Allison's Book Bag

Interview #1 with Stephen Miller

Posted on: January 2, 2014

StevenMillerThis week, I’m featuring two novels by Stephen Miller. The first, Captain Justo from the Planet Is, started out as a bedtime story for his children. After writing a draft on paper, Miller took a break from it to publish a nonfiction guide. When this publishing experience proved positive, he returned to the writing of his science fiction. After fifteen years in development, Captain Justo from the Planet Is was completed in the early winter months of 2008.

The second, The Santa Claus League, started from the belief that the legend of Santa Claus needed more room to grow. In a package publicity interview from V&E Enterprises, Miller says that, “Children are more analytical these days and need answers to questions such as why is there more than one Santa Claus at the mall? How can Santa Claus deliver toys to the whole world, and why do parents pretend to be Santa Claus?” The Santa Claus League shows where he lives and how he works among us without our even knowing it.

I posted my review of The Santa Claus League yesterday and will post my review of Captain Justo on Saturday. Nestled between those two reviews will be interviews with Stephen Miller, one sent to me as part of his publicity package and one which I held with him through email. Save the dates: January 1-4!

QUESTION: Where’s home?

ANSWER: I live in Orem, Utah, surrounded by stunning mountains that feed a beautiful natural fresh water lake.

QUESTION: What is something few people know about you?

ANSWER: After getting an MBA I travelled to Mogadishu, Somalia, on the horn or Africa, to work as a construction manager on a UN Military project. I spent 6 months living and being protected by what we would consider a War Lord. I was shot at, nearly kidnapped and lived with death threats every day I was there. For a writer it was the most exciting time of my life.

QUESTION: Do you gravitate to a particular genre?

ANSWER: Middle grade readers. I like to write fantasy and science fiction.

QUESTION: Did you picture any specific real-life people when you created your characters?

ANSWER: I almost always have real life people in mind when I write. It helps me to know them so I can imagine in my mind what they would say and or do in any situation.

QUESTION: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

ANSWER: I became a writer in second grade. My creativity was far beyond my spelling and grammar abilities, but my teachers encouraged me to develop my talents even at that young age. I wrote short stories that made my teachers and family cry by the time I got into High School. In College I learned the form to writing and about 18 years ago started my first novel. I have been writing ever since.

QUESTION: Is there something you’d like to tell your readers?

ANSWER: Life is more exiting when you follow the rules of a moral society. Don’t get trapped in a selfish life of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. All that life will do is cause you and others pain and suffering, hiding the real problems of your life with the next high. Live a clean, moral life so that when problems come you will have the wits and good judgment to solve them.

QUESTION: Do you prefer eBooks, paperbacks, or hardcovers? Why?

ANSWER: I prefer hardcover books because I tend to write all over them. I like the bigger book because it has more space for me to take notes in the margins.

QUESTION: What was the most challenging part you have come across while writing?

ANSWER: My biggest challenge is quitting. I get in the zone and I don’t want to stop. Ideas come at me so easily the book writes itself. To come out of that creative mindscape into the physical world is a real let down for me. I have to set time to write and pull my self away when it is over.  

QUESTION: What are you reading now?

ANSWER:  I just finished Knowledge and Power by George Gilder. I am studying how a character in my next book would help someone escape poverty. I base all of my characters in reality, even if they are fictional characters.

QUESTION: If you were shipwrecked on an island, what three books would you want with you?

ANSWER: The Scriptures, Wealth and Poverty, and Knowledge and Power, both my George Gilder. That is this year. My selections will change when I am done studying these books out. All I can say is this Island better have a good internet connection or I’ll be doomed.

QUESTION: Is there a book you know you will never read?

ANSWER: I’ll never read Moby Dick again. The first time was enough for me.

QUESTION: What do you think about book reviews?

ANSWER: I love book reviews. A good review is an art form all by itself. Whether a book is being bashed and trashed or praised and raved, the review is always fun to read.

QUESTION: Do you have a day job? A family? How do make time to write?

ANSWER: I work for Comcast Corporation, selling TV, Internet, phone and home security. The family must be fed and being a writer doesn’t always make enough to keep the lights on. As I have more titles to sell and a bigger fan base, I will be able to devote more time to writing. As it is my job is ideal because I get to spend quiet time in the mornings to write and study and work my regular job in the day and evening.

QUESTION: If you could have any author as a mentor, who would it be and why?

ANSWER: Charles Dickens would be my mentor. He understood writing as well as promotion and selling. The man was amazing and I would love to meet him and learn from him in any way I could. 

QUESTION: Do you believe that old saying, “Never lend books”?

ANSWER: Only lend books you intend to never get back. Most people you lend books to don’t read them. If they really want the book they can buy it themselves.

QUESTION:What tips do you have for aspiring writers?

ANSWER:  What have you learned along the way? Write about the most important thing in the world to you. Write about something so important that if it were the only thing about you that survived, your family and friends would want to read it to learn about you. Write what you care about, not what you think other people care about. People want to know what you think, not what you think they think you think.

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Summer Reviews

Books can take connect us with strangers, take us to unique places, and introduce us to new ideas. They can also offer hope in a chaotic world. And so I must share what I read!

Each week, I’ll introduce you to religious books, Advanced Reader Copies, animal books, or diversity books. Some I’ll review as singles and others as part of round-ups. Just ahead, there will be reviews of:

  • Joni: The unforgettable story of a young woman’s struggle against quadriplegia & depression by Joni Eareckson
  • The True Story of the World’s Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary by Samantha Glen
  • Brothers in hope : the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan–refugees by Mary Williams
  • The Inner Life of Cats by Thomas McNamee

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