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Interviews

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Interview with John A. Miller!
By: The Myth Master


In this issue we have a very special guest for all of you. He is writer, publisher and business entrepreneur—ladies and gentlemen please welcome the Master of Yippee, Mr. JAM himself, everyone please help me welcome John A. Miller to the interview booth! I should tell you right off the bat that you have nothing to worry about, we no longer use electric chairs as part of our interview process.

But in all seriousness, I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to sit down with us.

M.M.: My first question for you Mr. Miller, is when did you first start writing?

JAM.: I began writing on a Commodor 64 computer over a decade ago. I don’t even know how to spell “Commodor.” It was tedious, and eventually I graduated to a Brother Word Processor. I thought I would become a novelist. I wrote and wrote and wrote, showing only my best friend my fiction.

Over time my friend introduced me to the blogging community at www.xanga.com. I blogged like anybody, but I also posted stories and poetry. I became pretty popular after a while, my blogs and rants being read as much as my fiction and poetry. To tell you the truth, the poetry seemed to be the biggest hit.

Eventually a friend at Xanga introduced me to www.editred.com. It’s a writing community. After months I finally checked it out. While there, Greg Hall noticed my writing and requested that I participate in an anthology he was concocting called “Connect the Dots” by Forked Tongue Publishing. This WOWed me. Someone wanted MY fiction? It lit a fire beneath me and I began writing short stories and submitting them. “The Horror Library” accepted one of my stories for publication and invited me to workshop that story at Francis Ford Coppola’s “American Zoetrope.” That was back in 2007, and then I got into publishing an ezine and other projects.

M.M.: Do you recall your first story written?

JAM.:The first story I actually wrote that had a beginning, middle and end was at Xanga. Jim Kelly who edited “The Devil’s Food Anthology” for the now defunct “The Monsters Next Door” said it was one of the best stories he ever read. It was “half published” in an online health journal. Only half of it was legible; the other half was non-existent. This was after Greg Hall approached me at Edit Red. I didn’t care that only half of it was visible. Someone “tried” to publish it (and did a poor job of presenting it, lol). But the fact was that there were people who wanted my fiction. That, to me, was the greatest compliment.

So why I began writing years ago, I didn’t truly begin “serious writing” until 2007. In a year I had 30 publishing credits and got the writing bug.

M.M.: How long after writing your first story did you realize you wanted to pursue writing?

JAM.:I always knew I wanted to do it, but it wasn’t until Greg Hall included me in that anthology that it went from dream to a possible reality. As soon as somebody wants your fiction it changes you.

You begin writing with more confidence. When someone goes out of their way to request your fiction, your art or poetry, it gives you just enough confidence to say, “Maybe I can do this thing called writing.”

That’s how it was for me anyway.

M.M.: Do you have a specific genre you prefer to write in and why?

JAM.:Honestly, I wrote fantasy in the beginning. Surreal stories with fantasy elements. But there were so many horror publishers out there, and all my writing friends were horror writers. Eventually they bled into my writing style, and what I write predominantly today is horror. But I love literary fiction and fantasy, both reading and writing.

M.M.: What writer, if any, would you say has influenced your own writing?

JAM.:Joe Hill greatly influenced my writing style with “Twentieth Century Ghost.” In that wonderful story of the same title he masterfully goes between present tense and past tense, using italics to help differentiate for the reader. I thought I could do that because I understood what he was doing―I really got it, if you know what I mean. Writing is as much a feeling out process as it is a learning process. That’s why some editors and teachers have told young writers to go out and get some “world experience.” If you’re the best writer in the world but all you can write about is playing video games until your mother calls you for dinner, most readers won’t get into that sort of story. A writer has to be mature in his writing as well as in his life, and both faucets must come together to forge a powerful writing experience.

