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, 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.
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 it was her childhood exposure to mental illness that planted the seeds for the riveting story lines and enigmatic characters found in her compelling tale of suspense, mystery and drama.
While constructing Hide and Seek—a dark coming-of-age tale of redemption for a young girl troubled by her role in the death of her younger brother and her unearthly journey to find love and acceptance—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. As with all 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 I wasn't reaching a larger segment of my patient population. I found I could promote these concepts to a larger number of people through my writing.”
Smith welcomes the challenge and excitement of writing both fiction and non-fiction. She has written several articles for consumer magazines and finds them to be an effective vehicle through which she can pursue her writing passion and also incorporate her knowledge of medicine. She has unearthed a knack for humor writing and 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 about topics ranging 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. 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.”
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 has also contributed advice columns to gottagogolfmag.com.
Smith is working on the final revisions of Hide and Seek.