A Conversation with Author John Anthony Miller

This evening in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­John Anthony Miller, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author. You are very welcome, John. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hello, Pam – and thanks for having me.

photoI live in the U.S., in southern New Jersey, and my writing is motivated by a life-long love of travel and history. My fifth book, Honour the Dead, a historical murder mystery set in Italy in the 1920’s, has just been published.

Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?

I like to cross genres, using thrillers, historical fiction, and mysteries, primarily. I think having a multi-genre plot is much more interesting, with unlimited possibilities for subplots and secondary characters that are often as exciting as the protagonist.

Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I am an avid reader – although I read more non-fiction than fiction, primarily to research the books I’m writing. When I do read fiction, I tend to stay in the three genres I typically write in, although if I find an interesting author, or if someone is recommended to me, I may stray a bit.

Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?

I’m traditionally published, represented by Parkeast Literary in the U.S.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Three writers have had a large influence on me. James A. Michener taught me that the location of a novel is also a character, especially if richly described. Ken Follett taught me how to move a story along, having the action twist or turn every five or six pages, and Ernest Hemingway, especially his early writings, taught me technique – that in many cases, less is really more.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

Although I’m from the U.S., I’m fascinated by French and British history, which is reflected in my main characters.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

The most difficult part of the process for me is the initial draft. I’m what you might describe as a re-writer, versus a writer, and usually go through at least five or six revisions before sending a manuscript to my agent.

My first draft is such a challenge because I have no discipline whatsoever, and this first effort is really a race to get the plot on paper. I leave myself notes for the next revision – like describe or dialogue or research – because I don’t want to be slowed down while capturing my initial thoughts. (I’ve always admired writers who are very disciplined and start with an outline that they never stray from).

My first draft is 125–150 pages for a novel that will be 350-400 pages when completed, and takes 2 – 4 weeks. I then continually revise it, using index cards to jot down notes about characters or places or references for research.

I get through these early stages by simply plodding ahead, regardless of how bad I might think the writing is. I have confidence in my ability as a re-writer so if I churn out garbage initially, I hope I can eventually turn it into gold.

What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?

I was told by a writing instructor to work every day – even if it’s only thinking about what you may write the next day – and even if you can only manage 15 or 20 minutes.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I’m an early riser, usually up by 5 a.m. (prompted by my cat, Bobcat). Mornings are my most productive time.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

If I wasn’t an author, I would be a financial analyst or investment manager. I am fascinated by the global stock markets and I like to research the various companies and industries around the world.

If a movie was made of one of your books, who would you like to play the lead roles?

Maybe Caroline Katz or Joanne Froggatt for the female and Cillian Murphy for the male.

If you could live the life of an historical figure for one day, who would you choose and what would you get up to?

I’ve always admired Winston Churchill, especially for his ability to rally the world during the darkest days of WWII. I would like to be him for a day just to see how he stayed so optimistic when the entire world was collapsing.

If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?

I would definitely choose late-Victorian through the early part of the twentieth century. I’m drawn to the British Empire, upon which the sun never set, the twilight of Victorian England, the dawn of a new century, the utter destruction of WWI, and the roaring ‘20’s.

You have been chosen as a member of the crew on the first one-way flight to Mars – you are allowed to bring 5 books with you. What would they be?

Centennial – James A. Michener; A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway; Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier; The Orient Express – Agatha Christie; Eye of the Needle – Ken Follett

Please tell us about your latest published work. 

honour the deadMy fifth novel, Honour the Dead, has just been issued. It’s a historical murder mystery about six English survivors of WWI who converge on Lake Como, Italy in 1921, four men and two women = one corpse and one killer.

Penelope Jones, a wealthy socialite, is admitted to Lakeside Sanitarium, convinced someone is trying to kill her. Her husband, Alexander Cavendish, a WWI hero, is having an affair with her closest friend and owes gambling debts to Billy Flynn, a London gangster. Her father, Wellington Jones, is fighting the collapse of his business empire, and knows about Cavendish’s affair and gambling debts. Wellington needs money desperately and knows Penelope will inherit Cavendish’s estate, should anything happen to him. Dr. Joseph Barnett, Penelope’s doctor, struggles to control images of a war he can’t forget. He despises Cavendish, having served with him in the war. Barnett doesn’t see a war hero, but a despicable murderer who forced young men to die. Rose Barnett, the doctor’s wife, is a famous poet with a sordid secret. Rose was a nurse in France during the war, where she committed five mercy killings on horrifically wounded soldiers. Cavendish, the only witness, is blackmailing her. Who is the corpse and who is the killer?