When I read Joe Hill’s work, I realized that he was using real life experience (maturity) as well as the maturity writers get after practice, practice, practice. My story (I have to look the title up) that appeared in one of the issues of “The World of Myth” is directly inspired my Joe Hill’s writing style. Unfortunately, I was just learning/experimenting with the style so obviously it’s not nearly as good as Mr. Hill’s work. Besides writers such as Greg Hall, Jezzy, AJ Brown, I would honestly have to say Joe Hill, Sydney Sheldon (don’t laugh), and Joe Lansdale have influenced me. One of my favorite short stories is Lansdale’s “Bestsellers Guaranteed.” It’s a phenomenal story with a very cool moral/purpose.

M.M.: Do you ever use any personal experiences in working out plot-lines for your stories, and the second part to this question, does your own personality ever cross over into a character's makeup?

JAM.:In the beginning I think all novice writers inject a bit of their own lives into their fiction. I think that, in the beginning, novice writers start with a fragment of “what could be” or “what if?” Then they build on it.

As writer mature they tend to come up with story ideas based outside themselves, but the one thing they must do is draw on their own emotional reservoir in order to make those scenes in their fiction real. For example, I could write about a nuclear sub off the coast of New York City. But I’ve never been on a nuclear sub, nor have I been so close to dying that I was terrorized. So I must draw on the emotional reservoir within from my own past experiences and transfer those emotions to my new scenes. Which is why I’ve said writers need “real world experience” earlier in this interview. The more you live the more experience you receive; the more you hurt and love and hate and grow, the more of an emotional reservoir you can tap into for your fiction. What makes a reader get into a story or plot are the characters and how much we love them, how much they invoke within readers emotions. Do the characters solicit emotions within readers? If not, the story will just be good based on mere plot. But the best fiction transcends plot as characters and ambiance/mood come alive for whatever market the writer is targeting.

So, yes, I have used my own experiences in my fiction. But more importantly, I use my “emotional reservoir” to fill my fiction and the characters of my stories. Which makes fiction true in a way. It makes it emotionally true. While my own personality doesn’t make it into my fiction, once in a while my past experiences do. But always I draw on the emotional paces life has put me through, and I instill them into all my fiction.

M.M.: In all the stories you have written, is there one that you would say is your favorite?

JAM.: My favorite story by far… Well, I have three and I cannot make up my mind. One appeared in “The World of Myth,” one appeared at “Residential Aliens,” and one appeared at “Aurorawolf.” There is a strong emotional element to them all. But what I love about those stories may not be what I am becoming known for as a writer. Often, my most intense stories are what readers enjoy.

M.M.: So to date, how many stories have you penned?

JAM.: Uh… I have hundreds on my computer. I have 67 publishing credits. Well, I have more than that, but I’ve lost track. I need to update my portfolio. Lol! That’s not counting the interviews, articles, essays and blog-radio appearances. So it’s very exciting still to think that someone―ANYONE―would be interested in what I write. I am thankful.

M.M.: Of all of those stories you've created, do you have a favorite character?

JAM.: Adhemar de Fey (taken from the French name Adhemar de Polaye) is my favorite character. I created him for the book reviews at “The World of Myth.” Most readers don’t read book reviews, and I wanted to use creativity to try to get readers to read the reviews I wrote for “The World of Myth.” Each review was a little story as Adhemar read to survive. You see, as one of the Fey he used his glamour (Fey magic) to seduce mortal women, something against the law of the Seelie Court (Fey law). He was sentenced to become completely mortal on Earth, powerless. His true curse, however, was needing to read for sustenance; he had to read like we have to eat. And so he spoke of his hatred for books but the necessity to subsist on them, and through that cool character I did the book review. Adhemar is awesome separate and apart from me.

M.M.: Do you have any special routines you follow before you start writing?

JAM.:This is the question that usually makes me joke about sacrificing kittens or something. I usually tease the reader or interviewee. But this time I’ll be honest because Dark Myth (through “The World of Myth”) has been good to me, and I know a few serious writers may read this. I hope what I write helps substantiate what other writers are doing, or helps them appreciate our differences.

