May 18, 2009

3 Questions with Michelle Richmond (and a Contest!)

No One You Know was one of my favorite reads last year, and “anything by Michelle Richmond” is one of my most frequent answers when I call or visit book clubs and they ask for a recommendation for their next pick. Her books are so smart, and so beautifully written, and SO hooky.

I invited Richmond to do 3Q, and she graciously offered to throw in two signed copies of the poppin-fresh new paperback. Just leave a comment before MIDNIGHT EST on Wednesday, May 20th, and you are entered in the drawing – HOW EASY IS THAT? Just one comment per human being, please! And no comments by dogs.

BOOKLIST, in a starred review, describes NO ONE YOU KNOW like this: As in her previous two novels, Dream of the Blue Room (2003) and the best-selling Year of Fog (2007), Richmond turns a family crisis into heartbreaking and compelling reading. Ellie Enderlin has never recovered from the unsolved murder of her sister, Lila, a Stanford math prodigy, some 20 years earlier. The day her sister went missing has become “the touchstone from which all other events unfurled.” Compounding the tragedy is the fact that her English professor, the person to whom she confided some of her most intimate feelings about her shy, private sister, has turned the tragedy into a best-selling true-crime book. To have those moments turned into fodder for the public’s voyeuristic appetite has felt like another violation. When Ellie, a world traveler and coffee buyer, meets up unexpectedly with the brilliant mathematician implicated in her sister’s murder, she sees it as a way to wrest back control of her own narrative and solve the crime. Richmond gracefully weaves in fascinating background material on the coffee culture and the field of mathematics as she thoughtfully explores family dynamics, the ripple effects of tragedy, and the importance of the stories we tell. Combine all that with perfect pacing and depth of insight, and you have a thoroughly riveting literary thriller.


JJ: What's the significance of the title and how did you come up with it?

MR: Early in the book. Ellie recalls a conversation she had with her sister Lila twenty years before, when Ellie was a college freshman and Lila was a promising graduate student in mathematics at Stanford. Ellie asked Lila whom she had been seeing, and Lila, always private, answered, "No one you know." Weeks after this conversation, Lila was murdered.

Two decades later, in a cafe in a foreign country, Ellie encounters the man who was accused of the crime but never charged. This meeting convinces Ellie that the story she has always believed about her sister's death--a story made famous by a bestselling true crime book--is false. Ellie sets out to uncover the truth about Lila's death, and in the process she discovers that she never really knew her sister. The title is meant to evoke the sense that it is difficult to truly know anyone, and that even the people with whom we are most intimate--siblings, lovers--have secrets they keep from us.

JJ: Who did you dedicate this book to and why?

MR: I dedicated No One You Know to my sisters, Monica and Misty. It is, at heart, a novel about sisters, and while neither of my sisters is similar to the women in the book, the intricacies of the sisterly bond that I've experienced in my own life very much inform the book. The paperback contains supplementary materials--a playlist, a reading group guide, and a Q&A.

Given the subject matter, my editor suggested that my two sisters conduct the Q&A. They did, and I love the questions they come up with, because their perspective on the novel is naturally informed by our childhood. My younger sister is a photographer, and she always takes my author photo; she also helped me with the photography aspects of my previous novel, The Year of Fog.


JJ: Your main character seems to have a lot in common with you. How is she different from you?

MR: Like me, Ellie is a coffee addict. But she takes it one step further; she's a coffee buyer. Researching the life of a coffee buyer was a tremendous pleasure for me! I spent a lot of time at cafes, toured a local coffee company, attended tastings, and drank more coffee than anyone ought to! We're both in our thirties (I won't say exactly where I am in my thirties), and we both live in San Francisco.

But I think I'm somewhat more content than Ellie, who is always searching for something, never quite able to settle down. I have a husband and a young son, while Ellie is single. Ellie's life has been deeply influenced by a tragedy that happened when she was still young--the death of her sister--a tragedy that altered the course of her life. I had a pretty happy childhood, and the tragedy is an imagined thing. I was interested in exploring how the death of a very close loved one would reverberate in a person's life through the years.

Posted by joshilyn at May 18, 2009 5:01 AM

And I thought I was the only person up at this ungodly hour! Good Monday morning to ya!

Posted by: Teri at May 18, 2009 5:51 AM

How about a comment by cat? by bagworm larvae?

Posted by: Terri at May 18, 2009 6:14 AM

Sweet deal :) I put a hold on it at the library but a free version would be way cooler ;)

Posted by: Heather at May 18, 2009 6:21 AM

Sounds great!

Go ahead, feed my mystery and coffee addictions at the SAME TIME. I'll just bill you for rehab.

