Michelle Smith has always had a fascination with intrigue and suspense. But it was her love of the sciences and a desire to assist people in need that led to her career choice in medicine. Four years after obtaining a B.A. in chemistry at Mills College in Oakland, Smith earned her medical degree from the University of Southern California. She then returned to Oakland where she completed an internship and residency in Internal Medicine.
Although the demands of a full-time medical practice claimed most of Dr. Smith's time, a desire to write prose more compelling than entries in a medical chart eventually led to a reduction in her work schedule and the first chapter of her novel, Hide and Seek. While practicing medicine, Smith was regularly exposed to the darker side of human behavior as revealed in addiction and psychopathology. But her childhood exposure to mental illness planted the seeds for riveting story lines and enigmatic characters that merged into a compelling tale of suspense, mystery and drama.
While constructing Hide and Seek—a dark "coming of age" tale about a troubled nine-year-old girl's newfound ability to communicate with spirits and her dysfunctional family's struggle with the death of her younger brother—Smith enrolled in novel mechanics courses and studied the craft of writing with the same intensity used in preparing for her medical boards.
“I wanted to develop my writing skills and, as with all of my education, I was committed to doing my best," Smith says. “In my medical practice, I emphasized health maintenance and disease prevention. But I was frustrated that I wasn’t reaching a larger segment of my patient population. I found that I could promote these concepts to a larger number of people through my writing.”
Smith has written several magazine articles and finds the articles a source of stimulation and inspiration through which she can express her writing passion and also incorporate her knowledge of medicine. Additionally, she has found a knack for humor writing.
Smith welcomes the challenge and excitement of writing both fiction and non-fiction. She also enjoys studying the writing styles of other authors to congeal much of what she has learned about novel writing.
In 2001, the physician-author founded The Ebony Quill, LLC through which she writes freelance for consumer magazines. Topics vary from health to golf. Smith splits her writing time between the articles and her novel, which she believes is a winner.
“People always ask if Hide and Seek is a medical thriller," Smith says. "My novel has medical scenes in it, but I characterize it as a dark family drama with a bit of mysticism. It still raises the hair on my skin to read certain sections of my story which seems to have evolved as though it has a mind of its own.”
A member of The Authors Guild, 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 regularly contributes 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 also writes advice columns for gottagogolfmag.com. Smith is working on the final revision of Hide and Seek.