Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Author Interview with Maryann Miller

Good morning! I’d like to welcome all my readers to enjoy a few days with author Maryann Miller.

Maryann has written a wonderful book titled “One Small Victory.” It’s the story of a woman who takes on the local drug dealers in her town after her son is killed in a tragic car wreck. The underlying cause was drugs.

She joins forces with the police department to fight the escalating drug problem, working undercover to nab the main dealer.

Maryann is no stranger to tragedy. She works as a hospital minister and provides a shoulder and words of comfort to those who, for whatever reason, need a helping hand to deal with sadness and/or loss.

She will be here through Thursday, so please take the time each day to stop by and visit.

Today, she has answered a few questions about her career as an author and her two books – “One Small Victory” and “Play It Again, Sam.”

Q: Other authors have written books about deaths of loved ones. How “true to life” are the reactions of the characters?

A: I tried to make the reactions of the characters in One Small Victory as true to life as I could. Having facilitated a lot of grief support groups and being with hundreds of families as they faced the death of a loved one, I was able to witness a multitude of reactions and drew from that to write the scenes dealing with grief.

Q: How does you role as a hospital minister help with your career as a novelist?

A: I certainly have benefited from the fact that my training and work as a chaplain gives me experience to draw from and fodder for characters and stories. My play There is a Time came from my experience with cancer support groups and Hospice. Also, the qualities of being able to listen, to be intuitive, to allow the full experience of feelings that make me good at hospital ministry, also make me able to really relate to characters.

Q: Discuss your two books. How are they similar? How do they differ? Where did the ideas come from?

A: One Small Victory and Play It Again, Sam both feature strong women characters who must work through a period of great difficulty in their lives. They explore real life issues such as death and divorce, and hopefully give readers some insight into the experiences that might help them if they face similar situations. One Small Victory is billed as a romantic suspense by the publisher, but it has very little romance in it. There is an attraction between two central characters, but it doesn’t go down the same path as a true romance. On the other hand, Play it Again, Sam is a romance, so it does go down that path and the romance is the major plot. In One Small Victory, the main plot revolves around Jenny, the central character, working as a confidential informant and helping to bring down the main drug distributor in the area.

Both stories were inspired by real women and real situations. For One Small Victory, I read a news item about a woman who joined a drug task force and infiltrated a drug ring after her son was killed in a car accident and marijuana was found at the scene. It was a very short story, perhaps four inches total, but right away I felt a connection to this woman and knew I had to write her story. Play It Again, Sam came from the experience of a good friend of mine who shared her story with me as it evolved over a year or so. I asked if she would mind if I used it as a jumping off point for a book, and she was gracious enough to say, “yes.”

Tomorrow, I will be sharing more questions and answers with Maryann Miller. Please join us.

Here’s an short excerpt from chapter one of “One Small Victory” for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Life can change in just an instant.

That thought wove its way in and around her mind as Jenny fingered the clothes jammed along the wooden rod in the closet. His funny T-shirts promoting the likes of “Prince” and “Dilbert.” His one good shirt, only worn under duress. His leather jacket that still carried a faint aroma reminiscent of saddles and horses.

Sometime soon she’d have to clean out the closet. Isn’t that what usually happens?

Tears burned her eyes and she turned away. She didn’t know what was supposed to happen. No one had ever told her. And a multitude of questions swam through her mind like restless minnows in a pond.

There were books on choosing a college. Books on how to plan a wedding or how to help your child find a job. But no one had ever written one on what to do when your son dies.

In that moment of truth, the weight of the pain overcame her. It was like being smothered under a huge quilt. Gasping for breath in between sobs, Jenny ran from the room, slamming the door.

Her chest heaving, Jenny stopped halfway down the hall.

I’ve got to get control.

She wiped the trail of tears from her cheeks, then ran her fingers through the tumble of hair that persisted in falling across her forehead.

The door to Scott’s room opened, and he cautiously poked his head out. “You okay, Mom?”

Jenny nodded, not trusting her voice to words.

Her younger son stepped into the hall, all angles and oversized joints common to fifteen-year-old boys. In a flash, she saw Michael as he’d been at that age, muscles just starting to form under the softness of childhood skin, a rakish smile on a face squaring away to that of a man, a tousle of dark brown hair so much like her own.

The pain of remembering was like being gut-shot, and she crumbled like a doe in hunting season.

Scott closed the distance quickly, and his arms went around her in an awkward hold that was as much embrace as support.

Silent messages of mutual reassurance passed between them like fragments of electrical current. Jenny could smell the muskiness of night sweat on his shirt and heard the muted thump of his heart. And for a fraction of a second all was okay in the comfort of their embrace.


Dany said...

Through her chaplaincy training, Maryann has certainly honed her skills with empathy, listening, and a kind, real presence.

This has certainly shown in her book One Small Victory. The dialogue and the depth of the character development really drive the story on.

I had already read the prologue and chapter one. So, when I finally received my own copy, I skimmed through to chapter two. About the time chapter ten rolled by, I told myself: 'I need to get on to other things!' Then chapter thirteen suddenly appeared!

One Small Victory is quite a page turner! I wonder what Jenny and Scott will do next?

Brava, Maryann!

Lillie Ammann said...

This sounds like a wonderful story. Is it available in a Kindle edition or other e-book format?

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks for the good words, Dany and Lillie. I will be looking into getting One Small Victory out as an e-book sometime in the near future. Right now it is only available in hardcover. But, people can ask their local library to order a copy. :-)

LuAnn said...

Dany, I'm glad you enjoyed the book. I know, I certainly did. And you're right, it is a page turner. Once I started, I couldn't put it down.
I hope you will get the chance to read it, Lillie. It is one of the best new books I've read in a long time and I'm glad I have the opportunity to help Maryann promote it here on my blog.

Maryann Miller said...

Wow, Luann, thanks for the great comments about my book. It is such a thrill for an author to know that the work has touched someone like it did you and Dany.