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Friday, June 3, 2016

2016 Debut Authors Bash Michael Miller: Author and Charater Interviews

Shadow Run
(Kaitan Chronicles #1)
by Michael Miller & AdriAnne Strickland

Shadow Run is Firefly meets Dune in this epic space adventure, in which a close-knit, found family of a crew navigates a galaxy of political intrigue and resource-driven power games.

Qole is the captain of the Kaitan, a starship that uses magnetic nets to “fish” for Shadow, a volatile cosmic energy. Shadow is dangerous, can cause madness and death, but as the last generation of a native fishing family, her DNA and heritage give her a unique connection to it, a power over it. Qole is determined use that “affinity” to protect her small but loyal crew of misfits, orphans, and outlaws. Which is why she’s so suspicious of offworlder Nev, her startlingly handsome new crew member.

What Qole doesn’t know is that Nev is actually Prince Nevarian Dracorte. He’s convinced that Shadow is the key to preserving the royal Dracorte legacy, and that Qole is the key to harnessing its power. When her cooperation proves difficult, Nev resolves to get her back to his home planet by any means necessary, but he’s not the only one. A rival royal family is also after Shadow affinity, and unlike Nev, they’re more interested in gaining Qole’s abilities than keeping her alive. His mission to exploit her becomes one to save her, and to survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. The Kaitan’s crew goes from fishermen to prey as they make a death-defying run across the galaxy, and Qole and Nev are forced to revise their ideas of family and loyalty, with the fate of their worlds hanging in the balance.

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Michael Miller 

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Please welcome Shadow Run author Michael Miller to Diane’s Book Blog. 

What is your favorite part of the story, Shadow Run?

The story definitely plays with reveals a lot, so most of the favorite moments aren’t something I could give away without enacting some sort of terrible containment protocol. But there IS a moment where Qole, the captain, is pulled completely out of her element. Qole, one of the more justifiably confident people you’ll meet, is really fun to write, but putting your heroine through pressures that can unsettle even them is where the fun is. AdriAnne has a chapter where she does that masterfully in very subtle ways that are simultaneously hilarious and insightful. I’ll bet you’ll know it when you read it. If anyone reads it and guesses what it is, they should let me know, I’ll put their names into a raffle for… something! Maybe some goodwill. Or a bookmark. But something!

How long did it take you to write Shadow Run?

Three months. AdriAnne suggested we write the book right before I left Alaska for the winter, and thanks to a variety of personal deadlines, we decided to just crank it out. So, that’s what we did - coupled with work, it led to some serious sleeplessness, but the end result was glorious! Of course, that was for the first draft until it started getting submitted to agents. The revision process after that took about another year. Really, the interesting thing about a story as long as an author has it in their dirty mitts they keep changing things, so if at some point it didn’t get printed out on hard paper, we’d still be writing it!

If you could be best friends with one of your characters, who would it be?

Probably Telu, the hacker. Telu is the childhood friend of one of the main characters, and her role on the ship is to intercept ancient drones that have run amok in the systems. Most ships have them, for that and many other reasons, but she’s particularly good at what she does.

More than that, though, Telu is disrespectful, opinionated, caustic, honest, surprisingly insightful, and a fierce friend. She might not be the person you get a pat on the back from, but you’ll definitely get the truth, and to me that’s what a real friend provides.

What inspired you to write your first book?

The stories, they burn until you write them.

Who or what inspired you to be a writer?

See above, stories, burning. I don’t think people are inspired to be writers, I believe humans are compelled to create, and that force manifests itself in various ways. Some people need to paint. Some people need to cook. Some people perfect being annoying. And some people have to write. If they don’t follow that force that compels them, they become withered husks.

What books have most influenced your life?

Oof, that’s a good question. I have a curious condition which results in the following symptoms: during a conversation, I can bring up books I love endlessly with overbearing enthusiasm. But the minute I have to remember specifics, everything but, of course, The Lord of the Rings flits away.

So, that one will get first listing. It’s an obvious choice, everyone lists it, but, well, it’s still true. Tolkien managed to hit on fundamental yearnings of the human heart, I believe, a recognition of how dark life can be and how overwhelmingly bittersweet moments of love and peace can be. I read it when I was nine, and I was definitely not old enough to truly understand what I was experiencing. I knew it at the time––I made a note in my journal that I had finished The Lord of the Rings, and that it was important, but I didn’t know why. It was the only book I ever mentioned in my journal in that capacity, I think.

Of course, that is but the beginning. Robin McKinley wrote several books that altered my understanding of life, but The Hero and The Crown was the first book I read by her, and it was a fundamental shift I remember to this day. Aerin is an imperfect heroine - while her actions are brave, she is shy, full of self-doubt and fear. This is standard issue reluctant hero template material, but Robin McKinley makes it real, and the first time I encountered it, I was taken aback. This wasn’t fear of death, this was just plain old gnawing uncertainty and doubt at doing simple things, how heroic was that?

But it was. Aerin’s weaknesses don’t overcome her strengths, and the process of watching that, of understanding how mundane and small the decisions are that transform someone into a hero was a powerful lesson that started to finally crystallized for me. That she become a badass queen just made it that much better.

