BooksPeopleBook ClubsReading RoomsTopicsYearISBNPublisher

Author Interview with Patricia Miller
Featured Interview

Author Interview with Patricia Miller

interviewed on May 6, 2021 Sugarcreek, Ohio
Patricia Miller grew up in a small town in Ohio and has worked as a mental health clinical counselor for the past 30 years. She is the award-winning author of 4 published books thus far: A completed YA Science Fiction Romance trilogy and a mystery collection of stories with a cozy mystery feel.
Patricia fell in love with literature in her high school British literature class and that love has grown over the years. Her first published book was inspired by a dream. The scene from her dream can be found towards the end of Joshua: Life After Theos.

When not writing she enjoys hiking/biking weekend get-a-ways or indulging in British murder mystery marathons.
Q. You've worked as a mental health clinical counselor for over 30 years. What set the foundation of your first novel and motivated you to write and get it published?
Well, over the course of my career, I have learned a great deal about people. This knowledge base helps greatly in character development. I have also been an avid reader, mostly mysteries. Joshua: Life After Theos was my first published book. However immediately before that I had written a novella and 3 short stories, all mysteries. (More about my love for mysteries later in this interview.) Growing up in my house meant that you also became a big Star Trek fan. I think that's where the sci fi comes in. Anyways, I had read where James Patterson always kept a pen and pad by his bed to catch all the crazy dreams he had. I did that and one night I awoke panting from a dream about aliens on Earth, somewhat battling in the woods with bark flying off the trees. The aliens looked human but had special abilities (hence the flying bark) but I awoke knowing which of the characters were aliens and which were Earthlings. I even had the names Joshua and Mani. I wrote the dream down, read it over the next morning, and decided to write the back story. I was in a writing group and had some Beta readers reviewing it for me and they said it was a good YA novel. So, I began looking for a publisher already with a feeling that there could be more books in the series as I just didn't feel like their story was done. BookLocker agreed to publish the book and subsequent books 1 & 2.
Q. When did your writing journey actually begin and what kind of writing did you start with?
About 2005-2006 I tinkered around with writing. By then I had read tons of mysteries by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) and Agatha Christie. I began to read other mystery writers as well and at times I thought "It would have really been cool if they would have taken the story in this direction." So I decided that was a sign that I should write. I made the decision to seriously write to get published in 2007 and started off with a novella and 3 short stories, all mysteries.
Q. You are an award winning author, who has published four books - a YA Science Fiction Romance trilogy and a mystery collection of stories. What intrigues you the most about mysteries, and what place does this genre hold in your heart?
Mysteries are near and dear to my heart. I devoured Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books in middle school and in high school I took a British Literature class. That teacher opened up doors for me. This is when I discovered Sherlock Holmes(Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and Hercule Poirot(Agatha Christie). I think what draws me to mysteries the most is finding clues, deciphering clues, deciding who's lying and who's not, and solving a good who-done-it. The author puts all the information we need to figure it out right on the page and we have to put all the pieces in the right place. What can be cooler than that?
Q. Talk to us about the life and characteristics of all the main protagonists in "The Joshua Trilogy".
OK. Well, Joshua is a teenage scientific phenom from the planet Theos. His parents were two of Theos' top leading scientists, until they were killed in a laboratory explosion many years ago. Before they died, Joshua learned of a secret theory they had. But he also knew that what they were secretly studying to prove was also against all Theosian law. (More about this law in the next question) Anyways, going through the pain of losing both his parents at once as a young boy, led him to push away feelings and concentrate on science. Therefore, he approaches everything from a scientific stand point, a trait that does not serve him well as he struggles to acclimate and fit in on Earth. In fact, ignoring feelings altogether is what led him to concoct a plan to steal a space craft and escape to Earth in the first place: It was all in the name of science. Mani is is spunky, rebellious and super annoying ex-girlfriend who secretly stows away on the space craft and plummets to Earth by his side. She plays a huge part in the development of the story but I wont give all that away.
Q. Book one in "The Joshua Trilogy" series, "Joshua: Life After Theos" begins with the Government of Theos prohibiting contact with Earth, deeming it a hostile and unevolved planet of inhabitants. How do two of their leading scientists take it off from there, in this coming of age story?