Thanks for the 3Q and giveaway!

Posted by: Jen at May 18, 2009 6:22 AM

It is too early in the morning for me to write coheriently. Or spell, apparently. But I enjoy reading 3Q to wake up my brain...

Posted by: Jen at May 18, 2009 7:00 AM

Sounds like a lovely book!

Posted by: liz at May 18, 2009 7:09 AM

This sounds like my kind of book. Thanks for the chance to win it. Free is good!

Posted by: Michele D at May 18, 2009 7:28 AM

I would like a free book, especially after reading that -- sounds delicious!

Posted by: Mir at May 18, 2009 7:35 AM

Oooh, free is my favorite price! :)

Posted by: Kim at May 18, 2009 8:07 AM

*grins* This has been on my to read list for a while.

Posted by: Heather at May 18, 2009 8:10 AM

I am excited about the plot detail elements of coffee and higher math.

Wow, that makes me sound like the WORLD'S BIGGEST NERD.

Posted by: Rachel at May 18, 2009 8:11 AM

Ooo, I love Michelle Richmond! I picked up Dream of the Blue Room based on your recommendation, and it broke my heart and I loved it. And then I read A Year of Fog and had no idea that a book could break my heart that much AGAIN! Her books make me cry, but in a good way that's because I connect with the characters so deeply. Pick me, pick me!

Posted by: Jen A at May 18, 2009 8:12 AM

I like to read, and I am not a dog. May I be entered into the drawing?

Posted by: Marla at May 18, 2009 8:13 AM

I want this book. :-)

Posted by: Melissa D at May 18, 2009 8:13 AM

Sounds like some compelling books!

You shouldn't be up so early. That is just more hours to be up, thinking longingly of the contents of the refrigerator.

Posted by: Brigitte at May 18, 2009 8:20 AM

Oooo....sounds very interesting!

Posted by: Cathy at May 18, 2009 8:45 AM

sounds like a great book.
I'm off to find her first two. ;-)

Posted by: elizabeth at May 18, 2009 8:50 AM

Sounds great! I'd love to win one.

Posted by: Becky at May 18, 2009 9:06 AM

I'd love to add this to my book shelf!

Posted by: Laura F at May 18, 2009 9:25 AM

Comment! I need a book!

Posted by: SupermansMommy at May 18, 2009 9:31 AM

Wow! Sounds like a must read!

Posted by: Chris S at May 18, 2009 9:38 AM

I don't even HAVE a dog. I should win! ;)

Posted by: Amy-Go at May 18, 2009 9:38 AM

Ooh. I want to read it!

Posted by: ailo at May 18, 2009 9:51 AM

I'm not a dog, but I play one on tv. This book sounds great. I'll add it to my 'must read' list, thanks!

Posted by: JackieG at May 18, 2009 10:08 AM

Ooh! I loved The Year of Fog and haven't read this one yet. Pick me!

Posted by: Aimee at May 18, 2009 10:18 AM

I love your 3 Questions series of posts. I always end up adding to my Book List, and this looks like no exception.

Posted by: Sheri Dearden at May 18, 2009 10:31 AM

This sounds like a fantastic book. I'll suggest it(and her others) to our library committee. Whether I win it or they get it, I look forward to reading it!

Posted by: Evalie at May 18, 2009 10:34 AM

The story sounds great and those paperback added features don't sound too shabby either.

Posted by: Dani at May 18, 2009 10:44 AM

I love your recommendations, now that I'm no longer a bookseller, I need new ways to inform my habit! Winning is better than buying of course! Because the only thing better than a book, is a book as a prize.

Posted by: karen at May 18, 2009 10:58 AM

My first comment, ever. I'll try not to make it as stupid as my first email was. :>)

Posted by: Chris at May 18, 2009 11:17 AM


Posted by: Dani Moore at May 18, 2009 11:20 AM

*Twilight Zone Music* I just barely picked up a copy of Year of Fog at a used book store this weekend!! I can't wait to read it!

Posted by: Glory Words at May 18, 2009 11:28 AM

Ooh, yes please! I've never read any of her books, so I need to start!

Posted by: Katie B at May 18, 2009 11:54 AM

Please put my name in the hat. Do you use a hat?

Posted by: Beth at May 18, 2009 11:54 AM

I'm not going to lie to you, 5:01 AM is somewhat obscene.
But new books make up for it!

Posted by: Emily at May 18, 2009 12:01 PM

I'm not a dog. No. Absolutely not. Not a dog.

That said, this book sounds fantastic! I'm adding it to my reading list.

Posted by: cheryl at May 18, 2009 12:06 PM

Another book (and author) to add to my list!

Posted by: Julie G at May 18, 2009 12:10 PM

I would love to read this book!

