A Cafe For Authors and Avid Readers
I've lived in diverse places and had a ridiculously diverse set of jobs. Cities that I've lived in include Pascagoula, Mississippi; Rowland Heights, California; Allen, Texas; Bartlesville, Oklahoma; and Fayetteville, Arkansas. Jobs that I've held include bus driver, postal carrier, tire salesman, pastor and social worker, but I've been a writer and storyteller throughout. I graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1997 with a degree in Creative Writing, and I currently reside in Rogers, Arkansas with my wife and kids.
What makes you proud to be a writer from Northwest Arkansas? Northwest Arkansas has a small but supportive writing community with independent bookstores, writing groups, and special promotional events throughout the year. It is small enough that individual authors don't get lost in the shuffle but big enough to make events worthwhile.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? Being a writer is just in my nature. I've been creating stories since I was a very young child. I used to scribble them in notebooks, creating my own elaborate universe of characters, planets, and alien races with a long convoluted history. I can't remember a time when I wasn't creating stories. I completed my first novel the summer after I graduated high school. It wasn't very good, but it was part of the long process of improving my craft.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? When I was thirteen years old, I wrote a letter to my uncle in California. He was a published author, so I asked him how old a person had to be in order to become a professional writer. He responded that age didn't matter, only ability and tenacity, so I began immediately trying to write a novel. Ultimately, I couldn't pull it off at that age. I got about twenty pages into what I intended to be an epic science fiction story and got overwhelmed. But it was the beginning of the journey.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? Both of my brothers were creative, particularly my older brother, who was an artist and loved to draw stories with me. In that environment, it was never weird to have an overactive imagination, and almost any form of creative expression was okay.
Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? I usually select a working title for the first draft then change it along the way. For example, Shadows of Tockland was originally The Klown Kroo and Mary of the Aether was Mindy Lightbearer (the protagonist got a name change). Character and story come easy for me, but titles can be challenging.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? I write exclusively science fiction and fantasy because I am drawn to the fantastical. The imagination can go places and create things that do not exist in the world around us, so give me magic, aliens, mystical cities, give me something strange and other-worldly. Plus, those fantastical elements allow me explore themes and ideas in interesting ways.
What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for? The Mary of the Aether series was inspired by my time living in a very small Arkansas town. It was a new and different experience for me, and I wanted to encapsulate it somehow in a story. Also, when I began the first novel, my daughter was very young, and I was inspired to create a story about a young woman discovering and achieving her true potential.
How many published books do your have? As of September 2014, I have published nine novels. This includes my four volume young adult series (Mary of the Aether, Mary of Shadows, Mary of Starlight, Mary of Cosmos), a couple of science fiction novels (Children of the Mechanism, Shadows of Tockland), a fantasy duology (Bloodstone, A Whisper in the Void), and a standalone fantasy novel (Garden of Dust and Thorns).
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? It is rewarding when other people finally read and enjoy a story that has lived in your own imagination for so long, when they get to meet characters that you've created and come to know really well, when they walk in places that you've built in your mind. That's pretty cool.
Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? Trying to promote and sell my books is incredibly difficult. I am not a good salesman. Nor am I especially confident in myself. By nature, I am a space cadet who lives in his own imagination. But in this day and age, it is absolutely imperative that writers promote themselves and get the word out.
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? There is a university professor in Arkansas who leads a regional conference for English teachers. For that conference, he creates a recommended reading list. On the suggestion of a good friend who is a seventh grade teacher, I sent a copy of my first novel, Mary of the Aether, to this professor. I didn’t expect to hear anything, but a few months later, I got an email from him. It turns out, he gets a lot of indie novels, and he ignores most of them. For his reading list, he mostly works with Scholastic and other big time publishers. But on a whim, he picked up my book from a corner of his desk and brought it on a flight with him. He read it during the flight, loved it, and read it again. Then he decided to put it on his reading list for the summer of 2013. This brought me quite a bit of attention and led to a number of writing events, workshops, and meet-the-author nights at schools across the state.
Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? Despite meticulous effort and a prolonged editorial process, typos and mistakes make their way into published novels. I know this even happens to the big time writers. I remember reading how J.R.R. Tolkien was really frustrated at some of the unintended revisions and mistakes that made their way into early versions of The Hobbit. When it happens to me, it drives me crazy to such an extent that I don’t even enjoy getting published. Sometimes mistakes get fixed right away. Other times they linger for a while. It depends on the publisher, I suppose, and the success of the novel.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Don’t expect to make a living at this. It might happen, but odds are it won’t. Find a way to be okay with that. Find a way to be okay with publishing novels and just enjoying the little bit of money that trickles in. Do it for reasons other than getting rich.
Who is your favorite author and why? There are a handful of authors who have inspired me in significant ways over the years. Most of them are probably obvious choices, like Tolkien, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling. Others would include Tad Williams, Orson Scott Card, Cherie Priest, Cormac McCarthy, Dan Simmons, and Suzanne Collins. I can’t pick a single favorite out of that list.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us? I’m not good at building myself up or making my books sound really good. As I mentioned before, promotion is not something I take to naturally. However, I honestly believe I have something to offer readers. The strength of my stories are strong, compelling, and believable characters.
"Absolutely brilliant!" - Flamingnet Teen Book Reviews
Mary Of Cosmos– by Jeffrey Aaron Miller
Book Four In The Series Coming In August 2014
Author Jeffrey Aaron Miller’s Published Books
A Whisper In The Void, Deep Water: Book Two
Bloodstone, Deep Water: Book One
Children Of The Mechanism
Garden Of Dust and Thorns
Mary Of The Aether
Mary Of Shadows
Mary Of Starlight
Shadows Of Tockland
Author Jeffrey Aaron Miller’s Website And Blog Links
Author Website – http://jeffreyaaronmiller.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/jeffaaronmiller
Blog – http://jeffreyaaronmiller.blogspot.com/
Mary of the Aether series – https://www.facebook.com/MaryOfTheAether
Shadows of Tockland – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shadows-of-Tockland/614491298566710
Children of the Mechanism – https://www.facebook.com/childrenofthemechanism
Cold Coffee Café – http://coldcoffeecafe.com/profile/JeffreyAaronMiller