Miller was available on Wednesday, October 11 at the Windham Public Library to discuss her books in the Janet series and the process of how she became a writer.
Miller, originally from Indiana, has lived in Gorham for 24 years and retired from teaching at the Portland School Department in 2011. Once retired, she had a lot of time on her hands and was always a big reader. She loved to write, but never saw herself as a writer. Storytelling came naturally to her but writing did not. Miller had written before, but it was more oriented towards children. She always saw herself writing children’s stories.
“I guess I thought if I’d ever be a writer, it’d be in children’s literature,” Miller explained.
However, she soon discovered her love for children’s writing changed. “I felt like I was drawn more to adult fiction,” Miller began. “I feel there is kind of a drought for literature for the older female. So often I would read a really great book and the characters were...30 and 40-year-old women. I read this one book and the mother was only 70, I’m 71, and they made her like, she had a broken hip and [it was very exaggerated]. I was like ‘really?’ We’re not dead yet. So that’s part of what I wanted to write to. We truly always stay young in our heads, regardless of what we look like.”
She also discovered that she couldn’t write about explicit sex. “I could imply the heck out of it, but to write it, I couldn’t,” joked Miller. As a result, her book originally entitled “50 Shades of White” became “Next to the Last Act” (the first in the Janet Book series)
Miller explained how she choose the topic of her first book. “A lot of my friends were finding themselves widows and this book is about a widow, [which I am not]. I started thinking about what would I do if I became a widow and I felt guilty; I didn’t want to think that with my husband living. Well I could imagine it through writing and that’s really how “Next to the Last Act” happened.”
“Next to the Last Act” is the story of Janet Stewart, who after losing her husband of forty years, wonders if she’ll be able to find happiness and fulfillment as a single senior. She discovers she may have jumped in too soon.
The book started after Miller had been talking with a woman over Words With Friends, an online app game similar to scrabble, who had written and published a book. The woman offered to connect Miller with her publisher. Approximately three years later “Next to the Last Act” was born. Miller states that her books dive into the subtle passion of the 30-year-old mind stuck in a 60-year-old body.
Is the author in any way similar to the protagonist in the Janet series? It didn’t start out that way.
“[When] I started out, Janet was nicer than I am…and then Marty creeped into Janet big time,” Miller said. “Everyone, including my daughter, will say, ‘that is so you.’ And of course, it’s my voice.
Miller shared some of her knowledge and discoveries as an author. “[My favorite part is] making people feel like they are reading about someone real,” she began. “Every day is an adventure. It’s been a learning experience.”