Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus (FSF): So Anne, how has the insanity of the last year been treating you?
Anne Miles (AM): Pretty well! Nothing really changed for me. I work from home. We don’t get out much. So other than having my groceries delivered, nothing much changed.
FSF: I’m right with you. I obviously feel bad for how it’s effected so many people, but if anything there have been some silver linings, like more family time and less dependence on technology and more outdoor time.
So tell me when you wanted to be a writer, and describe the journey that led to the publication of Sorrowfish?
AM: It been a long time coming. I got the idea for the world of Sorrowfish (Canard) in 1998. But I really didn’t want to be a writer. It was something I had to do for work (nonfiction techie articles) I have always been a Fantasy reader.
When I decided to write I did it for fun only on Wattpad. My husband actually made me promise I wouldn’t go nuts with it. But I really fell in love with the process and the story fell out of me. I had a web client who was an editor and she encouraged me. Eventually I went ahead and published.
FSF: So tell our readers a bit about the novel and why it should be their next click!
AM: Sorrowfish is about an art student at the university of Louisville. She has strange dreams every night and over time discovers they are true. Eventually she travels bodily into Canard and helps a wizard-luthier and a bard break an ancient curse. If you love pop culture references, they abound in my book. It’s also quite funny, I’ve been told.
FSF: So when you write do you have a particular audience in mind or do you write for yourself and hope that readers come along for the ride?
AM: No I write for me. I write what makes me happy, but it seems to connect with others, so it’s a good plan. I’ve never been one to “people-please.”
FSF: So how much of yourself or people in your personal life make it into your characters?
AM: I don’t think I am very much like any of my characters. Maybe I am a bit flippant, like Sara? lol. But other than that… not much. I try to avoid writing people who I know. That’s ok. A lot of my characters come to me fully formed in my mind and they are not difficult to write. The one exception was my dog. He died last year. Before he died however, his personality had made it into a character in my book. I was actually pretty happy about that. It’s like he is still with me whenever I write that particular character.
FSF: Can you tell me some of the influences that have found their way into your writing. These can be books or authors, but also other media forms like film, tv, and even music.
AM: The magic system in my world is musical. Sara is a fae at first when she comes to Canard, and she uses music to affect the world. So her tastes are prominent. It also takes place in 2001 so I had to make sure any titles I referenced were prior to that. Jars of Clay was an influence. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series was an influence on me, which you can tell by some of the original verse in the book. There’s a reference to Star Wars and to Bull Durham, The Princess Bride. It’s all fairly standard geekdom.
FSF: So turning this around a bit, have you read any other great indie fantasy or sci-fi that you can recommend to our readers?
AM: Sure. D. Scott Johnson wrote a book called Gemini Gambit which is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Ready Player One. It’s an incredible book. I was in SPFBO and met a lot of the entrants, all of whom are very talented. I really loved Brandon Lindsay’s entry, Shoreseeker. It was darker than most things I normally read but the story was compelling.
FSF: How important is reader interaction to you and an indie writer and how do you most enjoy networking with readers?
AM: I love it when it happens! I love reading reviews of my work even when they aren’t glowing. I think a book is a Rorschach test so it’s interesting to see how it hits someone. People reply to my newsletters and I encourage that. I want people to know they can approach me. I’m not on Twitter but I enjoy interacting with people on my Facebook page.
FSF: So what takes up most of your time when you’re not writing?
AM: I own a web and graphic design studio and I spend a lot of time working. I have 4 grandchildren who I love to spoil. I learned violin to help me write the book and I find practicing relaxing. I also read voraciously.
FSF: What can we expect from you writing wise in the next year and beyond?
AM: I just (almost) finished my first ghost written book, a memoir of a lovely guy who builds wells in Africa. He built over 3000 wells just last year. That book will be coming out in the next few months. I’m also over 80k words in on book 2 of my series. The series was meant to be 4 books but I read Jim Butcher’s livejournal and he convinced me the story will be stronger if I slow my pace. So the series will be at least 7 books.
FSF: Sounds amazing! Now I like to end all my interviews with this question. What one piece of advice can you offer to new and aspiring writers?
AM: Don’t worry about what others are doing. Write what makes you happy and try to grow in it. You’re never going to be perfect, but you can learn and grow and make each piece better than the one before in some way. Every piece you write has value.