Welcome, and welcome again! Today, we’ll be talking with Lianne Miller, who is joining us from Montana. Lianne, will you start us off with a little about yourself, and where you are from?
- I grew up in the mountains of south western Montana in a logging and ranching family, and rode my first horse before I turned two. During my formative years, I was a tomboy who never knew the meaning of the word, ‘quit’ and I learned early about hard-work ethics. I married and had children while still in my twenties, and ventured into self-employment while I raised my children. It was in these years that I started writing—I had some early and tragic life experiences that I knew would translate well into fictional settings for credible and realistic characters. The human condition called life is the best and most fertile ground for any great story.
Over the years, my self-employment grew to include owning and operating a long-haul semi-truck—pulled a flatbed trailer, but we transitioned to a step deck trailer last year. Yes, I drove solo and team across country. During my travels, stories grew in my head with each new piece of the country that I saw—there is some great country out there to see. Before my children reached adulthood I had realized my dream of returning to my ‘ranch’ roots; we moved to an isolated ranch in north eastern Montana in 2004. Several of my friends and family kept after me, as I built my horse herd, they wanted to see my stories published.In 2014, I decided to take the plunge and started with a brand new story—the first book in the Nights of Shadow series—Artifice was published in late May of 2015.I’m still self-employed (managing the trucking business with my husband, and running our horse ranch) and hope to retire as a full-time author.
One of the most interesting things I’ve found is when different authors had the “I’ve made it!” moment. Do you remember when you knew you’d finally become an author?
- When I first started writing, but I didn’t consider myself an author until my first book, Artifice – Nights of Shadow, published in late spring of 2015.
What started your writer’s journey?
- The incredible and indescribable loss of someone I loved motivated me to express those feelings through fictional characters.
- During my childhood and twenties I knew some harsh and tragic moments that affected my family or friends. The fragile balance of life spurred me to write, to show the human condition of love, loss, heartbreak, triumph, prejudice, acceptance, and being true to self.
- I wasn’t finding the type of story I wanted to read—the type of story that needed told.
Did you have any authors or books influence your choice of what to write?
- The Wagon’s West series by Dana Fuller Ross (perseverance). Dancing the Dream by Jamie Sams (acceptance and understanding one’s own journey in life). And far too many sci-fi and fantasy stories to list that have sparked my imagination and created other worlds beyond our own that I found easy to live in.
With that type of list, can you narrow your choices down to your favorite author/book, or is that an impossible question?
- There are too many to list; from the classics Shakespeare, Poe, H.G. Wells, and others, to the modern fantasy author realm (as you may have noticed in my previous answer about new authors). Stories that stoke my imagination or transport me to other worlds, places, and times are the best for showing that the human condition called life. That is universal regardless where one stands in the human or paranormal world.
Are you reading any of their work now?
- I have several series that I’m following at the moment, but the one I’m reading right now is actually my own—Vendetta – Nights of Shadow (Book Two)—because it’s in the editing phase with my editor. There’s a lot of work that goes into a manuscript and it often means the author reads and rereads it to the point it can be recited nearly verbatim.
What about new authors. Are there any that have come onto your radar?
- There a few newer authors that I enjoy reading: Stacey Marie Brown, Ashley Stoyanoff, Keary Taylor, Erica Stevens, Sophia Sharp, Claudette Melanson, Elizabeth Loraine, Quinn Loftus, and K.F. Breene; just to name a few (there are many more).
Do you consider any of the authors you’ve read to be a mentor figure, even if you haven’t met them?
- Many authors have influenced what I write, but if I had to choose only one then I would pick Jamie Sams. Her books connect me to my roots, ground me in the here and now, and help me maintain that true sense of self so that I may be whatever I can dream.
With the breadth of reading selection you’ve just mentioned, do you feel it has influenced your writing style?
- There are some that say I have a classic prose to my writing, while others see it as more modern. I like to think of it as expressing what the heart, mind, or soul cannot articulate on their own. It allows me to write in multiple genres, as well as cross genres in my stories.
::Chuckles:: I can well imagine. Sounds like your books are a lot of fun. Are you at a point where you can share any of your current news or projects?
- Nights of Shadow (books three, four, and a possible prequel); Legatees Journey (trilogy); Hawk; True to Form. Untitled stories outlined include fae, dystopian paranormal, historical vampire fiction, and a Native American/fae shifter story.
