Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Interview with H.H. Miller, author of Inscription

Author interviews are one of my favorite things to post which is why I am super excited to welcome author H.H. Miller to Flashlight Commentary to discuss her debut release, Inscription.

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Welcome to Flashlight Commentary. Great to have you with us. To start things off, please tell us a bit about Inscription.
Inscription takes place in a fictional country called Mainland in 1851. It's the story of twenty-year-old Caris McKay, whose life is turned upside down by people and events beyond her control: vindictive soldiers, scheming relatives, wild storms, and of course, the hero she falls in love with. We follow her through her adventures as she seeks to discover the secrets of her past.

What inspired you to write this story? 
I've always been an avid reader, but I fell into a reading rut about two years ago. I just couldn't find a book I LOVED. You know the kind . . . where you want to drop everything and spend the whole day immersed in the life and times of your favorite characters. I'd had this nugget of an idea for a story rambling around in my head, and I finally decided if I couldn't find a book I wanted to read, I'd write one myself. I guess you could say necessity was the mother of invention.

Inscription is set in 1851. I'm curious, how did you approached bridging the gap in time and geography while crafting their story? 
I would love to have lived in the time of corsets and gloves, carriage wheels splashing through puddles, romance and obligation, mud and horses. Some of my favorite novels are historical fiction set in England, but it's been done - and done very well - by many others. Rather than retread that ground, I was intrigued by the idea of imagining a world where the time period and customs were familiar, but the story was unconstrained by actual history. That meant I was free to create places, characters, and events as I wished them to be without regard for the way things actually were. I've read a lot about the time period, so I had a rich base for imagining what life might have been like. I also lived in England for a few months (many years ago).

You probably have many, but is there a scene you particularly enjoyed writing?
I discovered that I really enjoy writing the nasty characters. The insults and devilish plotting, the underhanded scheming, the malicious attacks. So the scenes with William and his mother, Lady Granville, were particularly fun to write.

What scene posed the greatest challenge for you as an author?
The scene in the hayloft with Tom and Caris made me blush the entire time I was writing it. I still cringe a little when I think of my kids reading it. Also, I re-wrote the opening chapter countless times. That was probably the hardest part to get right.

Sometimes fiction takes on a life of its own and forces the author to make sacrifices for the sake of the story. Is there a character or concept in Inscription you wish you could have spent more time with or expanded on? 
I guess I would like to have spent a bit more time with Molly and Angus. Though secondary characters, they were very likable, and their relationship was just beginning to blossom when disaster struck.

Historical novelists frequently have to adjustment facts to make their stories work. Did you have to invent or change anything while writing Inscription and if so, what did you alter and why? 
That's the great part about writing "fictional" historical fiction. You're not constrained by the boundaries of historical accuracy. The setting is entirely fictional. Mainland looks a lot like England, with a dash of the Oregon Coast and Cascade Mountains thrown in for variety. But from a historical standpoint, the customs and characters are fairly true to form for the time period.

If you could sit down with one of your characters, maybe meet for a few hours and discuss things over drinks, who would you choose?
Definitely Angus. I'd be totally charmed by him.

Where did the title of your book come from and how does it relate to the story? 
Choosing a title was tough. I wanted something that evoked a feeling of mystery and history...parchment, quills, cryptic clues, wax seals, secrets of the past, adventure. Also, it needed to be catchy, simple, and not already taken! There are two places in the book where inscriptions make an appearance, and both serve to illuminate hidden truths.

What do you hope readers come away with after reading your work?
I hope people find it a diverting escape into the past, and come away having been well entertained.

Okay, we've talked a lot about your book. Let's switch gears and talk a little bit about you. How would describe your writing process? 
A process implies I have some sort of standard procedure or method. Far from it! Inscription evolved more organically (like a weed you pull that keeps growing back). Just after New Year's Day 2013, I began scribbling down ideas. My notes turned into a sort of messy, disjointed outline as I began to organize the flow of events. I didn't worry about the writing. I didn't edit or censor or try to make it sound good. I just spilled it all out as if I were telling it to a friend. "And then she did this, and then he said that..." That mish-mash became the basis for "what happens" in the story. From there, I took it scene by scene and began to actually write it, fleshing out the characters, events, and dialog as I went along. In the end, I had a finished book!

Two words: writer's block. How do you deal with it? 
I never thought of it as writer's block. It was more like putting a puzzle together. I wrote scenes pretty much in order, but there were gaps. The challenge was creating connections between one event and another to smooth out the plot, make the illogical logical, expand the relationship between characters, or show another side of someone's personality. 

Who are your favorite authors? 
J. K. Rowling, Diana Gabaldon, Jane Austen, Dan Brown, Charlotte Bronte, Alexandre Dumas. Weird assortment, I know, but I love them all for different reasons, and I took a bit of something from each.

What are you currently reading? 
Right now I'm re-reading A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens. 

What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?
We (me, my husband, and 3 kids) like to spend time at our beach house on the Oregon Coast. I also love golden retrievers, big Broadway musicals, and walking the 3-mile round trip from my house to Starbucks and back.

Where do you stand on the coffee or tea debate? 
I often drink tea in the evenings, but coffee is an absolute must. Every morning.

And finally, what's next for you? Do you have a new project in the works? Planning a vacation? Anything exciting and/or noteworthy? 
I keep a file with notes and ideas for a sequel to Inscription, but I'm not quite ready to crack into it yet. I also have a real job as content director for a brand strategy firm, so that keeps me pretty busy. Vacations? Nothing on the schedule right now, but a tropical island is always a good idea.

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H. H. Miller is the author of the novel Inscription, a historically fictional romantic adventure. In real life, she’s content director at Stoke Strategy, a brand strategy firm in Seattle, Washington, where she specializes in transforming what some might call “boring” technology jargon into compelling, readable, memorable stories. Her favorite escape is Manzanita, Oregon – a place of beautiful beaches, wild storms, chilly nights around the bonfire (even in July), and time to enjoy life with her husband and three children.

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Format: Print & ebook
Publication Date: January 9, 2014
Released by: H.H. Miller
Length: 278 pages
ISBN-10: 0615944418
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Be Sure to Check all the Stops on H.H. Miller's Inscription Virtual Book Tour

Monday, April 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, April 15
Interview at Layered Pages
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, April 16
Review & Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Thursday, April 17
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Spotlight & Giveaway on Passages to the Past
Friday, April 18
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

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