Thursday, June 28, 2012

Author Interview: Bruce V. Miller

Bruce V. Miller
Q: How long have you been writing, and what kind of stories do you most like to write?

A: I've been writing since high school, so for about 15 years, but my output is pretty sporadic.  I'm not sure that I have a favourite kind of story to write in terms of genres, but most of my stories have been magical-realism, science-fiction, or realistic fiction.  Basically if I can come up with an idea and make it work in some sense, it makes me happy.  I do enjoy experimenting a bit with styles and genres, though.

Q: What was the hardest part of writing your story for Unearthed

A:  The hardest part of writing the story was making the letter-writing format work.  I knew I wanted to do it as a series of letters, but I had to write the story to figure out why that was.  And then with some help from some editors I was made to realize that I had to write the responses to the letters to provide enough insight to (hopefully) get the reader's attention.  

Another troublesome aspect was the time-travel component.  There is always the paradox issue, which I believe isn't really avoidable, but I did my best to minimize it.

Q: What's the title of your story in Unearthed? In general, do you get the title first, or do you write the story first? Do you remember what prompted this particular title?
A:  My story is called "Terminal," and I think I decided on that when I was half-finished.  In general my titles usually come after I've started the story, but it's a little different each time.  For this one, I liked the double-meaning of the word, and I feel that it sets the right tone for a number of things within the world of the story... though the story's not as depressing as that might sound.  What I like about titles is that they can sort of accrete meaning after you start using them.  In this case, I think there's a sort of terminal love going on, but that's not a thought I had before I came up with the title.

Q: What's the best/worst writing advice you've ever been given?
A: The best writing advice I've been given is: listen to criticisms.  I learned in university you're way better off listening to what people got from the story and what they didn't get, rather than trying to defend what you thought you were saying.  Of course, you don't take everyone's advice, but pretty often I learn that what I intended to say and what comes across are not the same, and the best way to find that out is to listen to your readers.

Q: Have you ever read something and thought, “I wish I'd written that!”? What was it?
A: I've certainly experienced the "I wish I'd written that" feeling.  Two instances that come to mind right away are  Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.  Both are so creative and ambitious and the stories are very compelling.  

Thanks, Bruce!