- Book two (Vendetta) of my Nights of Shadow series is slated to publish in early December, and I’m already deep into writing book three (Chaos). While writing and publishing the Nights of Shadow series I am dusting off the older manuscripts and have at least one trilogy that I want to release in the near future. When I complete those, I hope to move onto two other stories that I’m eager to write.
- Chaos – Nights of Shadow (book three) picks up where Vendetta left off. It adds a new element of sacrifice, endurance, world conflict, challenges, and despair; all of which spring from the jaws of victory and how fleeting such an important milestone can be in life. In Artifice, I introduced readers to mystery mixed with thriller. Vendetta is the culmination of those elements, but rooted more toward drama and action. Chaos blends mystery, action, drama, and thriller. All carry a hint of an underlying love story (not a romance) that erupts into the greatest challenges any mortal or immortal faces—unintentional betrayal and the struggle to live/survive through whatever it brings.
That’s an interesting group of titles. Do you have a method to select them, or do they develop organically as you write?
- For Nights of Shadow I needed something that expressed endless nighttime, but wasn’t a regurgitation of cookie-cutter titles that were already out there. As the idea narrowed, I searched online and found no other book titles or series bearing that exact name.
It also sounds like there’s quite a bit going on in the story itself. Do you weave messages into your work for your readers to find?
- Yes … that life, love, is a journey with purpose—even if we don’t understand the point while it’s unfolding. I wanted to convey that some aspects of life are worth whatever we endure to reach our goals, and that no path is perfect, but we always end up precisely where we are meant to be. I wanted to share a stories of tolerance, understanding, acceptance (whether to self or those around us), and sacrifice that compels one to always be true to self.
Do you ever draw any realism from your own, or others, past experiences?
- In some regards, yes … but in large part it is pure imagination pulling on the general experience of my life.
- In the most basic sense, the trials of sacrifice, torment, and torture are pulled from a base of reality, but my stories and characters are complete works of fiction; they certainly have experiences that I have never known.
Sounds like you’ve had to do quite a bit of work with your stories. Are there any challenges encountered or lessons learned you can share with us?
- Time … never enough time to write everything that I want to share with readers.
- For the Nights of Shadow series there was no hard part—it is a blast and a lot of fun to write. But, for Legatees Journey, it was the draw on heart wrenching emotions (to breathe life into scenes and characters) that made it very difficult to stay within that world for extended lengths of time.
- Finish the story. Regardless what I’m doing or what I have planned, just finish the story. Aside from that, it was learning the depths of what is involved to work with a well-qualified and professional editor. That more than anything has helped me the most as a writer.
Definitely quite a bit of work. Did you face any challenges when you were designing the covers, or did you work with someone and let them have the headaches?
- Suzie Safi designed the cover for Artifice, but I went with Steven Novak for the remaining covers in the Nights of Shadow series given his talent, skill, and ability to create what I saw in my mind’s eye.
That can definitely be tough – knowing what you want, but finding someone to make reality what you see as a potential. While on your writer’s adventure, did you have anyone outside of your family who accompanied you and supported you when things got rough?
- My editor, Christina M. Frey of Page Two Editing.
From where you are now in your adventure, if you had to start again with all the knowledge you’ve built up, would you change anything about your work?
- Perhaps, bring in more magic into Artifice, so that its presence in Vendetta is better understood and expected by the reader. But given that the primary characters are vampires it’s hard to soak it in too much magic.
No magic with vampires? Definitely sparking my interest!
You mentioned that you’ve had to wear many different hats over the years, do you think that you’ll be able to put away all of them except the writing some day?
- Absolutely! My dream retirement would be to transition from the day-jobs (trucking/ranching) into writing full-time.
And the big question that seems to come up for every author and writer: What advice would you pass on to other writer/authors?
- Keep writing, invest in your work—if you self publish take the time to hire a top-notch editor to put your best story out there. Treat it like a business, make it grow, and do it right.
Before I wrap things up, do you have any last words for our readers, Lianne?
- Live your dreams and never stop chasing your goals.
That’s good advice for anyone.
I’d like to give a very warm thank you to Lianne for coming over to visit with us today. If you enjoyed the interview, and would like to connect with her, she says she “can be found online in many different places, from my author website to social media. Here are a few links to follow me online.”