Wednesday, August 22, 2012

5 Questions People Often Ask Me


If some of you hang out at the Petit Fours & Hot Tamales blog, you may have seen this post there a while back. Apologies for the rerun, but with 2 deadlines this month, I'm trying to be frugal with my online time. The comments are always fresh, though. ;)

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As the published author of nearly 50 books, I get invited to present workshops at conferences, speak at book clubs, etc. I get fan mail and reader e-mail.  I socialize on Facebook and Twitter, and am learning Google+.  I blog here on the Intrigue Authors blog, post regularly on the http://community.harlequin.com/ boards, and post a monthly newsletter on my website. Plus, I grocery shop, attend my son’s music and school events, work with the community theater and treasure time with my family and friends.  In other words, there is plenty of opportunity for people—readers and non-readers alike—to ask me about my writing.

Some questions make me laugh out loud; others make me wrinkle my brow and wonder what planet that person just transported from.  Many questions are from aspiring writers seeking to learn all they can, and the teacher in me feels right at home answering them.  A few comments touch my heart. As any shy person (like me) out there knows, it’s easier to jump into a conversation when someone asks me a question, and so I’m grateful to all the queries I’ve been asked over the years. I’ve started some wonderful friendships from just one little question.

Today I thought I’d share some of those questions that I’ve heard more than once over the years.  And I’ll give you a bit of my responses as well.  Enjoy!

1.  Is that you and your husband on the cover?
Yes.  Look at the cover of AT YOUR COMMAND.  I’m a tall, willowy blonde with a slammin’ body, and my hubby is a 6’4” lean, mean, muscle-packed Marine who goes through his daily life without a shirt.
Okay, that’s sarcasm.  Wishful thinking.  I’m married to the Marine’s comic sidekick.  I’m leaning toward middle age and have a sedentary job.  The only thing “slammin” about my body is when I trip down the stairs.  But I appreciate anyone who thinks we resemble the heroes and heroines on my covers.  Really.  Thanks!

2.  Your characters feel so real. You’ve lived through those experiences, right?
I write romantic suspense, folks.  Happily, I’ve never been a serial killer.  And while yes, I’ve been the victim of crime, I’m far less brave than my fictional counterparts.  I get a lot of my information from “life”, too.  In my other life as a teacher and IMPROV trainer and processor, I’ve been fortunate to work with trauma nurses, DEA agents, undercover cops, detectives, rape counselors, doctors, attorneys, ranchers, firefighters, computer techs, reporters, business executives and more.  I’m lucky that I’m a great observer of people.  I’m luckier that these people enjoy my company and are willing to answer my questions.  I’ve also worked with a lot of teenagers who’ve been through some unspeakable things as well as the usual issues all teens face.  I grew up in a Marine Corps family and am married to a former juvenile probation officer, so I’ve got a pretty good idea how military personnel and cops work, too.  Plus, I’m an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction, a television watcher and movie fan. I immerse myself in how others portray the characters and situations I’m interested in—then I internalize those real feelings and responses and bring them out in my own unique characters.  It’s an acting technique I learned in the theater that also works well in writing fiction.

3.  I have a great idea for a story, will you write it for me? (and split the money, of course)
Um, no.  I have far too many stories of my own playing inside my head—stories I’m anxious and excited to tell.  It seems that with each story I write, new characters and situations pop into my head—a supporting character who calls to me to be featured in his/her own story, a plot-line that I’d like to try with a different character or setting to see how it would play out, etc.
I hope that these people learn how to write for themselves, or make the time to write their stories for themselves, whichever the case might be.  Those are THEIR stories to tell, not mine.  I need to conserve my creative energy and sore typing fingers for my own career.  But best of luck!  It’s a great time to be a writer, and there are numerous opportunities out there to get one’s work in front of readers.

4.  Are your characters real people?  Did the events in your stories really happen?  Where is this precinct/bar/school/hospital/etc. where your characters work and hang out so I can meet them?
Again, I’m writing fiction, folks.  While I try to make my characters as realistic as possible, they’re all figments of my imagination.  My Precinct books for Intrigue are set in Kansas City, Missouri—a very real, diverse, rife-with-potential-settings, city.  However, while I pepper in the name of a highway or art museum, historic landmarks, etc., in my stories to give it an accurate sense of place, the homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, etc. are created by yours truly to meet the fictional needs of each particular story.  I’ll take a real K.C. building and turn it into a local pub or penthouse lab
One fun thing I do for my family and friends is to drop in the mention of something real from our lives into a story—only the family member or friend will get the reference, but it’s a fun way to personalize a book without the readers never knowing.  For example, almost all the pet names I’ve used in my books are the names of pets I’ve had or have, or the names of friends’ pets.  So, there are some real inspirations in my books, but they’re truly works of fiction.

