Linda Lael Miller

Thank you Ms. Miller for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions.

ARR. I have found that readers like to know what a typical writing day is like for their favorite author. How many hours a day does she devote to writing? About how many times does the manuscript go back and forth between writer and publisher/editor, before it's finally accepted?

Linda. I write in an office in my home for approximately 5 to 6 hours per day. That is actual computer time—basically, I think about writing day and night. I do a lot of reading and research as well.

Here's how the process works: I get an idea, toy with it a little, and run it past my editor at Pocket Books, Amy Pierpont, and often my agent, Irene Goodman, as well. If they like it as much as I do, I start working on a first draft. I outline very loosely, but mostly make up the story as I go along. This is a little more nerve-wracking than having a very detailed outline to follow, but it is also more interesting—to me, at least. I know many writers who outline chapter by chapter and scene by scene before ever writing a word, and they do it successfully. Once Amy has read the first draft, I start the revision process. We usually go through the manuscript at least twice, and often more. Then it goes to copy-editing, which means an outside editor who hasn't been through the manuscript a dozen times reads it fresh for contradictions, typos, etc. More corrections are made on my end. Then the copy-edited manuscript becomes galleys, which is the preliminary typeset version of the book. I read that through, marking any changes—only small ones are allowed at this point---and then, finally, the book itself comes out. I usually receive copies a few weeks before it hits the stores.

ARR. You write in several sub-genres paranormal, historical, contemporary and even some series. Do you have a favorite and why?

Linda. Actually, it would be more accurate to say I have written in several sub-genres—right now, I'm concentrating on western historicals (paperback originals) and contemporary romantic suspense (hardcover.) My newest, "The Last Chance Café,” will be published at the end of April by Pocket Books. My favorite, quite honestly, is always the book I'm working on at the moment, as that is where my passions are engaged. I'm just beginning "Sweet Justice,” which will be published next year in hardcover, so right now, it's my favorite book!

ARR. There is a sense of intimacy in many of your books, especially the Springwater and Primrose Creek stories, almost as if you are writing about family. Where does this come from, and do your characters really creep into your life like alternate family members?

Linda. I have always "lived" with my characters in my imagination. That's how I learn about them. If my books have a sense of intimacy, it must be because I really know and understand the story people. Sometimes I do journal entries for a character, if I'm trying to delve deeper, or write letters. Many books are plot-driven—mine are more character-driven, I think.

ARR. Are there any characters in your books that you really didn't like? That turned out quite different from what you had originally envisioned?

Linda. No. Even the villains are fun to write about, simply because their behavior is so unpredictable. I have had characters try to take over a book, though. Jeff Corbin, in "Banner O'Brien,” was an example of that. I had to promise him his own story to get him to back off!

ARR. Any thoughts on why the West has been such a successful setting for so many fine romance novels, yours included?

Linda. Yes. The western is quintessentially American, portraying our ideals of independence, strength, resourcefulness, etc. And I believe the fascination goes much deeper than that. The cowboy is an archetype, representing those qualities I just mentioned. Also, the West is naturally romantic, from the big sky to the lonely prairie, and it's the perfect backdrop for adventure, danger, grand passion, joy, and sorrow—the whole gamut of human emotions.

ARR. Your books span centuries, with an enormous gulf between medieval knights, gunslingers and neck-biters! Why have you worked in so many different time periods, rather than establishing yourself in one particular setting, as so many other authors have done?

Linda. My only excuse is that I'm a Gemini, interested in everything! I just had to explore all those bright, shiny ideas. I guess, before settling into any niches, I wanted to be sure I knew precisely what niche would be the best fit. As of now, my objective is simply to get better and better as a writer, giving my readers substantial stories that will entertain and uplift them.

ARR. Your fans certainly love to see sequels. When you are creating plot and characters for a novel, is there a point when you just know that one or more of these people is going to get a book of their own, or is it a conscious decision from the start?

Linda. Sometimes, it is a conscious decision from the start, to write a series, I mean. That was the case with the vampire books, the Springwaters, the Primrose Creek stories, and now, my new trilogy, westerns about brothers, sending away for brides. (The first, "High-Country Bride,” will be out next spring, in paperback.) I love writing series! On rare occasions, I'll start a stand-alone story, and a character will step to the fore, intriguing me in a way

ARR. I've always wondered how writers make decisions on names for their characters. Were there any special sources for your vampire characters' name, for example? (They're very Celtic-sounding!)

Linda. I own scores of name books, for both babies and surnames, and consult them carefully, until I find just the right ring. Names are inexpressibly important—get the wrong one, and the character will not come to life.

ARR. A Time Without End features vampires. Did you enjoy the research for the sub-genre, and did you find it disturbing at all?

Linda. At the time I wrote the vampire books, I was almost mesmerized by them. I used the basic vampire lore, and added a few touches of my own, like time travel, and I honestly consider these four books to be some of my finest work. After I'd written them, however, I came across some trends in the culture that really did disturb me—there are people out there who actually LIVE as vampires. Well, call me old-fashioned, but that isn't my cup of—well—tea.

ARR. Do you have any upcoming appearances soon?

Linda. Yes, I'm delighted that I'll get to meet readers in a number of cities this spring during the tour my fabulous publicist at Pocket Books, Cathy Gruhn, put together for THE LAST CHANCE CAFE. Here's the schedule as it stands now, but readers can always find out where I'll be signing and speaking by visiting my website at:

Wednesday, May 1 - 6 p.m.
Borders Books & Music
Tucson, AZ

Thursday, May 2 - 7 p.m.
Barnes & Noble
Scottsdale, AZ

Tuesday, May 7 - 7 p.m.
Little Professor Books
Fort Wayne, IN

Wednesday, May 8 - 7 p.m.
Books & Co.
Dayton, OH

Thursday, May 9 - 7 p.m.
Joseph Beth Booksellers
Cleveland, OH

Friday, May 10 - 7:30 p.m.
Borders Books & Music
Cleveland (Westlake), OH

Saturday, May 11 - 1 p.m.
Atlantic Books
The Mall of America
Minneapolis /Bloomington, MN

ARR. What are you working on now? Can we have a sneak peak?

Linda. I'm working on my new contemporary romantic suspense, "Sweet Justice,” which is set in the town where I live—Cave Creek, Arizona. Very colorful place. When publication time nears, I'll put up an excerpt on my website.

Thank you again from everyone at A Romance Review.

And thank you, Pam!

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