Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Author Interview: Stefne Miller

Today I have author Stefne Miller here for an interview. Stefne's debut novel, Salvaged, was released earlier this summer. Click here to read my review of it.

'My body was being torn apart, and my stomach felt as if it exploded. The pain was excruciating, and I was aware that I was dying... 'Mom?' My vision was murky, but I could see her face. It was bloody, and her eyes were large and full of fear. Her voice calmed. 'Get out of the car, Attie.' Her words sounded crisp and clear. I looked into the backseat in search of Melody and found her lying covered in blood in a twisted heap on the floor. I turned my attention back to my mother and out of the corner of my eye saw fire. 'Get out, Attie!' 'Mom?' Everything went dark.' Attie Reed should have died in the wreck that stole the lives of her mother and best friend. But her life was spared. Why? When Attie moves to Oklahoma to stay with the Bennetts for the summer, she hopes she has left her nightmares behind. But her battle is far from over, and Riley Bennett steps forward to help her fight the nighttime monsters. As the battle wears on, Riley begins fighting monsters of his own: his feelings for Attie. And Attie realizes she must begin to face the monsters of the night herself if she wants to conquer them for good. Can Attie's life be Salvaged?

Stefne Miller was born an "Army Brat" and having moved almost a dozen times before 18 years
old, lived in many states including: Oklahoma, Hawaii, Georgia, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Before trying her hand at writing, she held various jobs including working along side her husband in Children's Ministry; becoming the Director of Operations and later a Public Policy Specialist and Cabinet Liaison for then Governor of Oklahoma, Frank Keating; and later, a pharmaceutical representative for one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

In 2008, while visiting a friend out of state, Stefne had a dream in which the Lord asked her to join him on a new journey. Upon waking, she wrote down the dream and Salvaged was born.

Stefne currently lives in Edmond, Oklahoma and has been married to Shaun, a realtor, since 1994. Shaun and Stefne have three sons - Jacob (13), Caleb (11) and Yohannes (10).

In your author biography, you talk about Salvaged coming to you in a dream. Can you tell us what your writing and publishing timeline was like after that?

For the first few weeks of writing the book, the story would continue to come to me in dreams. I would wake up, write down the gist of what I saw and then when I woke up in the mornings, I would type it into my computer. It was at that time that I would add the other details, settings, etc. Eventually, the story started flowing 24/7. I carried my notebook or laptop with me everywhere. I never thought the story completely through or outlined anything. As I wrote, the story unfolded. I believe that's why I wrote it as fast as I did (3 months). I too wanted to see what would happen next.
As far as the publishing portion, I put together a query and tried to get an agent but nobody was interested. I came to a point where I had to decide whether I wanted to put more time and energy into trying to go the traditional route or put that same time and energy into marketing. I chose to go with an indie publisher and devote my time and resources to marketing. The book was just different enough that mainstream publishers weren't interested but I felt like if it got into readers hands, they would like it. So, I went on a limb and went the non-traditional route. We'll see if it pays off. ;-)

What have you most enjoyed about being a published author?

Meeting people.Whether it be in person at speaking events and book signings or over the internet with bloggers and "fans", that is by far the best part. It's very hard to put yourself and something you've poured your heart and soul into, out into the world for people to judge. Not everyone will like what I've done and people aren't afraid to be brutally honest. So, while the negative can be very painful, when people do enjoy it and take the time to let me know, it's amazing! I love that being a writer opens me up to be a part of discussions about the publishing world and I'm extremely touched when I talk to people about how the book has impacted their life. Having the opportunity to get to know people and dialog with them about many different things is by far the best part!
Salvaged is a novel packed with emotional content. Did you find any characters or scenes particularly challenging to write?

The emotional scenes were actually the easiest for me to write because they were emotions that I've felt before. Many were emotions that I was feeling at the time of writing the story. The questions; the hurt - all of that has been real for me. So, although the exact circumstances were different in most instances, the pain is similar.
That's a lot of what I wanted to get across in this story. Life sucks. It can be painful due to circumstances that we've brought on ourselves and it can be brutal due to the choices that other people have made but we're left suffering with the consequences for. But, it's through the pain, crap and mire that we realize that it isn't those circumstances that define us but that we learn the most about ourselves. We also come to realize that everybody has problems and pain. Our circumstances might be different but we aren't alone.
Riley is a gentleman and a very respectful boyfriend. What inspired his character?

I was lucky enough to not only date a lot of great guys but I married one too. I also dated some major losers. Through it all, I realized that a girl teaches a guy how to treat her. When she expects more from someone, they give more and if a guy won't treat you the way you deserve - they aren't worth it. Good guys are out there; we just have to be willing to wait for them. It can take time, but sometimes we get so caught up in wanting someone that we'll settle on just about anyone and we'll put up with almost any type of behavior. I don't believe anyone should compromise their principles (whatever those principles are) for a guy or to be popular, etc. Women are powerful and we're alive in a time in history where anything and everything is open to us. We aren't limited by our gender so why let some guy limit us or worth? There are males out there that are respectful and who will respect the females they are with. Why not find one?
What books have had the strongest effect on you as a person and a writer?

As a writer - Stephen King's On Writing.
Others - To Kill a Mockingbird (the idea of fighting for what's right) , Pride and Prejudice (true love doesn't always come from the people we would choose or from the obvious choice); The Scarlet Letter (judgment of a group against a single person); The Federalist Papers (written by founding fathers of our country)

How do you spend your time when you aren’t writing? Do you have any hobbies or activities that you enjoy?

I am a HUGE football fan (the Oklahoma Sooners specifically). If it's football season, I barely leave the television over the weekends. I also love to hang out with my kids and hubby and go to the movies with my girlfriends. I'm a very social person so I'll do just about anything if other people will be involved.
I understand that you’re working on a sequel to Salvaged, entitled Rise. Are you working on any other projects, and if so, can you tell us about them?

I'm playing with two other projects. I'm about 90 pages into both. They are both YA but one is more in the "fantasy" realm. No vampires, werewolves, pixie's etc, but I'm not tying myself to reality.
I've practically put my writing life on hold until I figure out if this is something that I'm good at and if it's something that I want to keep doing. Getting a book published is so much more than just writing. There's self-promotion, marketing, business, opening yourself up for rejection at every turn, etc. It certainly requires a willingness to put yourself out there and a thick skin. I'm still trying to figure out if my skin is thick enough or can at least get that way. I love writing - it's the rest that I've got to figure out.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Stefne! If you'd like to purchase an autographed copy of Salvaged, visit Stefne's website.

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