to him?

Yes, I read The Homeopathic Revolution by Dana Ullman, a book that lists all the famous people through the ages who have used homeopathic medicine, and was immediately fascinated by the entry of Dr Paul Gachet, artist, friend and homeopathic physician to many of the Impressionists. He was trained as a conventional doctor and worked as an expert in melancholia under the famous Dr Jean-Martin Charcot - who trained Sigmund Freud - at La Salpêtrière in Paris. When Camille Pissaro's brother Alfred was dying of what was probably TB and the allopaths couldn't fix him, Gachet saved his life with homeopathy. Gachet painted under the pseudonym Paul van Ryssel, and one of his paintings, Cholera Scene, hangs in the Musée d'Orsey.

Your next novel has brought you to Lithuania for research. Can you tell us about that? What can we expect?

Another historical novel set in the same time period as Mesmerised but that's where the similarities between the two novels end. This novel began life as a short story based upon an anecdote told to me by my grandmother when I was a small child. It focuses on the life of a family who lived in a Jewish shtetl. The short story was shortlisted for a Cinnamon Press prize, and my writing group the fabulous Nomads, wanted to know what happens next. I was between writing projects and decided to indulge them and carry on with the narrative. The first draft of the novel is down. The book takes place in the part of Russia that today is Lithuania and I've come here to get a feel for the landscape and the towns that my imagined family lived in before beginning my first edit. 

What a lovely back story. Do you think you will stay with historical novels then? I know you also write short stories, might you publish a collection some day?

Inspiration seems to come to me in different genres. My novella was contemporary and a lot of my short stories have an element of magical realism, and yes, I would love for them to be published as a collection one day.

I know that like myself you have signed with an independent publisher. We have to be proactive with our marketing - would you like to share some of your marketing plans?

I've instructed a talented young film maker, Teodora Bergland, to make a one minute trailer for the book. And have an interview coming out in Homeopathy in Practice which I will load onto my website and also the website for the book I'm intending to do readings in independent bookshops and small lit fests, and also use the internet, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads etc to get the word out. By the way, I think this is a fabulous idea.

I think a book trailer is a great idea. I look forward to seeing it. What do you do to get a break from writing?

I usually swim 5 days a week and do yoga everyday. I also love spending time with friends, other writers, and family. I love the theatre, listening to music,  going to see films, and hanging out in art galleries. And, of course, I read.

Read more interviews...
Interesting that you mention yoga - a lot of writers say this helps with creativity.  Do you find this to be so?

There is no doubt that the work I do in yoga has a positive effect on me.

Thanks, Michelle. I'll be putting Mesmerised on my GoodReads list. Best of luck with it and the future.


  1. That sounds fascinating. Thank you for the interview Fiona and Michelle. Charcot is a interesting historical figure.

    I can't imagine how homoeopathy works. "When Camille Pissaro's brother Alfred was dying of what was probably TB and the allopaths couldn't fix him, Gachet saved his life with homoeopathy."

    But truth is sometimes stranger than fiction

    1. Thanks for your comment, Deborah. I agree with you about the material.

  2. Hi Fiona, great interview I congratulate you, for your first interview went great and also with a great character Mechelle, I'm good questions you did, very interesting to know how to start on writing, I wish you luck and success in this command you greetings have a nice start to the week, kisses :) ........

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