Linda Lael Miller
Your newer, thriller novels, such as DON'T LOOK NOW and NEVER LOOK BACK, feature a sassy lawyer heroine with a quick wit and a fast mouth. In NEVER LOOK BACK, she sets up shop in a less-sought-after neighborhood of Phoenix with the proviso, "Qualified Clients Defended at No Cost." How did Claire Westbrook evolve, and how does she reflect your personality?
Like Clare, I believe deeply in passing on my good fortune to others. Interestingly, this only seems to generate MORE good fortune. As for her smart, sassy mouth, Clare says the things I would say, and does the things I would do, if I were not so thoroughly conditioned to be a good girl and never rock the boat. Clare is more truly herself than I am, but I'm working hard to catch up.
And the Irish/Hispanic detective, Tony Sonterra' Is he a figment of your imagination or based on someone you've known?
Tony Sonterra is a wonderful figment of my imagination, at least physically. But from a standpoint of bone deep integrity and dedication to the policeman/woman's mandate to serve and protect, he is my father. Dad served many years as the town marshal in Northport, Washington, and he taught, by his example, all I ever need to know about doing the right thing.
There always seems to be a dog in your books, in DON'T LOOK NOW, a Yorkie named Bernice who rules the roost. What role do animals play in your life?
My animals are much more to me than pets. They are cherished friends. The Bernice in my "Thriller Look Books" is MY Bernice, a real dog. She does not seem to know she is famous, and is known around Springwater Station as the Terror of the Courtyard. Lizards live in fear of Bernice the Terrible. My beagle, Sadie, appeared in SPRINGWATER WEDDING, and I think her nose is a bit out of joint because Bernice got to be in a three-book series, while she was on stage only once!
My cats, Jitterbug and ChaCha, are mainly marauders, getting into trouble every chance they get, even though they are no longer kittens. The horses ' Buck, Skye, Banjo, and Coco, complete the menagerie. They are marvelous, majestic creatures, and just being close to them feeds my spirit.
Will we see more of Claire and Tony?
Yes, you will see Clare and Tony again next summer, in the third and final Thriller Look Book. I'm writing that one now, and the title is still in limbo. See my website for a title contest!
You live in Arizona now, but you were born in Washington and lived in London, too, quite a diversity in environments. What's home to you, and why do you set most of your novels in the West?
I have been all over the world and lived for short periods in both London and Florence ' two of my all-time favorite places. However, I was born and bred in the American West, and I'm a true cowgirl at heart. I set most of my books in the West because this is my heart's home. I love everything about it. (Watch for further adventures of this cowgirl on my website, which will be relaunched in early July 2004. That's also when I'll be in Montana to participate in a cattle drive.)
You write thrillers, as well as historical romance, two very different genres. Which is your favorite, and is it difficult to switch from one type of book to the other?
I really couldn't choose a favorite genre, because my favorite is always the one I'm working on at the time. Too, the books have a common thread ' the triumph of justice over injustice, and the power of individuals to create their own realities. Both contain humor and exult the finest qualities of the human spirit. They are so interwoven, in fact, that when I'm writing one kind of story, I'm making notes, fast and furious, for the other.
What qualities are the same in your thrillers and historical romances?
I believe in the basic goodness at the core of all human beings. I believe we need to focus on our similarities, instead of our differences ' where has that gotten us' We are all children of the one God. We have to stop drawing circles in the dirt, and only letting the people we love and agree with stand inside that circle. (You will see Sam O'Ballivan, the hero of the next historical, THE MAN FROM STONE CREEK, highlighting this idea.)
When you write your novels, what do you hope your readers will gain from them?
I hope my readers will be entertained, uplifted, and empowered. I hope they will laugh, and cry, and release some of the unnecessary burdens they carry in their "real" lives.
Thanks for sharing thoughts about you and your books, Linda.
It's been a delight, and be sure to watch my website. I'm relaunching it with information, rules and the application form for my 2004 Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women. All of you out there who need a lift to better your lot in life through education, be sure to check it out and apply.