When she was 10 years old, Michelle Gable’s parents have her a book called Someday You’ll Write, the perfect gift for a child who read library books voraciously and was constantly writing short stories and novels. But when it was time for Gable to choose a college major, she chose accounting.
“I knew my parents; there would be no starving artist lifestyle support,” she laughed. “I figured I’d write on the side. And unless you knew me really well, you’d never know I was a writer.”
But on the night of her 31st birthday, she decided to take the leap. She told her husband she was going to “try to do something with this writing thing.” She found an agent and began writing… and had many, many books rejected. But she kept going, thinking maybe the next book would sell. Or maybe the next one after that. And then she found the story that would become the basis for her first novel, The Paris Apartment, which was published almost nine years after her birthday declaration.
Gable’s stories are always about real people or real situations. The catalyst for her newest novel, The Summer I Met Jack, was an article her editor found about the protagonist, knowing Gable was interested in the Kennedys. From there, Gable dove headfirst into the research.
“For this book, I probably read at least 200 books, a thousand articles, interviews, microfiche,” she said. “And I love it when something I find fits the narrative perfectly.”
This happened when she was researching the seedier side of Hollywood in the 1950s. A book she was reading had one paragraph that stood out to her, and she said she was convinced it was about her protagonist. Her voice changed as she was telling me about it; it was as if it was this tiny bit of treasure she happened upon.
Finding the inspiration for her stories seems a little like a treasure hunt. Gable keeps a secret Pinterest board and pins stories or ideas she’s found that might make good stories. Character development is also critical; Gable told me she always develops background on each character, including major things that may have affected their actions or perspectives.
When I asked her if she missed working in finance, she laughed.
“It paid better,” she said. “And I miss knowing about things in the finance world. But I had to switch to writing. I just like it more.”