Monday, November 12, 2012

#AuthorInterview Christian Author Ann Lee Miller and The Art of my Life

·      Please welcome author Ann Lee Miller to Rachelle's Window. Anne writes fiction full time and has won several awards and honors. Her latest book, The Art of my Life, features life on a sailboat. Anne, how much of your real life experiences show up in your fiction?

As a writer, I’m a vulture, feeding off the carcass of my life and other peoples’. Usually, it’s just bits and pieces—an experience here, a personality trait there, a deeply etched emotion, a pivotal relationship.

·       For example?

In The Art of My Life Henna shows up as a secondary character who grows pot in the back yard and has obviously smoked one doobie too many over the years. She is a loveable, comical character who fractures clichés much like my mother did in her waning years with Alzheimer's.  I use a funny story that actually happened. Mom insisted that while she was in the grocery store someone stole eighteen pair of her panties out of her laundry basket which was setting in the passenger seat of her car. And the would-be thief replaced her pristine grandmamma undies with eighteen ratty pair.

Starr, who has a more predominant role in the story is a repressed ballet teacher. I took ballet as a child to correct my inward-turning feet. I also struggle with repression. Starr and I rebelled from bohemian upbringings into conservatism. Starr’s hyper-critical attitude toward her son, however, I borrowed from my father’s personality. Both Starr and I heard from our fathers, “I’ll give you something to cry about,” when we cried.

Cal went to jail, had a love affair with marijuana. Close relatives have done the same. Aly fights my leftover Catholic guilt. Fish holds grudges like I do. Aly falls overboard like I did as a kid. Leaf and my late father were Willie Nelson look-alikes.

I, like my characters. have always inhabited the bottom rung of the middle class. We all drive beater cars my kids call POSes (Ahem, you’ll have to figure that one out yourself).
Because I am a spiritual person, my characters wrestle or refuse to wrestle with issues of faith.

·    Are there recurring themes from your life you revisit in fiction?

In The Art of My Life I focus on an adult child overcoming diminished self-esteem due to a critical parent, forgiving people who have deeply hurt us, overcoming self-condemnation when we breach our personal moral code—all issues I have dealt with.

·      The Art of My Life features a male main character. Where did you draw your insight from?

I’ve been surrounded by guys my whole life. My closest relationship growing up was with my father, toxic though it may have been. My only sibling is male. Three of my four children are guys. My husband grants me access to dive in and poke around in the male psyche. But I’m still learning. This year’s big discovery is that most guys could care less about matching—they don’t really give a flip whether they walk out the door with brown pants, brown shoes, and a coordinating shirt. Just last week my sons told me you have to “train” a beard. Who knew?

·      Interesting, I never knew that! Quick summary of The Art of Life?

Here’s the back cover blurb:
Cal walked out of jail and into a second chance at winning Aly with his grandma’s beater sailboat and a reclaimed dream of sailing charters.

Aly has the business smarts, strings to a startup loan, and heart he never should have broken. He’s got squat. Unless you count enough original art to stock a monster rummage sale and an affection for weed. 

But he’d only ever loved Aly. That had to count for something. Aly needed a guy who owned yard tools, tires worth rotating, and a voter’s registration card. He’d be that guy or die trying.

For anyone who’s ever struggled to measure up. And failed.

Review Snippets:

 It is a story that flows easily and makes you think about your own life and the decisions you have made. Marylou George, Confessions of a Reader Blog

Excellent character development and portrayal of the inner tension between dark and light, faith and doubt, courage and fear. The coming-of-age story kept moving and kept me reading as I came to genuinely care about each character and their choices. Jeremy McClung, Church Planter, Huntsville, Ontario, Canada

This book is full of flawed characters making bad choices and trying to find their way, just like real life. Brinda at

I can't tell you how many times I wanted to grab Cal by the ear, drag him over to a chair and give him what-for about his bad choices and stupid decisions. That's how real these people will become to you. Traci Bonney, Author and blogger at Tracings, Where Words Collide

The author's use of imagery as she describes situations and feelings is exceptional. Each of the characters is struggling to find a solid relationship with each other while dealing with their own baggage. Robbi Bourne, reader

Miller's writing flows smoothly and keeps the reader on edge from one suspenseful event to another. Cynthia Harris, Black Lilac Kitty Blog

Honest, earthy, visceral - Ann uses all the senses to describe twenty something relationships. Glimpses of the need for protection, boundaries and forgiveness abound. Roberta Hegland, reviewer

Ann did a great job in presenting each character with individual personalities and voices. That's not an easy talent to achieve as sometimes every character no matter the inflection of voice in dialogue can sound like the author. Nikole Hahn, Reviewer at

Ann is an amazingly talented writer. If you have read Kicking Eternity (which by the way, you can download for free), you know what I'm talking about. She grips you on the first page of both the first one and this one (The Art of My Life) and won't let you go EVEN AT THE END. Anne Baxter Campbell, Blogger at A Pew Perspective

Their language, internal insecurities, propensity to make mistakes, dysfunctional families and relationships all worked together to convince me that I was twenty again and living alongside them. Helen Wakefield at, Australia

 Ann Lee Miller's descriptions were such that I would love to see Cal's art for real. Lynn Worton, Book Reviews By Lynn, United Kingdom

The story and conflicts were written and spun in such a way that it kept me not only engrossed, but intrigued and interested. I felt the characters' desire, their passion, their pain and frustration. I couldn't help but fall in love with all of them and wish them the best, learning from their pain and seeing how similar it rang with challenges from my own past. Nona King, Author and Reviewer at

Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives.

Twitter: @AnnLeeMiller

Giveaway: Anyone who leaves a comment with their e-mail address will receive a free e-copy of prequel: Kicking Eternity. Or you may request your free copy at

The Art of Life is available at Amazon

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