Yes, you are right. Theos does prohibit all contact with Earth. You see, when we learn about Theos, we see that this is a planet who has peaceful contact with inhabitants from many other planets that Earth knows nothing about. Theos carefully studies the other planet before deciding to make first contact in order to protect the peace they have worked so hard to achieve. As I explained earlier, Joshua's parents believed the government was wrong in their opinion about Earth but died before being able to collect enough evidence to prove this. Joshua secretly takes up the challenge of continuing their study. He decides that he has done all the research he could from Theos. And if he wanted to take the study further, he must do so from planet Earth. He devises an elaborate plan to steal a space craft and unbeknownst to him, his equally intelligent and slightly rebellious ex-girlfriend (Mani) catches on to some of his plan and stows out on that space craft, resulting in her coming along for the ride...whether he likes it or not!
Q. Tell us more about what happens after the 17-year old son of these scientists escapes from Theos. What twists and turns does the story take from here?
Wow. There are many twists and turns. Joshua decides to enroll in college (even though he has many degrees from Theos). Without giving away the whole plot of the book, he faces challenges such as fitting in, hiding his special abilities from Earthlings as well as hiding his origin. He also realizes fairly soon that an overlooked atmospheric anomaly threatens his and Mani's health and survival so he has to come up with a way they can cope with that. His scientific mind pays off there. There isn't time or room for love in his life but whether he likes it or not, he falls for a beautiful female Earthling and tries to fight off the feelings as long as possible. This is when he learns about assumptions, judgments and prejudice on Earth. He loves Emma but she's an Earthling and he becomes torn between his love for an Earthling and the comfort and familiarity of a Theosian...Mani. He goes through the pain and fear of revealing his true self and identity one by one to his friends who end up caring about him no matter what. Then, as he starts to feel settled, it then appears that someone has found them or holds a grudge of some sort as Joshua is kidnapped and his friends have to save him. The end of the book shows the reader that someone is still watching their every move.
Q. In Book 2, "Joshua: Breaking Free", both Joshua and Mani get settled on earth, carving out a life for themselves and finding some true friends. How does the story unfold when a spy from Theos is sent to Earth to bring back and prosecute them?
Yes, he and Mani have managed to carve out a life for themselves and Mani does a lot of maturing (going from a high school rebel who just wants to have fun to a responsible asset in Joshua's circle of friends and to Joshua.) I don't want to give everything away but yes, it does become obvious that Theos has sent a spy to Earth to find he and Mani, capture them and bring them back to Theos for prosecution. However, as this spy infiltrates Joshua's circle of friends, he realizes that Joshua has something really good going on and looks extremely happy. That's when the spy reveals himself and states that he has changed his mind and wants to stay with them on Earth. This is where a fear of trusting comes into play. Even if they do trust him, how can they get the government of Theos off their backs? After all, they are expecting this spy to do his job. They end up negotiating terms with the Theosian government and end up having to go back to Theos as "heroes" with Theos' assurance that they will be permitted to safely return to Earth.
Q. Book 3, "Joshua: Between Two Worlds", begins by highlighting how life on Earth is proving to be difficult for Joshua. Tell us about the struggles that he undergoes to finally emerge victorious.
Well, Joshua ends up being recruited for a US Top Secret Long Distance Space Travel Research Team. It's a great job which affords him the ability to continue his secret research however this is where loyalty between Theos and Earth becomes a struggle. He manages to help Mani get a job at a prestigious and large chemical company and she agrees to get a degree also. As a result of her job and her attention to details, she begins to see discrepancies in the inventory books and with Joshua's help uncovers a chemical heist in progress. Being that they are both chemical geniuses, they realize that the chemicals being stolen together could makeup a very deadly recreational and addictive drug that was prohibited on Theos a long while ago. At the end of book 3 US and Theosian troops end up coming head to head and Joshua has to reconcile his loyalty to his home planet of Theos and to his new home planet of Earth, all while trying to ensure the safety of his love and friends.
Q. "Mysterious Tales of the Unexplained" talks about four stories around singing specters, secret passageways, unsolved clues, abandoned mansions, old photo albums and hidden motives. Can you briefly outline all these stories for the readers?
Sure. A young sleuth solves a mystery surrounding a creepy, community theatre in Break A Leg & Knock 'Em Dead. She then goes on to investigate the apparent suicide of a wealthy factory owner in House Up on The Hill. In Picture on the Wall, a mother/daughter restoration team experience ghostly encounters in an old, abandoned mansion. And six young friends go on a mystery weekend at a spooky inn, deciphering clues and exploring the mysterious property, only to find much more going on than they thought.
Q. How much impact do real-life incidents, people or situations have on the storyline of your books, or are they more of fiction?
My books definitely are more of fiction however places that I visit can have a great bearing on the storyline. For example, I was out watching a friend's band play and I noticed that there was a large glass wall behind them which overlooked the area on the ground floor. I wont give away the story as it will be in Mysterious Tales of the Unexplained Volume 2 but lets just say I could fully envision a crime taking place in that area behind the band. When my husband and I travel, we liked to stay in interesting places and the architecture often will give me ideas as well.
