Interview with Alan Miller

What motivated you to become an indie author?
On a British soap opera from long ago, there was a character who could not read or write. He was being taught by a colleague and was having a hard time writing with his right hand. His tutor suddenly noticed him deftly picking up a tea spoon with his left hand and adding sugar to his tea and stirring it while he was staring at his own terrible handwriting... Once the pen went into his left hand, he rapidly made progress. For me, there were two significant moments when I 'noticed the left hand'. The first was realising the sheer volume of written output I'd generated over the last eleven years writing as 'Camus' for www.cineoutsider.com. I felt that as I did these lengthy reviews all for the love of it, I must love writing more than I realised. The second 'aha' moment was getting a Kindle for Christmas. It was like being given the keys to the castle...
What are you working on next?
In contrast to my recently published novel, NIGH, I'm writing an out and out thriller called GUIDED about a select group of people with a subtle power who guide elected officials into making more moral and ethical decisions in times of crisis. In order to stop a deranged, bereaved scientist wreaking havoc in Washington DC, the 'guides' have to orchestrate a love affair and control the fates of two people who do not turn out to be the puppets the benevolent puppet-masters were hoping for.
Who are your favorite authors?
For me authors represent different aspects of my own personality. My very first novel read was The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and although I enjoy fantasy (Tolkein et al), I quickly found science fiction to be more compelling (Philip K. Dick, Douglas Adams, Arthur C. Clarke, Theodore Sturgeon, John Wyndham and too many others to name). In school, I was introduced to L'Étranger (The Outsider) by Albert Camus and it had a profound effect on me. Ian McEwan is very highly placed and I'd be lying if I said I didn't adore J.K. Rowling's work especially Cormoran Strike. In non-fiction without question, Malcolm Gladwell is well up there as each of his books inspires and amazes. Staying with non-fiction, I'm partial to the four horsemen's work (Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens RIP).
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Being with my family, walking the dogs, a renewed sense of purpose... There's always the jaw dropping realisation that for a brief period I am alive in the universe... What are the chances of this? We live on a planet with an extraordinary wealth of life in a mysterious universe with no answers to the big questions. I'm just happy never to see the mundane in the ordinary. Evolution and thinking about evolution just takes my breath away.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Thinking about what I might write. To be honest, I read more than any other activity. I've been like this ever since I was very young. I take about 5 or 6 specialised periodicals and now the urge for a book can be satisfied in a few swipes and clicks, I'm never without many books 'on the go'. I'm happy to play tennis, go for long walks and just enjoy simple things.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Very definitely as I poured my soul into it. I wanted to prove to the person who'd asked me to write it that I was capable of spinning a yarn. It was the story of a young girl's passion for flight and how the Challenger Shuttle disaster almost broke her spirit. It had a nice little twist at the end. I may even have a hard copy of it somewhere.
What is your writing process?
I'm not as strict as I could be as regards periods in which to write. I make my living doing another job so can't always be in a full time mode to devote to writing but I do not let any review out of my hands to be posted on the cineoutsider website until it has been rewritten at least (at the very least) 5 times. I'm proud that my proof readers for NIGH spotted only two problems - one was a wrong character name and the other a matter of contention so I was happy about that. The desire to write and the ability of getting what's in the air on to the page is often capricious - you just have to give the muse as many chances to strike as possible...
How do you approach cover design?
Three words: Christopher Hamilton-Emery. Chris read my synopsis, designed a cover which obliquely referred to my story but everyone just loved it. It's only in seeing the work of a real designer that one's own efforts are put to shame. Like the scoring of a movie, his cover made my book real.
What do you read for pleasure?
I do not read anything for any other reason. I'm not studying a subject I have no interest in. I do not work in a job that demands I read to stay up to date. I'm not forced to read anything. I read because my curiosity is Godzilla-sized and there's a lot to find out, many different lives to experience before we close our eyes for the last time. In short, everything I read is for pleasure.
Realistically, what do you hope to gain from publishing a novel?
I know that everyone goes into this business with a soupçon of hope that their work may take off in some way. I think that's a very human desire. It's also pretty unrealistic. If I had to be hard and ruthless, my best case scenario would be a modest readership, a lively home web site and web identity (www.camuspublishing.co.uk) and interaction with readers. Let's not forget making some money. I don't think I will ever be able to give up the day job but while writing gives me so much pleasure (which I hope to pass on through the pages) I'll keep going. It is simply not possible to be reimbursed for the hours of work I've put into my book - it has to born of passion. And it was.
Published 2014-07-14.
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Books by This Author

Nigh
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 132,610. Language: English. Published: June 18, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Science fiction » General
We're not getting any older… NIGH charts the fate of the human race as dormant genes, virus-like, activate worldwide. This event compels all animals on the planet to grow younger at the same rate as they once grew older. We are all forced on to the inexorable path to youth, infancy and extinction. It's a very human apocalypse...