Michael was born in Enterprise, Alabama. In 1978 he received his PhD in English at Brandeis University.
Described by Stephen King as "the finest writer of paperback originals in America today" he published under his own name and the pseudonyms Axel Young and Nathan Aldyne. His first novel was "The Amulet" in 1979.
He was contracted to write a series of crime novels with characters based loosely on Nick and Norah of the "Thin Man" series. Although the characters never aged the books were "Jack and Susan in 1913", "Jack and Susan in 1933" and "Jack and Susan in 1953".
He wrote another series of crime novels with his lover Dennis Schutz. These features gay detective, Daniel and straight lawyer Clarisse.
Describing his working day he said that the morning was taken up with writing and the afternoons staring out of the window in the hope that something would happen.
Michael died of an AIDS related illness in Boston. He was survived by his sister, Ann, of West Hollywood; his brother, James, of Virginia Beach, Va.; and his domestic-companion of 30 years, Laurence Senelick of Medford, Mass.