Monday, May 25, 2020

An Interview with Jessica Riley Miller


by Paula Gail Benson

Jessica Riley Miller with husband Chuck Miller at her first signing. (Her short story is in The Big Bad II anthology.)
Jessica and I initially met as members of the Inkplots Writing Critique Group. I’ve always loved Jessica’s wonderfully inventive imagination and intriguing descriptions. We’ve gotten closer as roommates at two Bouchercons and working with others to develop the Palmetto Chapter of Sisters in Crime, which will virtually host its Mystery in the Midlands conference on Saturday, July 25, 2020, with Jessica’s fav Charlaine Harris as guest of honor.

This week, Jessica debuts her paranormal series with a novella followed by rapid release of three novels during late summer and fall. It’s an amazing publishing journey, but I’m not surprised. Jessica has always exhibited the drive, will power, organizational skills, and writing craft to balance teaching, marriage, motherhood, and authorship. I hope you’ll take the time to discover her work. I promise you’ll be delighted!

Jessica, thanks for joining us at The Stiletto Gang!

Tell us about yourself and why you wanted to be an author.

Sometimes you pick your passions, and sometimes your passions pick you. I’ve always loved stories, especially mysteries, so writing feels kind of inevitable.

What is your series about and who is the main character?

They are supernatural mysteries in the tradition of Charlaine Harris’s True Blood series and Karen Marie Moning’s Faefever series, with heavy doses of romance and the unexpected.

In the novella, Jade’s obsessed with reading conspiracy theory tabloids, the more outrageous the better. To the amusement of her friends, she finds them a comforting escape from her every day worries. It only makes sense when she accepts an internship at the best tabloid around, believing it will give her a carefree summer.

Unfortunately, any illusion of comfort vanishes when Anthony, an attractive young lawyer, enlists her help. He claims the tabloid’s keeping a dark secret that threatens his job. When Jade starts investigating, she learns the paper isn’t an escape from the truth at all. Suddenly, her normal life becomes eclipsed by the paranormal.

But knowing the tabloid’s secrets make her position vulnerable, and suddenly it isn’t just Anthony’s livelihood at risk. Her life is too.

The rest of the series picks up from her best friend Maggie’s perspective, ten years later.

Your series is independently published. What made you decide to take that step?

Jade's story--to be released this week!
My answer here actually starts with a conflict, as all good stories do:

This series is the main reason my fantastic literary agent and I parted ways. She was interested in a different kind of story from me, but I couldn’t let this series go.

The characters kept speaking to me, and I needed to get the drama out of my head and onto the page. It was almost compulsive. I have seven other manuscripts, several of which I will return to, but I had to get this series out into the world. By choosing indie publishing, I am able to obsess over the stories I can’t let go.

I’m also able to release them on my own schedule. I’ve been working on them for years, mainly at 5 am, or in the car, or on Saturday afternoons—and now, I’m ready to share them.

Plus, I’ve been able to build my own team. That’s been an unexpected bit of awesomeness. I adore my editor. I’m fanatical over my cover artist. They are my people, and I picked them—they do excellent, flattering work for me and my stories, making me look much better than I could on my own.

Why are you beginning with a novella, then rapidly releasing several novels?

I’m appealing to binge-watching culture, really. There’s nothing I enjoy more than diving into a world that I can splash around in, so I’m trying to give that to my readers. Come on in, stay awhile, the water’s fine.

Plus, I want to make sure readers are getting the experience they want. That’s why I’m releasing my novella first, for free. Check this out, see if you like it. If you do, I’ve got all these other books coming. If this isn’t your thing, high five and have a great day. Nothing’s lost on either side.

What has been your greatest challenge and greatest delight in writing and producing this series?

My greatest challenge has been scraping out the time I need to dream and write and work on the ever-important author platform. I’ve got a full time job, a wonderful husband, and a darling one-year-old. While I’m fortunate to have a full family life and a job I like, there are only so many hours in a day, you know?

My greatest delight has been the dreaming, or what some folks call plotting. My daydreams become reality on the page, as characters move through mazes I’ve created, solving their mysteries and unearthing secrets as old as the world. It’s empowering and fun. I love that part.

What’s next? Will this character or the world you’ve created appear in other books or stories?

Ha! I’m laughing because there’s so much more where this came from. So, this novella is Jade’s story. The next few books are Maggie’s story (Jade’s best friend), and she’s got at least three books worth of drama, y’all. One of her love interests, Adam, has a short story already written. I’ll give that to my newsletter subscribers for free later this year. I also have a tie-in series with the first book already written. I’m excited about that one. It takes place on the beach in Florida and starts with a faerie on the run. It could be looking at a 2021 release.

Thank you, Jessica, for being with us! Best wishes on all your upcoming releases. May your stories reach a wide audience and be thoroughly enjoyed!

Jessica with her precious daughter Marlowe, who already loves books!
Short Bio: You will often find Jessica Riley Miller behind a stack of books. However, she won’t stay hidden for long as her voice (ahem) carries. Jessica’s been writing stories for over a decade. In her spare time, she works with some of the best people in the world: English teachers. She lives in the land of South Carolina, somewhere between Westeros and 221B Baker Street. Her husband, daughter, and tiny elfin dog provide constant amusement and inspiration. Check out her website or sign up for her newsletter at www.jessicarileymiller.com.

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