Thursday, April 3, 2014

Author Interview on New Release: Mesmerised, by Michelle Shine

I'd like you to meet Michelle Shine, author of Mesmerised, a novel about Dr. Paul Gachet in Paris.

The year is 1863
Paris is imbued with the spirit of revolution. A group of rogue painters, later to become known as the Impressionists, revolt against the ideals of the art establishment. One of them, Dr Paul Gachet, is also inspired to update the world of medicine,
with homeopathy.

1) Welcome, Michelle! I have read your debut novel Mesmerised and really enjoyed it. Perhaps your background would explain why you happened to write a book about a homeopathic physician?

Hi Debbie, yes that’s true and thank you for asking me to do this interview. They say, ‘write about what you know' and in this instance it was an easy option for me as I happen to be a homeopath myself.

Tell us about yourself.

I think most importantly, I am a mother of 3. And these days I write pretty much full time, although I still lecture in homeopathy and see a small number of patients. A question people have often asked me, is why I decided to study homeopathy in the first place, especially as it is purported — by many high profile sceptics — not to work. The answer is that my eldest son, when he was a child, was very sick indeed, and the conventional route only served to make him more sick. A friend of mine suggested that I try homeopathy. I was pretty desperate and would have tried anything at the time. The first thing that heartened me about homeopathy was the consultation. None of the doctors I had consulted with had asked my son anything. They examined him, weighed him and always directed their questions to me. The homeopath spent quite a considerable amount of time trying to understand his subjective symptoms. I understood that the remedy was chosen predominantly on what he was feeling as opposed to a disease diagnosis. In other words, every patient gets a remedy that suits their individual problem. It took a little while but the remedy worked, and within a relatively short period of time he was able to come off all medication, allopathic and homeopathic, and remain completely asymptomatic. With a result like that, I guess it is no wonder I became interested in the subject and wanted to study it. Although my main motivation for becoming a homeopath was that having been given the gift of greater health for my son, I wanted to give something back.

2) Ah, and why did you choose Dr. Paul Gachet as your protagonist?

That’s a good question. It was quite a few years ago now that I read a book entitled The Homeopathic Revolution by Dana Ullman. Basically, the book lists all the famous people who have used homeopathy through the ages and categorises them by their job spec or title. When I got to the section on artists I was absolutely staggered to find so many pages dedicated to the Impressionists and the mention of their physician Dr Paul Gachet. At that point I didn’t know that I would one day write a novel featuring these characters, but I immediately began researching the art history involved and Gachet. My interest was piqued, you could say.

3) There are medical case histories comfortably touched on in fictional form throughout the book. Were these true case histories?

Only two were real cases. Alfred Pissarro (brother of Camille) really was cured by Dr Gachet’s little homeopathic pills when he was on his deathbed and the allopaths had given up on him, and Gachet was also called in when Edouard Manet was dying of syphilis. Gachet is reported to have advised Manet not to go ahead with the amputation that ended his life so painfully.

4) Could you explain the role the Paris art scene plays in your novel?

Well, one of the things that I was struck by when I was doing my research was the political similarity between homeopathy and impressionist art at that time. Both practices were revolutionary, organic, and frowned upon by the establishment.

5) What did you enjoy most about writing Mesmerised?

The whole experience was a very joyful one. When I started the novel I had only just lost my husband a few months before; Gachet’s world was so much more seductive than my own at the time, I literally threw myself into it. Not wishing to return to my own circumstances at all I almost became Gachet for the six months it took to write the first draft.

6) Is there anything you would have done differently in the research, writing, or publication of the book?

My editor stopped me from continuing to edit into infinity, but in reality there was 4 years from conception to publication. I had plenty of time to reflect, refine and craft. So no, I don’t think so.

7) Are you working on a sequel or another novel?

Yes, I’m always writing. My intention is, at some point, to write Gachet’s story into a trilogy.

8) Do you have other writings besides your fiction?

I’ve written a homeopathic textbook which is used to teach homeopathy students in several colleges, and an autobiographical
text that was very therapeutic to write but is not for publication. There are also some ramblings on my website and an essay about the writing of Mesmerised on my blog:

9) What are your long term goals?

To have readers all over the world. To keep writing. And having had the wonderful experience of working with the incredibly talented Teodora Berglund and team on the book trailer for Mesmerised, I now have dreams for it to one day be made into a full length feature film.

10) I'd be the first in line to see it! Besides you, of course. Do you have any thoughts for your readers?

Just a special thank you to all those who have taken the time to review my book on Amazon and Goodreads and to everyone else, thank you for reading.

Publisher’s bookshop
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Michelle Shine lives in London, England. For twenty years she ran a successful homeopathic practice. She is the author of What About the Potency? A homeopathic textbook now in its third edition and The Subtle Art of Healing, a novella which was longlisted for the Cinnamon Press Novella Award in 2007. Her short stories have appeared in Grey Sparrow, Liar’s League, Epiphany, and several collections. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck University.

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