I asked Michelle to respond to this one question:
What five books are most important
or influential to you?
Here's what she had to say:
THE AWAKENING by Kate Chopin
I'm not sure why, but this book above all others taught me the importance of underlying meaning, metaphors, and themes in literature. The rich, layered ways that Chopin weaves together colors into the plot and overarching theme is incredible, and has forever changed the way I write. THE GREAT GATSBY also did this, but Chopin's story of a woman breaking down walls in the only way possible for the time period has forever affected my view of fiction and its power.
PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK by Annie Dillard
This book, while nonfiction, actually inspired me to write my first literary short story. That short story later on earned an award and made me change my major from technical writing to creative writing while I was in college. Dillard's use of details and infusing them with spirit, power, and depth, is incomparable. She is both poetic and extremely grounded. I wanted to do this in my own fiction, and used her writing as a great example to follow.
THE CLIENT by John Grisham
I've always had a soft spot for thrillers, and this is the first one that inspired me to start exploring thriller elements into my own stories. Grisham is truly a master storyteller. I first read THE CLIENT when I was in my tween years. I'll never forget how it got my blood pumping and my imagination reeling.
THE KIDNAPPING OF CHRISTINA LATTIMORE by Joan Lowery Nixon
This is the book that really got me to pick up a pen and start writing in my younger years. I became obsessed with kidnapping stories, and decided to write my own. THE BREAKAWAY was that book.
QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN'T STOP TALKING by Susan Cain
This book has forever changed the way I view other people and how I interact with them. I understand myself better, and discovered that my daughter is an extrovert through and through, but is also extremely sensitive like me. That makes for a challenge, and I'm sure Cain's book and research will help me with my parenting far more than anything else I've ever read. This is a book I wish everyone would read.
Here is Michelle's official bio:
You can learn more about her over on her blog, onTwitter, on Facebook, and Google+.