Interview with Miranda Mayer

Published 2019-04-08.
What is your writing process?
I use the 'skeleton book' process. Which means I dedicate one notebook for each novel. I set aside pages for character development, two or three pages per character; a section is set aside for timeline and location details so I can refer to them quickly rather than stall and scroll back, and then the rest of the journal has a page or two dedicated to chaptering. I start by writing out a sentence to describe what's happening in each chapter. Once I've done that from beginning to end, I begin 'fleshing out' the skeleton by writing forward. **Always** forward, never stopping to review or edit or to add things I might have forgotten along the way. I just make brackets and write [INSERT THIS LATER].

I do that from chapter one to the end. By this time, I have pretty much, a rough completed book. Then I go back to do rewrites. That's my favourite part, but it can also be tedious, depending on how much structural changes have occurred since the beginning of the book. And that happens a lot. Rewrites are when I go and write the pretty stuff, when insert the stuff I forgot to before, where I fix plot changes that might have happened, restructure things, fix inconsistencies and conflicts, add some flowery stuff, fix dialogues, refine characters, and turn the rough-cut into a real book.

After that, it's off to the editor for a full copy edit. When I get that back, I do my revisions as the editor notes, change anything major, polish up the manuscript, and then it's time for Beta readers. I do sometimes skip the beta reading stage, mostly because I give myself deadlines and often am right up against them by the time editing gets back to me.

Then it's formatting for print and ebooks, cover design (I usually start that a when the book's at the 75% mark in the fleshing stage. And that's it. I'm not super-fast like some of my other writerly friends, some of whom can crank out several titles a year. But if I follow my process, I can get one or two out each year.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Reading was a dominating facet of my childhood and a really great escape from what was a tumultuous family life. So it seems like it was only natural to become a writer for it. One of the most influential books I've read is from that time. It's a book called 'The Lottery Rose' by Irene Hunt. It has stuck with me from second grade on. It was read aloud to us over several weeks by my teacher, and I remember sitting there, with my head resting on the desk, and hiding my tears behind my arm. It's the story of a little boy who is terribly abused, and who is also obsessed with flowers, which were *his* escape from his terrible life. It's exceptionally powerful for a children's book, and it had a lasting impact on my life and on my choice to be an author. I highly recommend it. On my facebook page, I have posted videos of me reading this book aloud if you're curious, as the paperback is out of print.
How do you approach cover design?
Cover design, at least for me, is the most frivolous, indulging part of the publication process. I love love love it. Especially when I'm working with models and costume. I am a costume-hobbyist, and I'm obsessed with the Regency period. So for every book, I start planning the cover pretty early. And I start model-hunting.

I am always on the lookout for appropriate models, and I am looking locally. In fact, all of my models are local girls. Friends, acquaintances, people from my costuming group. I even found a couple just walking up to them at the local cafe like some kind of creeper, and asking if they would like to model for me. The Red Slipper Series has a two garden-center workers, a bartender, a young girl just out of high-school, a musician, a dandy, and most recently, a model, costumer and mom.

Because my books feature women coming into their own power and strength, I want the ladies to be the dominant subject of my covers. I like them to be in period-correct costume as far as I can manage, or at least the illusion of it (one gown was made from stretch velvet, but can you tell?) I start downloading stock images early on; of elements I want to include in the image, if there is a need. Right now, I'm on the hunt for the perfect raven's wings.

I want all my Red Slipper books to have their own design and flavour, because they are each standalone books, but I let the structure of the design make them cohesive and consistent. The arrangement of the logos, keeping my author name in the same place, etc. I like bright jewel tones to pop if I can get away with it, and I want lovely, graceful text if I can find it.

