Today we speak to Ann Lee Miller. 

Ann Lee MillerQ) Tell us something about yourself.

Every year in elementary school the teachers wrote, “daydreams too much,” on my report card. I grew up to use my bad habit to write novels.

However, sometimes the daydreaming didn’t work out so well in real life. When I was a child my family lived aboard a sailboat—thus all the sailboats in my books. At twelve, my job was checking the depth when we sailed near shallows. I jabbed a pole at the bay floor and yelled out how many feet of water we had by reading the notches on the stick. One day the pole stuck in bottom, and the next thing I knew, I clung to the pole, suspended a couple feet above the water, and my family sailed away.

Of course, I didn’t waste all my hollering about mud and barracuda and cold water as I sunk into the seaweed waiting for Dad to lumber the motor-less, forty-foot hulk back around to fetch me–I wrote it into Tattered Innocence.

Q) Tell us about your latest book. Why do you think the readers will like it?

Readers will like this book because we all have guilt we’d love to jettison. My characters accomplish the feat. The back cover blurb gives a snapshot of the book:

A tale of passions indulged, denied, and ultimately forgiven:

On the verge of bagging the two things he wants most—a sailing charter business and marrying old money—Jake Murray’s fiancée/sole crew member dumps him. Salvation comes in the form of dyslexic, basketball toting Rachel Martin, the only one to apply for the first mate position he slapped on craigslist.
On a dead run from an affair with a married man, Rachel’s salvation is shoving ocean between her and temptation.
Rapid fire dialogue and romantic tension sail Jake’s biker-chick of a boat through hurricanes, real and figurative. A cast of wannabe sailors, Rachel’s ex, Jake’s, a baby—go along for the ride.
The many-layered story weaves together disparate strands into a seamless cord. Mother and daughter look eerily alike—down to their lusts. Their symbiotic bond, forged in the blood of childbirth on the kitchen floor and cemented by their secrets, must be cracked open. A son must go home. Sin must be expunged.

Q) How did you come up with the title of the book?

This book has had several working titles, but Tattered Innocence best encapsulates the story. Unhappy with the previous titles, I spent an afternoon playing around with words, filling a page, crossing out rejects until Tattered Innocence emerged.

Q) What kind of research did you do for your book?

Thankfully, I have friends who run a charter sailing business, Siesta Key Sailing, who graciously fielded hundreds of questions to add to my childhood memories. I look up every possible detail, then have my editor and proof readers point out any items I need to double check.

Q) Which of the Characters in your book are your favourites and why?

Rachel, the heroine, is my favourite because she wrestles with guilt and wins.

Q) How did you formulate this character? Is it based on someone you know?

I was raised Catholic, and like most people with my religious background, I have excess guilt. So, the character is not based on a real person, but on a theme.

Q) Every Author has a distinct writing style. How would you describe your style and how do you think you came to form it?

My voice is fast-paced and simile-rich. As a reader, I get bored with slow-moving books, but I want to experience the story on a sensory level. Similes are my shortcut to description.

Q) How long have you been working on this book and what inspired you to write it?

Ha ha! Tattered Innocence has been seventeen years in the making. It was my first novel, and I rewrote it something like thirty-seven times. Thankfully, I had a superb editor who rescued the book from being overwritten. Now, many readers tell me it’s my best novel.

Q) When did you start writing and when did you realize you want to become an Author?

I became a writer the year I discovered Sister Sheila had hair.  I was in fifth grade at St. Hugh’s Catholic School in Miami, Florida, knee deep in nouns and verbs, when Sister Sheila walked through the door in a new habit that showed two inches of mouse brown hair threaded with silver.  Thanks to Sister’s jump-start, I went on to earn a BA in Creative Writing from Ashland University (OH).

Today, I write full-time in Phoenix, Arizona, but left my heart in Florida, where I grew up.

Q) Who are some of the Authors you like and how do you think their work inspired you?

New York Times best seller Charles Martin is at the top of my list because I love his oddball characters and beautiful voice. I just discovered Megan McCafferty last week and am enthralled with her grasp of deep relationships. I’m not a huge historical fiction reader, but newcomer, Julie Lessman is winning me over with her romantic tension.

Q) What do you think is the most difficult part about writing and publishing a novel?

For me plotting is the most tedious task, but it has to be done if I want to streamline my writing process. Ironically, this is what I most often teach when I guest lecture in university classrooms each semester.

Q) What is some advice you will like to give to people trying to write and get their stories published?

Write every day. Accept criticism from writers you respect. Read how-to-write books continually.

Q) Tell us something about what you are working on or about some of your future projects.

My four-book New Smyrna Beach Series is completed, and I’m working on a story about a guy who is struggling with his sexual orientation, tentatively called Chasing Happy. I haven’t decided if this will turn into a series yet.

Q) From amongst all the novels ever published if you had to write any one, which one would it be and why?

I would have liked to have written Francine Rivers’ The Atonement Child because I truly fell in love with the hero. Also, Rivers so masterfully wove a story that looked at one issue—abortion—from every possible angle.

Q) If you had to convince someone to read your book in 5 lines what would they be?

How about five words? Failure, ocean, temptation, love, innocence.



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