Q. What is your thought process when you start writing a new book, and where do you get your ideas from?
Well, as I said before Joshua was inspired by a dream. But, I have a notebook in which I have written all my ideas for books or scenes. When I decide to write the book, I usually write a biography of each main character so I know them real well and I also describe the setting in detail. I also write a very vague, rough outline of the story line or where I see the story going. As I am writing the story, I then keep what I call a rolling outline which is a brief summary of each chapter so I can remember or look up details to make sure everything dove tails together in the end.
Q. While defining the characteristics of your protagonists, and bringing them to life through your books- what goes in your mind while sketching their characters?
Now, I think this is where my career in counseling comes in. I never use real people in my books. I feel this goes against my ethical code. But, I am aware of the many facets and layers every person has and so I like to write biographies for each of my main characters before I write the book. This way when a struggle arises, I know exactly how each of the characters would react given their separate personalities. I like to focus on what the character looks like, how they feel about certain foods, what peculiarities they might have, how they prefer to dress, how they were raised etc... Real people in life are complex. Characters in books have to have that same depth.
Q. Do you want to share a few of your favorite lines from any of your books or tell your readers about any memorable or peculiar events from them?
I would have to say one of my favorite lines from my books is the very first line in Joshua: Life After Theos. It starts out with Joshua thinking "Females Earthlings are so illogical." I think this tells a lot about Joshua's character in the beginning of the trilogy anyways.
I love the parts in Mysterious when characters are searching down hallways, investigating in a totally blackened old theatre and the interesting relationship that develops between my sleuth and a quirky old lady who everyone thinks is just an annoyance in Break A Leg & Knock 'Em Dead.
Q. Did you incorporate any life messages in your books? If so, what are they?
In my Joshua trilogy, Joshua goes through many common life lessons such as how hard it can be to fit in no matter how brilliant you are, how feelings and logic don't always work together but that one must learn how to manage feelings regardless, and how important it is to have a supportive circle of friends and/or family. The reader also sees how our planet looks from the eyes of an alien which can be very eye-opening.
Q. What genres do you enjoy the most- both for writing and reading?
Hands down: Mystery!
Q. What all forms of writing do you pursue, and where do you publish them?
Beyond the genres we have been discussing here, I also write paranormal, magic realism, and I'm currently taking my young amateur sleuth (Kelsie Raymond) aging her a bit and plopping her down into a cozy mystery series that I am currently writing. I know nothing about how to upload a manuscript or self-publishing nor do I wish to learn all of that so BookLocker Publishing has seen to all that for me.
Q. What other books are you currently writing and what stage are they at?
I am writing a cozy mystery which I plan to become a series. The work in progress title is "Murder with a View" in the Cozy Cottage Mystery Series. I have done a great amount of outlining and planning however the actual writing of the book is in its early stages. When I get solid blocks of time for writing though, it can develop quickly.
Q. What else do you like to do apart from writing?
When I'm not writing, I go on long weekend get-a-ways with my husband which usually involve hiking or biking or both. I also love to watch and read murder mysteries. I love to travel and I find the architectural design of places we visit to be most interesting and intriguing.
Q. Talk to us about your growing years and your home. How all did it influence your writing?
I grew up in a family of 5. This consisted in my parents, my older brother and sister and then me. I was the baby. My mother and father worked very hard to give us a good life and they did. I was fortunate. My brother (who is now passed) had a photographic memory which came in handy if you were his partner in any card game. He had both a scientific/math mind and a creative side. My sister is very gifted in working with numbers. She became an accountant. I wasn't sure where I fit into the world but I knew there was something out there for me. Being a nervous child I found escaping into books to be very comforting but I never wanted to allow my nervousness to hold me back. My brother loved Star Trek and he usually manned the remote control so we watched a lot of that, which I liked too. We were all encouraged to go to college and I did .When I took a career assessment in high school it showed that I should consider a career in Psychology. I obtained a BA in Psychology and a MA in Counseling & Human Development. I couldn't read what I wanted while in college so I fell away from books during this time and I got married and started a family. After college and the children grew up a bit, then my love for literature resumed...with mysteries of course!
