MJ Miller Interview Published on: 12, Feb 2020

Where were you born and brought up? What impact has it had on your writing?

I was born right in the heart of New York City, raised on Long Island, then spent a dozen or so years in Nebraska before settling in the Desert Southwest of the US. Each of these has impacted my writing in so many ways. Having experienced the bustle of New York, the small-town community of the heartland as well as the eclectic life here in Southern Arizona, I can transport my characters to different locales with ease. Having a familiarity with a setting that goes beyond research helps bring authenticity to the overall story. It also helps develop my protaganists into more complex characters. What are some ways to beat the southwestern heat you have discovered so far?

The amazing thing about Arizona is even it at its toastiest in the summer, a quick drive north and you'll find yourself in the fabulous high country. 7,000 feet above sea level.

How often do you bake and eat chocolate things? Have you been successful in removing the evidence?

Sadly there isn't a treadmill I've found to completely erase the evidence of my chocolate passion. But I do use alternative sugars and keep all my baking low carb which certainly helps.

You are really fond of baking. Have you ever thought of sharing your recipes on a blog or on your Instagram page?

I have in fact created a blog, sharing my favorite recipes and I've shared them on facebook, instagram and Pinterest as well. I've been a bit lax lately, however, spending more time on my new series, due out in 2020. But if readers are interested, I'll be sharing a few recipes with the release of my next book which just happens to feature a Café known for it's seriously fabulous food.

What do you feel is the one characteristic that a book has to have to keep you glued to it?

For me I have to be totally engaged with the story. Whether it's the character or the plotline, I love that sensation of anticipating what comes next. It's got to be a page-turner.

What is it about romantic suspense that you love the most?

I think adding suspense to a romance gives it a new dimension. When the romance is impacted by suspense and intrigue, the reader champions not only their relationships, but often their very lives.

How much do you relate to Annie as a woman? Why?

Annie is close to my heart. Perhaps she's the girl I was; the girl so many women I know relate to. Afraid to put herself out there. Afraid to take chances. Afraid of being hurt. That sliver of ourselves we just can't let go of. For me she's the perfectly imperfect heroine finally facing her fear and discovering what's she's made of.

Writing in the romance genre can be tricky as you don’t want to end up writing the mainstream-‘boy meets girl, boy saves girl, and there is a happily ever after’ story. How do you ensure you bring something great for your readers with every book?

It's critical for me that my female leads are strong, independent and can make their own way. Even if they spend the entire book discovering that about themselves. Happily ever after isn't just about two people in love heading off into the sunset. It's about their own journey — falling in love with themselves.

What inspired the story of "The Christoph Curse"?

I was pondering one day why so many romances have women who are floundering in life. Until they meet their knight in shining armor, come to save the day. What about the woman who isn't floundering? The one who is smart and successful and single and not even looking for anyone? And what if she had to give up her fabulous life rather than find one? What if love is a complication not a solution?

When is writing hardest for you? What do you do to pick yourself up during those moments?

Writing is never all that easy. But if I find myself unable to add even one more sentence, I often distract myself by reading. Exploring new authors and occasionally even new genres. And then of course there's chocolate.

Criticism, whether constructive or otherwise is part and parcel of any art form. How do you deal with reviews of your books- both positive and negative?

I welcome criticism, it helps improve my writing as well as my editing. The reviews I don't handle well are the low ratings with no comment. Not everyone will enjoy my books. But for the most part, readers are wonderful in their ability to pinpoint precisely where a story may be weak, or there's a character flaw I didn't address. It stings of course, but it's incredibly helpful to me in my current writing. I will admit, positive reviews are for me the ultimate achievement.

What is the most ideal ambiance for you to write in?

Give me a beautiful day with a view of the mountains and quiet... except perhaps the music of birds and breezes.

What did you find most useful when it came to writing and marketing your books?

Writing a book is no easy feat and I couldn't possibly do it without a support network of friends. Some read for me, others edit and still others brainstorm with me. All of them keep me grounded and motivated. Marketing is tough. As an indie author I don't have the funding or organic visibility to reach a huge audience effectively. For me, my background in marketing is essential, and discovering and using sites such as AllAuthor to create professional ads as well as expand my reach on social media is invaluable.

If you weren't a writer, what else do you think you could've done for a living?

I truly believe I could have found a niche in cat-sitting, or perhaps I'd have found myself in one of those consumer testing labs, passing judgement on the latest and greatest in unnecessary kitchen gadgets.

What was your first impression of AllAuthor? Have your thoughts changed much since?

My first impression, and my ongoing impression, is that it allows authors of all genres to penetrate a heavily populated marketplace regardless of means. While there is room for growth and I hope to see more new tools on the horizon, it remains an excellent value and resource.

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