His first love, adult and young adult fiction, tackles diverse subjects from the world of horse racing to politics, focusing on characters as much as a page-turning plot. His novel, Abingdon's, was a bestseller and a Literary Guild Alternate Selection. His young adult novel, Pursuit, was awarded the California Young Reader Medal. He has also co-written two screenplays for Amazon Prime.
Receiving his Bachelor of Arts in English from Stanford University, he focused on creative writing and studied under Wallace Stegner. He received a Master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He later served in the United States Army before marrying Patricia Goodkind, an educator and entrepreneur, and starting a family. Working under his wife, Patricia, ten years ago they created a non-profit foundation, Dollar4Schools, which continues helping support Santa Fe public schools and its teachers.
An avid trekker and traveler to developing countries, French loves diving and snorkeling, and for the last decade began studying endangered marine and land mammals. He believes climate change is currently the world’s greatest long-term problem.
He and Patricia divide their time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
It’s great to surprise a reader with the unexpected, helping give a twist to the plot and the character, but whatever transpires, it must have credibility. Unless she’s a prodigy, a twelve year old girl is not going to solve the murder of her parents that happened ten years earlier. A surgeon who graduated from Harvard is not likely to leave a sponge behind in his patient’s abdomen. If you go for low probability events, or extreme twists, you have to back them up with plausible explanations. The “willing suspension of disbelief” only goes so far. Once a reader becomes skeptical that the writer doesn’t know what he or she is talking about, it’s tough to win them back.
Great characters, to enhance their arc, should have a fourth or fifth gear that seems to come out of nowhere. For example, villains can turn into heroes with an act of kindness that we would never have anticipated, yet when we read the novel closely, we realize that the seed of kindness was planted by the writer from the beginning. Similarly, characters we start off admiring suddenly disappoint us when they hurt someone they love. If they don’t realize what they’ve done, figuring out the “why” makes them even more interesting. Well-conceived characters can help with plot troubles, too, if the writer wakes one morning and isn’t sure where his or her story is going (happens to most of us). Instead of robbing a bank, for example, your destitute character decides to give away his last fifty dollars to a stranger. The wife who has been cheated on, instead of taking revenge on her husband, is filled with insights about her father. A deeply-felt, richly-imagined character is your writing buddy, your co-conspirator, and their importance to the final product can’t be overstated.
Readers Become 'Friends' with Main Characters of Michael French's Latest Book
Michael sits down to chat with host Dan Mayfield about his characters social media. You can "friend" Alex Baten and Jaleel Robeson here:
Michael R. French
Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University. He is a businessman and author who divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.