Eight Random Declarations about Michelle
At age five
I urged mum to cut my hair before kindergarten to lower my odds of getting nits.
I read in bed - anything from my old childhood story books to physics.
I am incapable of giving way to another, much like a cat.
I'm naturally attracted to
In the kitchen,
If I were a plant,
I’d be a hydrangea, sensitive, unable to bear harsh sunlight.
is my baseline feeling.
When I enjoy a drink,
it’s always out of a mug.
until I was thirty-eight years old.
I didn’t know I was autistic
Michelle on Life & Writing
Do you have a favourite book?
If I had to choose a story based on how it moved me, it would be Emma & I by Shiela Hocken and Tim by Colleen McCullough. As for the author who entertained me most, Rue McClanahan’s: My First Five Husbands… And The Ones Who Got Away remains head of the line - the sort of book that can be read many times. Many, many, times. Dedicated fans of The Golden Girls might recognise that line!
What about a favourite movie?
Two of my favourites that couldn't be more different are "The talented Mr. Ripley," starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, and "Normal," starring Jessica Lange and Tom Wilkinson. But the movie I am most fascinated by is the 1991 film "Cape Fear," a crime/psychological thriller directed by Martin Scorsese.
A favourite quote?
"There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." -Albert Einstein.
Can you reveal three family facts?
Yes, three very different family facts. First, as a teenager, my mother competed against swimming Olympian Dawn Fraser and came third. Secondly, my Aunty was a notable Opera singer who sang at the Sydney Opera House. And third, my paternal Grandfather, a Dutch pilot, flew with Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.
How does your perfect day look?
It must begin over morning coffee with my loving, supportive, and captivating spouse, and I'm blessed to say it always does.
As someone on the autism spectrum, I revel in my special interests: writing, photography, and gardening. Add autumn weather into the picture, a country drive with my loved one, an Indian meal over a thriller flick, and I'm content.
Photography & gardening - What do they offer you?
As different as they are from each other, Photography and gardening give me great gratification. They allow me to discover the wonder and mystery of being - that is ever-changing. I enjoy capturing life’s simple miracles: www.simplemiraclephotography.com.au
What do you like most about writing in general?
The solitude of writing is peaceful and grounding. It allows me to burrow within. Putting words on paper has fulfilled me ever since I was a child.
How did the idea for writing inner riches come about?
After my mother died, I searched for grief books on the loss of a mother, and while reading one of them, the author had suggested ways to cope with grief. One of those suggestions was to “write your own book.” From that moment, I would not waver from the idea. It became a necessity for me, and I knew I had a story to tell, a story that, in benefiting me, might help other grieving daughters. It is humbling to receive responses from people, on and off the autism spectrum, who have been personally, and in some cases, profoundly touched by the telling of our story.
How did you write your book?
Time saw me realise the architecture of the book. Beyond that, if I was reflecting, I wrote in stages. Otherwise, I told the story in real-time, as my grieving process unfolded.
Where did you write the book?
Being the driver in my marriage (the car driver, that is), some occasions found me writing in Sydney's domain car park on the back seat. For example, such times occurred when my partner attended a work engagement. But because I thrive at home, the bulk of the writing took place in my den with my late cat, Levi, no more than a few feet from me.
Did you take notes when you were writing your book?
It's not unusual for me to take notes in the middle of the night, on the side of the road, while mowing the lawn or eating dinner. Once upon a time, I have even jotted ideas and observations onto serviettes. Sometimes the most poignant of realisations move closer to me when I am going about my daily life and not when I am in the act of writing. I liken writing to a set of waves. When the words roll up, I must catch them before they pass over me. For that reason, I didn't go anywhere without a notepad while I was writing inner riches. Carrying a notebook with me at all times is true of my everyday life as well. I'm a prolific note-taker.
Do you find writing about your feelings easy?
Yes, provided I'm in a quiet environment with no disturbances, I can let go and write from my core.
How long did it take to write the book?
Six years. It was a long time in the making. The book evolved as I evolved.
Who should read an inspiring grief book so personal as inner riches?
Autistic women, those interested in female autism, and grieving daughters, regardless of neurotype.
Since launching inner riches, what has surprised you most?
How the book has been received. How moved and changed people are by it. As a first-time author, that has been the most satisfying. In my world, no feeling outshines helping another.
I just finished inner riches...and all I
can say is, WOW. What a beautiful and
wonderful story by a brilliant
and talented writer.
Michelle's Portraiture Appears In:
Dog Breeds of Australia - Showcase of Champions - Presenting am. can. aust. ch. darwyn's webslinger - 2014.
Twice in: Dog Breeds of Australia - featuring over 100 of Australia's Top Dogs - Your Complete Guide to Popular Dog Breeds in Australia.
Dog Breeds of Australia - Calendar.
Australian National Show Dogs - Titles of the Champions - 2017.
Michelle's Poetry Works Appear In:
Love is - written by people of the world for people of the world - square shaped circles - a home for round pegs.
A Bonus Short Story: IF THIS HILLMAN COULD TALK > READ
Autistic Women Everywhere – sharing our lives in words, pictures, and patterns – exploring our diagnosis stories; is a free worldwide initiative and resource developed for autistic women and those interested in autistic women. AWE is not a commercial enterprise. The website provides a platform for women of all ages worldwide to share personal experiences of autism through their Diagnosis Stories, Books, and Quotes. It also shares information and resources relevant to different stages in the lives of autistic women. AWE is a project nurtured by its founder, Michelle Dorothy Riksman. For more information about the initiative, and to visit the AWE website, select Community.