I step out on my front porch when I need inspiration. I’ll lightly keep my plot or idea in my mind. If I don’t have one, I’ll wait. Inspiration is the most important quality for a writer. The more creative your inspiring ideas, the better. Like Adhemar de Fey. I don’t think any book reviewer EVER has been that creative. And if I’m wrong, I apologize. But my point is this: recognizing when and where the voice of inspiration speaks to a writer is paramount, and following that voice is the same as following one’s heart.

In my mind inspiration comes “from above,” but in reality it comes “from within.” Still, it helps me to consider that ideas for books and stories than NEED to be written are floating “out there” or “up there” somewhere, wafting in the ether; creative stories just begging to flow through one writer, just one writer who will allow that liquid imagination to flow through. Which is the basic generalized idea of my ezine “Liquid Imagination.”

M.M.: Here is a good one; do you recall the very first story you ever had published, and if so, what can you tell us about it?

JAM.:I think I already answered this. It was “Magic Hats,” and it’s never been completely published (only half of it was presented to readers, lol!). In all actuality, I can’t remember the first story I ever wrote (which I think was the earlier question). I’ve written too many short stories. I have hundreds, literally hundreds with beginnings, middles and endings. But “Magic Hats” was my first published story. But my first “real published” story was actually at “The World of Myth.” This story appeared in its entirety, lol! It was called (LOOK THIS UP, JAM). It was one of the most exciting moments of my life.

M.M.: In 2009, you published a book titled, 2012 Kin Bin Nah, could you tell us a bit about the story.

JAM.: As a writer I never stop evolving, learning and growing. I never will. I improve every three months (at least I think I do). And a year from now I will have improved drastically. The stories I wrote two years ago are nothing compared to what I’m writing today. And I know the fiction I write two years from now will blow away what I’m writing today. Because I’ll never quite learning. I listen to everybody, from novice writers to veteran know-it-alls. And I experiment, trying literary to sci-fi to romance.

Kin Bin Tin Nah means “I am going home,” and it is a Mayan phrase that indicates the next dispensation. In the Mayan calendar there are great upheavals and world events between these dispensations. In 2012 we are supposed to go through another dispensation.

In my book an evil Mayan priest forces the upheaval that’s coming to occur earlier. He hopes to destroy the world and start all over as a godlike being. Cal is the owner of a psychic circus. His psychics are the “real deal.” They are 98% accurate on a bad day, and his team of psychics have been on “Good Morning, America,” and they’re nationally famous. The evil Mayan priest needs true psychics to use as sacrifices to initiate the upheavals necessary to destroy the world.

Linda, a reporter from “Time Magazine,” shows up right when Cal’s oldest employee and most gifted psychic, Gladys, goes into a seizure. What Cal doesn’t realize is that there are dark forces at work, but it is Linda who comes from Guatemala who understands what’s happening, especially when Gladys rises from the dead shouting, “Kin Bin Tin Nah.”

M.M.:Where can the readers go to purchase a copy of the book?

JAM.: Simply Google Sonar4 Publications and “Kin Bin Tin Nah.”

M.M.:If I can, I would like to talk about your time with The World of Myth. Not only were you a regular contributor, you were the book reviewer for many issues. My question is what was it like to be involved in that era of magazine?

JAM.:The phenomenal thing about “The World of Myth” at that time was that readers who read the story could grade them. That is a fantastic idea, and it helped the writers and editors understand and pinpoint what readers were looking for. It made it special when one story I received a “C” while in another story two months later I received an “A.”

It helped me grow as a writer. I would read the “A” stories of other writers to try to figure out what was so good about them, growing and evolving and learning as a writer. It helped the writers evaluate and learn the process.

The Forum was pretty active back then, too, and the whole presentation was phenomenal. Steve Bolin who was editor always had reasons for rejecting submissions, and he include those reasons in personalized emails. He also wasn’t beyond workshopping a story into something publishable. Steve Bolin was my link to “The World of Myth” during that era, and I learned tons from the man.

M.M.: I've heard many times from others refer to that time as the Silver Age of the magazine. What are your thoughts on that?

