Wednesday, September 2, 2009

[Interview: Part 2 of 5] John Miller, author of '2012: Kin Bin Tin Nah'

In the first part of this interview, John Miller, author of 2012: Kin Bin Tin Nah (Sonar4 Publications, 2009), talked about some of the factors that made him start writing.

In this, the second segment of the interview, he identifies the audience he writes for as well as some of the influences that have had an impact on his writing:

Who is your target audience?

I write for myself first and foremost, so I guess one could ask who I am. I’m a divorced father with three small children (as I’ve mentioned). And I’ve mentioned my different job experiences, but I think I’m a cross-section cut right out of America; the average individual living in America is a little bit of everything these days. We belong to multiple organizations, have various hobbies and pursuits, but we are knowledgeable about many different things. In today’s world, Americans may read a little horror and some literary as well as Time and Newsweek and People. As a member of a society well versed in various genres and styles, I have to consider what interests me first.

Regardless whether the writing is horror, fantasy or literary, the story must convey certain things in order for me to get into it. I am part of the video generation, and my time is short. I want it hard and fast (pardon the expression), and I want it now! The stories I read and write must begin close to the action. I want emotional relationships, characters with depth and relationships. You see, I’m busy. I’m involved in three publications, running two of them. I’m also involved in an organization just forming that is intended to help aspiring ezines and small press markets. Besides helping my three children with their homework, I have all these things going on. But I am not unique; I am representative of America. We’re busy. We’re tired. We don’t have time to wade slowly through a hundred pages intended to set the story; we want it and we want it now.

My target audience is America Itself. We’re busy raising kids. We want to something to help us get through another hectic workday. We love fantasy with elements of horror. We’re young-minded with big responsibilities. We have families and children and we work harder than we should to put food on the table. Long work weeks and callused hands or stressed-out nerves from arduous business meetings. We think about 2012 and its implications, neither believing nor disbelieving, until we have the facts (and we may not get them because we’re late for the next doctor’s appointment). We’re open, but hit us fast because we don’t have time to talk. Communication is delegated to text messages, instant messages, emails and blogs with profile pics.

This is who we are. I’m writing to younger adults who need it downloaded as quickly as possible. E-Books and burnt CDs and text messages. Stephen King fans and John Grisham readers. We want it all.

Which authors influenced you most?

You may laugh, but these are the authors who have influenced me the most. Authors I simply love like Sidney Sheldon. His work on the television program I Dream of Jeannie is astounding, but his novels show dramatic changes in characters over long periods time as in The Other Side of Midnight. I love authors who can deliver the goods, but who show characters changing through the course of the story. One of my favorite short stories of all time is Joe Hill’s "Best New Horror" in which the main character, Eddie Carrol, undergoes an inner metamorphosis that slams home by the end of the story while he’s running for his life, laughing in the exhilaration of the horror sweeping over him—fantastic story!

But the one work that has influenced my writing above all is John Myers Myers’ Silverlock. In no story I’ve read has the main character undergone such realistic changes from beginning to end. And that is most important to me in a story: how the characters evolve in realistic but life-changing circumstances. A character like Conan the Barbarian never changes; he is invincible and unstoppable from beginning of the story to the end. But I want characters that pulse with human frailty, but somehow end up saving the world (or the day). In Silverlock the world is changed as the main character changes, reflecting my mentality that the world perceived changes as we change. The world is viewed as a dark and lonely place by a dark and lonely person, but if that character changes, then the world brightens. Add fantasy or horror elements, and I am in heaven.

I believe everybody in the world should have a copy of Silverlock in their library.

How have your personal experiences influenced your writing?

They say write what you know. Nothing could be truer for a writer. A young sixteen year old boy writing about being married for twenty years will not know the subtle intricacies a man who has been married experiences. Stephen King was seriously injured when an out-of-control van struck him while on one of his daily walks, and he became fascinated with such topics, writing about characters undergoing similar things. That is what we as writers do; we assimilate our lives and reprocess them with clarity for the readers. Some authors disagree, but a portion of our personalities go into the characters we create; we breathe into them and bring them to life. These characters may be based on our imagination or people we have known, but these images are still filtered through the writer’s mind, and thus it is the writer who imparts his own imprint upon each character, upon each word and sentence—the entire story is filtered through the keystrokes and thoughts of the writer.

Because of this, I see every character in every story reflective of some portion of the writer. Darth Vader in Star Wars reminds me of some untouchable movie mongrel, invincible, and I wonder what person or “type of person” George Lucas based Vader on. John Grisham’s criminal characters are believable, but don’t you think he understands in some measure how such characters think?

For me, no human is a saint and no person is entirely evil; we are shades and hues of varying grays, and while vibrant with intense colors, we all have flaws and shortcomings. Writers who delve into their own shortcomings to create characters in their stories are those authors who will instill within their characters very real attributes and demeanors. These characters will be three-dimensional, lifelike and live on in the readers’ minds. Even Superman had a flaw: kryptonite. Instilling those “kryptonite-flaws” based on the writer does nothing but create a more believable story, in my humble opinion. The more powerful the character, the more the writer has breathed life into that character based on real life experiences. Those experiences may be greatly exaggerated, as with Hannibal the Cannibal (I’m quite sure author Thomas Harris hasn’t dined on human flesh), but the author has somehow siphoned the darkness and light out of himself to bring the characters to life.

Related resources:

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

Interviews Possibly related books:

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Where's part 3? Woo-Hoo!

Lee