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Friday, 10 May 2013
Author interview with T.C. Miller (revisited)
Back in March 2013, I interviewed author TC Miller for my interview-only WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with multi-genre author T.C. Miller. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, T.C. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
T.C.: I live in the foothills of the Ozarks, east of Oklahoma City, but I wasn’t born here. I’ve lived in a wide-ranging area of the USA, sometimes by choice, and other times due to military assignments. I retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1993, and spent the next fifteen years traveling the country from border to border. That alone, produced enough material for half-a-dozen novels.
I’ve been a voracious reader since the first grade, and can remember writing since the third grade. My first poem was published in a newspaper when I was about nine or ten.
Morgen: I’ve described you as “multi-genre”, what genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
T.C: I have an aversion to classifying any writer’s work by genre. I think a good story can cross many areas of interest. On the other hand, I understand the inclination to categorize work for the sake of readers and the publishing industry. My first novel falls into the genres of military, action, adventure, suspense, thriller, mystery. If I mention only one category, it may exclude large portions of the reading population.
Morgen: A bit of everything, like me. What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
T.C: I write under T.C, because my real name is so common, readers might have trouble finding me.
Morgen: That’s the best way to look at it. As far as I know there are only three Morgen Baileys mentioned online so Google me and (because I’ve posted 2,000+ items spread throughout all my blogs) I’m pretty easy to find. There’s a thriller writer called Geoffrey Archer and although I think he’s successful, having the same sounding name as another writer (especially of the same genre) – Jeffrey Archer – must push him down the results pages. You’ve self-published. What lead to you going your own way?
T.C: The traditional publishing houses are undergoing tremendous changes with the increasing adoption of e-readers and internet distribution. Independent publishing was the fastest way to get my first novel to readers.
Morgen: That’s why I went that way. Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
T.C: Yes, “BlackJack Bomber, A BlackStar Ops Group Mission, is available as an e-book in almost every format. I used Amazon for the Kindle conversion, and Bookbaby for the others.
I always thought of myself as a traditional reader, until I got a Kindle Fire. I still read some hard-copy books, but rarely. I like being able to reverse the screen colour to black. I can also enlarge fonts, which is of great value for those of us over the age of forty.
Morgen: It is great being able to have a book instantly. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
T.C: There is a little of my personal traits in every character, even the women, so it’s a little difficult to play favourites. I see Matthew McConaughey playing Bart Winfield, Jennifer Lawrence playing Joanna Davies, and Jake Gyllenhaal playing Jake Thomas. Actually, they’ve been in my head for so long, I have my own image of them. A movie producer, or director would probably have a much different view.
Morgen: As would readers, probably. Which authors did you read when you were younger and did they shape you as a writer?
T.C: I read everything I could get my hands on, so I really can’t pin my influence down to just one writer, although I think Ian Fleming probably made me want to write action thrillers.
Morgen: Did you choose the titles / covers of your books?
T.C: Yes, in fact, that is the reason there are two covers for “BlackJack Bomber”. I came up with one concept, and my graphics artist came up with the other. I sent them to a bunch of my friends to get a vote, and nobody could decide. Part of the reason is the wide variety of genres covered in the book, so, I went with both covers. That is more common than one might think, since paperbacks and reissues are often done with different cover art to attract a new audience.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
T.C: I’m working on the sequel to “BlackJack Bomber”, with a working title of “BlackStar Bay, A BlackStar Ops Group Mission”, which is due out in early summer, 2013. I’m also plotting a time-travel historical fiction set in Oklahoma in the 1400’s, as well as a Vietnam war-era piece. I also have a serial-killer murder mystery swirling around in the back of my mind. I started a program at a local shopping mall that allows the public to meet local writers called, “Coffee With the Author”.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
T.C: I’m amused by the subject of “writer’s block”. I find that, personally, there is no such thing. I write almost every day, and I am never stalled for more than a few minutes. I tell neophytes to sit down and write, write, and write some more. If a particular story isn’t flowing that day, do something else, otherwise, you run the risk of producing poor material. Go to another story. If you find too often that you lack the excitement to write, find another occupation, or another hobby.
