Frequently Asked Questions

I value honesty, so every question in this FAQ has been asked of me at least three times.  Full disclosure: sometimes by the same person.

How do you spell your name again?

Here, have a mnemonic in limerick form.

It’s M-I-S-H-E-L-L.
I know it’s not easy to spell.
Like my fortunes in this,
It begins with a “mis”
And ends with a quick trip to hell.


What kind of books do you write?

Strictly fantasy.  I enjoy reading a variety of things, but somehow everything I write ends up having magic in it.

What do you do when not writing?

It changes year to year.  Which is to say, the video game varies.  In all seriousness, I am a mother to small children, an occasional political activist, a language nut, and a tabletop RPGer.  I also manage SFWA‘s Estates Project (helping people contact the rights holders for the work of deceased SF&F writers).  I try to carve out time for conventions and other business-related travel a few times a year.

How can you stand living in Los Angeles?

I love sunlight.  I love the ocean.  I love having anything I could possibly want to do, see, listen to, taste, or learn within a day’s drive.  I love movies and television.  I love palm trees and hibiscus.  I love hearing a dozen different languages on a single shopping trip.  I love knowing I can get a direct flight to almost any major hub in the world.  I love standing right on the pulse of humanity, even if it is a noisy and chaotic pulse.  I’m a city girl at heart – the bigger the better – and I’m solar powered.  So it’s hard to imagine a place where I’d fit better.

How do you write well about disability?

Ask me when I figure it out.  For a longer answer, see my May 2017 Barnes & Noble interview.

Any advice for a hopeful author?

Lots of it!  But I charge by the hour.  I’ll give you this for free, though: if someone takes the time to read your work, try not to be defensive, and carefully listen to what they tell you.  Unless they tell you, “Stop writing.”  Don’t do that, unless you don’t want to be an author.  But other than that, pay attention.  Even though not every critique will be valid, I think it is far more common for a new writer to ignore valid critique than to take invalid critique too seriously.

Will you read my work?

If you have to ask, I’m afraid the answer is no.  If you saw my to-read stack, you’d understand.

Where do you get your ideas?

I steal them from my husband.

I have a great idea for a novel but can’t seem to get it on paper.  Any advice?

Marry someone who can.  Be sure you have a joint bank account, and don’t sign a pre-nup.

Seriously, though.

Seriously?  You won’t like me when I’m serious.  But here goes: I think if you actually wanted to write a novel, you’d have started already, unless you’re in the habit of denying yourself pleasurable activities.  If you find writing a difficult and tedious way to express yourself, I don’t think it’s something you should spend a lot of time doing.  Life’s short; do what you enjoy, and failing that, do what gets you a guaranteed paycheck

What’s with the hair?

I like putting weird colors in it.  I think of it as a warning label.  Anyone who has a problem with the hair is likely to have a problem with me, eventually.  I like to save them some time.

Are you crazy?

Do you mean, am I eccentric and free-spirited?  Yes.  Do you mean, did I just make a really imprudent decision?  Yes.  Do you mean, am I mentally ill according to the DSM-5?  Yes.

So… yes.