Monday, August 31, 2009

[Interview_1] John Miller

Author John Miller has more than 40 publishing credits to his name.

His stories have appeared in magazines that include Necrotic Tissue; The Devil's Food Anthology; Three Crow Press; Tooth Decay Anthology, and Sonar 4 Magazine.

In addition to writing, Miller also edits the online literary magazine, Liquid Imagination as well as 2M Magazine,which is available in print. He is also on the Board of Trustees for Silver pen which is responsible for the Liquid Imagination sister publication, Silver Blade.

He is also the author of the fantasy/horror novella 2012: Kin Bin Tin Nah (Sonar4 Publications, 2009).

In this, the first of a five-part interview, John Miller talks about his writing:

When did you start writing?

I began writing twenty years ago, but I do not feel I actually became a writer until 2007. Let me explain:

Twenty years ago my best friend Rich suggested I start writing. We used our Comodore 64 computers. I just knew I was going to be a writer, and I received a Brother word processor for my Christmas/birthday present one year (my birthday is close to Christmas being January 1st). Next I joined Long Ridge Writing School, having passed their writing test to get in. In my mind, I was on my way.

Long Ridge used published writers as teachers, and students worked via snail-mail correspondence. I learned the beginning, middle and ending of a story, but I wasn’t mature enough as a man nor writer to absorb the information. I complained to Rich saying, “This writing course has ruined my ability to write.” In fact, what it did was begin to instill within me the components of a successful short story.

I sent two short stories out. The first one was rejected with a note saying the work was sought after by another editor at a different publication. I sent that story to him and he wrote back saying he would be more than delighted to publish it, but he’d been in a car accident and lay in a full-body cast in the hospital. His publication was doomed!

I gave up citing how I hated rejection. See? Not enough maturity.

I went through life, got married and divorced, and found myself with three young children living with me (full physical custody but joint legal custody). Many jobs from police dispatcher to church work to big-box grocery store management. Add to that factory and foundry work, and you have a strange assortment of job skills. How many people can say they can drive a forklift, use a hoist to lift 3 ton engines off conveyors and set them on metal skids, budget hours and sales for a business, and handle the stress of incoming 911 calls?

I matured.

In the process, I began playing a role-playing game with Rich called “Mage: the Ascension.” Like “Vampire: the Masquerade,” it was put out by the company called White Wolf. One aspect of the game emphasized “storytelling.” I wouldn’t do the same “game” over and over; I changed stories up, changed characters. I developed evil characters, good characters, and gave them different motivations. Some of my favorite characters came out of those roleplaying sessions, and I can recall Stephen Blackwell, Blake Edwards and Shung-Li (also known as Grasshopper). While I haven’t published anything with these characters, they live on in my mind.

Along the way I found myself at one of those websites promoted as online diaries. I used mine to blog about my life, but I also did poetry and fiction. I learned, grew, and utilized the characters I’d developed in role-playing. Eventually someone invited me to Edit Red. There I wove tales based on what I’d learned at Long Ridge Writer’s Group and role-playing. Something fused and melded into one cohesive theme: storytelling. Another writer had an idea to begin an anthology and it was “invitation only.” I was one of those invited, and it lit a fire beneath me.

That is when I began submitting stories to publications, back in September of 2007. In a year I had over 30 publishing credits, and my enthusiasm hasn’t waned; if anything it’s grown. So while I usually refer in my BIOs about beginning writing in 2007, my love affair with words began over twenty years ago. It wasn’t until someone expressed interest in my writing that I became serious and began submitting stories for publication.

I used the Writer’s Market put out by Long Ridge Writer’s Group to find publications to submit to. I also used Duotrope and sometimes Ralan. I made mistakes sending the same story to different online magazines who did not accept simultaneous submissions (and apologized profusely). I learned a painful story about proper formatting when Doorways Magazine wanted my story “Cat Eyes” if I would just format it right. I formatted it and sent it back in. Three months later I queried and was told they’d passed on my story. Lesson learned: read the guidelines and understand formatting manuscripts!

Now I have a private web office at Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope. Anyone can join the free website. There are writers like me as well as directors, script writers, artists and poets. We’re all critiqued and reviewed by our peers, creating stronger works. It has been the most wondrous place I’ve ever discovered! My private web office has no directors, but it has around 260 writers, editors, artists and poets. My online magazine Liquid Imagination was birthed in this office. Submitting stories is like rolling the dice; eventually someone will like what you write (or publish).

My online magazine Liquid Imagination had its debut issue September 26th, 2008 and as of February 27th, it has 100,000 internet hits. Our sister publication, Silver Blade came out December 15th, 2008 and it, too, has 100,000 internet hits. This led Dark Myth Production Studios to hire me as General Manager for the new print 2M Magazine.

So while I claim in my BIOs that I didn’t start “real” writing until 2007, I’ve been practicing my craft for twenty years. I keep learning and growing, and every six months I learn new and exciting techniques. It’s like, yippie!!! And the reader experiences whatever the writer does. It’s contagious!

How would you describe your writing?

I am writing in different styles, experimenting constantly, pushing my limits in every way feasible. Recently I read Poe’s Children edited by Peter Straub, and after that Best American Short Stories guest-edited by Salmon Rushdie. Realms of Fantasy Magazine is a wonderful read, too. I joined a literary writer’s group to experiment with literary prose. This is all to learn, grow and push myself as a writer and publisher; to know and understand literary fiction that is submitted to me, and to better understand what motives lay behind the fiction I read.

So I have a love affair going on with literary style writing, but my true love is speculative fiction. Specifically dark fantasy on epic proportions set in the modern world. This really gets my blood burning. Fantasy that breathes with epic proportions, tales like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, and fantasy worlds linked up to our modern society—these are the stories that do it for me. And because I read such tales, it is only natural that I write them as well. This is what I do best. While I play with literary prose, my “home” is speculative fiction. Plot-driven stories in which only essential characters and elements to that plot drive this type of writing, and I love it! In today’s fast-paced world of fast food and instant breakfast—a world full of video-generation kids parented and grand-parented by baby boomers—we seem to want/need a quick fix in streams of consciousness via words and images. Speculative fiction has the capacity to do this, to pump the storyflow into the reader’s mind through pages which, like IVs, bring the constant drip-drip-drip of action, horror, suspense and emotions. Is it right? Is it wrong? It doesn’t matter. It’s life. And I love it!

Related resources:

Author's page, Edit Red Writing Community
Author's page, Sonar4 Publication

Interviews
  • John Miller [Interview_2], Conversations with Writers, September 2, 2009
  • John Miller [Interview_3], Conversations with Writers, September 4, 2009
  • John Miller [Interview_4], Conversations with Writers, September 7, 2009
  • John Miller [Interview_5], Conversations with Writers, September 10, 2009
Possibly related books:

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for Part 2! I heard it's to die for. :)

Great look in your head, John!

Lee

Anonymous said...

Fantastic interview! I love the diversity (of jobs, of writing styles, of your life).

Keep writing, publishing and pushing others to do the same!

Sue