Morgen: Absolutely. It’s a tough industry so you have to be passionate about it. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
T.C: I have an acquaintance, Joe McKinney, who has produced over fifteen best-selling books, mostly about zombies, or horror. He tells me that he does a meticulous outline before he starts a book, and that works for him. I have two friends, Ken Farmer and Buck Stienke, who have written five novels as a team in just over a year, who tell me they seldom outline.
I lean more toward their method. I do produce a rough sketch of each character, so they stay true to themselves. Once I’ve written a few chapters, however, they take on a life of their own and tell me when I’m drifting too far from their core characteristics. I usually find sub-plots and the odd scene simply interjecting itself as I write. An outline would, to some extent, stifle that creativity.
Morgen: Ah yes, it was my interview with Ken and Buck that brought you here, T.C. :) You mentioned three of your characters, what do you think makes your characters believable?
T.C: I find that it helps if you develop your characters from the first line on the first page. I do advise new writers to take a scriptwriting or acting class if they can. It really helps in the development of characters. A friend of mine has some other good advice. He says to let the characters tell the story, and keep the narrative to a minimum.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
T.C: My first novel involved constant and frequent introspective editing. I wrote and rewrote every line a dozen times. Now, the writing flows quickly, and usually requires minimal editing.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
T.C: Some of the material in the BlackStar Ops Group series is fairly technical. The challenge is to do enough research to boil the technical aspects down to an easily digestible kernel of information.
Morgen: A good idea. Some books are so technical that it feels as if the author is showing off. What point of view do you find most to your liking?
T.C: I’ve used a first and third person perspective in most of my writing. I have a piece in mind that would alternate between first and third person, which may be why I haven’t gotten very far with it.
Morgen: Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
T.C: I wrote a lot of poetry when I was younger, but there are so many poets who are much better. I have done non-fiction articles and essays.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
T.C: (Laughs.) Yes, almost all of the bad poetry I wrote.
Morgen: :) That’s pretty much how I feel about mine. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
T.C: Yes. I write more.
Morgen: Do you enter competitions?
T.C: I have good friends who tell me I should, so I probably shall.
Morgen: I like your friends. :) Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
T.C: At the moment, no. It’s difficult for anybody to stay abreast of the rapidly changing paradigm in the publishing business.
Morgen: Do you do much marketing for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
T.C: Everyday, in a variety of ways.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
T.C: I don’t like the time that marketing takes away from writing, but it is necessary. It has its positive side, since I get to meet the public, encourage aspiring writers, and make contacts.
Morgen: That’s how I view it. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
T.C: Write, write, write, and educate yourself further on writing techniques. Join a supportive writer’s group, and stay away from those who “critique” too much. They usually do more to tear a new writer down than to build them up.
Morgen: Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
T.C: Like most writers, I go to conferences and seminars to continue to improve my writing / publishing skills. I read articles constantly about the industry, and writing techniques.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites that you find useful?
T.C: There are so many. I try to limit my time on any of the sites, since it takes away from time to write. I tend to limit those to sites that deal with conferences or workshops I’ve attended, or to organizations of which I’m a member. I repost many of the tips on my Facebook page, T.c. Miller, Author. I also try to avoid other writers who concentrate solely on self-promotion.
Morgen: Me too, unless they’re guesting on my site. :) What do you think the future holds for a writer?
T.C: Much depends on the writer’s goal. If they write simply for enjoyment, the possibilities are endless, especially with the advent of the internet, and ebooks. If they want to become a millionaire… well, I wish I had the answer.
Morgen: So do I. :) Where can we find out about you and your writing?
T.C: My website is www.blackjackbomber.com. There is a bio, and blog, (doesn’t everyone have a blog?) My Facebook page is T.c. Miller, Author
Morgen: I hope not because I design blogs for other authors. :) Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
T.C: I want to thank you for the opportunity to reach more readers.
