Interview with Ann Lee Miller

 

Ann Lee Miller grew up in Florida, where she lived on a sailboat for a while, and now lives in Phoenix with her husband, who is a pastor. They have three grown children.

Ann has a degree in Creative Writing from Ashland University and is a full time writer. She is the author of four novels, as well as publications in magazines and newspapers, and is currently working on her fifth. Ann reached the second round in the 2012 Amazon Breakout Novel Award contest with her book Tattered Innocence and  won First Place, Long Contemporary in the 2009 Romance Writers of America Faith, Hope and Love Contest for Kicking Eternity.

Ann is a speaker as well as a writer, and loves to stay in touch with her fans:

Ann has something special to offer the readers of More Than a Review!

  • You can have a free copy of Kicking Eternity by leaving your email address in the comments.
  • You can read the first chapter of Avra’s God in our excerpt.
  • In addition, one lucky winner will receive a free e-copy (any format) of Avra’s God.

Leave a comment for Ann below to enter the giveaway!

We caught up with Ann and asked her a few questions…

MTAR: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Ann Lee Miller: I live in Phoenix, but left my heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where I grew up. I love speaking to young adults and guest lecture on writing at several Arizona colleges.

MTAR: What do you do when you are not writing?

Ann Lee Miller: When I’m not writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find me hiking in the Superstition Mountains with my pastor husband or meddling in my kids’ lives (22, 24, 26, 29).

MTAR: Which book do you recommend for a reader who is new to your writing?

Ann Lee Miller: I recommend Avra’s God because it is the first book, chronologically in the series—though all the books stand alone. Better yet, try Kicking Eternity, which is free on request at AnnLeeMiller.com.

MTAR: Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

Ann Lee Miller: I wrote for 16 years before publishing with a small press, Flawed People Press. Though my writing progressed to the publishable stage, my books tended to be too mature for YA and too youthful for adult fiction. Also, they were too Christian for the secular market and too secular for the Christian market. I can’t tell you how glorious it is to hold my books in my hands after all these years.

MTAR: Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Ann Lee Miller: Avra’s God launched December 1. Here’s the back cover:

In the tradition of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, four friends navigate college and the drama churned up by their Florida beach band to cement friendship and more.
Avra wants love, but drummer Cisco—self-medicating from his parents’ divorce with sex and intoxicants—is a poor choice. Cisco hungers for fresh-baked cookies and the scent of family he finds at Avra’s.
Kallie shares her classically trained voice only with lead vocalist Jesse and fights to keep her heart safe. Jesse feeds on fame and hides more than insecurity beneath his guitar.
The friends surf ego, betrayal, and ambition and head for wipeout. But somehow, when they’re not looking, Avra’s God changes them all.

MTAR: What was your favorite chapter (or scene) to write and why?

Ann Lee Miller: I loved writing the scene where Jesse and Kallie meet because they immediately dive into a deep relationship even though both have plenty of reasons not to. Jesse is in the attic of an old shed singing and playing his guitar. Kallie, new in town, darts into the shed in a downpour. She falls asleep on the steps listening to Jesse’s original songs that cause her to know his heart even though she’s never seen him. Jesse nearly trips over Kallie and is instantly infatuated. Their connection is deep and enduring from the first, full of chemistry and angst.

MTAR: What has been the best compliment?

Ann Lee Miller: The thing I hear over and over again is that my books are extremely realistic. I love that!

MTAR: Do you have a specific writing style?

Ann Lee Miller: My books are fast-paced and emotion-packed, driven by snappy dialogue.

MTAR: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Ann Lee Miller: Forgiveness is worth whatever it takes to get there.

MTAR: What are your current projects?

Ann Lee Miller: Tattered Innocence launches in late February. Here’s the back cover:

A tale of passions indulged, denied, and ultimately forgiven:
On the verge of bagging the two things he wants most—a sailing charter business and marrying old money—Jake Murray’s fiancée/sole crew member dumps him. Salvation comes in the form of dyslexic, basketball toting Rachel Martin, the only one to apply for the first mate position he slapped on craigslist.
On a dead run from an affair with a married man, Rachel’s salvation is shoving ocean between her and temptation.
Rapid fire dialogue and romantic tension sail Jake’s biker-chick of a boat through hurricanes, real and figurative. A cast of wannabe sailors, Rachel’s ex, Jake’s, a baby—go along for the ride.
The many-layered story weaves together disparate strands into a seamless cord. Mother and daughter look eerily alike—down to their lusts. Their symbiotic bond, forged in the blood of childbirth on the kitchen floor and cemented by their secrets, must be cracked open. A son must go home. Sin must be expunged.
Tattered Innocence is for anyone who’s ever woken up sealed in a fifty-gallon drum of their guilt.

