Michelle Smith has always had a fascination with intrigue and suspense. But it was her love of science and a desire to assist people in need that led to her career choice of medicine. Four years after obtaining a B.A. in chemistry at Mills College in Oakland, California, Smith earned her medical degree from the University of Southern California. She then returned to Oakland to complete an internship and residency in Internal Medicine.
While practicing medicine, Dr. Smith, a board-certified Internist, was regularly exposed to the darker side of human behavior as revealed in addiction and psychopathology. Although the demands of a full-time medical practice claimed most of Smith's time, a desire to write prose more compelling than entries in a medical chart, coupled with her clinical experiences and childhood exposure to mental illness, planted the seeds for riveting story lines and engimatic characters that eventually led to the first chapter of her novel, Hide and Seek. A compelling mixture of suspense, mystery, drama, and magical realism, Hide and Seek is a dark coming-of-age tale about redemption for a young girl troubled by her role in the death of her younger brother and her unearthly journey to find love and forgiveness.
“People always ask if Hide and Seek is a medical thriller," Smith says. "My story contains medical scenes, but I characterize it as a dark family drama infused with mysticism.
Embracing the challenge and excitement of writing both fiction and non-fiction, Smith has also written several articles for consumer magazines and finds them an effective vehicle through which she pursues her writing passion and incorporates her knowledge of medicine. “In my medical practice, I emphasized health maintenance and disease prevention. But I was frustrated I wasn't reaching a larger segment of my patient population," she says. "I found I could promote these concepts to a larger number of people through writing.”
After several years of practicing medicine, Dr. Smith reduced her work schedule and enrolled in novel mechanics courses to study the craft of writing with the same intensity used in preparing for her medical boards. “I wanted to develop my writing skills and was committed to doing my best," she says.
In 2001, the physician-author founded The Ebony Quill, LLC through which she has written freelance for consumer magazines about topics ranging from health to golf.
Smith enjoys studying the writing styles of other authors to congeal much of what she has learned about novel craft and has unearthed a knack for humor writing. But she spends much of her writing time focusing on novel revision. "The story seems to have evolved as if it has a mind of its own, and it still raises the hair on my skin to read certain sections,” she says.
A member of The Authors Guild, San Diego Writers Ink, The National League of American Pen Women, Inc., and the Central Coast Writers (CCW) Branch of the California Writers Club (www.centralcoastwriters.org), Dr. Smith has contributed articles to The Monterey County Herald's magazine publications and writes a monthly column for CCW's newsletter, Scribbles. As a staff writer and avid golfer, she has also contributed advice columns to gottagogolfmag.com.
Smith is working on the final revisions of Hide and Seek.