Morgen: You’re very welcome. I’m delighted you could join me today.
I then invited T.C. to include a self-contained excerpt of his writing…
“A roaring explosion cleared a hole in the anti-vehicle barricade and the driver expertly shifted gears as the armored car passed through the intersection and rumbled through the crumpled barricade. The chain link fence of the alert pad stretched like the mailed fist of a medieval knight and collapsed under the inevitable force of the forty-ton vehicle. “This is freaking unbelievable!” Joanna exclaimed to herself. “They’re in the alert pad!”
She looked around for the SRT and spotted a distant breach in the fence on the south side of the alert pad. The powerful security lights inside the compound were mounted on thirty-foot high towers and cast a pool of light over the area that was as bright as day. Suddenly, they began to fade to an anemic yellow. Emergency generators automatically kicked on within a few seconds to rekindle them. They were no sooner on the way to their usual brightness when they died once again, and within a minute the scene was thrown into almost total darkness in the moonless night. Joanna noticed that most of the lights around the base were also methodically disappearing.
She brought the mike as close to her mouth as she could, and tried to keep any panic induced shrillness out of her voice. “Ops One, this is Seven, Ops One, come in, please.”
“Seven, this is Ops One. What the hell is going on over there?”
“Ops One, we are under attack!” Joanna’s voice went up in pitch, “Ops Two has been hit by what looks like an RPG!”
“Say again, Seven?”
“I repeat, Ops Two was just hit by what looked like a rocket-propelled grenade and is now apparently toast!” Joanna sucked in a breath. “Plus, my post has been totally destroyed. The armored car has penetrated Alert One on the east side and so has some other intruder on the south side. Security lights are out and one of the SRT teams is engaging them in the dark. We need some fricking help out here, NOW, please!”
She looked up in time to see the tower erupt in a ball of flame that shot fiery tendrils out thirty feet or more. The observation tower folded neatly in half and collapsed.
“Oh, God, they just got the control tower! It’s gone.” Her voice sounded strangely flat and she wondered about the two-man crew inside the tower. What was happening was undeniably real, but it took on a surreal quality that Joanna was having trouble shaking off. Her stomach turned queasy and her heart pounded so hard she was afraid the bad guys might hear it over the roar of the diesel engine. Her mind refused to accept the unthinkable. She, Senior Airman Joanna Davies, was witnessing the first major breach of a U.S. Air Force nuclear facility! That sort of thing just did not happen, and yet, it was happening on her watch!”
and a synopsis…
Five average, middle-aged suburban guys call themselves the Thursday Night Mafia, and their weekly blackjack game appears to be an innocent pastime. But looks can be deceiving, as casual talk over cards leads to an ill-fated plot to scam Lake Tahoe casinos. Their lives are thrown into a downward spiral faster than you can shuffle the cards. Caught red-handed by mob goons, and facing certain death if they don’t repay a fortune they don’t have, they turn to Rick. He devises a plan to use their inside knowledge of Air Force operations to commandeer a plane with nuclear weapons on board and hold it for ransom.
But the BlackJack Bomber holds Cold War secrets bigger than Rick’s, and the BlackStar Ops Group races against the clock to hunt down Rick. His vengeful plan includes the destruction of Lake Tahoe, and the death of thousands of people, and that’s just for starters. Ultimately, he hopes to auction off nuclear weapons, including the ultra-secret BlackStar system, to the international terrorist community.
If you would like to include a short third-person biography here feel free.
T. C. Miller’s twenty-four year Air Force career gave him the opportunity to live from coast-to-coast. It was during his assignment at Mather Air Force Base, California that he formulated the basic plot for his debut novel, BlackJack Bomber.
T. C. is also an accomplished martial artist, and has studied Hakkoryu Jujitsu, since 1976.
He started writing as a pre-teen, and has authored newspaper and magazine articles, lesson plans, and advertising copy. BlackStar Bay, the sequel to BlackJack Bomber, is scheduled for release in mid-2013.
Although not a native Oklahoman, he considers it his home state.
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