Visit Kelly on her website and blog
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Author Interview with Kelly Miller
Today, I'd like to welcome author Kelly Miller to the Realm. Kelly's debut novel, Dead Like Me, was released in November. Welcome Kelly!
Q: What is your debut novel, Dead Like Me, about?
A: Homicide Detective Kate Springer is on edge after a two-week mandatory leave due to an officer involved shooting. Her first case back, she’s blindsided when she discovers she shares a link with Tampa’s newest murder victim. A troubled teen found strangled and dumped in a remote part of town. The bond between them threatens to expose Detective Springer’s past—a past she’s been hell bent on keeping secret. When the killer emerges from the shadows, Kate’s secrets aren’t the only thing on the line. So is her life.
Q. Who was your favorite character in Dead Like Me and why?
A. The obvious answer is my protagonist Detective Kate Springer, but I don’t have time to go into all the reasons I adored her character. A very close second is Kate’s best friend Lucy James. Lucy is a quirky character that I absolutely loved writing. This is how Kate describes Lucy in the book. “Lucy was always complaining her hair went limp too quickly in the near tropical humidity. Add that to glasses that were too large for her oval-shaped face and Lucy would be considered a plain Jane in the high standards of today’s society. She knew this, and it made her terribly self-conscious. But I really loved Lucy’s belly laugh. It sounded like a pig getting stepped on with a six-inch heel. She soaked in about a half second of enjoyment before her embarrassment caused her to cover her mouth. I told her to embrace her little quirks. They were eccentricities, not faults.”
The other thing I love about Lucy is her archaic knowledge of useless facts. You’ll have to read the book so Lucy can explain where the saying “to butter someone up” came from.
Q. You’re a stay-at-home mom of three. How did you find the time to write a novel?
A. It took me four months to write the first draft of my debut novel, Dead Like Me. I wrote during every two-hour nap and for another two hours after the kids went to bed. It was exhausting but invigorating at the same time. Later when my son grew out of naps, I trained myself to write in small chunks of time. Whenever I found a few minutes of quiet, I was laser focused. I like to say I have my muse on demand.
Q. Why did you decide to write in the genre of mystery/crime fiction?
A. You’ve heard the saying, “I didn’t pick the genre, it picked me.” For me, this is true. Before I started my writing career, I was a voracious reader. I still love to read but now my schedule is so full it’s difficult to find time to finish reading a book. At the bookstore, I’ll pick up a variety of genres but my favorites are mysteries, suspense, thriller, and paranormal novels. The way my voice comes through in a book perfectly matches the crime fiction genre. So for now, I’m sticking with what works.
Q. You received 110 rejections from agents and publishers before you found the publisher you ultimately signed with. How did you persevere through all the “no’s”?
A. My skin quickly grew turtle shell tough. It’s very difficult to write a novel, put your heart and soul into every word and then offer it up for a possible harsh critique. When you hear that your work’s no good, it’s like being told your newborn baby is ugly. Very tough. But from the staggering amount of rejections, I learned something was flawed in my work. I quickly realized I’d made a common newbie mistake. I queried too early. My work wasn’t ready. So I joined a critique group with three other authors all in different stages of their career. I fixed my novel and started the query process over again. I got lots of positive results the second time around.
Q. What advice would you give to writers trying to get a book published?
A. Enter your novel into writing competitions. When my novel kept getting rejected, I entered the manuscript into the Florida Writers Association RPLA competition. I won second place in the Best Mystery category. Even though it won, I got back invaluable information from three judges who’d critiqued my work, pointing out the weak areas. It was an inexpensive way to get feedback on my work.
Something else happened after I won the award. I finally got the attention of agents and publishers. I changed my query letter, adding the information about the award I won and each submission was met with positive feedback. I got past the first stage with the agents and publishers, each requesting the first three chapters of my book. Eventually, I signed with Black Rose Writing. Another option to keep in mind is that many small independent publishers offer their own writing competitions. Prizes sometimes include a publishing contract.
Q. Do you have plans for writing another Detective Kate Springer novel?
A. Definitely. I’m a third of the way through the second book in the Detective Kate Springer series. In the first book, Kate is required to see a shrink when she’s involved in a shooting. Kate and Dr. Nina Grace form a strong bond that I further explore in the second book. When Dr. Grace calls Kate in the middle of the night stating, “I think I just killed my husband,” Kate investigates the case. She fights to clear Dr. Grace’s name, knowing in her gut that the woman couldn’t possibly be capable of the horrific murder of her husband.
Q. Were you ever discouraged in your craft? What did you do to turn yourself around and start again?
A. At the very end of the journey, about a month before I received a contract from my publisher, I was ready to call it quits. The staggering amount of rejections had piled up in my inbox, and I felt I might be one of those writers I kept reading about. The ones who’d written five books before they ever got one published. The one thing that kept me going was my blog readers. I started my blog in March 2011 because all the agents suggested a big following could get your book attention. Well my forty-six followers wouldn’t help me make it into the big leagues, but their love and support through their comments kept me going. I felt I owed it to the ones who’d stuck by me from the beginning a chance to read the words I’d talked about for so long. But it also came down to the fact that I couldn’t give up on this book. I believed in it too much. I simply had to work harder to find that person who believed in it just as much as I did. Regan Rothe at Black Rose Writing was that person.
Thank you so much for visiting the Realm today, Kelly. It was great getting to know you.
Dead Like Me is available in print and electronic format from various vendors, including:
Visit Kelly on her website and blog