John Ramsey Miller
Most published authors are asked to speak to groups of one sort or another. I am flattered when I am asked to address people who are interested in what I have to say. As I was preparing a yak-up about my work (and authoring in general) I’m going to be giving next week to people gathered up to support a university library, I thought about the most frequent questions I am asked. After addressing non-writers, readers, book lovers, funders and innocent bystanders, there is invariably a Q & A exchange. No matter where I am speaking, or what aspects I blather on about, when it’s time for questions people ask the same ones.
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: There are so many I never know where to start. I usually say it depends on the genre and when I read them. Truman Capote, Ken Follett, Frederick Forsythe, Ken Kesey, John lé Carre, Ira Levin, William Golding, James Brady, William Styron, Mario Puzzo, Willie Morris, Steinbeck, Eudora Welty, J.D. Salinger, J. G. Ballard, John Cheever, Tolkien, James Clavell, Tom Wolfe, Frank Herbert, and then we have contemporary authors, none of whom I can list here without fear of leaving out someone and hurting feelings. There are so many truly great authors out there.
Q: What are your favorite books?
A: IN COLD BLOOD, EYE OF THE NEEDLE, THE GODFATHER, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, FRANNY & ZOEY, SOPHIE’S CHOICE, LORD OF THE RINGS, DUNE, NORTH TOWARD HOME, CANNERY ROW, WHY I LIVE AT THE P.O., DOGS OF WAR, SMILEY’S PEOPLE… (Books by the people listed above)
Q:Do you write every day (on a schedule)?
A: Yes, but not always at the keyboard. These days I write when I want or need to.
Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: Rarely from the same place twice
Q: What is your process?
A: I think a lot. I write. I think a lot more. I write. Like that. Over and over. It’s sort of a cycle that speeds and slows but never stops.
Q: Do you outline or follow characters where they lead you?
A: I never let my characters decide where to take me. I give them a road map and expect them to go exactly where I have made the marks. I am the choreographer. I think it is pretentious to say one’s characters are so alive they take over. As the author, unless you are either in control or on LSD. Your characters are in your imagination and on the page and are not actually alive and acting independent of your mind.
Q: When did you decide to become an author?
A: I have no idea when it started. I have told made-up stories and written since I was very young. Over time I more or less got increasingly familiar with an old friend.