5.  Where do you get your ideas?
The short answer? Everywhere.  Observations of life.  Favorite tv shows, movies, fictional characters.  Travel.  Learning history.  News.  Reading other books. Writing my own books.  My imagination.  As a shy kid growing up, I spent a lot of time inside my head, creating stories to entertain myself so that I was never bored. It’s a habit that has continued my entire life.

So, do you have any questions you’d like to ask?  These, of course, were on the more humorous side of things, but I’m happy to talk more seriously, too, if you have questions about my books, about writing your own stories, the publishing market or whatever.  I’ll give away a copy of KANSAS CITY COWBOY to someone who posts a question or comment.

Best wishes,
Julie Miller
USA TODAY Bestselling Author
Breathtaking Romantic Suspense

17 comments:

  1. Good Day to you Julie. I caught your blog on Petit Fours and just loved the Q & A's, and it is nice to start my morning reading them again. No questions for you, but just wanted to pop in and say hello! Bon courage (as they say in French) with your deadlines.

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  2. Merci, Kathy! et Bonjour! (I remember my French from school quelquefois (sp?)

    Good to "see" you again!

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  3. 50 books wow that's great, Julie. Do you plan writing other genre maybe HR or PNR :)

    lovely dog :

    i never read harlequin blaze yet, i got 2 books already, but have not a time to read them.. hope.. hope can read them soon *crossfinger :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Eli. Well, I've contracted for my 50th book (still a big deal, I think ;)) But I'm just starting in on writing book #49.

      I'd love to write some YA or another Blaze, or possibly another ST paranormal romantic suspense, but right now Intrigue is keeping me pretty busy. We'll see.

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  4. A couple of questions:

    What type of books do you read?

    When you are actually writing, do you find you are reading more non-fiction than fiction?

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    1. Thanks for joining us, BW!

      I read a lot of romantic suspense (it's the genre I love best), and I also read a lot of Young Adult (more the fantasy end of things there). Some regular non-genre romance and some non-fiction.

      It's hard for me to read the genre I'm writing in, so yes, I do read a lot of non-fiction or YA or fantasy when I'm writing romantic suspense, for example. I usually wait and go on fiction reading binges after I've completed a ms. It's a nice reward, plus it keeps the other voices/characters/clues/etc. out of my head when I'm trying to create.

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  5. i have one
    do you know that your fans love you very much?
    thanks for all the great reads you keep up the great work
    thanks for the chance
    tammyjackson75@yahoo.com

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  6. Thanks, Tammy! Love that question. Sometimes it surprises me to realize how many readers I have out there. When I receive fan mail or email, or get comments on my FB fan page or the blog about a character or story that touched someone, it's humbling. Sometimes it's a little daunting to think I need to live up to their expectations again. Yet it's totally cool! I love what I do!

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  7. Had to laugh at the questions, definitely humorous!
    Question: Out of the books you have written, which rate as your personal top favs? :)

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    1. Good question, Colleen, but a toughie. It's like trying to choose a favorite child. But here are some of my top faves(in no particular order):

      Accidental Bodyguard
      Forbidden Captor
      Nine-Month Protector
      In the Blink of an Eye
      Major Attraction
      Armed and Devastating
      Unsanctioned Memories
      Beauty and the Badge
      Partner-Protector
      Police Business
      Protecting Plain Jane

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  8. Fun post. What's a question you wish people would never ask you?

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. That one's easy, bn100... "When are you going to write a real book?"

      Sigh.

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  9. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraAugust 22, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    I also caught you on the petit four blog but I too enjoyed reading the questions and answers again. Don't enter me for KC Cowboy I won it on the petit four blog. By the way it was great and I just finished reading Armed and Devastating today! I loved it and am going to have to track down all the other Brotherhood of the Badge books.

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    1. Thanks, Laura! I'm so pleased you enjoyed KANSAS CITY COWBOY and ARMED AND DEVASTATING!

      Atticus Kincaid is a favorite hero of mine. And I loved creating the heroine's home--we have friends who bought and renovated a small church into a gorgeous home. It's based on that.

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  10. Love the question and answer format for a change. I've always been of the opinion that there are no stupid questions but thinking on some of these there definately are some wierd ones. Because I know and love you and your husband the one about your covers definately made me smile. I do enjoy the Kansas City settings as your descriptions remind me of somewhere I may have been. I have read and loved Kansas City Cowboy please do not put my name in.

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  11. Thanks, Lilsis! I'm pleased to hear you enjoyed KANSAS CITY COWBOY. KC is a great city, imo. It has that laid back Midwestern feel, yet it's clearly a cosmopolitan city with all the culture, history, big-time sports, commerce, etc., there.

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  12. And the winner is... Tammy Jackson!

    Congratulations, Tammy--Maggie nosed your name out of the pile of entries and selected you as the winner!

    Please email me your snail mail addy, and I'll get a copy of KANSAS CITY COWBOY in the mail to you ASAP.

    Thanks to everyone for blogging with me! I'll be back here in September.

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