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Author Interview: Tannar Miller

Author, Tannar Miller

Short Story: Death is a Black Swan on a Shallow Pool

Apologue of the Immortals

Tell us a little about your background and what led you to writing.

I had a bit of a dysfunctional upbringing (haven’t we all) and I guess the brightest moments I remember were those that involved stories. Whether those be books or my own imaginary worlds that I could escape to. I didn’t really start writing my stories until I was ten or twelve, but I had been telling stories all my life. Stories are what carried me through. My Grandma I think was probably the biggest influence on me, instilling in me a love of reading and in turn writing. Anyway, after highschool I worked at a lumber yard until I realized I wanted to be a librarian. It aligned with my love of writing and stories, so I nagged my local library until they gave me a job, and now I am looking to hopefully become manager. I now have the opportunity to do something I love while also being able to dedicate time and focus on my writing and I couldn’t wish for anything more.

How or when did you realize you wanted to be an author?

That’s a tough one. I have always been inclined towards stories and writing, for as long as I can remember. Every time I think I’ve pinpointed the realization, I remember another time when I was writing or telling stories. I would say I probably came to the full realization that I wanted to be an author when I was ten or twelve, and I put my first real story down on paper. Since then it’s just been one of those habits I can’t quite break.

What is your writing process like?

Chaos. Pure unbridled chaos. By technical definition I am probably a “planster” although I do tend to be more off the cuff, and I generally work better without any pre planned plot. There is a lot of coffee, a lot of staring at blank pages, and a lot, I mean a lot of reading out loud. As much as I try to write from start to finish, I more often than not jump around a story, pulling out the parts I can see until I can tie them together later. I’m still figuring things out that do or don’t work but mostly I just run with it and hope it sticks.

What inspires you to write?

So many things. Music. Movies. Other stories. An interesting character. I get inspiration from all of those things, but one thing I think inspires me more than others is the idea that in a story, you can do anything. I’ve come to the point where the more difficult the story is to write, or the more outlandish the idea, the more inspired and excited I become when writing it. I like a good challenge, and I like the idea that someone can joke about a story about a vampire nun or Doug Marcaida and his late night suit shop and it’s something that can become an amazing story.

What part does writing play in your life?

Writing plays a major part in my life. It is my creative outlet, and as I have gotten older, and the longer I have been writing it has become a way for me to understand myself and the world around me. Writing allows me to examine my anxieties and fears, it allows me to decompress and work through my past as well as my present. Saying that to say that writing is an incredibly important part of my life.

What are your aspirations for your writing journey?

My aspirations have definitely been tempered over time. Of course I want to publish a novel, I want to publish multiple novels. I would love to have made a big enough name for myself to write for multiple platforms like television or video games, while also creating lasting works of fiction. A life of writing and words. But I kind of already have that, I have a job I love that *usually* inspires my writing, a wonderful family, and a pretty good life. I guess I’ve come to the point where I am going to write either way, popular or not, published or not, so I’m leaving the future open.

What is something you know now about writing you wish you knew when you started?

That everyone's process is different. When I pull stories out of the ether it’s like pulling teeth, often slow and painful, and for a long time I was disappointed in myself because of it. I have tried every version of writing space, writing time, and writing socks, with little to no positive impact on my writing. I’m slow and my process is shambles but it’s MY process and I wish I would have understood that sooner, and spent less time trying so hard to write like other people, and more time just writing.

Describe your favorite character (you created). Why?

I have to be careful with this one, or they will all get mad at me. I have so many unique characters, it’s hard to choose. Probably one of my favorites is a character called Patrick Bone. He is a detective, based in a world that is supernatural and magical. He has an inherent immunity to both, and is unknowingly immortal, except he isn’t immortal in the sense he never dies, but in the sense that he simply exists, like a force of nature. I have a major soft spot for detective stories, as well as the supernatural, so it’s no wonder he’s a favorite. But I also think it can be incredibly interesting to have a character with power that has no inherent interest in that power. Also Patrick Bone gives me the opportunity to examine the passage of time, and the trauma involved and how that affects a person mentally and physically.

Which author(s) inspires you as a writer?

Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Ursula K. Le Guin, are some of my biggest inspirations. Not only because of their incredible mastery of the craft but because of their philosophies and beliefs surrounding the art of writing and how it’s done.

What advice would you give newly aspiring authors?

I always say never be afraid to write short fiction. It teaches you incredible amounts about the craft. Also read your work aloud, there is no better way to get the rhythm of your work. I think more importantly though, and I’m repeating myself here, my advice would be to remember that every process is different. Although it’s important to take advice and look for support from other writers, always be aware that nothing you do is going to be the same as them. Take advice but learn to ignore it. No writer has the answer to how to do this, and it’s good to remember that we are all just kicking around in the dark most of the time hoping we don’t stub our toe. Besides this I would say, write exclusively at 6:15 am. Edit at 4. Drink only the best coffee, and cut yourself a break. You are writing because you love it (hopefully), so remember to enjoy it.

What works can your readers expect to see in the near future?

I have a handful of projects I am currently working on. I’m always in the midst of a few short stories, but I hope to get to work on a couple curated collections or longer works soon. Also although I took a break last year, I fully intend to do a flash fiction a day for Inktober. Those are always fun and although I usually keep some for submissions a lot of them I will post to my blog throughout October.

How can your readers find more about you and your works?

The best place to find more about me and my work is on my blog/website Parts of it are still a work in progress but not only do I plan on keeping up a list of current publications but I also use it as a place to post work that may not get sent elsewhere. Other than there I try to post regularly about my writing on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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