Tuesday, November 8, 2011

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR, ANTHONY MILLER


INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR OF "WHAT WOULD SATAN DO?", ANTHONY MILLER




Hi Anthony, thank you so much for doing this interview. To get us started I wanted you to tell us about your book "What Would Satan Do?" How did you come about writing this and has it been controversial at all?

It's a silly book, written for anyone who liked Christopher Moore's Lamb, or anything by Douglas Adams (in particular, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul). It's the story of what would happen if Satan decided to skip the whole End Times thing to retire on Earth. I was in a Bible study class, reading Revelations, which is basically this wild prophecy that tells what's going to happen at the end of the world. As I understood it, Satan's job would be to get the ball rolling, only to have God show up all triumphant at the end. And then I thought, if God is omniscient, and He is the unmoved mover, and if He came up with the whole plan for Judgment Day, well, it just seems kind of unfair. I felt bad for Satan in much the same way that I felt bad for Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. If I were Satan, I'd blow off Judgment Day and take off for a holiday somewhere nice.

I was thinking about what would happen if Satan refused to play his part, and remembered that I once saw a documentary about a powerful lobbying group who actually want to perpetuate the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians as a way of bringing about the End Times and the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. If Satan retired, and wasn't around to start up the end of the world, those guys would be pissed!

As for controversy -- I live in what was once labeled the second most conservative voting district in the United States, and folks around here have actually been pretty receptive. I think there's a difference between asking thoughtful questions (and poking a bit of fun at zealotry) on the one hand, and insulting people's religion on the other. In any case, I'm actually kind of disappointed at the lack of controversy. Apart from the occasional blog comment urging me to repent, there hasn't been any -- yet.

Are there any other books you have written or have in the works now?

I'm working on a sequel called BJORN AGAIN, in which Scandinavians, having grown tired of making safe cars and flat-pack furniture, decide to return to their Viking roots of sacking and pillaging. Satan is in it and, again, is the hero of the story. Coming up with a way to connect him with resurgent Viking marauders has been pretty entertaining. It'll probably be out in a year or so.

Have you always been a writer or is this a new endeavor for you?

I started writing stories when I was a teenager, and I write a lot in my job as a trial lawyer. (I was going to say that this is the first time I've ever tried to get people to pay me to write fiction, but I think I have refer you back to my previous statement.) I love fighting about grammar and reading about the history of the English language. All of that is just to say that while this is my first novel, but writing it seemed like a pretty natural progression.

What other genres, if any, are you interested in writing in the future?

That's a tricky one. It's very hard to identify a genre for WWSD? The labels "comic fantasy" or even "bizarro" seem apt, but don't appear to me to be widely used in publishing. And I've never thought, "Hey, I'd like to write a mystery," or "Wouldn't it be cool if I wrote a romance novel?" I finished all of Douglas Adams' books, and then tore through Christopher Moore's books, and couldn't find any other authors that I thought were quite on par with those two. I remember wandering the shelves of my local bookstore, looking for the book I wanted to read again and again, and never finding it. I finally decided that nobody had written what I wanted to read, and that I'd have to do it myself. Maybe one day I'll have a similar epiphany about how nobody ever wrote about Jason Bourne's autistic cousin, but I doubt it. Probably I'll just stick to more stories about Satan.

Tell us about you, who is Anthony Miller and what is a day in his life like?

I'm pretty normal. Here is my typical schedule:

6:00-6:45 Wander neighborhood searching for rodents and stray cats to kick.
6:45-8:00 Meditate and eat soup.
8:00-9:00 Visit local nursing homes to insult grandmas.
9:00-3:00 Walk in circles, practice shadow puppetry.
3:00-4:30 Write journal entry about day's activities so far.
4:30-5:17 Drink milk.
5:17-7:00 Lead extemporaneous poetry session at local grocery store.
7:15 Bed.

If you could do one thing for the rest of your life that would be perfect and you'd never get tired of doing it, what would it be and why?

I don't have the attention span to stick with one thing for the rest of my life. I get tired of everything -- even my very favoritest things. I guess I see this question as: How would I spent my time if I had complete, unfettered control over what I do? I've managed to play guitar pretty consistently for 20 years, so I'd probably do some of that. I've also managed to act like an idiot on a consistent basis, so I'd probably do some of that too. I'm confident I'd watch the crap out of the television.

Who are some of your inspirations as far as writing?

Douglas Adams, Christopher Moore, David Foster Wallace.

Tell us a bit about your family, mom and dad, perhaps any sisters or brothers and what do they think about your writing?

Everyone in my family has been enthusiastic. There's a direct relationship between the age of any particular family member and the likelihood of that individual uttering something about profanity, but the voice I write with is my everyday voice, so once the old, farty types get over the high concentration of four-letter words, I think it all seems pretty natural.

Did your writing ability come as a surprise to you or have you always been creative?

No, and yes, but I don't really see writing ability overlapping entirely with creativity. Being creative and being able to come up with funny, witty things is not, I think, all that uncommon. Writing ability, however, is very uncommon. First, I think any writer has to have a good grasp of the basic mechanics of writing. Second, you have to appreciate the conventions of storytelling. Third, writing takes Edisonian levels of perspiration. So no, I'm not surprised that I came up with an idea for a novel, or that the book is filled with a ton of funny stuff. But I will admit to feeling a little bit of shock at the fact that I was able to sit down, night after night for over a year, writing, re-writing, researching, getting critiqued, and re-writing again. It's a heck of a thing to hold a book in your hands and think, "Wow, this represents so many long nights where I could have been watching lots and lots of television."

Last but not least, do you have any advice you'd like to share with other aspiring authors?

I'm not sure I'm qualified to give advice, but I'll set out what I think is important. First, read. Read your favorite authors and see how they did it. Read Dan Brown and other popular authors to see what they did. Read books for the story, but also look at the mechanics of story telling. See how chapters are built, and how a story builds over the course of a book. Get audiobooks and listen to them on your commute.

I think it's tempting to get a bunch of books on writing -- and I'd say that at least Stephen King's On Writing is worthwhile -- but there are so many good books out there that are like cheat sheets. There are no secrets or tricks -- everything is right there on the pages of countless books.

Second, write. Write a lot. Accept that the first stuff you write will stink. Write more. Realize that you're getting better, but that Stephanie Meyer could eat you for lunch (even if you can't stand vampires and don't know whether you should be on Team Pale Guy or Team Never Wears a Shirt). Rinse. Repeat.

Third, meet people. There are writing groups everywhere -- local bookstores, libraries, on-line. That has been the single best thing about writing for me, actually -- meeting other people who also write, who taught me tons, and who share what is often kind of a lonely hobby.

Thank you again for your time Anthony. I hope we can do this again!


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