Behind the Quill is back with another great author interview. This time we get a glimpse into the life of the extraordinary M.G. Miller, author of Bayou Jesus. I’ll admit, I really liked this book. So I was thrilled when M.G. agreed to let me
ask him hundreds of annoying questions – *ahem* interview him.
This is what he had to say:
Me: Can you remember when you first knew you wanted to be a writer?
MGM: Barely. I started writing stories when I was a tadpole, and graduated to my first (awful) novel at twelve. I was hooked!
Me: Tell us about the very first time you had a book published. What did you do? How did you feel?
MGM: I heard a big thunk on my front porch and found a box of hardbacks. It was awesome, but I didn’t jump for joy. I just kind of collapsed with relief. Took ten long years to get there.
Me: Is there anything in your books based on real life experiences or is it purely all imagination?
MGM: You’re going to get me in trouble. Of course real life has a way of making its way into our fiction, but on specifics, however, I plead the fifth.
Me: If you could be a character from one of your books for a day, which one would you be and why?
MGM: My favorite character is Simon Duchane, an incidental character in ‘Bayou Jesus’ that I spun off into his own novel. But a day is about all I’d want to walk in his shoes. Simon is very introspective and tries to find the good in all people. He also goes where I’ve always wanted to, the dark heart of the South American jungle.
Me: Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
MGM: Simon and religion are the only characters and themes I’ve ever returned to, because I didn’t feel like I’d yet had my say about certain issues in ‘Bayou Jesus’. As for the rest, though, when I’m finished, I’m finished. Time to move on and tackle another subject.
Me: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
MGM: It may not actually count as criticism, but one of the toughest things I’ve encountered is when the people you’re closest to refuse to acknowledge what you do or read what you write. The best compliment I’ve received, though, is by Brian Conley, author of ‘The Neighborhood’, who said that my novel ‘Bayou Jesus’ inspired him to finish his own.
Me: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
MGM: Probably that I get up to write at such an unholy hour. Like 3 a.m. But when I write, I have to have hours of uninterrupted time ahead of me, and at that time., it’s a pretty good bet that the phone won’t ring, or someone will knock on the door. And admittedly, it’s a very tenuous process for me. I have to have complete silence. At the first interruption, I lose it.
Me: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
MGM: So many, but if I have to name just one, it would be ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. At the age of 20, it made me see people and life in a completely different light.
Me: When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do?
MGM: I’m a snooze. I work, I read. If I watch TV, it’s on DVD. On Saturday nights, though, I live it up and stay up until past 10–but rarely ever finish watching the movie I’ve started.
Me: What are your three favorite forms of procrastination?
MGM: Without a doubt, shopping for books in store or online. Sometimes I also kill time chatting online with friends, but would much rather see them in person. And #3: dreaming.
Me: What is your favorite food? If you cook, what type of food is your favorite and would you mind sharing a recipe?
MGM: Anything Italian, but the majority of cooking I do only requires about three minutes in the microwave. (Don’t tell August McLaughlin, she’ll kill me.)
Me: What would you like your readers to know about this book or you in general? What do you want readers to see in your books?
MGM: In regard to the novel out now, ‘Bayou Jesus’, readers, and especially writers, might be interested to know that it was written over fifteen years ago, and that it took ten years just to sell to a traditional publisher. Also, now that I’ve taken matters into my own hands going the non-traditional route, I’ve had greater success with it than I ever thought possible. About me, I’m not in this business because I think I’ll get rich, that only happens to a very few, and is like winning the lottery. I’m in it simply because I like to entertain.
Me: Tell us about your current or upcoming release. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
MGM: ‘Bayou Jesus’ is available for Kindle now. It’s a story of racism and religion set in the Deep South during the Great Depression. I also guarantee readers that although you may think you know where it’s going, you really don’t. By Christmas, I hope to have ‘Seven Devils’ available as well. While not a sequel to BJ in the traditional sense, it is follow-up, and concerns six missionaries and a prostitute in the jungles of South America. It was also a winner of an Arkansas Governor’s Arts Award for Literature.
Me: What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring authors?
MGM: Don’t do it for the money, because there’s usually very little of that involved, be it traditional or self-publishing. Do it for one reason: do it because you love it.
Me: That’s great advice! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today. But if I were you, I’d expect an email from August about your cooking techniques. 😉
Here’s a little more about M.G. Miller:
Author Bio: M.G. Miller is a Southern Gothic novelist and former fiction editor for a national horror magazine. His work has won Best Novel awards from Arkansas and Oklahoma States, a Deep South Prize from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and an Arkansas Governor’s Award for Literature.
So, what did you think? Do you have other questions for M.G. Miller? If so, post them in the comments and I’ll see if I can get him answer a few of them for us.