JAM.: Every creative project has its various growth stages. There is the larvae stage, the metamorphosis, etc. Yet at the same time there are some publications that may have several transformations, and those publications may turn into several “butterflies” over the decades. While it’s very possible that the era we’re referring to was the “Silver Age” of “The World of Myth,” it’s also possible that there will be many “Silver Ages” and transformations for “The World of Myth.” In fact, I think that’s highly likely.

M.M.: After leaving the magazine, you founded your own magazine; could you give us a little on it?

JAM.: We received 300,000 internet hits at the end of our first year of Liquid Imagination Ezine. We took stories from Static Movement and were going to do a print publication. The first viable option was doing Liquid Imagination Magazine, and we were going to “PRESENT” the stories from Static Movement. There was miscommunication which has taught everybody a lot. Our project went onto the backburner, and the 4-year distributing contract we had with Ingram Periodicals, Inc. (the largest magazine distributor in the world) we had to let go. But we’re still doing our ezine, plus we’ll approach Ingram again. But not until AFTER we have 3 full issues created and read to publish. That way there are last minute problems. I have things worked out as far as the printer, distribution, etc. It’s actually as much fun as publishing or writing. Give us a year and you should see Liquid Imagination Magazine on bookshelves.

As far as Liquid Imagination Ezine goes ( www.Liquid-Imagination.com/), we have Bob Eccles reading the fiction. Bob’s a professional anchorman and a superb horror writer himself. We also have Brandon Rucker, a musician who interprets the poetry with music. Not only is Brandon a musician, he’s an accomplished poet himself. Which means he knows what he’s doing when transcribing the emotional intensity of another person’s poem into music. And that’s what the ezine does: it combines all art until the boundaries blur, creating a conglomeration of the visual and audio, of fiction/poetry with art/photography as well as audio/music. I don’t think anyone else is doing this, which leads me to believe we’re cutting edge.

M.M.: How different is it for you now being a publisher, as to a contributor?

JAM.: It’s the same thing, in my opinion. Both uses creativity to influence readers. Both use ideas and inspiration. It’s actually a bit more freedom in publishing, because with publishing the only “guidelines” you have to follow are ethical guidelines. But other than that, all’s fair in love and war and it’s all about business. Who says we can’t use inspiration or creativity to create new and exciting business opportunities for writers, poets and artists?

M.M.: When is your next issue of Liquid Imagination due out?

JAM.: Believe it or not I don’t know. I have a business director who is also an engineer and a heck of a writer herself. Her name is Sue Babcock. She keeps all the balances, checks and whistles. She’s the detail oriented person while I’m the “think outside the box” creative person. We come together and spectacular fireworks erupt for our readers. She keeps us on a schedule with 4 issues per year, and I promote and think of other new things. That’s not to say Sue doesn’t think of things. She just incorporated “digital poetry” for our next issue soon to come out by the end of September. Sue is my business partner. Liquid Imagination is a legal business.

M.M.: Other then founding Liquid Imagination, you've also co-founded Silver Blade, how does that differ from Liquid Imagination?

JAM.: Silver Blade was created by Karl Rademacher and Sue Babcock helps out quite a bit, too. But Karl took Silver Blade into a different direction than Liquid Imagination, and I have absolutely nothing to do with it. And why would I? Karl Rademacher and Sue Babcock have their editors and their own style, and they’re doing a knockdown job at creating a traditional fantasy ezine with a section for “young adults.” Liquid Imagination would refer contributors to Silver Blade and vice versa, but now Silver Blade publishes all fantasy, just like Liquid Imagination. Except that Liquid Imagination publishes horror and literary works, too. Liquid Imagination and Silver Blade are sister publications, and my business partner Sue Babcock is one of the editors for Silver Blade.

M.M.: Recently, you have also veered into paperback publishing; what can you tell us about Liquid Imagination Publishing?

