06 February 2008

Author Answers with Karen Miller

This week's featured author is Karen Miller. She has written the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology and has also some Stargate SG-1 related titles.

For more about her, check out her website.

WN: You write fantasy books. What got you interested in that genre?
MILLER: The Narnia books captured my imagination when I was a child, and Isought out more and more books in the genre as I grew up. I readeverything vaguely sf and fantasy-related in the school and town library, and kept on reading in the genre after leaving school. I love the romanticism of fantasy, I love the otherness of it. I love the fact that fantasy lets writers and readers explore big, sweeping, emotionalthemes like the meaning of good and evil, heroism, sacrifice ... and on a really big, lavish canvas. I love the way you can play with historyin fantasy.

WN: A lot of fantasy books have elaborately created worlds. How did you go about world-building?
MILLER: I have a strong background in studying history. I love reading about ancient cultures, and British/European societies up to around the mid1600s. Those are the backgrounds I know and understand, so the worldbuilding I've done to date has been deeply influenced by that absorbedinformation. If I don't know things as thoroughly as I need to, I readbooks and hunt down tv/dvd documentaries that deal with the questionand find out more things. Then I give them a twist to suit the kind of society I'm trying to create. Basically it's a case of take what I know, find out more, then shake it all around to suit the kind of storyI'm telling and its characters. I'm not writing historical fiction, soI look for inspiration from human history and move on from there. Andwherever possible, I research on site, or in museums. The Oriental Museum in the University of Chicago is one of my favourite places inthe world.

WN: Were you a reader as a kid? What turned you on to the idea of being a writer?
MILLER: Totally. I can't remember a time when I didn't read. I've been devouring stories since I was very little. And I don't remember when Ididn't want to write, either. I used to make up stories about the characters in tv shows I loved to watch!

WN: What's the most influential book you've read and why?
MILLER: The Game of Kings, by Dorothy Dunnett. It's the first in her world-famous Lymond Chronicles. It's historical fiction, mixing up real life historical figures and her own creations. Utterly brilliant. Impeccable research, mesmerising characters, fabulous narrative. Ithink she was one of the best writers ever born. Reading the first book got me hooked on the whole series, and reading that series taught me somuch about character, about point of view, about emotionally engagingthe reader. Brilliant.

WN: What's the best advice you received as a writer?
Never give up. It was one of my university lecturers, who showed anassignment I'd written to a writer friend. The friend cried, apparently. (She was meant to! *g*) So the lecturer came back to me andsaid, you're not ready yet but don't give up. You will be one day. Andthat got me through a lot of self-doubt, over the years.

WN: What's next for you as a writer?
MILLER: A nervous breakdown. *g*
I'm just finishing my next Stargate novel. It needs a final tweak, butit's pretty much done. I'm also finishing bk 3 of my current trilogy, Godspeaker. Then I have to start on the first draft of the next book in the series that's coming out under a pen-name. The first book is out in April, in Australia/New Zealand. Next year in the US/UK. After that I start the sequel to the first two Kingmaker, Kingbreaker books. I'm booked to do a sequel/prequel in that series. Beyond that I have 2 more Stargate novels to write, and the third contracted in the pen-name series. Then I might stop for a minute and smell the roses.

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