All About Michelle
Michelle was born in Sydney, Australia. She attended a succession of schools in Fiji and country New South Wales, then went to university in Sydney. She worked as a speech and language pathologist for fifteen years, helping students with learning problems. Michelle liked this job a lot. She got to watch students improve their literacy skills and become happier, more confident learners - also, she got to work in an office covered in Harry Potter posters and give herself smiley stamps when she did a good job.
The Rage of Sheep was her first novel. An early draft of the novel won a mentorship with the Children's Book Council of Australia. This meant she was lucky enough to work on the manuscript with Young Adult author Alyssa Brugman. The Rage of Sheep was published in paperback by Random House Australia in 2007, with an e-book edition released in 2012.
Michelle's second novel, A Brief History of Montmaray, was published by Random House Australia in 2008, with an audiobook version, narrated by Melissa Chambers, released the same year by Louis Braille Audio. The novel was awarded the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature in the NSW Premier's Literary Awards and was shortlisted for the Gold Inky, Australia's teenage choice book award. A Brief History of Montmaray was published in North America by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers in 2009, and was named in the American Library Association's Best Books for Young Adults list. An audiobook version of the North American edition was published in 2010 by Listening Library, and a Vintage Classics paperback edition was released in Australia in 2012.
The FitzOsbornes in Exile, the second book in The Montmaray Journals trilogy, was published in Australia in 2010, as a paperback and audiobook. It was shortlisted for the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature (NSW Premier's Literary Awards) and the Western Australian Premier's Young Adult Book Award, longlisted for the Gold Inky Teenage Choice Award and named a Notable Book for Older Readers by the Children's Book Council of Australia. The book was published in North America in 2011 as a hardcover, e-book and audiobook, and was listed in the Best Teen Books of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews and in the American Library Association's 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
The FitzOsbornes at War, the final book in The Montmaray Journals trilogy, was published in Australia and New Zealand in April, 2012 and in North America in October, 2012. The film and television rights to The Montmaray Journals have been optioned by a US production company.
Want to know more? Read on . . .
Is The Rage of Sheep autobiographical?
That's a difficult question! Yes, it is, to some extent. Hester looks and acts a lot like I did when I was a teenager - except I wasn't an only child, and I wasn't as smart or as brave as Hester. Fred is based on a dog I had as a teenager. He was a tiny Maltese who had no concept of his true size and spent all his spare time attacking Rottweilers, electricity sub-stations and door-knocking Mormons. Some of the teachers and students in the book were inspired by real people. Hastings itself is a fictional version of a town in the Blue Mountains, where I lived for a few years. However, most of the things that happen to Hester are products of my imagination.
Is there going to be a sequel to The Rage of Sheep?
No, I think I've said all I want to say about Hester.
Is that a photo of you on the cover of The Rage of Sheep?
Unfortunately, I'm not as pretty as the girl on the cover. If you squinted at the cover in a darkened room and then at a photo of me, you might see a very faint resemblance . . .
You won't find Montmaray in an atlas - well, you will if you look in my atlas, but that's only because I've drawn it in. Montmaray is a tiny imaginary island in the mouth of the Bay of Biscay, between France and Spain. The map coordinates are roughly 47N 7W, if you'd like to draw it in your own atlas.
Are the FitzOsbornes based on a real family?
No. However, there was a William (not Robert) fitzOsbern at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. He later became the Earl of Hereford and built a lot of castles (although none in Cornwall). I borrowed some of his history when I was inventing the FitzOsbornes of Montmaray. There are real historical people in A Brief History of Montmaray, though. You can read more about them here.
Did you have to do much research when you were writing A Brief History of Montmaray?
Yes, lots! You can read all about the process of researching, planning and writing A Brief History of Montmaray here. You can also read about the fictional and factual inspirations for the book at Simmone Howell's blog, post-teen trauma.
Is there a sequel to A Brief History of Montmaray?
Yes. The FitzOsbornes in Exile, the second book in The Montmaray Journals series, was published in Australia and New Zealand in August, 2010 and in North America in April, 2011.
Is there going to be another Montmaray book after that?
Yes, there's one more book in the Montmaray Journals series. The FitzOsbornes at War was published in Australia in April, 2012 and in North America in October, 2012.
You can read more questions and answers at my Montmaray Q & A page. You can also read my blog posts about The Montmaray Journals at Memoranda and at the Centre for Youth Literature's blog, Inside a Dog, or read interviews about Montmaray at Persnickety Snark and Kirkus Reviews.
Will you sign my copy of your book?
I'd be happy to sign your book. You just have to ask! How can you do this? Well, you can come along to a book signing. You can accost me on the street (although the chances of spotting me are fairly small, unless you happen to live in my suburb). Or, if you live in Australia, you can post your book to me with a stamped, self-addressed, book-sized envelope (see Contact Michelle for my address) and I'll sign/doodle on/deface your book and post it straight back!
Any other burning questions? Contact Michelle and she'll do her best to answer them.