Monday, March 13, 2017

Author Interview: Carrie Miller

In a former life, Carrie D. Miller was an executive in the software industry for many years. Her career in the technology world included software product management, website design, training, and technical writing just to name a few. Although she’s written a great deal over the decades which has been read by thousands of people, software documentation allows for as much creativity as pouring cement.

At the age of 45, she decided to chuck it all to become an author which had been a life-long dream. Her debut novel, The White Raven, is a contemporary fantasy story about a witch seeking to be free of the curse she's endured for centuries. It will be released on April 1, 2017, and you can pre-order it on Amazon. You can keep up with her on Twitter, on Facebook, or at her website.

Tell us about yourself. Have you dabbled in writing your whole life, or is this a new interest for you?
I wrote little stories when I was in my pre-teens. I remember writing something so scary, it scared me off of writing for a while. Ha. Silly, I know. I ventured into poetry in high school and won a couple of awards. When I started in Corporate America, I discovered I liked to write marketing content, and later that evolved into user software documentation. That is where I’ve done the majority of my writing—user manuals, online help documentation, software functional specifications, things like that. I tried to get a book out of my head years and years ago, but life kept getting in the way. At least, that’s the excuse I tell myself. I just plain wasn’t ready. I had to make the stars align for myself to get this baby onto paper. When I could finally manage it, I quit my job as an executive at a software company to follow my dream. It’s been almost a year now and I have zero regrets. ZERO.

What attracted you to writing fantasy?
I abhor the mundane world. I find it incredibly boring. Life would be so much more amazing and interesting if Harry Potter-type magick and dragons were real things. Plus, I am a witch myself so magick and fantasy come naturally to me.

Your main character in The White Raven has lived multiple lifetimes thanks to magic. What were some of the challenges of constructing such a complex backstory for her?
Her timeline was the hardest. When was she first born and where? How far back do I go? What types of lives did she have, when did she die and how? How did all her trials and tribulations shape her personality and actions? I let my imagination run with her lives and it was great fun. I loved researching various points in history and seeing how I could incorporate her particular story, her struggle, into those points in time. I would love to have included bits of every single life, but it wasn’t the plan to write an epic. Perhaps that’s fodder for the sequel...

Do your characters and plot draw any inspiration from your own life?
Hmm… how much of my life do I give away here? Lol. My main character, Aven, wants to be who she is, period. She doesn’t want to hide or conform. She’s always been an outsider and simply wants acceptance for who she is. Many of us experience that struggle every day but, while Aven’s case is extreme, it’s still very relatable.

What is your next project after The White Raven?
I'm fleshing out the plot of a story involving copper pennies, dead criminals, a bad guy wanting to do bad things involving demons, an old woman's spirit held in a cracked crystal ball, and twin red-headed sisters who know nothing about magick but have to stop the bad guy from doing bad things with his own spell book they can't read. Mostly set in modern-day Prague and Chicago but will venture back into the 1930s. I foresee these sisters becoming a series. Two or three books, I think.

What do you do besides writing?
I read! I love to read. But I’m anxiously awaiting Spring so I can get out into the garden.

How much writing do you get done in an average week, and how do you motivate yourself to stay on-track?
Since I quit my “real” job for this, I treat my writing as a job. My motivation is the fact that I am finally, after decades, pursuing my dream. I am in love with what I’m doing, and I am dying to get all these stories out of my head and into the hands of readers. My excitement is my motivation. I liken it to having been in a cage for years to then finally be set free. You are ecstatic and you want to run and run and run. That’s me.

Any advice you'd like to give other authors?
When self doubt starts whispering in your ear, throat punch that bitch. Do. Not. Listen. I let my self doubt cripple me for so long. I kick myself at all the time I wasted listening to her. Identify what your doubts are and set about fixing them. I initially had two: I don’t remember squat about grammar and sentence structure from high school English, and, the big one, can I even write worth a damn? I did lots of research on the mechanics of writing and downloaded a program to help me with the problems I knew I had (still have), and I hired outside professionals to critique my writing style. My editor has taught me a lot of the rules of writing, so I will keep learning as I go. Just don’t give up.

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