Quill’s Edge Author Spotlight: JP Miller
Quill’s Edge Author Spotlight Interview JP Miller
Welcome to another edition of Quill’s Edge! In our Author Spotlight this week, we have author extraordinaire, JP Miller!
JP was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina. Growing up she spent weekdays in school and playing sports. Being a PK (Preacher’s Kid), her weekends were all about church. After graduating from A. C. Reynolds High School, she attended Tennessee State University, Nashville and majored in Recreation Administration. Later, she entered the Air Force where she worked in her field of study in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department. When she left the military, she just flipped to the civilian side of the house for the Department of the Air Force.
Stephanie: Welcome to Quill’s Edge, JP! Tell us about your writing journey.
JP: Thanks for having me Stephanie. Well, I was the Director of Youth Programs for close to 10 years. That was around the time that I first started writing . . . in the early 2000s. I self published my first projects. It taught me most of what I needed to know about publishing. From there I set my sights on learning as much as I could about the craft and getting published traditionally. I didn’t stop until I reached that goal. I had the help of a wonderful “Gatekeeper” (who wishes to remain anonymous.) Without them I would still be spinning my wheels. I will forever be grateful!
Stephanie: Tell us about your book.
JP: Leaders Like Us is a children’s picture book series for grades 1-4 that highlights the lives of six African American leaders. Leaders like you. Leaders like me. Leaders like us.
Stephanie: And what a beautiful series it is! The illustrations are absolutely beautiful! When does your series come out?
JP: Thanks Stephanie. My series comes out on August 11, 2020.
Stephanie: What do you want your readers to take away from this series?
JP: The main things I want people to take away from my books is thatpeople like you and me made sacrifices and contributions have helped make America the great country that it is today.
Stephanie: What inspired you to start writing?
JP: Several years ago, I noticed that African American history was only emphasized in February during Black History Month. Even then the focus was primarily on a few people. Every year it was these same people that were talked about. I started writing to tell the stories of mostly unknown African Americans and their wonderful contributions.
Stephanie: How do you handle writer’s block?
JP: I can’t say that I have writer’s block. There are some stories that inspire me more so the writing flows better. I would say that my biggest problem at times is when the story is in me but deciding how to present it is discombobulated. Oftentimes stepping away from the computer doing something physical will help me sort things out.
Stephanie: Describe your writing space.
JP: I have turned one of my bedrooms into my office. I have a few drawings that I did when I was younger on the wall. Looking over my shoulder I have pictures of my ancestors. My maternal and paternal grandparents, great grandmother and great- great grandfather. I get the feeling that they are watching over me.
Stephanie: What puts you in the mood to write?
JP: I don’t necessarily have to be in a particular mood to write. But early mornings and late nights are my best times to write. Sometimes when I hear something interesting on the radio or stumble across something unique in my research, I get very anxious to write about it.
Stephanie: Okay, so let’s talk about the Chips and Salsa of the writing business. What computer software do you use to write your book?
JP: I use the program Write Way. It’s inexpensive and (to me) does everything that the more popular writing software does. I can create character profiles, save research sources, and it has a feature where it will read back to me what I have written.
Stephanie: Which do you prefer? Writing in a café or bookstore or a home in the quiet?
JP: I prefer writing at home in my office. I like the house is absolutely quiet. No TV. No music. I haven’t yet…but I need to leave my phone in another room. LOL Then there would be no distractions. LOL
Stephanie: What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
JP: Christian Fiction author Victoria Christopher Murray has influenced my writing most. Victoria has done a lot to teach aspiring writers about the craft of writing as well as the business of writing. When I first started writing I wasn’t aware of courses for children’s writers, so I enrolled in some offered by Victoria. I think I can say she was the one person that gave me the confidence to keep writing.
Stephanie: Who is the author you most admire in your genre?
JP: OMG! I just love Gwendolyn Hooks! A lot of her stories are about little-known people in African American history as well. She is a wonderful writer and person.
Stephanie: Here are a few rapid-fire fun questions the Quill’s Edge readership likes to ask a guest author. Ready?
Stephanie: Would you rather have an endless summer or an endless winter?
JP: Endless summer hands down! I love everything about summer. Longer daylight. Fun outdoor activities. Green trees against blue skies. I am way too cold natured for winter. LOL
Stephanie: Who would be on the soundtrack for your book?
JP: The soundtrack of my life would definitely be gospel and old skool music. I love the old mass choirs like the Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi Mass Choirs. And then there is Shirley Caesar! My my my! I can listen to gospel music nonstop!
Stephanie: Awesome choices! Shirley Caesar can certainly bring the house down.
JP: Then I like old skool like the Chi-Lites and LTD. You can never go wrong with some Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross! My favorite all time is my girl Patti (LaBelle). My favorite decades for music were the 70s and 90s. That’s road trip music!! LOL
Stephanie: As we wind down our interview, I always like to ask authors for a bit of advice they’d like to share with the aspiring writers out there. What’s one bit of advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors?
JP: If writing is your passion – don’t stop writing! Take as many classes on the craft as your money allows. No author has gone from “I want to write a book” to being on a best seller list without classes and/or training.
Stephanie: We’ve come a long way in the publishing world, but in the wake of recent events, we know there are more miles to travel for people of color. What are your thoughts?
JP: Recently I joined an Authors Guild webinar, “Pushing for Change in Publishing” and heard some pretty discouraging statistics. When it comes to publishing African American stories only 5% of the stories written about African Americans are actually written by black authors. Trust me! This isn’t because black authors aren’t out there. Editors and Publishing Houses need to do a better job at connecting with African American authors.
Stephanie: Agreed. Thank you so much for joining us here at Quill’s Edge JP. Your energy and enthusiasm is much needed in the publishing world these days. The fact that you are bringing to light the lesser known history makers brings hope to the masses. I have no doubt that your ancestors are smiling down on you.
JP: Thanks Stephanie.
Stephanie: Alright Quill’s Edge Tribe. Be sure to pick up your copy of The Leaders Like Us Series!