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Author Features

MEET: Michelle Gagnon author of “Killing Me”

Michelle is a former modern dancer, bartender, dog walker, model, personal trainer, freelance journalist.

Last Updated on June 9, 2023 by BiblioLifestyle

author Michelle Gagnon
Killing Me by Michelle Gagnon

What was the last book that you read that you’d now recommend?

I absolutely loved Adele Griffin’s upcoming novel THE FAVOR. She’s such a talented author, and the story of a complicated female friendship really resonated with me. Kellye Garrett’s LIKE A SISTER also had me on the edge of my seat, I can’t recommend it highly enough. And I’m chomping at the bit for the next book in Elle Cosimano’s Finlay Donovan series, I always gobble those up as soon as they hit stores.

Have you read any classics lately that you were reading for the first time?

Great question. I was just thinking the other day that maybe this is the summer I finally get through MOBY DICK! (It won’t be. I will never finish that book, and should probably just accept that. That chapter on types of whales is my personal albatross, and yes, I’m aware that’s a mixed metaphor.)

Do you re-read books   And if yes, what was your last re-read?

I re-read REBECCA recently, and as always was amazed by how well it holds up. I adore the Gothic elements and gaslighting.

What are your go-to genres?

I’ve got the same wide-ranging and bottomless appetite for books that I have with food: there’s very little I won’t read (or eat) and enjoy. So on a given week, I might vault from a space opera to a memoir to a thriller.

What is your favorite childhood book?

THE LITTLE PRINCE. Still makes me cry, every time. And not from my childhood, but from my kid’s, THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN.

What books are on your bedside table right now?

I’m just finishing Rebecca Makkai’s I HAVE SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOU, which has been a fabulous read. Before that I devoured Richard Osman’s THE BULLET THAT MISSED, and currently in the batting box I’ve got REALLY GOOD, ACTUALLY by Monica Heisey.

Do you bookmark or dogear your page in a book?

I’m a big bookmarker when I’m reading electronically. Dogearing, though…when I was a kid, a couple times a week we would walk down to our local library after dinner for reading material. For years, almost everything I read came from that library, so the mere thought of dogearing a book still fills me with horror (the East Greenwich librarians were equal parts wonderful and terrifying.)

What is your ideal reading setting?

On a really comfortable beach chair, with a Mai Tai in hand and nothing on the schedule for the rest of the day but a nap and dinner. That’s my personal idea of paradise. But I’ll take any cozy nook in a pinch.

Tell us about your favorite indie bookstore?

That’s like asking me to choose a favorite book; I couldn’t possibly. I’ve frequented so many amazing independent bookstores and met so many incredible booksellers all over the country, I could never pick just one. Let’s do this instead: favorite shuttered indies that I still mourn. Here in L.A.: The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood. Alexander Book Company in San Francisco. Murder Ink in NYC. Pour one out for these, they were all truly special.

Michelle Gagnon's favorite bookstore

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

Both my parents were Vietnam War protesters, and hearing their stories growing up was revelatory for me. I remember them talking about going to rallies and listening to speeches, and marveling at how those actions alone turned the tide. My hope is that by taking my kids to marches for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and Black Lives Matter, they have gained some sense of that as well.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

I just had dinner with a friend the other night, and she and her mom have a trip planned to Brontë country, which sounds delightful (even better if it resembled what popped into my head: an actual Brontë-themed realm where you could run into Heathcliff stomping across the moors while Jane Eyre snapped at him to stop mooning about. That would be truly special). The last pilgrimage I went on personally was to Tennessee Williams’ favorite rest stop, the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, where I sipped a Sazerac and drank in the ambiance enjoyed by Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, and a slew of other literary giants.

Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?