MTAR: Do you see writing as a career?

Ann Lee Miller: Now in my fifties, my children raised, ambition rages through me, splashing over the banks as it goes. I am one of the fortunate few who get to write full-time, and if it weren’t for maintaining ministry, friendships, and needing to pay some attention to the man who believes in me and makes my writing life possible, I’d work sixteen hours a day. I don’t just want to write. I want to publish, sell millions of books, and travel around the country speaking to readers.
Chuckling—so the answer is yes, I see writing as a career.
“How does it feel to want?” my mother used to say.

MTAR: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Ann Lee Miller: I became a writer the year I discovered Sister Sheila had hair. I was in fifth grade at St. Hugh’s Catholic School in Miami, knee deep in nouns and verbs, when Sister Sheila walked through the door in a new habit that showed two inches of mouse brown hair threaded with silver. Sister Sheila encouraged my writing during the final melt-down of my parents’ marriage. Her belief in me propelled me all the way through a BA in creative writing from Ashland University (OH).

MTAR: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Ann Lee Miller: Charles Martin. I love his quirky characters, lovely prose, and riveting stories. If he wouldn’t have to turn in his man card, I’d say he writes love stories.

MTAR: Do you have to travel much for your books?

Ann Lee Miller: Luckily, I got to travel “home” to New Smyrna Beach, Florida, after many years away to research the series. Since my books are set in real places, I really need to visit the locations to absorb sensory details and how I feel emotionally in the location.

MTAR: Who designed the covers?

Ann Lee Miller: Robin Roberts of RedRedDesign.com did the covers for my four-book series. I fell in love with the oil paintings he produced for each book, paintings I get to keep! I sent him a one-page synopsis of each novel, physical descriptions of my characters, photos of the setting of the books. He e-mailed me back a few pencil sketch ideas. I picked one and waited for his detailed sketch to arrive. When it did, I made a few more suggestions. But I was stunned when the JPG of the painting showed up in my in-box. The synergy of his creative process aligning with mine was breathtaking. I felt like he reached inside my head, my work, and painted the exact mood of the book.

MTAR: What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?

Ann Lee Miller: I feel like I have arrested development in my early twenties because I always write about people who are falling in love, often for the first time, and finding their place in the world—choosing careers, resolving issues with their parents, working out friendships that will last a lifetime.

MTAR: Do you work with an outline, or just write?

Ann Lee Miller: I’ve used both methods, but prefer outlining because it is so much easier to fix an outline than to fix a whole book when I get an inspiration during Chapter 31 that will ripple back to the first page.

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  • Donna

    Ann, great interview. It was nice to get to know you better. I look forward to reading the series. Best of luck with the book launch! Donna

  • Thanks, Donna. I’m so tickled to discover and visit your blog! 🙂

  • Elsie

    Sounds like some very interesting books!

    • Good luck on the contest, Elsie! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. 🙂

  • Hi Ann, I enjoyed reading your interview both as a book blogger and an author. I read the synopsis of your books and they sound like the kind of books I like. And the compliment that you get about them being realistic caught my attention. Would love to get a copy of Kicking Eternity. My email is: laurafabiani at videotron dot ca.
    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Laura,

      So nice to cyber meet you! I am crazy about book bloggers (and authors and readers, of course). I’m tickled you checked out my books. Kicking Eternity is on its way.

      Happy reading!

      XXXOOO

  • BamMomma

    Ann, Do you pull from personal experiences of yours or your children’s lives when you are writing or do you try to keep it somewhat fictional? Also do you feel like you now fit in better with either or/both the secular and the christian markets?

    • Ha ha! I’m a total vulture, picking the carcass of my life and everyone’s life around me. But the stories have a lot of fiction thrown in, too.

      I’m still riding the fence as to which market I fit into. Kicking Eternity and Avra’s God are geared more toward Christian readers. The Art of My Life is aimed toward the secular reader. Agent Judy Mikalonis with Andrea Hurst Literary Management told me to write my heart, so that’s what I do. My heart evidently loves God, but can be acutely tempted.

      Thanks for the excellent questions!

  • Tiffany

    Cool! Nice to check out a new blog to me.
    tifferz19 AT hotmail Dot com

  • Hi Tiff! More Than A Review is new to me, too. One of my reviewers posted my books here, then told me about it. 🙂 I’m happy to find it, too. 🙂

    • We’re so glad you found More Than a Review, and we hope you’ll come back often!