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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Author Interview: Phyllis Zimbler Miller

Today I am pleased to present to you all the third in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the fascinating Phyllis Zimbler Miller and our conversation went something like this:

Paul: Do you have any writing rituals?
Phyllis: I have one – I try to squeeze in creative writing time whenever possible.

Paul: What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Phyllis: I am an eclectic fiction and nonfiction reader, although I especially like thrillers set against a background of history. At the moment I’m going through Alan Furst’s WWII-era thrillers because I very much enjoy learning about the historical settings.

Paul: If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Phyllis: Scenarios. I don’t particularly care what a character looks like or what the character is wearing. I’m interested in what happens because such and such happens first. For this reason I do a lot of my writing in my head.  Then when I do get time to sit at my computer for creative writing, I can immediately start writing. (Currently I have been toying with different openings for a sequel to CIA Fall Guy.)

Paul: What is a typical day for you? 
Phyllis: I am attached to my computer, so I am there for hours a day if I’m not walking for exercise, doing errands, etc.

Paul: How do you find the time to write?
Phyllis: As I mentioned above, I write scenarios in my head.  Then I squeeze in the time between other tasks on my computer.

Paul: What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Phyllis: I prefer my fiction books to my nonfiction books because I love a good story.

Paul: If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
Phyllis: After years of rejection for my novel Mrs. Lieutenant, I was about to be 60 and I decided I could not wait any longer.  At the same time I entered the manuscript in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition, and Mrs. Lieutenant was a semifinalist, which helped vindicate my belief in the novel.

Paul: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Phyllis: I am a logical person, so I begin my story and then figure out what could happen next and then next and then after that.

Paul: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Phyllis: I truly believe in editing. For Mrs. Lieutenant I rewrote that book several times because of the complexity of four equal main characters. I love eliminating excess words and needless sentences, finding the holes in the story, and making things clearer.

Paul: Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Phyllis: I wrote the techno-thriller Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders with my husband Mitch Miller and we did a great deal of research for that story, although my husband already had a lot of the knowledge. Mrs. Lieutenant was partly based on my own experiences in 1970 as a new Mrs. Lieutenant during the Vietnam War. I still have all my original documents from that time so I could use my own primary sources. CIA Fall Guy is also partly based on my own experiences and knowledge.

Paul: What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
Phyllis: CIA Fall Guy takes place in 1997 when a woman is called to CIA headquarters to identify someone from 25 years earlier when she lived in Germany. When what she is told does not add up, she fears she may become a fall guy for the CIA and sets off on her own to discover what is really going on. Her quest takes her to Europe and back again to the U.S., and pairs her with the man who may have been responsible for her husband’s death.

Paul: What inspired you to write this book?
Phyllis: Part of the backstory for CIA Fall Guy is the May 1972 bombing of the U.S. Army’s Officers Club in Frankfurt, Germany. My husband and I took the train that day from Munich to Frankfurt, the train was late, and we went directly to the U.S. Amy chartered flight that brought us back to the U.S. The next day I learned about the bombing that took place the day we had been in Frankfurt.

Paul: Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Phyllis: I write nonfiction – and have just published the first two books of a 3-book How To Succeed series for teens and young adults.

Paul: Do you have any pieces of work that will never see the light of day?
Phyllis: In the 90s I wrote three mystery novels with the same protagonist – newspaper reporter Rebecca Stone. I am considering resurrecting the manuscripts to evaluate whether they are past saving.

Paul: How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your ‘brand’?
Phyllis: I do a great deal of marketing for my online marketing company, so my published works have to take a back seat to these marketing efforts. In addition, I continually write blog posts for my own blogs and as a guest blogger.

Paul: What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Phyllis: When I’m not writing or working on my business, I read fiction and nonfiction books. I also watch certain TV drama shows, partly to watch how the shows’ writers integrate character and action. I have written screenplays by myself and with my husband, and one screenplay is currently under option for a possible film.

Paul: Well thank you, Phyllis. You certainly have led an interesting and varied life, and I hope my readers take a look at your books.

About Phyllis Zimber Miller: Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books as well as the co-founder of the online marketing company Miller Mosaic LLC.

Phyllis' Blog:
Phyllis on Facebook:
Phyllis on Twitter: @ZimblerMiller
Phyllis' latest book: CIA Fall Guy (Amazon)

1 comment:

  1. Great interview and good luck with the screenplay Phyllis.