young adult book reviews & more

Interview with Maryann Miller

When did you first decide to become a writer, and why?
I have always loved books and stories and decided when I was about ten years old that I wanted to write stories that some other ten-year-old girl might love and cherish.

What is the best part about being an author? The worst?
One of the best parts of being a writer is the creative surge when words are coming so fast that you can hardly type fast enough to keep up. I love when that happens. Another high point is getting feedback from readers, especially the positive feedback. Shortly after my first nonfiction book had been published I was doing research for my second and invited high school students to come to my house for a discussion about school violence. One of the girls made the connection to my previous book and was just thrilled to meet the author. It was great to hear her talk about how much the book helped her in some research she had done for a paper.

Do you have a particular place that you enjoy writing at?
I have a wonderful office where I have covered the walls with pictures, cards, honors, and other things that mean a lot to me. My office window looks out on a small stand of trees where I am entertained by birds. It is a pleasant space that I find conducive to creativity. Some people might question the mess on my desk – in fact, my husband often does – but it is my mess and I know where everything I need is.

Who or what is your largest influence when writing?
I’m influenced by the enthusiasm and success of other writers. I belong to a few online lists that are made up primarily of authors and I am energized when I read the good news of others. The business is so challenging, we all need to know there is hope if we just persevere.

I see you are an editor, book reviewer, and a writer. How do you manage it all?
Sometimes I manage all my jobs well, and other times everything just goes to hell. I do try to focus on the paying gigs first, as I have an obligation to earn the money I am paid, but my enthusiasm for reviewing can sometimes get out of hand. It’s like not being able to stop eating after just ten potato chips. There is always another book out there that sounds so good, I just have to give it a shot. Between that and the demands of promoting my two latest releases, there is little time for my work in progress. But I have told myself that in a couple of months that is going to change.

What is your favorite genre of books to read? What are some of your favorite books and authors in that category?
My reading tastes really vary and I read all over the place. I love mysteries and am a great fan of Robert B. Parker, Sue Grafton, both Kellermans, P.J. Parrish, and my all-time favorite, Dennis Lehane. Mystic River is one of my favorite books that I could read again and again. I also really enjoy women’s novels and love Anne Tyler. My daughter introduced me to the “Chick-Lit” and we both loved The Devil Wears Prada. I also really enjoyed Laura Castoro’s Icing on the Cake.

I've read your inspiration for One Small Victory came from a news story. How did you turn that into your novel?
Creating the character was easy, as Jenny came to me almost full-blown as I read that short news story about a woman who worked for a drug task force and helped bring down a major distributor. She did this after her son was killed in a car accident and marijuana was found at the scene. I thought it was incredible that she could do this. If I had lost a child I might still be in bed with the covers pulled over my head. The more I thought about her, the more I knew I wanted to write a story about her.

Did you have to do a lot of research for One Small Victory?
I had to do a lot of research to find out how a small town drug task force would be set up and how it would operate. I also had to find out how Jenny would be working with it. The news story had mentioned the fact that the woman couldn’t tell people what she was doing, so I guessed that she might have been a Confidential Informant. But I had no idea how a CI would work in a small town law enforcement environment. I also had to learn a lot about guns, but my son, who is a gunsmith, was able to help me with that, as well as introducing me to some police officers he was friends with.

If there was one thing you could change about One Small Victory, what would it be?
I don’t think I would change anything. This book was written over a period of several years, and it had time to age well, like a fine wine.

What do you plan on writing next?
I am actually working on the second book in a mystery series that I am hoping Five Star will pick up. The first book, Open Season has been submitted for quite a while, and I figured I could finish the second and be ahead of the game if they accept the series.

5 munch(es) :

Chris Redding said...

I was ten when I decided I wanted to write, too.

ghostposts said...

Great interview! Thanks for doing this, and good luck with five star.

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks for stopping by to leave comments Chris and Ghostposts. I appreciate the support. This was fun to do. I am really having a blast going from blog to blog. Hope folks aren't getting tired of me. :-)

Helen Ginger said...

Ten must be a pivotal age. My earliest "writing" memory is at that age. I remember climbing into a tree and working on Blue Moon Fairy stories.

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