WomenInSFF Author Spotlight: Anne C. Miles
Anne C. Miles, an award-winning author, was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois in 1971. She successfully avoided writing fiction for years by blogging and extensive journaling. One day, she logged into a writing site and now she cannot stop. Anne designs and builds websites with her husband and enjoys video games. She worked with 85 countries, helping her team take over the world in 2015 in an augmented reality game called Ingress. When Anne isn’ t working or writing, she plays violin badly and spoils her grandchildren. She is an Anglican.
Welcome to the Hive, Anne. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
I’m working my way through Jim Butcher’s Dresden series again in anticipation of his new releases this month and in October so I just finished Proven Guilty. I also read Dragon’s Reach by JA Andrews which is fabulous! I’m trying to work my way through all the SPFBO 2020 books slowly but surely.
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
I’m a female half-elven battle mage. My weapon of choice is my fireball spell, my lightning spell… and throwing knives. I don’t like close combat. If you’re close enough to touch me, you’re too close!
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, how do you like to work? (In silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit?)
Tell us a little bit about your writing method!
I am a pantser. My Long-Suffering Editrix®has been trying to cure me of it, but I see the outlines we do in our coaching sessions and they make me twitch. I lost all motivation to write. So I basically have thrown them out and now I’m just writing. It is going much better. I listen to classical music generally and I also work in silence. If there are words in the music I get too distracted. I’ve worked at home in my design company for 20+ years, so I get up and go through my routine (exercise, prayer time, violin practice) and then I settle in to work. Our basement is outfitted as a big office and I work with my husband. I used to write just on weekends but this year I started writing full time. I still design and code, but it’s about 20% of what I do. The rest of the time, I’m writing now. When I write, most of the time I’m on my couch. We have an office in downtown Louisville and sometimes I will run down there and work, too. I write with Scrivener.
What (or who) are your most significant female fantasy influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
Susan Cooper was a HUGE influence on me. I fell in love with the Dark is Rising series as a child and I still read it every year. People who love the books recite lines of it like a code to each other. The books are magical. Madeleine L’Engle and her books A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet have been big influences, particularly in helping me devise the Lorica. Carol Berg definitely inspires me, her Dust and Light duet. Those ladies are kind of a standard for me, what I’d like my work to mean to others. I think they are amazing.
I’d love to work with any of them, but Madeleine L’Engle, of course, is no longer with us.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it? Alternatively, what games have you enjoyed recently?
The Order, which I realized was a big academy series. We binged it over the past weekend on Netflix and I just love it. I’m not a big paranormal person but I really liked the characters. They reminded me of Dresden.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
I’m not yet 50 years old …but I have four grandchildren. I’d go with the kids and their parents to Kentucky Kingdom or Holiday World, (local amusement parks.) We do this once a year now and it is one of my favorite things to do. The kids are so excited to ride roller coasters and water slides! Throw in a teleport device and we would all go to Universal Studios in Florida. Harry Potter!
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
I’m working on Book 2 of the Call of the Lorica. So Dane and Sara have become bonded as faisant and Majister. Sara has won an internship with a design studio that serves Hollywood here in our world while Dane has been taken on a quest for the remaining refrains of the Lorica. So this book is more Dane’s story, about his quest to recover the refrains.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Put the cat in the oven before you describe the kitchen. There’s a book by that name and it was huge for me! It’s a very good book. Basically it says to make the action happen before you go into a ton of description. I don’t always do that, but I do it a lot more now I’ve read that book.
The least helpful advice was to outline.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
I search image sites for strange or odd landscapes or flowers or trees or what have you. Sometimes I will look for images of my characters. It helps me to think about the story.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
I think I’d really like to see ancient Britain, especially Wales, at the time of Arthur. I’d like to know what really happened.
Who are your favourite female characters in literature or pop culture? And do you have a favourite type of female character you enjoy writing?
Menolly in the Harper Hall series by Anne McCaffrey and Lessa in the Dragonriders of Pern. Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. I love them all.
I like to write sassy, bold, foolish women who learn from their mistakes and grow in wisdom. We are all in process. I like to write about that process. I’m not super interested in Mary Sue types.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
Gemini Gambit by D. Scott Johnson is amazing. It’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Ready Player One. I gush over it because it’s really well done. It’s definitely leaning more to scifi than fantasy, but it’s a great book.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with an elevator pitch? Why should readers check out your work?
Sorrowfish is the story of a sculpting student from Louisville, Kentucky, named Sara.
Sara is a hot mess. Her twin sister is in a coma. She’s struggling with sculpture, and she may not graduate. Her best friend, Peter, wants to date. It’s enough to make anyone sleepwalk.
She visits a world where music is magical and stone creatures move. There, she helps Dane, a wizard-luthier, break an ancient curse. It’s a clean fantasy that readers of CS Lewis or Michael J Sullivan will enjoy. It will make you laugh out loud, and It stands alone, though it is the first book in the series.
That’s great! Thanks so much, Anne.