Posted by: Darla at May 18, 2009 12:23 PM

Sounds like a great book!

Posted by: Jennifer at May 18, 2009 12:26 PM

That sounds really great! I'm going to have to check out those other two titles as well.

Posted by: Dragonfly at May 18, 2009 1:00 PM

I would love to win a copy--it sounds like a great read!

Posted by: Alison at May 18, 2009 1:01 PM

The book sounds great!

Posted by: sheri at May 18, 2009 1:04 PM

Since I wouldn't let my dog leave a comment, she made me promise to read this book out loud to her if we win it.

(If we don't win it, I'm buying it and reading it silently and selfishly to myself. But I might loan it out afterward...)

Posted by: Lulu at May 18, 2009 1:15 PM

I loved _The Year of Fog_ and would love to get this one!

Posted by: Cristin at May 18, 2009 1:38 PM

pick me?

Posted by: emily jane at May 18, 2009 1:58 PM

I'm right here - behind Emily Jane!

Posted by: Sandra Leigh at May 18, 2009 2:42 PM

Ooh! Ooh! Oooh! I want to read this one! Pick me! Please pick me! I'll be your best friend and, uh, uh, I don't have a dog, and, *racks brain for witty comment that will win author's favor* *fails*

Posted by: edj at May 18, 2009 3:13 PM

Sounds like a great book. Hope I WIN!

Posted by: Gina at May 18, 2009 3:15 PM

Thanks for the book recommendation. I'll have to add it to my already-too-long reading list. Of course, if I'm fortunate enough to win, I'll just add it to my to-read shelf. Even better.

Posted by: Rita at May 18, 2009 3:15 PM

Me, me, me! Please. And thank you.

Posted by: Melisa at May 18, 2009 3:57 PM

Would love to add this one to my "to read" pile!

Posted by: bridget at May 18, 2009 4:10 PM

I'd love to win. My book buying habits have driven us to the brink of despair and bankruptcy. You'd be doing your part to help save a typical American family from the recession's cruelest punishments.

Posted by: Nicole Amsler at May 18, 2009 4:27 PM

I love all your recommendations. I'm a fairly new fan of the blog, but every book and author I've come across in it I've put on my reading list. Thank you.

Posted by: Jess at May 18, 2009 4:28 PM

Pick me. Pretty please. With a cherry on top.

Posted by: Pam at May 18, 2009 4:33 PM

Hey hey-over here! May the digital dice find my lucky number.

Posted by: Bridget at May 18, 2009 4:44 PM

This sounds like a wonderful book!! I can't wait to read it. Thanks for the chance to win one.

Posted by: Pamela L at May 18, 2009 4:45 PM

Oh, I just loved The Year of Fog! Her tenacity, the father that I was SO angry with ... loved it!

Posted by: Rikki at May 18, 2009 4:59 PM

How cool is this! I was introduced to you through your book and now I get a chance to get to know another author through hers. I think my need to read authors is growing by leaps and bounds.

Please enter me for this drawing. Thanks for the opportunity. Loved the answers to your questions. (Hugs)Indigo

Posted by: Indigo at May 18, 2009 5:13 PM

Sounds most intriguing.

Posted by: RandomRanter at May 18, 2009 5:36 PM

Sounds like a great book! Sign me up.

Posted by: Julie at May 18, 2009 5:54 PM

this shall be the next buy ...right after my fav bookstore gets tgwss!!!!was out in the country and missed you for three entries...the loss of life being the latest !!!woe is me!!!

Posted by: TRACI at May 18, 2009 6:07 PM

I do have a dog, but I never let her post comments because she is funnier that I am. My cats however post anyway, since a cat never does what they are told.

Posted by: Berni at May 18, 2009 6:28 PM

I try so hard to keep up with all the great authors, but I confess I've not read Michelle Richmond! Please help me remedy this sad situation by choosing ME, ME, ME!!! as the winner! Thanks!

Posted by: Kaye at May 18, 2009 6:46 PM

Looks like a great read. Thanks for introducing me to another stellar writer.

Posted by: Alicia at May 18, 2009 6:55 PM

I'm recommending this for our book club! yay

Posted by: Carol at May 18, 2009 8:13 PM

I love your books so definitely want to read one of your recommendations:)

Posted by: Wendy at May 18, 2009 8:38 PM

Oooh me me me memememememe please add me to the list!

I would try to enter Wasp, but I can't...because...well...I murdered her. An expectant mother, and I finally could no longer convince myself that we might be able to share the deck. Her stinger, my allergy...

Guilty. I find me guilty. I have GOT to find a way to prevent another one from even starting a nest next summer.

