Total Pageviews

Monday, September 19, 2011

Award Winning Author, Maryann Miller, Previews Newest Book Release: The Wisdom of the Ages

Maryann is a diverse writer of columns, feature stories, short fiction, novels, screenplays, and stage plays, Maryann Miller has won numerous awards for her fiction, nonfiction, and screenplays including being a semi-finalist at the Sundance Institute for her screenplay, A Question of Honor.  She has won the Page Edward's Short Story Award, and her nonfiction books have been chosen as Best Books for Teens by the New York Public Library System. She lives and works in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas on a little bit of acreage she shares with her husband, one horse, two goats, two dogs, four cats and the occasional armadillo that wanders through.
Her publishing credits include work for regional and national newspapers and magazines: Lady's Circle, Woman's World, Marriage and Family Living, Plano Magazine, The Children's World, Byline, The Texas Catholic Newspaper. She has published nine non-fiction books for teens, including the award-winning Coping With Weapons and Violence : In Your School and on Your Streets released by The Rosen Publishing Group in New York.

She, also, does book reviews for ForeWord Magazine and two online review sites, and Curled Up With a Good Book. She also does freelance editing. Other experience includes extensive work as a PR consultant, a script doctor, and a freelance editor. She has been writing all her life and plans to die at her computer.

Tell us about the genre of your work.

I write in several genres, with a strong focus on mystery and suspense. I have been told it is better to stick to one genre so you can brand yourself, but stories come to me and sometimes they are a mystery, other times a short story or a woman's story. I cannot help it and I sure do not want the stories to ever stop coming.

Why did you choose this genre?

I especially like mysteries and suspense novels to read, and I have always had a strong interest in law enforcement, so writing about those subjects is a natural for me.  

What are some of your books, stories that have been published?

I have had 19 books published, some nonfiction and the rest fiction. I have also had numerous short stories and feature articles published in national and regional magazines and newspaper.   The latest release is a short story collection as an e-book, The Wisdom of Ages. It has three stories that feature four men whose lives take unexpected turns, which makes them realize that growing old is not for the faint of heart. One of the stories featured won the Page Edwards Short Story award.  

(Link for short story collection)

The paperback version of One Small Victory came out this past February, and in December, my mystery, Open Season was released in hardback from Five Star Cengage/Gale.

One Small Victory was published in hardcover in 2008 by Five Star, and I published the e-book last year myself. It is currently a top seller in the mystery & suspense bestseller list for Kindle. This is a story of one woman's courage as she works with a drug task force to help bring down a major drug distributor in her small Texas town. It was inspired by a news report of a woman who did this in a small town in the Midwest, and I was always intrigued by what she did and all that she risked to do it.  

(Link for One Small Victory)

Open Season is the first book in a mystery series featuring two women homicide detectives in Dallas. Think "Lethal Weapon" with female leads. It has received great reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal, and numerous readers have contacted me to say how much they are enjoying it.  One woman compared it favorably to the work of Lee Child, and I almost fainted when I read her e-mail message.  Lee, I guess I can call him by his first name now (smile), is a favorite author of mine and I never imagined getting put in his league. The second book in the series, Stalking Season, has just gone to contract and will be out Nov of 2012. I could have two babies while I am waiting, if I was still young enough to have babies.   

(Link for Open Season)

How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?

I like to set my stories in real places. I have a hard time making up a location, so it is a good thing I do not write fantasy. (Smile) For each of my novels I set the story in a real town and often used real places for scenes. When I was doing the research for Open Season, I visited the Dallas police department main headquarters, as well as other specific places where a scene could take place. The mystery centers on people who are being killed at area shopping malls, and I did come up with fictitious names for those so the mall owners would not send their legal team after me.

How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?

For Open Season I interviewed a number of police officers and rode patrol several times to get a feel for how officers think and act. Some friends who were in law enforcement were also very helpful in sharing their experiences. When I decided on the two lead detectives, one white and one black, I patterned them after some of the women I had interviewed, adding a bit of Martin Riggs from "Lethal Weapon" to Sarah's character.

The protagonist in One Small Victory came to me fully developed when I read the news story about what that woman did in the Midwest. I think I could relate to her as a mother, and as someone who does not like to back down from a challenge, so when I started plotting the story, the character was there actually helping me with the story line. Don't you just love when that happens?

Why and when did you begin writing?

I decided when I was about ten that I wanted to be a writer. I started writing short stories and one of my teachers entered my story in the Scholastic Writing Awards contest. I won an award and got to go to this fabulous old theatre in downtown Detroit to participate in the awards ceremony with other students who were being honored. Of course, I felt like I was the only one when I walked up to the stage to get my award.

What is your writing schedule?

 I work every day in my office from about 9 until 5. Some of that time is spent working on a new book; the rest is spent on editing for clients, promoting and taking care of the myriad of tasks associated with the business of writing. That seems to never end.

What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?

I will start researching for the third book in the mystery series in the next month or so, but first I want to put an original mystery up on Kindle. A number of authors are doing that, and I thought I would experiment to see how that would work for me. I have a stand-alone mystery, Boxes For Beds that I started years ago and never finished, so I will work on getting that finished over the summer. That book is set in Hot Springs, Arkansas, so of course I will have to go there for a weekend to do some research.  Test out all the bathhouses to see which one my protagonist will like best. LOL  

Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?

The only thing I like to tell beginning writers is to read, read, read, and then write, write, write. In addition, when it comes time to start marketing, do not ever quit. The difference between success and failure is often a matter of tenacity.

What do you do when you are not writing?

  When I am not writing, I love to work out on my property. I "play farmer" on about five acres and really enjoy gardening and taking care of my critters. My childhood dream was always to live on a farm, so now I am living that dream.  I go out in the morning with my first cup of coffee and my horse comes to greet me at the fence with a whinny. Of course, I think it is because he loves me, and he thinks I am going to the barn to get some hay.

I also love live theatre and have gotten very involved in acting and directing at some community theatres in the area. I have found that exploring story as an actor is not so different from exploring story as a writer, and the two creative endeavors feed each other.

What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?

One of my most treasured "made it" moments is when I directed a play I had written at a local community theatre. On opening night, I stood in the back and watched the story come to life on stage and tears streamed down my face. That was ten years ago and the memory stirs a strong emotion even today.  Recent successes like the popularity of One Small Victory among mystery readers and the great reviews of Open Season have been very exciting, and sometimes I dare to think that I might even be successful in terms of book sales. However, I am not sure that any of that will touch the magic of that moment in the theatre ten years ago.

You can find out more about Maryann and her work at:

P.S. Don’t forget to leave a comment for Maryann!


Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Great interview!
Nice to meet you both.
Good luck & God's blessings.

Maryannwrites said...

Thanks for stopping by, Pamela. Glad you enjoyed the interview.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Maryann,

A really interesting interview. Congrats on the short story anthology. It sounds like a very special book.

Maryannwrites said...

Thanks, Jacqueline. The stories in the anthology are all special to me. I was so pleased when the small publisher wanted to bring it out.