Finally, I have to mention PG Wodehouse. He’s lumped into plain old hunky-dory comedy, but I believe his genius transcends that to wisdom. Sure, it’s side-splittingly funny, but it’s funny because it’s aware that we, as humans, become overwrought at absurd situations we have painstakingly crafted for ourselves.

What's your favorite book-turned movie?

This is a loaded question! Er… Lord of the Rings again? Is that a cheating answer? Actually, I know! The 2005 Pride and Prejudice.

A little backstory here. I was dropping off my brother at the Airport with some friends, and since it was a late flight, we decided to go watch a movie. In entirely stereotypical manner, the men of the group wanted to go see an action movie, I remember not which, and the women wanted to see Pride and Prejudice. Guess who won.

Walking out of the theater, the book fans were busy discussing the pros and cons of the movie versus the book and previous mini-series, but my brother and I were both just blown away. I had been expecting a silly rom com, not a bitingly witty examination of politics, class struggles, and, of course, pride. There are a lot of things in that movie that I believe people miss - it leverages moods of nature and living on a working farm to reinforce every part of the story. For us, who had grown up in such an environment, it was unusual to see a movie pay any attention to those things, and made it that much more powerful.

What is your typical day like?        

I work.

[sad trumpet]

How boring is that? The truth of the matter is that between two businesses that revolve around emergencies - web design and IT consulting – it’s easy for life to become work every waking moment. Fortunately, I love what I do, and find it rather exhilarating.

So, uh, where does the writing come in, you ask? Glad you asked! It comes in the NON waking moments, or what should have been. I find I write best between about 1am to 5am, weirdly enough, where my brain becomes more and more focused. Well, or so I think––my poor co-author, AdriAnne, might feel otherwise when she looks at my error-riddled treatises.
How do you overcome writer’s block?

If writer’s block exists, I haven’t had it. I’m always writing in my brain. If I have a slightly distant glaze in my eye during a meeting with you, that’s why.

What I DO suffer from is extreme laziness syndrome. Motivating to write is agonizingly hard, and left to my own devices I would probably just be a lump on the couch, talking about writing rather than applying fingers to keyboard. AdriAnne, in proofreading this, helpfully added the following sentence in all caps: THIS IS WHERE ADRIANNE CAME IN. And it’s true. AdriAnne is the electric cattle prod of writer encouragement.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I can share the following paragraph!

“The Kaitan floated in stillness, contemplating the endless sea of Shadow off its bow. Then it tilted, a hum reverberating through the ship as subspace engines were fueled to life, and we rocketed straight for the ten or so trillion tons of hurtling rock in the asteroid field.”

What book are you reading now?

Revisions on our sequel to Shadow Run! SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT. Also, I just finished Hyperion by Dan Simmons, a book that I have been seriously remiss in reading.

What do you prefer paperback, hardcover, or ebooks?

I work in IT, you know. I attempt to run a paperless office despite the many small mutinees of my employees. Everything is recorded on my phone or on the computer, and ordering data electronically brings me great joy.

But a book has a soul. It is more than the sum of its parts; it’s a physical representation of worlds beyond worlds. There is nothing at all that compares to settling down with a good hardcover book.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

PREORDER PREORDER PRE-.... er, dream your dreams? Actually, considering my readers are currently my co-author, agent, editor, and about three beta readers, I’d like to say, “Hey, guys!”

Character Interview:

Please welcome Eton from Michael Miller’s and AdriAnne Strickland’s book, Shadow Run, to Diane’s Book Blog.

What is your full name? Do you have a nickname?

“My name is Eton. That’s good enough for you.” The man shifts uncomfortably, his bulk much too large for the stool, and blinks at the bright lights of Diane’s world-famous Book Blog studio.

What is your hair color? Eye color?

Eton squints. “Black. Blue.” It’s difficult to say if it’s a threat or a fact.

How old are you?

“Older than the rest of the crew, that’s for sure.” His face animates, making it unexpectedly craggy. “Do they listen, though? Hah!”

Where were you born? Where have you lived since then? Where do you currently call home?

Eton glowers. “None of your business. And the Kaitan is home to all of us, thanks to the captain who doesn’t ask too many questions about where you’re from. Unlike some.”

What is in your refrigerator right now? On your bedroom floor? On your nightstand? In your garbage can?

New kinds of scowls are invented and discarded in rapid order by Etons face. “I…it... what? Who the blazes wants to know this about me? If I find them, I’ll…”

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“...blast them.”

What is your most treasured possession?

Eton stops his tirade in mid-breath. “Hm. I guess my Xiolan-made omelette pan. Of course, the real test is making an omelette with an old-fashioned burner, but the pan lets you achieve a smoothness you wouldn’t expect otherwise.”

Who is your favorite hero of fiction? In real life?

“Probably Thruvia Astor. Her approach to glazes is more daring than any other chef in the systems right now, no matter what anyone says.” Eton speaks without heat now, his eyes distant and musing. “Of course, you can’t live on glazes alone, but still.”

Which living person do you most admire?

Eton snaps back to the present. “The Captain. She’s given us a home, and an honest living. It’s more than most deserve.”

What is your motto?

“Cooking or fighting - nothing a little explosives won’t help with.”


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