LINKS TO PURCHASE:  UK: Amazon UK          US:  Amazon US



John Anthony Miller on Amazon







A Conversation with Author Dianne Freeman

This evening in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Dianne Freeman, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

Dianne Freeman headshotA special welcome to you, Dianne. I love to chat with historical fiction authors, particularly those who write in the same time period as I do. Please tell us a little about yourself:

I’m a life-long book lover who retired from the world of corporate finance to pursue my passion for writing. After co-authoring the non-fiction book, Haunted Highway, The Spirits of Route 66, I realized my true love was fiction, historical mystery in particular. I also realized I didn’t like winter very much so now my husband and I pursue the endless summer by splitting our time between Michigan and Arizona.

Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

When I was about eight years old, my family moved to a house about 3 blocks from the public library and I’ve been an avid reader ever since. I don’t get to read quite as much now as I used to but while historical mystery is my favorite genre, I enjoy all varieties of historical fiction and most types of mystery.

Are you self-published or traditionally published?

I’m traditionally published with Kensington Books.

Which genre do you write in and why?

I write historical mystery with a bit of humor. I started with this genre because it’s what I love to read. I continued because I enjoy digging into the late Victorian era, plotting a crime, then creating a story around it. I love leaving clues then leading readers in the wrong direction with a scattering of red-herrings.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

I like to think if Janet Evanovich and Edith Wharton had ever been able to collaborate, they might have come up with a main character like my Frances Wynn. (I also like to think there are no calories in food eaten while standing so what do I know?) But I’ve definitely been influenced by Evanovich’s humor and the elite world of Wharton’s books.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

 I’d imagine it must have, but not in anyway I could define.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

I write in drafts, so every time I have to return to page one and start the next draft I have a moment of dread that I won’t be able to fix whatever is wrong. I’ve found if I print the draft and read it through first, maybe jotting a few (hundred) notes, I realize it’s not that bad and I can tackle whatever problems it presents.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

Late afternoon is my favorite time, but I like to take a walk to think about what I need to write before I sit down and actually do it, so sometimes weather can interfere with my writing schedule.

What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?

I have a feeling this is a common answer, but I love the whole process of writing—the research, plotting, spinning a tale—it’s like traveling to another world. Marketing and promoting aren’t all bad, they can actually be fun, but they really take up a lot of time.

Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?

I do enjoy social media, but as mentioned above, it can be so time consuming. My favorite way to distract myself would be Facebook.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I’m retired so I’d go back to doing whatever I want, which would include plenty of reading, gardening, and maybe I’d even learn how to cook.

It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?

Pride and Prejudice – again. At least I already know how it ends in case I don’t get to finish it.

A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder 600px widePlease tell us what you are working on and your latest published work.  

I’m currently working on book three of The Countess of Harleigh Mysteries. Book one, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder released in June, 2018.

The story takes place in London in 1899. Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh, is a widow dealing with a high society burglar, a marriage-mad sister, and a murder. When the London season turns deadly, she fears one of her sister’s suitors may be the killer. Frances must rally her wits and a circle of gossiping friends and enemies to unmask the culprit before she becomes his next victim.


Buy Link – Amazon US

Buy Link – Amazon UK

If you would like to know more about Dianne and her work, please check out her links below: 

Website:  https://difreeman.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DianneFreemanAuthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Difreeman001

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/diannefreemanwrites/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17347322.Dianne_Freeman




A Conversation with Author Sharon Thompson

Head shot 1 Feb 2018 copy for gravatarThis evening in the Library, I am delighted to welcome fellow Irish author, Sharon Thompson, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

Please tell us a little about yourself:

Sharon Thompson here, Irish author who is living in Donegal. I write anything I can but my debut crime novel just launched in January 2018 with leading digital publishers, Bloodhound Books UK. It was a #1 Best-seller on Kindle. Continue reading “A Conversation with Author Sharon Thompson”