The following interview with Kristopher Miller has been conducted through an e-mail exchange of information.
Kristopher Miller is a young man on a path to success not only as a writer, but as an educator. His short story "Gold Muse Sugar" will be published in the January 17th issue of Writing Raw at http://www.writingraw.com
Kris would you give us a brief bio about yourself. For example: Where the did Kristopher Miller come from? What are you now?
Why do you write? You know, the usual who are you stuff.
I was raised to read at a fairly young age, from a young reader’s edition of the Holy Bible and the classics, such as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Treasure Island, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Moby Dick, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, to different children’s books and young adult novels like Rifles for Waite, The Pigman, Forbidden City, and books by one of my favorite children's authors, Avi, who wrote Nothing But the Truth and Who Was That Masked Man Anyway?
One of the first vivid moments of reading a chapter book in the Goosebumps series of books. I read through it-it was titled Deep Trouble, I think-and then I became hooked on the series after seeing the cover of a hammerhead shark going after a boy’s legs. It also made me venture to reading other books-with the horror genre and ghost stories in particular-that my school library had but it also inspired me to look for books outside of my school library as well. And from that point, I’ve almost always had a book on my side and a book to read since.
I understand this will be your third short story to be published. I also have read your blog and know that you also study other writers and align something of yourself with them. What is it in other writers that you find most fascinating.
The first thing that I really find fascinating about other writers is not just the ideas the work with but how they execute these ideas. H.P. Lovecraft fascinated me with his weird, horrible creatures known to cause their victims to go completely mad but how he does it with various first person and third person accounts in a journalistic style really captivated me. It can be said the same with E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India where he writes in a detached yet involved narrative of mystic and troubled India by showing two sides of the story; those of the English visitors and those of the Indians who are prosecuted by British forces.
I also like studying the backgrounds of different authors, for it gives me clues to why they write they way they do. It goes along with the creative process; people say writers insert their personalities into the work, but how do they actually do it? I also enjoy looking into other authors’ influences from other authors, as it leads me to curiosity about those who influenced them. The adage “Respect your elders” really applies when you are studying other writers and working with your own craft. I really enjoy it when people of any creative medium-writing or otherwise-insert allusions and references as in-jokes to readers who may know and catch something else. There’s an esoteric thing that goes on that can be talked about in person, or in a chat room or message board there these ideas by writers can be speculated on for hours and even days at a time.
When studying the backgrounds of different authors, I enjoy some cases where authors of two completely different styles and genres have known and collaborated with one another. When people bounce ideas off of each other, the results of the written work are very interesting and in some ways, help both authors out in diversifying their styles over time.
We are very close to the publication of "Gold Muse Sugar". Would you mind just giving us a couple of juicy sentences from the story?
Certainly. This is in the beginning when an aspiring writer-a more deluded version of myself-attempts to write the great avante-garde novel and decides to become a harsh critic of other writers afterward:
Then I found a little golden box marked Gold Muse Sugar. I took the box from the shelf and read the description on the back of the box, which claimed that it was the pure source of creative energy much like ginseng or marijuana:
Experience the drug that helped Thomas Edison create his lightbulb, helped Albrecht Durer craft Melacolia and helped Ayn Rand outline Objectivism. You too can be inspired!
Wow, a box description that lists obscure names no one has ever heard of. This drug definitely had to be for me because I believed myself to be one of the future elite writers to hold total reign over other writers. So I bought the drugs, I drove home and popped in one of those gold pills. My brain felt like it was on fire. I had a vision of my dhampir heroine, afflicted with amnesia, being trapped on a space station prison. I could see it in my head:
And so the sojourner had a dream, while being chained with psychic chains that chained her to a wall. And she dreamed she was in a seventeenth century or so village and being stabbed by a thousand shadow people and then a mysterious man comes and he points a gun at her head all while she screams “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”
Indeed, that was the epic beginning I was thinking of. Bad news was, this is the vision that I typed as I was writing down my vision.
I am impressed with your accomplishments at such a young age. What would you say to your students or other young writers to encourage them to get back up and keep going?
If I had students in a creative writing class, I would urge them to keep reading and to keep writing. I also stress the importance of working with multiple rough drafts.
Case in point, “Gold Muse Sugar” is based on a poem titled “Object of Delusions,” which was about a narrator who finds a special golden orb that produces ideas but he just ends up squandering them. Then I decided it would be better as a prose-story. Later developments led up to making it more of a dark comedy and I used my experiences of trying to write my own novel with multiple genres, only to watch it fall flat on its face. The story itself parodies the muse in which people take the muse too seriously, and it also parodies certain aspects of the literary world. This was not in the poem, so this was stuff added to create a more sardonic tone.
I have read some of your fantasy and science fiction. You have a wonderfully unique voice. Are there other author's styles you draw from or have similarities to?
That’s a tough question. I have a hard time drawing in of whom I might be “emulating” because when I write, I usually do not focus too much on writing style first; it’s the concentration of ideas that I focus on first. Then as the redrafting process goes along, I start to experiment with how these ideas work out. I really like first-person narratives because the reader is inside the character’s head and knows nothing other than what that person knows, which creates mystery, suspense, and amusement for the reader depending on what viewpoints this character has.
I guess one style I like to draw on from time to time has to be some authors’ experimentation with reworking the text on a visual style, either by just featuring dialogue so the reader pieces together a puzzle or presenting it in a different way that really toys with the reader’s mind. Now, I believe I’m still far from that angle in most of my works but one approach I have taken is the “show, don’t tell” policy. I avoid summary and exposition as much as possible because I really want the reader to figure out what is going on. Readers are sometimes mistaken to be passive but they are active. They need to decipher the text and the language to tell what is going on. And in some ways with the current mainstream literary scene-and with most, but not all, of the mainstream media in general-I believe readers are often sold short.
Leave us with a Kristopher Miller quote.
Always try something new and go beyond expectations, even for yourself.