I have 15 years of graphic design experience to go with. The only thing I do think is that I could use some training to learn more about new trends. But for now, the Red Slipper Series has a good look that I'm satisfied with. I hope you enjoy them too!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
#1 - Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen and #2 - Persuasion by Jane Austen - I love ALL of Jane's books, but S&S is my favourite. Mostly because it's such a human story. Jane Austen's propensity for social criticism and cutting snark is pervasive in everything she wrote, but I think S&S and Persuasion are both more 'humanized' than the others. Both books have hardships imposed upon the families. The heroines, Elinor and Anne, have to be mature and make difficult decisions, and put their happiness aside for the sake of others. I think these books provide a pretty clear picture of Jane's own world at the time, and the kinds of challenges she might have faced as a daughter of a middle-class family. They were my favourite from 5th grade on and remain so.
#3 - Lottery Rose, by Irene Hunt. I learned a lot about what is acceptable and what isn't when it comes to adults interacting with children, and I learned that it was okay to distrust adults when they earned it.
#4 - The Velveteen Rabbit. I don't think I need to explain why this is such a beautiful book. But it is. And I've carried copies through the years to pass onto my child because I think the lesson of love and the value of your being are precious.
#5 - Valley of the Horses by Jean Auel. I read this book when I was probably about nine. We were a family of notorious book thieves, and we'd snitch away other family members' books at any given chance. This book has been the very core of why I love to write books about strong, powerful, independent women. I read it so many times, I cannot even count (but I do tend to leaf through all the Jondalar bits when he's traveling towards Ayla because I wasn't really interested in his sexual exploits and romances along the way). What had me riveted was Ayla. Alone in her valley, and her lessons of herbology and survival. Her taming of animals. Her not just surviving, but just ROCKING it on her own. She was a role model for me and for my writing. There's a little bit of Ayla in all of my books. Thank you Jean Auel. <3 (I enjoyed the rest of the series, but VOH is the one for me.
What do you read for pleasure?
Post-apocalyptic all the way. I don't read my genre. I don't want to be influenced by it.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have an old Nook. And my Android.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Comic-Cons and conventions. Hands-down. And having fans returning year after year in search of the next book in the series is the best feeling EVAR.
Describe your desk
My desk is in my dedicated she-shed that my husband built me just so I could write and create and have it all in my own space. The desk itself is sitting in a 'bay' of sorts. With a window in front and another on my left. I am surrounded by framed artwork secured at Comic-Cons; a drawing of Audrey Hepburn as graceful as a swan, a little character sitting crosslegged with a laptop with text that says 'Write Like a Girl', a cartoon raven, and a raven sitting on a skull. There's a tiffany lamp on my left, that casts soft light, and a pine-cone shaped clock on my right. I have a Surface Pro to write with, and my husband bought me a QwerkyWriter keyboard that's styled to look like an old-school typewriter with the round keys, and it's super clickey and my favourite thing on the planet. I have a tufted office chair that's tiffany blue, and the curtains are lace that is designed into a little forest with trees and birds. When it rains, it's like music on the roof. And when I get distracted, there are all my hobbies and work tables to do them on behind me. I have a tall shelf for all my book inventory and other things, and a festooning of IKEA cubes to ferret all my other bits and bobs away. The she-shed is heated and lit, and cozy as all get out. And my writing area has a gorgeous little rug to keep my feet cozy.

I love my writing space. <3
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Belgium. And Belgium is in me still. I may live in Oregon, and yes, the Oregon Cascades are often described in my foresty, rainy places, but when it comes to the essentials, living in a nation of antiquity, where there are buildings and cultural aspects as old as anything, my books tend to feature the same kinds of things. Aged gardens, old trees, venerable, imposing old buildings made to last centuries, family lines that go far back into time, cutural traditions and norms that are staid and true. Understanding the memory of a war in our back yards, and what that's like. Rain and sunken pathways, chestnut trees and rhododendrons as high as a house. Homes with moats (because mine had one), horse-riding in the streets, horses part of the culture... food food food. We are what we write, after all. :)
When did you first start writing?
In the fifth grade. I dedicate all of my books (said or not) to the teacher that showed me about writing. Her name is Wendy Pamay. She was the most brilliant teacher I ever had. She fostered creative arts, and she taught us to write and to bind books. She encouraged all of us to put ourselves out there and tell our stories. She was amazing, and I wish for every creative child to have the blessing of a Wendy in their lives. Thanks Mrs. P!
Where do you want your writing to take you?
I don't need to have millions of books sold. But I'd like to become good enough to earn a solid following. To find my market niche, small as it is. Because not everyone loves Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer, and not everyone meshes with the idea of Regency style fantasy worlds with supernatural things happening in them. But this is where my brain is right now. It used to be straight fantasy, and it has become this. Who knows what's next after the Red Slipper Series? But I won't stop writing. It's my lifeblood. :) I just hope one day, it can provide me some peace of mind in addition to being my creative outlet.
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Latest books by This Author

