Mary Ann Miller lets me grill her for Authorsday today. A writer of fiction and non-fiction I think you'll find this interview compelling
How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing all my life, but didn’t get published until I was in my 30s and had a family. I wrote a weekly humor column for a suburban newspaper and was known as the Erma Bombeck of Plano. It was a lot of fun and led to other freelance jobs that evolved over time to a career writing for regional and national publications. But my first love has always been fiction, so I continued to write short stories and then moved on to novels and screenplays.
How did you pick the genre you write in? I don’t write in one genre or medium. My novels range from young adult to romance to mystery and suspense. When it comes to the stories, it’s not a matter of choice for me. Often the story picks me, if that makes any sense. Then after I get going with the writing I can figure out in which genre it belongs.
What drew you to the subject of One Small Victory? I started writing One Small Victory after I read an item in a Dallas newspaper about a woman in Michigan who worked undercover on a drug task force and helped bring down a main illegal drug distributor in her rural town. She had no background in law enforcement. She was just a mom and did this while grieving the loss of her son who was killed in a car accident. I found this woman and her story amazing, and even though there were few details in the short news story, the character was very real to me and ideas started coming to me like gangbusters.
What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it? The first novel I wrote was a young adult novel, Friends Forever. I wrote it when my oldest daughter was experiencing the awkwardness of social changes in middle school when suddenly it matters who you are friends with and who you shouldn’t be friends with -- that typical nonsense that is still so prevalent in school. As with many other first novels this one was better off in a drawer until I got better at the craft. Then I dusted it off and rewrote it and it was published as an e-book by New Concepts Publishing. Some years later, I got the rights back to it and recently put it up on Kindle.
What’s your favorite quote? One of my favorite writing quotes is from Cicero “A room without a book is like a body without a soul.” I think I would shrivel up and die if I did not have a book to read.
What is your favorite word? Lately, my favorite word has been tenacity. In some recent radio interviews I was asked what advice I would give to beginning writers and I realized that tenacity is as important to succeeding as talent when it comes to writing. I know so many good writers who simply stopped because of the challenges to getting published. In many cases those who succeed are those who didn’t give up.
What other time period besides your own would you like to experience? I would love to live in the mid-1800s in the west. I have always been a frustrated rancher and I used to fantasize about being one of those tough women in the west who ran their own place and worked circles around the men. When I was young and used to go horseback riding a lot, I would do a lot of pretending while racing across a field.
What’s your favorite thing about your book? My favorite thing about One Small Victory has been the response from so many readers who, like me, have really related to the central character, Jenny. Not that we have done what she did, but something about her resonates with us. Maybe it’s the “mom” thing. Jenny gets proactive about the drug issue as a way to find vindication for the loss of her son, but it is also an effort to protect her children. I think that instinct to protect our children is what we can relate to. Plus, Jenny is not a superhero. She is a woman with flaws and challenges, doubts and fears like all the rest of us. We just don’t like to admit it.
What do you do when you are not writing? When I am not writing, I work outside on my little acreage where I have a horse and some goats. It’s as close to my fantasy as I can get. J I also enjoy acting and directing and am active in a local art center. For quieter fun, I do all kinds of puzzles and some knitting and quilting. I’ve just recently started trying to be creative with a camera, and I do some sketching and painting when I get a chance. All of these creative things feed each other and I think I am a better writer because of them.
Who is your biggest cheerleader? My husband has always been my biggest cheerleader. He is the one who encouraged me to keep at it in those early years before I was finally published, and even today he will bolster my spirits when I get discouraged. He is also quick to help me celebrate the good things that come my way, like the recent sale of One Small Victory to Books in Motion, who will bring it out in audio formats.
Author Bio: A diverse writer of columns, feature stores, short fiction, novels, screenplays and stage plays, Maryann Miller’s work has appeared in many regional and national publications. The Rosen Publishing Group published her non-fiction books for teens, including the award-winning Coping with Weapons and Violence In School and On Your Streets. One Small Victory was released by Five Star Cengage/Gale. Play It Again, Sam was released by Uncial Press as an e-book. She is Managing Editor of WinnsboroToday.com, an online community magazine. She has been writing all her life and plans to die at her computer. Web site: http://www.maryannwrites.com/
Book Blurb: Life can change in just an instant. That's the harsh reality that Jenny Jasik faces when her son is killed in an automobile accident, but never in her wildest dreams did she ever expect to be working undercover as a member of a drug task force. She is, after all, just a mom. But don’t discount what a mom can do when the safety of her children is at stake.