Michelle lives in Worcestershire, UK, with her husband Daniel, their two young children, and a cat called Lyra Belacqua. By day, she works for the NHS, a job which she has almost as much passion for as fiction.
Her first joyful steps into creative writing were at the age of ten, when the teacher read out her short story in class. A slapstick tale of two talking kangaroos breaking out of a zoo, the work was sadly lost to history. Still, Michelle never forgot the buzz of others enjoying her words.
More recently, she has had several flash pieces published, was long-listed for the Cambridge 2020 prize for flash fiction, and placed first in the February 2020 Writers’ Forum competition with her short story The Truth About Cherry House. Tipping Point is her debut novel.
Michelle Cook, Tipping Point
To listen to Michelle’s playlist on Spotify, click HERE
You can also click on the individual tracks for their Youtube videos.
It’s so tricky to resist describing the scene associated with each of these songs. Every one was playing either in my head or on my laptop as I wrote Tipping Point. A couple of the lyrics even made it into early drafts, before copyright laws overtook me. So to make sure I don’t give away any spoilers, I decided to bundle my selections into themes.
Reservoir Park – The Duchess and the Duke
Ghost Town – The Specials
Feeling Good – Nina Simone
Tipping Point is set in the 2030s—not so far into the future. I wanted everything in Essie, my main character’s world to feel a little familiar but a little strange. Each of these songs represents something out of place, some conflict. Reservoir Park has a suitably apocalyptic feel with its doom-laden preoccupation with the sky. Likewise, a huge city deserted in Ghost Town.
Nina Simone’s original version of Feeling Good always gives me a tingle on the back of my neck because the optimistic lyrics are partially at odds with the dark, defiant melody, like throwing off chains.
For What it’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield
Standing against corrupt power is a major theme running through the book, and Essie’s involvement in a protest group is the catalyst for many of the events which subsequently unfold. This song has long been a favourite of mine, and it perfectly captures a moment in the story where the tide could, just maybe, turn. Any suggestion I might have written that scene simply to include this song in my imaginary soundtrack is greatly exaggerated!
In Tipping Point, Essie experiences huge, unimaginable loss but also deep connections. It’s difficult to discuss the emotional beats without spoilers, but suffice to say I did my best to hit the highs and lows. These were the songs in my head while I was writing some of the scenes that affected me most.
Where is my Mind? – Pixies
Karma Police – Radiohead
As we approach the climax of the story, these two songs loop in my mind, and maybe Essie’s too. Where is my Mind? is a perennial favourite, a musical shorthand for feeling out of control. The Karma Police lyrics, ‘This is what you’ll get when you mess with us,’ are a call to action, triggering the final act. More than that I cannot say… you’ll have to read the book.
Tipping Point blurb:
A tale of loss, manipulation, and the search for the truth
What would you risk to turn back the tide?
Essie Glass might have been a typical eighteen-year-old – had life not dealt her an early blow. Struggling to come to terms with the loss of her family in a terrorist attack, and left with nothing, Essie’s not kidding herself about her world. She wants change, and she’ll be honest about it, whatever the cost. From behind her keyboard, that is…
After all, this is England, 2035. Earth’s climate continues its accelerating collapse. A powerful elite controls the disaster-weary population with propaganda, intimidation, and constant surveillance.
By all appearances, Alex Langford is a respected local businessman – until Essie discovers that he’s a murderous conspirator who’d see the planet die for his fortune.
When their paths collide, Essie must decide: how much is she really willing to pay for her honesty?
Her choices, and the events she sets in motion, pit her against both enemies and supposed friends as she risks more than just her life to thwart them.
Will she succeed in revealing the truth? And will she survive?