Q. What role has your family played in your writing career?
I think my husband was a bit surprised when I started to pursue a second career in writing but he soon saw that I was serious. I'm not sure my family of origin took me seriously either but when I started to go to conventions and spent endless hours in my writing room, they soon got the drift. My son and daughter have been supportive however when I first started to write they were entering pre-teen and teen years and were very busy with their friends as they should be. I have a very close family and through the years my husband and children have become very supportive. Before any one else in my family caught on, I think my niece was the first to support. When I went to a large convention, she gave me a very special card holder with my name engraved on it along with the words "Imagine it. Believe it. Achieve it." She also helped me to design my very first author business cards to give out to potential agents and publishers. She put a winding vine on them and to acknowledge and remember that support, I always put a winding vine on the back cover of every book I write.
Q. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? Tell us about it.
The very first story I ever wrote went on to become the novella in Mysterious Tales of the Unexplained; "Break A Leg & Knock 'Em Dead." It did however go through many edits and changes including a new title which originally was "Stage Presence."
Q. What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I have a marketer who helps tremendously with online marketing and I try to stay visible on Facebook but because I'm a people person, I do very well with in person book festivals. I also look for interview opportunities such as this one. Reviews help greatly as well so I would encourage everyone to please leave a review for any book you enjoy It means a great deal to the author!.
Q. What do you think makes a book sell, or makes a reader buy it?
A great cover is crucial. My cover designer is amazing and always evokes the feelings needed to sell the story. A good story is important too. If you hook your readers with a good first book in the series, they are more apt to continue to buy and read the rest of the series. So many authors make the mistake of not getting their book edited by a professional. This is a huge mistake. I recently read a book with endless typos and sentence structure issues. Most readers will give up but I finished the story. I wanted to give their book a 5 star rating however let the author know that it was only 4 star because it needed professionally edited.
Q. What’s the most moving or affecting thing a reader has said to you?
There are all sorts of phrases I could pull out from reviews both from individuals or editorial reviews, but nothing beats hearing "I love your books."
Q. What are your favourite three books, and why?
"And Then There Were None," Agatha Christie
"The Sittaford Mystery," Agatha Christie
"Dead Man's Mirror," Agatha Christie
See a pattern here? LOL Dead Man's Mirror and The Sittaford Mystery are excellent examples of brilliant who-done-it's. And Then There Were None is an example of Agatha Christie's darkest work. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time and I found the ending to be shocking and brilliant. I read her work over and over and I think that says it all!
Q. Which authors have influenced your writing the most and how?
No surprise here. Agatha Christie. Her work influences me to develop loveable & quirky characters, settings that take one away and plot twists and turns all the while dropping little clues and hints behind every corner. They are simply brilliant in every way.
Q. Tell us about your publishing journey and how did you decide to publish with BookLocker?
Well, I went to some large writing/author/book conventions and met many people along the way. I teamed up with an incredible editor who believed in the dream of the Joshua Trilogy. My parents had me late in life and I started writing very late in my life and I wanted them to live to see at least my first book published. My editor made some suggestions of publishers to try. After receiving many rejections (which is normal) I started to get some interest. I decided to go with BookLocker. They are a hybrid publisher, NOT a vanity publisher. They have strict writing standards that had to be met to be accepted and after my brilliant editor made his suggestions, I partnered with BookLocker. They worry about all the technological aspect of publishing which is a good fit for me as I don't know about any of that.
Q. What challenges do you think are faced by writers, what’s the worst thing about the book industry according to you?
I see 2 challenges. If you are aspiring to get a contract from a traditional publisher, getting them to look at your work is a very difficult task to accomplish. There are good services that help you do this but do your research because there are millions of scammers out there who claim to help you do this but only end up taking your money.
Secondly, marketing is a huge mountain to climb. It's almost impossible to have time to write, have a family, maybe even work a job by day and get all your marketing needs met. So, I hired a marketer to help me with this and it was the best investment ever! Again, do your research well.
Q. At QwertyThoughts.com, we are trying to bring authors and readers on the same platform, to connect, discuss and socialize over books. What's your take on this?
I love socializing with readers and other authors. Writers typically are introverts and I would rather be writing than doing a talk on my books any day. But in the world of social media in which we live, it is a necessity. I really enjoy interacting with authors, like when I met James Patterson and Orson Scott Card at a book festival in West Virginia. I think it's important to be available to your readers! That's why I love live book fests and am looking forward to those re-emerging as COVID concerns resolve in the future.
Q. What message do you want to share with budding writers?
Read! Read! Read! I know that's what everyone says but if you read the genre you want to write, you will be much more successful. Also, have the courage to write the story the way you think it needs to be written. Be brave! There will always be those who do not like your work for one reason or another but for every one of them, there will be thousands who do like your work...but only if you write in a genuine way, your way! Thank you so much for this interview! I wish all of you best regards and much luck!

Comments (5)