Not a very exciting answer for this one: in my office at home. While I’d love to be one of those people who can write in a cafe, on a bus, or wherever I happen to be, I’m way too persnickety. I need my special desk with my giant monitor and ergonomic keyboard and mouse, my desk chair with its pillow and footrest, maybe some ambient music playing from my bluetooth speaker…honestly, it’s ridiculous.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Great question! It really depends on how the writing is going. Some days I feel like I’m in the flow, just serving as a conduit for the words. Others, it’s like the tap has been turned off, and every word has to be wrenched out of me. I much prefer the first, but in reality most writing days fall somewhere between those two extremes.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Too many is the short answer. My very first novel is sitting in the proverbial drawer, along with my third and seventh. All for good reason, though; I doubt they’ll ever see the light of day. I’m finishing up the sequel to Killing Me right now, so that’s technically a bit more than half-finished (shh, don‘t tell my editor, she thinks it’s nearly done!)

Do you read your book reviews?  How do you deal with bad or good ones?

How do you deal with bad or good ones? I really, really, really try not to. My husband vets them for me, and only passes along the positive ones; it’s kind of like that scene in The Crown, where they try to keep the Queen from seeing bad polling numbers by hiding all the newspapers. On a related note, here’s a pet peeve: sometimes people link to me on Social Media with their bad reviews. Why? Why do they do this? I find it maddening when @luv2read5000 decides I absolutely must see their scathing one-star takedown of my book. Thanks, I’m good.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

You don’t have to write all day, or even every day, to be considered a writer. Sometimes I go a month without opening Scrivener. That doesn’t make me any less of a writer.

When you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?

Sleeping. Just kidding. I’m actually finishing up a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology right now, and doing my clinical training hours at the LA LGBT Center. So I work about twenty hours a week as a therapist, mainly with LGBTQ+ foster and homeless kids, and absolutely love it.

What are your three favorite things right now?

I love a great pair of fuzzy socks, especially since Los Angeles has been unseasonably cool this spring. I also have developed a bit of a fixation on a dragonfruit bowl from a local café. And I just got a few new lip balms from Fresh cosmetics that I’m obsessed with.

What is your favorite travel destination and why?

New Orleans is hands down one of my favorite cities in the world. Between the stunning architecture, the mist rising off Lake Pontchartrain at night, the sense that something magical is happening around every corner…it’s just a really special place.

What’s your favorite meal and go-to drink order?

There’s a restaurant called Sweet Chick that makes hands down the best fried chicken, brussel sprouts, and mac and cheese dinner; if I have any say in the matter, that will be my last meal. And my go-to summer drink is a wine spritzer made with Sauvignon Blanc, La Croix Passionfruit sparkling water, and a scoop of real passionfruit from the bush I planted in our yard a few years back. Delicious and very refreshing.

Michelle Gagnon's favorite food to eat

What six people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?

I’m not much of a chef, so let’s kick things off by having Julia Child come so she can help cook (she also seems like a delightful person and a scintillating conversationalist). My paternal grandfather died when I was eight, and my senior thesis was short stories based on his WWI diaries; I’d love a chance to speak with him again. Both the Obamas, because they’re amazing, intelligent, interesting people. Virginia Wolff, because I love everything she’s ever written and I’ve heard that she was great fun at parties. And finally, my husband, because he would love to meet these folks too, and he makes every party better.

If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, and who would play you?

Definitely a slapstick comedy with Cate Blanchett in the starring role. A girl can dream, right?

What’s the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?

I am LOVING season two of Yellowjackets, the writing and acting is amazing. There’s just so much great television right now: Severance, Succession, Hacks, The Last of Us…it feels like we’re in a real golden age of TV. Side note: if anyone knows Natasha Lyonne, can you tell her I’d love to write for Pokerface?

You have to sing karaoke; what song do you pick?

I will absolutely make everyone in the room suffer through my off-key, top volume rendition of Total Eclipse of the Heart because I am a child of the eighties and that is my anthem.

If you were being taken to a deserted island and could only bring one book, what would it be?

Easy: HOW TO SURVIVE ON A DESERT ISLAND. Because honestly, I won’t last long enough to finish reading a novel without some basic survival tips.

Killing Me by Michelle Gagnon

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