JAM.: We published “Static Movement Print Special No. 2” available through Lulu.com. We used 3 copy editors, artists who contributed pieces for each story. The work is what got us a contract with Ingram Periodicals, Inc. Although we had to back out of the contract (we backed out, not Ingram), we will pursue Ingram again. If we don’t work through Ingram I have more than enough experience to find distribution and cheap printers to create a solid pay base in order to pay writers based on royalties (up to so much per word).

M.M.: When can we expect to see your newest item to come out of your publishing house?

JAM.: We are just finishing up the first issue of Liquid Imagination Magazine called Dreams and Screams. We’re starting the 2nd issue. When the 3rd issue is built, we’ll approach Ingram who supplies Barnes and Noble and prominent national chains and independent bookstores. We’ve learned from our mistakes. But the truth is, publishing and editing and writing are all just variations of the same concepts: reaching people. We’re all addicted to it and we at Liquid Imagination all have the bug. We’re not going away anytime soon. In a year we’ll be on bookshelves, give or take a month or two.

M.M.: Would you have some words of wisdom or encouragement for any fledgling writers out there who may be considering writing as a career?

JAM.: Practice writing every day. Read everything you can get your hands on, even if its something you normally wouldn’t read. Read New York Time bestsellers. Read everything “Dark Myth” puts out. Read GUD Magazine. Read Liquid Imagination and Aurorawolf and Silver Blade and House of Horror. Read romance and literary works. What you read will flow into what you write. If you read great fiction, it will flow through your own writing voice into what you write. Concentrate on creating very likeable/lovable characters. Readers won’t care about your scary story if they don’t love your character. Readers won’t care if your main character dies if they don’t love your main character. There are too many novice horror writers writing about despicable characters who reap what they sow, who get what’s coming to them. Who cares? Make a character readers can get behind, who readers can love and root for, then the horror or action or adventure or romance will EXPLODE within the readers’ minds. Only because the readers will want to see your character succeed. Readers will feel whatever emotional effect you’re going after if they become invested in your story, and they won’t care without really identifying with or loving/liking your main character.

M.M.: Before we go, is there anything we didn't cover that you would like to share with our readers?

JAM.: Life is filled with dreams. Those who actually go after their dreams are those who make life worth living. Imagine no Francis Ford Coppola. Imagine no Tarrantino or no Stephen King or Joe Hill or Stan Lee. Imagine no Spiderman or Wolverine. Imagine no Jack Kirby who worked with Stan Lee of Marvel Comics in the beginning. Imagine Edison giving up at 9,999 times while creating the light bulb. He succeeded at 10,000 times. In the book “Outliniers” we learn that geniuses and professionals are created with 10,000 hrs of practice. Practice, practice, practice. Keep dreaming. But go after those dreams with real action and follow through. Otherwise you might be the Stan Lee of the future who never created Spiderman. Or the Francis Ford Coppola who never put out “Patton” or “Apocalypse Now.” You will never know until you hit those 10,000 hrs of practice. And you won’t practice that much unless it’s what you were born to do, whether you love it somedays and hate it other days. The fact remains if it’s something you’ll do whether people read your work or not… that is when you know you’re a writer. And if you write regardless whether people read your work or not, then you might as well make something out of your gift. You might as well take English courses at your local university. You might as well buy a book about writing. If it’s something you’re never going to stop doing, you might as well practice and learn and excel. That way you might become the next Stan Lee or Francis Ford Coppola or Quintan Tarrantino. And you might do it with YOUR voice and with YOUR style and with YOUR creativity. And I say the world needs someone like you who would do that.

M.M.: Well, we really want to thank you, Mr. Miller, for spending time with us today. Best of luck with everything you have on your plate, and hope to see more of you in the coming future.

JAM.:Thanks for having me. I thought about being humorous, making readers laugh. But I felt honest and explicit answers would be best. I hope it helps. I hope readers visit Liquid Imagination soon. I hope they begin looking for Liquid Imagination on bookshelves in about a year. But most of all I hope they follow their hearts.

God bless!


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