The Seed of Winden
Series: The Red Slipper Series. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 94,240. Language: English. Published: April 8, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Fantasy » General
Given the chance to live in the last remaining scrap of green land in her desert world, the young girl Nieve's future seems bright. She meets the bullish young man by the name of Tammin, and they enter the circle of stones on the hilltop at Winden together, Nieve's fate becomes entangled with his, and it might become their task to stop the sands from consuming everything she has come to holds dear
The Trilogy of Tinna
Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 279,620. Language: English. Published: July 2, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
Trilogy of Tinna is the tale of a lady assassin who wants only to belong somewhere, and to live a simple life. But Tinna's battle for normality is all uphill. What is in store for her are rebellious dragons, a war against her own people, a mother who is her enemy, and a destiny that seems designed to break her. Tinna's odyssey is a challenging one. Follow her journey today.
The Red Witch of Tirdonne
Series: The Red Slipper Series. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 95,340. Language: English. Published: July 2, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
After the death of her husband, Evvie returns home embittered by her bad marriage. She is determined to cut herself off from everyone. But when a rugged Bask warrior darkens her doorway and saves her life, Evvie’s world is turned upside down. A new life, new country, and newly minted a witch by her new family; she could not predict that this new identity would also bring a new enemy too.
The Talisman Killer
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 42,880. Language: English. Published: January 30, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
Before the Rift, Veronica Wolffe and Verity Bane struggled to eke out a living as paranormal investigators. But when the rift between dimensions ripped open and the world was overwhelmed with demons, their powers are suddenly in high demand. Their job takes a grisly turn when a local logger has been killed by a vengeful Rift beast bent on punishing environmental criminals.
The Beast With Silver Eyes
Series: The Red Slipper Series. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 97,820. Language: English. Published: January 6, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Forced to accompany a bully on a journey to the seaside, Keela never expects to find romance on the way. A n'er-do-well crownless King a mission of his own, entrusted with the care of a rare creature, Edrick could never predict he would fall in love in the middle of it all. He is faced with a difficult predicament; follow orders, or follow the girl. Both of which will inevitably lead to trouble.
A Problem of Ghosts
Series: The Red Slipper Series. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 63,080. Language: English. Published: January 7, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Parents arrested for unexplained reasons; the Evlan sisters are packed up and sent to live with a great aunt in her heavily haunted house. One ghost in particular seems intent on harming the eldest girl, Dae. In an effort to remove the threatening ghost, she summons the assistance of a Ghoster. Neither of them could predict the web of lies and entanglements hunting the angry ghost would uncover.
Tinna's Reign
Series: Trilogy of Tinna, Book Three. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 75,280. Language: English. Published: February 11, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
There is cause for celebration in Thamatoc. Avria is getting married, Tinna has new baby and she is looking forward to snowy winter cozily tucked away from all the expectations and responsibilities that await her—at least for a little while longer. But Tinna has a destiny; a plan carefully laid out by the mysterious Keepers, and they are putting their plan into action with or without her consent.
The Wizard King
Series: The Red Slipper Series. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 91,580. Language: English. Published: December 31, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Fantasy, Fiction » Romance » Regency
Quiet, sweet Ynith never expected to find herself the object of affection of a Crown Prince. Moreover, she could never prepare herself for the cost of being loved by a man who is by all rights, evil. A budding Wizard, Ynith's beau is about to turn the world upside down, and Ynith will have to learn to stand on her own to face the perils brought on by the love of an evil King.
Tinna's Might
Series: Trilogy of Tinna, Book Two. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 101,630. Language: English. Published: March 1, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
Twenty years have passed since the fateful journey in Tinna's Promise, and things don't seem to be getting easier. A woman who has stood against dragons, wars and murders without batting an eyelash, knows she truly has something to fear in her newest, most ruthless enemy ... her mother.
The Belletrist
Price: Free! Words: 14,680. Language: English. Published: August 1, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays
An eclectic collection of ten short stories and Micro-stories by author Miranda Mayer. They range from real life to fantasy and paranormal. A quick and easy read!
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