Hi Michelle, Welcome to Augie’s Corner,
Augie: Michelle Dougherty, it was fun meeting you after the Night and the City: L.A. Noir in Poetry, Fiction and Film at Mount San Antonio College, with host John Brantingham who was great as usual and featured readings of Sunny Frazier and Tony Barnstone who both were phenomenal. I enjoyed the chapter reading from Sunny’s Where Angels Fear (who is our Posse Leader) and from Tony and his femme fatale who performed a mystery radio-theatre. I understand that you have a Work-In-Progress novel that is near completion.
Michelle: Yes! I’ve been working on my novel about a female assassin for a few years, and I recently completed the draft.
Augie: Is there a title, or will we have to wait?
Michelle: Coming up with a title has been really difficult! For now, I’m just naming it after the protagonist, Kiki Hasumi. I’m hoping that by the time I finish revising, a title will miraculously appear.
Augie: Tell us about Kiki Hasumi? Wait, first of all I love names, so where did the name Kiki come from?
Michelle: Kiki’s real name is Keiko, a very common Japanese name. Like me, Kiki is half-Japanese (Hasumi was actually my maternal grandmother’s maiden name). I wanted Kiki’s name to reflect her Japanese heritage and her American heritage as well.
Augie: That’s very interesting and hopefully an honor to your culture. Okay, now Agent 537, Kiki Hasumi of the Lotus Agency, lethal killer and an all around everyday lady…hold-up (pun not meant) she sounds like one heck of a female. What’s her story? I know you can’t tell us everything, but I am intrigued as well as I can see the audience is too.
Michelle: Kiki loses a lot of her family while she is still a teenager, so as she makes the transition into adulthood, she does so without any guidance and with a lot of bitterness and resentment. Ironically, she leads a more isolated existence before becoming an assassin because that profession requires her to interact with people on some level. Kiki loves a good fight – but she does grapple with the choices she makes, especially as she discovers that her targets are not always the monsters she thought they were. Still, Kiki can be quite cold and calculating, but she’s relatable, too. For instance, she’s a bit of a slob when it comes to her living space, and she loves junk food.
Augie: An assasinjunkfoodolic sounds fascinating. She exceeds to the highest ranking in martial arts and she attracts the attention of Ryuu Nakamura, there goes those names again…love it! Who is he?
Michelle: As head of the Lotus Agency, Nakamura is a very powerful man. As the book unfolds, it’s clear that his interest in Kiki stems from his personal connections to her family as well as from her talent. He becomes the central villain in the story.
Augie: Is this someone Kiki will be attracted to in the future, or is he her mentor? Okay, an attraction can grow from there too.
Michelle: Definitely not! Nakamura is somewhat of a mentor at times, but there is no romantic attraction. There is a love interest in the book, though. Kiki meets mafia hitman Tommy Maletta when she walks into an ambush meant for Tommy. He is a marksman with legendary skill, and after he realizes that the mob is trying to kill him, he joins Lotus and becomes Kiki’s main ally.
Augie: Whoa, you have given us a lot to digest. I understand that there is a mysterious Samurai Sword in the story. Does the knowledge of this sword bring importance to the plot?
Michelle: The sword belonged to Kiki’s mother, and the discovery of the sword is a catalyst for Kiki’s learning about her mother’s past as a skilled martial artist in her own right. Handling the sword triggers something primal in Kiki, and she begins to tap into her identity as a warrior.
Augie: The more I listen to the innuendos that might avert Kiki from success, I find it more and more interesting to delve deeper into her story, actually this sounds like there will be a sequel. Have you thought any further than the first book?
Michelle: I have, actually, but I can’t say much without giving away the ending of the first book. For now, I’ll just say that the ending paves a road for a whole new cast of characters with their own stories. Kiki undergoes some major changes in the first book, so if there’s a second book, it will allow readers to see what kind of person Kiki has become after leaving the Lotus Agency.
Augie: So there is more to this Lotus Agency. You must realize that audiences love sequels, as well as a daring protagonist who unbeknownst seek a clandestine mission, as well as the (slyness and purposely misdirected) antagonist who holds the key to the covert mission as a personal vendetta. Whoa, this is going to be a great read.
Michelle: I certainly hope so! I’ve always loved books and movies with strong female characters, so it was important to me to create a character who is independent and an all-around bad ass! On the other side of that, though, Kiki is incredibly vulnerable in some ways, too.
Augie: When do you have the time to write?
Michelle: Between work and taking care of all of my animals (three dogs and two horses), it’s hard to find time. But when you’re truly committed to a project, you make time. One thing that helped me a lot was taking online classes through UCLA Extension. For me, there’s no such thing as writer’s block when you have a deadline. Also, finding small windows of time is important. I wrote the last few chapters by committing to writing at least one page every day until it was done. That didn’t always take a lot of time –sometimes only ten or fifteen minutes each day, and everyone can find ten extra minutes. Those pages add up quickly.
Augie: Alright Michelle you spur us on to delivery…no excuses not to write everyday…unless you’re like me
Audience I need to let you in on a little secret about Michelle Dougherty, not only is she a novelist she is also a Professor of English at Mt San Antonio College. Michelle tell us are your students aware that you are on your way to becoming a published writer?
Michelle: Most of them are. I mention it occasionally in class just so they know that I’m always writing, too, so I understand the joys and frustrations of the creative process.
Augie: Personally, I’m proud of you, especially since I attended Mount San Antonio College. On a humorists note, will you quit your day job? (smile)
Michelle: Thanks, Augie! And no, I can’t see myself quitting my day job. Teaching makes me feel like I’m doing what I’m good at, what I was meant to do. I know this will sound cheesy, but I feel so blessed and fortunate to be a professor because my students are so amazing. They inspire me in so many ways. I can’t imagine not teaching.
Augie: Is there anything else you would like to tell the audience about your writing, Kiki or future projects?
Michelle: I will keep you posted on my progress as I revise and start submitting to agents and publishers. There is a web site at kikihasumi.com, and I’ll update that whenever there is news. To any writers out there, keep writing, and try to write every day.
Augie: Michelle Dougherty, thank you for visiting with us today. We look forward to your new novel featuring Kiki Hasumi, Agent 537.
Michelle: Thank you, Augie!
Remember audience Michelle Dougherty’s novel is not available as of yet, but I am sure that in the next few months we will be reading more about Kiki Hasumi, Agent 537 of the Lotus Agency. Bye for now.