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Meet Heidi Ruby Miller

August 24th, 2011

Today we have lured author-editor Heidi Ruby Miller into our lair for a Q&A session about all things literary. Heidi is the author of the novel Ambasadora and the co-editor of Many Genres, One Craft with Michael Arnzen. She also teaches classes in creative writing at Seton Hill University.

Tell us about Ambasadora. Is this a book you’ve been working on for a long time?

Six years! Ambasadora started as my thesis novel for Seton Hill’s Writing Popular Fiction graduate program back in 2005 and has undergone so many rewrites that some of my early readers might not recognize it at this point. Good friend and fellow writer, Mike Arnzen, told us that the book we choose to write for our thesis will probably be the most scrutinized piece of writing that we will produce during our entire career. If you read my acknowledgments section, you’ll see he was absolutely correct. And as more reviews come in, it continues to be.

Though it’s a niche market (SF Romance), I’ve been surprised to hear from readers who don’t usually read SF, but picked up the book on recommendation and ended up being able to relate to the characters and the world. That’s a huge compliment to me.

Is there going to be a sequel?

Fragger (Book 2 of the Ambasadora series) is scheduled to come out at the beginning of December 2011.

Do you prefer short stories or novels?

I read and write both, but prefer novels.

As a teacher, what advice do you give your students who aspire to write science fiction?

Write the type of SF you want to write—don’t write to market. My novels deal more with the social sciences rather than hard science, plus are centered around relationships. I heard from many SF insiders that there wasn’t a readership for that kind of SF, yet I’ve found one, mostly women like me who want stories where the relationship is just as important as the adventure (to quote my own tagline!).

Who and what are the biggest influences to your fiction?

Pop culture! Books, movies, video games, TV, graphic novels, music, fashion, even social media. I devour the everyday art around me. In return, it awes and inspires me.

What was the idea behind Many Genres, One Craft?

When Mike Arnzen, the Chair of Humanities at Seton Hill, mentioned putting together a comprehensive writing guide based on the WPF program, I loved the idea. The Seton Hill group is such a wonderful writing community, spanning ten years with hundreds of members. What better pool of authors to share advice about the craft and industry specific to genre fiction.

Was it strange editing other writers? Or was it an easy transition?

Since my first critique workshop at Seton Hill, my life has been non-stop editing—both other people’s work and my own. I will admit feeling intimidated initially with some of the heavy hitters who contributed articles to Many Genres. We have Tess Gerritsen, David Morrell, Nancy Kress, Susan Mallery, and Tom Monteleone, to name a few. But everyone was so professional and wanted to make this the best genre writing book out there, so the process went smoothly and ended up being very exciting. I thank Mike Arnzen for that!

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m at OBX as I’m responding to this interview, so I guess you could call these my beach reads: Seduce Me in Flames by Jacquelyn Frank, Double Crossing by Meg Mims, Never Regret Tomorrow by G. Paul Gondin, Flying Fish by Randall Silvis. I’m an eclectic reader.

What is your next project?

I’m finishing a novella titled Greenshift, which is part of the Ambasadora-verse. Because I spent years world-building, my universe is so expansive that it lends itself to multiple stories on multiple timelines. This first shorter work (40,000 words) follows David and Mari, two secondary characters from Ambasadora, on an adventure that is more sensual in nature, but still SF-friendly. In other words, there will be more sex mixed in with the spaceships and ray guns.

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Thanks, Heidi!

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