But I still want to be entered in the book drawing, please.


Posted by: JMixx at May 18, 2009 8:54 PM

Joshilyn...thanks so much for running this contest. It's an honor to have my book mentioned on your blog, as I'm one of your fans! Thanks to all of you for your comments. I look forward to sending the book to the winner.

Posted by: Michelle Richmond at May 18, 2009 8:55 PM

Yay! I love contests. Thank you!

Posted by: Sarah at May 18, 2009 9:11 PM

Sounds like a great book ... love mysteries and sisterly intrigue!

Posted by: Kim at May 18, 2009 10:26 PM

Your book recs have always been great reads, so I put this on The List (which already had the first two, so all 3 are now moved to The Top of The List!)

Posted by: Patti at May 18, 2009 10:59 PM

It sounds like a fantastic book!

Posted by: Margaret at May 18, 2009 11:54 PM

Sounds like an awesome read...I will have to start looking for a copy - but winning it would make it so much sweeter. Maybe this will be the first book I read on my "summer vacation". Thank god for summer break...

Posted by: Les at May 19, 2009 12:03 AM

This looks like a great book. Thanks for the 3Q and hopefully the free book. *wink wink*

Posted by: Nik at May 19, 2009 1:44 AM

Sounds good. I'll have one. ;)

Posted by: Purrmah at May 19, 2009 1:55 AM

Sounds like a great book! I am officially entering the contest! :)

Posted by: Amanda at May 19, 2009 9:26 AM

Ooh! Would love to win a copy!

Posted by: Vicki at May 19, 2009 9:31 AM

Thanks Jos for the hand holding trip to the new books section of the library that I post here from. I hope to enjoy this one too. All the others have been GREAT!!!

Posted by: Linda J at May 19, 2009 11:08 AM

Sounds great. Adding it to my list of books to buy but a free copy would be great!

Posted by: Patti D at May 19, 2009 11:59 AM

Ewww . . . One for me please!

Posted by: lisa at May 19, 2009 12:09 PM

oooo... sounds good! And I do have a book club that's looking for ideas. Hmmm...

Posted by: Beth R at May 19, 2009 1:48 PM

Ooh! Sounds good! I am going to read it either way!

Posted by: Jill W. at May 19, 2009 2:15 PM

I'll definitely have to check out her work!

Just finished TGWSS by you. Another great read! Can't wait for the next one! Also, have several friends hooked on your books, now, too. Your minions, they are legion.

Posted by: 5elementknitr at May 19, 2009 4:04 PM

I have read all three of these books, and altho I liked them all I LOVED Year of Fog!!! I have given it as a gift several times. What is it with you authors that you know who the other great authors are?

Posted by: Sharon at May 19, 2009 4:29 PM

I would LOVE to win a book, but alas, I never win anything. So, I am simply entering to increase everyone else's chances! :)

Posted by: Erin at May 19, 2009 4:59 PM

Looks like good reading.

Posted by: carrien (she laughs at the days) at May 19, 2009 5:12 PM

Ooo! This looks like a good read! I never win contests, so I guess I'll be heading to the bookstore

Posted by: Tina at May 19, 2009 6:42 PM

I always look forward to your 3 questions for authors. I inevitably end up adding the author to my "to read" list.

Posted by: Susan at May 19, 2009 10:57 PM

Looking for a good summer read!

Posted by: Lucy at May 20, 2009 7:12 AM

i can't wait to read it!

Posted by: dramamama at May 20, 2009 9:21 AM

I read The Year of the Fog when it first came out. Loved it. No One You Know was wonderful. I've recommended it for my next book club selection.

Posted by: Ann Hite at May 20, 2009 9:43 AM

Hey there!
Look forward to seeing you in Auburn June 6th.

Free book? Yes, please.

Posted by: Emily at May 20, 2009 1:32 PM

I haven't read Michelle yet so I can't wait to read her books! Maybe I'll win one! Yay!

Posted by: Janie at May 20, 2009 2:43 PM

That book looks great - thanks for recommending it!

Posted by: redzils at May 20, 2009 2:51 PM

I would love this! Thanks for the opportunity to win!

Posted by: mere at May 20, 2009 2:55 PM

Looks like a great book. I'd love to win it!

Posted by: Michelle M. at May 20, 2009 5:15 PM

Hello! Coffee buying, eh? Sounds like the life, to me!

Posted by: Lindsey at May 20, 2009 7:35 PM

Another coincidence. I just purchased Year of Fog. Haven't read anything by this author yet, but I will take any recommendation you give b/c even though I didn't win the last giveaway, I bought the David Cristofano book and loved it.

Posted by: Michelle at May 20, 2009 8:53 PM