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Today’s Featured Author is Clare K.R. Miller. She writes urban and secondary-world fantasy and science fiction for teens and adults. Today her A Star to Guide Her YA Trilogy is featured which includes the books Solitary Star, Wandering Star, and Pole Star.
Interview with Clare K.R. Miller:
I’ve always loved the first days of school. Actually, fall is my favorite season overall—it has the beginning of the school year, my birthday, Halloween, and great clothes! I associate the beginning of school with all the changes of fall—the leaf colors, the coolness and bite in the air—as well as, of course, new books, notebooks, and teachers.
But my favorite memory is actually the first day of college, which was really in the summer, not the fall. I drove to college in my own car, the first time I’d ever driven even half that far—over a hundred miles! It was my first time being on my own, without my parents. It was scary, but fun too. I made some great friends there, and I learned a lot.
2) Who was your most inspiring teacher? Why?
This is a really tough choice! I’ve had so many amazing teachers, but that honor has to go to my second and fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Weissinger. Yes, I had her for both years—I was in one of the two lucky classes that had her for second grade, then again for fourth grade after she switched. She was the sort of teacher everyone liked: strict enough that we were able to focus and get work done, but not so strict that everyone was scared or upset. And she was really approachable. I felt like I could talk to her about anything.
Most importantly, in second grade we had a weekly Writing Workshop, where we got to sit at our desks and write about whatever we wanted. Needless to say, that was my favorite part of the week! I still have some of the stories I wrote back then, and while they’re mostly just silly to me now, I can also see some of the themes that have always stuck with me as a writer, like retelling fairy tales.
I also still have a Valentine’s card that Mrs. Weissinger wrote for me. I’m certain she wrote them for every one of her students, but mine says, “Roses are red / violets are blue / who writes a story / as well as you?” I like to look at it when I’m feeling down about my writing or as though no one else understands my stories. It’s a reminder that at least Mrs. Weissinger believes in me.
Wow, I’ve written a lot and I could still go on! But suffice to say: thank you, Mrs. Weissinger.
3) What is the advice you would give children authors to get started?
Write! That’s the advice everyone always gives, and there’s a reason for that: it’s the best advice. Even if you only have ten minutes a day, or if you can only do it on weekends, try to establish a regular habit of writing. It will get easier the more you do it, and the more practice you get, the better a writer you’ll be.
I think one of the best things a young author can do is practice finishing things. A great way to do that is to sign up for National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org). Every year in November, thousands of people from around the world get together to write a 50,000 word novel. Even if you don’t write anything serious, if you really try to finish, by the end you’ll have some kind of novel. Then you can revise it if you want, but it will have given you a better sense of a novel’s structure.
One last thing: if you’re going to college, it may sound counterintuitive, but an English major may not be your best bet. It’s great to read a lot, but you don’t need class for that, and writing classes probably won’t give you the skill to be a successful author unless what you want to write is literary short stories (in which case, go for it). But whatever your major is, I recommend taking lots of history, psychology, and sociology classes—anything that will help you understand how people work. That will help you create better characters and hence, write better stories.
4) Who is your favorite character from a children’s book?
There are so many children’s and YA books that I love! But since you’re asking, I have to head for my favorite, and that’s Harry Potter. And my favorite character in the Harry Potter series is, without a doubt, Luna Lovegood.
Luna is different, and she knows and embraces it. Even when people treat her poorly because she’s different, she’s doesn’t get mad or blame herself. She knows that eventually they’ll understand why what they’ve done is wrong—when people steal her things, she doesn’t go after the thieves, knowing that they will return what they took. She has a knack for uncomfortable truths, and she’s much better at understanding people than, maybe, any other character in the books. She’s tough, dealing really well with the bad things that happen in her life. She’s also really, really smart, and unfailingly kind to others—at least those who deserve it! Not only is Luna great fun to read about, she’s an amazing role model. I wish J. K. Rowling would write a whole new series just about Luna.
5) How could you sum up what writing means to you?
Writing is the most important thing in my life. Thankfully, my fiancé understands that, so he doesn’t get jealous! (My cat, Ophelia, is a different story.) I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write, to come up with stories of my own or look at older stories in a different way. Even if I couldn’t write them down, I would always be coming up with stories in my head.
I think writing is also an incredibly important way to communicate. Tell someone, “this is how I feel,” and they may say they understand. But tell them a story with a character who feels that way, a character they can sympathize with and follow through trials to triumph, and they’ll get it on a much deeper level. Stories shape how we think, so we need to have a lot of them.
6) What are your current writing projects?
The novel project I’m working on right now is another young adult fantasy, Falling Into Light. It’s set in the modern day, and the protagonists have grown up in our world, but after they meet, they discover that their parents are from another world altogether—they left to escape the shadowy monsters that lived there. Then, of course, the protagonists get pulled into that world themselves, and they have to figure out how to get back home.
I’ve also been writing a lot of short pieces in a new story universe, the Ursulan Cycle, which is a genderbent version of the Arthurian legends—instead of King Arthur, we have Queen Ursula, King Gwynn instead of Queen Guinevere, Morwenna instead of Mordred, and even more. You can read some of those stories here at my Dreamwidth journal.
For further information and to connect with Clare K.R. Miller:
Mailing list signup: http://eepurl.com/wzpHX
USE THE COUPON: GM39T to get a free copy of Solitary Star exclusive for the Back to School Blog Tour on Smashwords.com.
Coupon good between Sept. 1-5, 2014.
The magic and secrets of the stars
When Noemi’s father dies, leaving her an orphan, her unpleasant relatives don’t waste any time before shipping her off to a poor, out-of-the-way boarding school. For Noemi, that turns out to be the best thing they could ever do for her—and the worst. She learns of the powerful magic at her command… and of the danger that threatens her, simply because of the star that guides her. Many people would like to control or destroy her, and she cannot tell who to trust.
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00KGM8E7S
All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-solitarystar-1520569-234.html
Wandering Star is the second in “A Star To Guide Her” YA series.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KQUHVU6
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00KQUHVU6
All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-wanderingstar-1532496-234.html
The final book in the “A Star To Guide Her” YA Series. Just released June 24, 2014.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L2YAX8C
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00L2YAX8C
All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-polestar-1554206-234.html