Saturday, October 19, 2013

One Writer, 5 Questions - Melissa F. Miller on Energy Drinks, Buddhism and Writing Software

Six months have passed since we last caught up with legal thriller author Melissa F. Miller - the last time being March, when I quizzed the indie author about the fourth novel in the series, Indispensable Party. In what has now become a recurring event, I managed to steal a few minutes from our busy attorney-turned-writer Melissa to ask her a few more questions about her latest Sasha McCandless novel, ‘Improper Influence’. 

1) You say at the end of the book that your brother is a buddhist. Was he the inspiration behind the character of Bodhi King? If so, what does he make of the book?  

He absolutely was!  I find his outlook so fascinating and different from my own, that I decided I really wanted to write a character who was a Buddhist.  Of course, I didn’t want to write my brother, so I did a lot of reading and listened to some podcasts of the Buddha’s teachings, but he was always in the back of my mind. He read an early draft of the book before he left for Myanmar and said he thought I got Bodhi right. That as a huge relief.  (He’s actually back in the states for family reasons, so I might get him to read the final published version, too.)  As an aside, I really like Bodhi even though he sort of frustrated Sasha (or maybe because he did) and I am toying with the idea of bringing him back in a future book or giving him is own spin-off.  Time will tell.

2) Once again, the case Sasha is dealing with has a very current feel to it. What inspired the energy drinks story line?  

I had read about sudden unexplained death clusters in Thailand and Vietnam. The one in Vietnam, for instance, was ultimately traced back to wild mushrooms that people foraged. I started to think about what could cause a similar cluster in the U.S. and the energy drink craze popped to mind. I did some more research and … voila!

3) At the end of the book, Will Volmer, Prescott & Talbot’s Managing Partner, asks Sasha to let him join her firm. What prompted this development?  

I hadn’t planned that twist. But, Will’s been a decent person in several books now, and I just knew he wouldn’t stay at P&T any longer. I like the idea of Sasha taking on a partner and growing her firm while trying hard to avoid the behaviors that prompted her to leave P&T in the first place.

4) And now a technical question - unashamedly triggered by my own recent experimentations with writing software. What are the technical tools you use for your writing? 

Do you use any writing package (such as Scrivener or Story Mill), or do you stick to a trusted word processor like Word? Or yellow legal notepads? All of the above! I do use Scrivener (and for my money nothing beats it for drafting) for my first draft because I like to jump around and write unconnected scenes if I get stuck. But I also carry a notebook and a pen around.  And sometimes type out short scenes on my phone if I am caught without a pen.  But my beta readers and editors work in Word, so after the first draft, I transfer the file over to Word for the rest of the process. I’ve found that my process has evolved (or at least changed!).  So, I heartily endorse experimenting!

5) You are becoming one of the most successful indie writers in your genres, with the first novel in the series, Irreparable Harm, currently at no. 2 on the US Amazon’s Kindle legal thriller best sellers rank. Did you expect to make it this far when you started out writing the first book?  

Oh, absolutely not!  I mean, I thought Irreparable Harm was a solid story and I was (and still am) proud of it, but the reception by readers of the series has exceeded my wildest imaginings.  I can’t even begin to express how fortunate I feel that these books have found a home with readers and that I get to keep writing them! 
As always, Paola, thank you so much for letting me babble about my writing!  

Thank you, Melissa, for your time!

Read my review of Improper Influence here
You can buy Improper Influence from the Amazon UK and Amazon US stores.

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