24 September, 2014

#Interview :: Maryann Miller, #Author of Doubletake

Maryann Miller, who hails from Winnsboro, Texas, is an award-winning author of books, screenplays and stage plays. The critically-acclaimed Seasons Mystery Series, that includes Open Season and Stalking Season, features two women homicide detectives in Dallas and has been described as "Lethal Weapon" with female leads. The books have received rave reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal. Her most recent release is Doubletake, another police procedural mystery set near Dallas. Boxes for Beds is an historical mystery set in Arkansas in the 60s when the mob ruled Hot Springs. 

As a freelance editor and script doctor, Miller has worked for Stephen Marro on the movie "Broadway's Finest" and other individual authors. References and rates can be found on her website - Maryannwrites.com

 Miller is the Theatre Director at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts, where she especially likes working with young performers during the annual Youth Drama Camp. When not directing, Miller likes to be onstage and has appeared in numerous productions. She was thrilled to play Martha Brewster in "Arsenic and Old Lace", Mildred in "Squabbles", and Mama Wheelis in "Daddy's Dyin' Whose Got the Will". Her most recent role was Big Mama in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." No, she did not appear on stage in her slip. That was Maggie.

When not working or playing on stage, Miller enjoys her time at "Grandma's Ranch" where she lives with one horse, one goat, one sheep, one dog, and four cats. The cats rule.

You can find her on her Website   * Blog    * Facebook   * Twitter  * Amazon Author Page

First I want to thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Debdatta. I do appreciate the opportunity to meet new friends and talk a bit about writing and reading and wonderful stories that capture our imaginations.

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller? 
Books have been my best friends since I was first able to read, and as a child I could read four or five books a week - sometimes more. My girlfriend and I would ride our bikes to a wooded area about a mile from home and sit under a tree to read. One day, when I had just finished a wonderful story by Albert Payson Terhune who created the series of books about collies made famous by "Lassie," I closed the book and told my friend I wanted to write a book like that some day and hopefully some other girl might fall in love with it. I never wrote a dog story, but my first fiction was about horses. Next to books, I loved horses best when I was 12.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
My latest release is a police-procedural mystery, Doubletake. I co-authored the book with Margaret Sutton, and we first started with an idea based on a news story about a rapist who was targeting suburban women. He was called The Blanket Rapist because he would throw a blanket over the head of his victim so she could not see him. Margaret and I took that basic premise and added to it, having the women get killed. Then Margaret came up with the idea of the "doubletake" at the end of the story. 
What is your favorite scene in the book? Why? 
One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Tom, the husband of the first victim, comes home and finds his wife dead. It is a powerful scene, both dramatically and emotionally. I remember crying when I wrote it, and I think I was able to get that emotion into it. Then Margaret added some elements that boosted the drama. That was one of the benefits of collaborating - we each had strengths we brought to the book.
What is your most interesting writing quirk? 
I cannot write a story that has no title. There are lots of writers who will start a project and call it "untitled," but I can't do that. It makes me crazy not to have a title, and I can't relax into the writing process until I do. 
Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style? 
Like most writers, I am an avid reader, and I have so many favorite authors I couldn't possibly list them all. When I first started writing police procedural novels - the Seasons Mystery Series - I read a lot of the 87th Precinct Series by Ed McBain (Evan Hunter). I wanted to see how an ensemble cast is handled in a police procedural mystery, and he was a master at that genre.
If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry? 
Food, water, and my Kindle that has over 200 books loaded into it. I wouldn't get bored, thirsty or hungry. 

How do you spend your free time? 
Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind? I love to do puzzles of all kinds and usually have a jigsaw puzzle on a table in the living room and a crossword puzzle on the kitchen table where I can work on it while I eat. To unwind, I go outside and take care of my horse and goat and sheep and play with my dog or take her for a walk. I live on 5 acres in East Texas, and there is always something to do to keep me outside in the sunshine for a while. One of my biggest pleasures is to be on stage, and I have had starring roles in several plays at a local community theatre. I also direct plays and run the annual summer drama camp for youngsters. It is always so much fun to work with the young people and see their creativity blossom. 

Can you share with us something off your bucket list? 
Oh, I love bucket lists. I do think we should all make a point to have one and try to do one thing off the list each year. One thing still on my list is a trip to Australia. I have always wanted to go there and hope one day to be able to do that. One item I have checked off is playing Martha in "Arsenic and Old Lace." I love that play and always wanted to play the role of one of those ladies who help gentlemen into their eternal reward.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself. 
I like to fly kites, go creek-walking, and I don't care if company drops in and my house is a mess.

What do you have in store next for your readers? 
The book I am working on now is quite a departure from what I normally write. I have always wanted to write a book about my mother and the challenges she faced in her life, but there were big gaps in what I knew about her early life. She was put in an orphanage as a young child, but she didn't know why. Nobody in the family wanted to talk about why her father left or why her mother chose to put my mother and her sister in an orphanage, so I never thought I could write the story. This past spring, my mother died, and one day two months later I sat down at my computer and started writing her story. I'm calling it Evelyn Evolving, and I guess it would be considered a fictional biography. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers? 
Just a huge "thank you" to everyone who has read my books and let me know that they enjoyed them, either by a note or a review on Amazon. This whole business of writing would not mean as much without that connection between writer and reader. This is why we do what we do.

Doubletake is the most recent release from Maryann Miller, written with Margaret Sutton.

Death sneaks in the back door of the peaceful town of Twin Lakes, Texas and nothing is ever the same again.  Homicide detective, Barbara Hobkins, is thrust headlong into the investigation. A product of the "new direction" in law enforcement, her strength comes from a degree is psychology and an intuition that has served her well. But will that be enough when up against a sadistic killer?

"WOW! Talk about a doubletake, the ending floored me. The story drew me in and compelled me to read more and more. Miller and Sutton's ease of introduction, yet fully characterizing each new character so quickly really added to the pace of the story adding urgency to the feel. Truly a book that builds the tension and frustration of the leads within you as you read their tale. I liked the flaws and insecurities of the main characters being proportionate to their strengths, they were real in depiction and easy to visualize. A great read!" 5Stars from Valerie.

"I could not wait to get to the next page...Read for almost 8 hrs...Could not put it down...Two thumbs up." 5Stars from Sherry.


Open Season
 "Try this debut mystery for its open treatment of current urban problems, clean prose, and realistic depiction of women working together. For readers who enjoy Robin Burcell and fans of police procedurals." --Library Journal

"Miller spins a tight tale that's a cut above the average police procedural in this first of a new series introducing Dallas police detective Sarah Kingsly." --Publisher's Weekly

Stalking Season
STARRED Publishers Weekly Review
" . . . gripping second mystery featuring Dallas, Tex., police detectives Sarah Kingsly and Angel Johnson. . . . The relationship between the women is just as absorbing as the search for the killer. Few readers will anticipate the closing twist."
"Dallas detectives Sarah Kingsly and Angel Johnson (Open Season, 2011, etc.) return to confront a case almost as gnarly as their relationship. ...So deftly plotted and paced that, although it's certainly possible to grow impatient with the protagonists' unwarranted impatience toward each other, they're appealing enough to keep the pages turning." KIRKUS