Interview With Ann Lee Miller
Author of Kicking Eternity
1st Place Long Contemporary, Romance Writers of America Faith, Hope, and Love Contest
Note: Anyone who leaves a comment with an e-mail address (JaneReader[at]msn[dot]com) will receive a free e-book copy of Kicking Eternity. Those who don’t want to leave an e-mail may contact Ann for their free book at AnnLeeMiller.com.
Tell us about a typical day in your house.
I’m usually holed up in my office writing with one ear tuned to my family. Three of my kids, ages 21-28 are living at home at the moment. My husband, a pastor, camps out in his office across the hall when one of the kids isn’t sleeping in it. I’m forever shouting out random questions, such as, “What CD would be playing in a twenty-four-year-old surfer’s car?” I take a break for a walk, Zumba, or to swim laps. Evenings are filled with church activities and our new favorite date—picnic along the Salt River.
A picnic sounds wonderful. When did you first begin writing?
I always say I became a writer the year I discovered Sister Sheila had hair. I was in fifth grade at St. Hugh’s Catholic School in Miami, knee deep in nouns and verbs, when Sister Sheila walked through the door in a new habit that showed two inches of mouse brown hair threaded with silver. Thanks to Sister’s encouragement, I went on to earn a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University.
Oh the things we remember. What is the coolest, wackiest, or riskiest thing you’ve ever done?
My father spent several years building a forty-foot sailboat in our backyard. We launched it in the Miami River and lived aboard at Dinner Key Marina when I was eleven until I turned thirteen. At the time I didn’t realize how unusual it was to live on a boat and ride my bicycle down the dock each morning to attend school. All my friends at the marina did the same. After school every day, I tossed my books onto my bunk, shimmied into a swim suit, and jumped overboard. Sailboats show up in all my books thus far.
Wow…that is cool. I guess you don’t get seasick. Tell us about your latest book.
Kicking Eternity is all about chasing dreams—our dreams, God’s dreams, and the mixed-up tangle of both.
Stuck in sleepy New Smyrna Beach one last summer, Raine socks away her camp pay checks, worries about her druggy brother, and ignores trouble: Cal Koomer. She’s a plane ticket away from teaching orphans in Africa, and not even Cal’s surfer six-pack and the chinks she spies in his rebel armor will derail her.
The artist in Cal begs to paint Raine’s ivory skin, high cheek bones, and internal sparklers behind her eyes, but falling for her would caterwaul him into his parents’ live. No thanks. The girl was self-righteous waiting to happen. Mom served sanctimony like vegetables, three servings a day, and he had a gut full.
Rec Director Drew taunts her with “Rainey” and calls her an enabler. He is so infernally there like a horsefly—till he buzzes back to his ex.
Raine’s brother tweaks. Her dream of Africa dies small deaths. Will she figure out what to fight for and what to free before it’s too late?
What inspired you to write this story?
My daughter has had a passion to become a foreign missionary since she was in first grade. She just completed her junior year of college and is still headed for missions, probably to an orphanage in Peru. Also a close family friend fell in love with a young man and felt strongly that God told her to marry him. When the guy broke off the engagement, she was devastated on multiple levels. In Kicking Eternitythe hero has to come to terms with the same dilemma.
May God’s abundant blessings be on your daughter. Can you give us the first page?
Raine pushed the beads on her African bracelet back and forth like the balls on an abacus. Her stomach kneaded, gurgled. She could almost feel sweat dampen her upper lip.
Drew’s forehead creased as he stared at her. Fluorescent tubes hummed overhead in the night air. Shouts and back-slapping ricocheted around the Canteen porch in the sticky-sweet scent of orange blossoms. If she wasn’t fighting to keep her dinner down, she’d tell him where they’d met.
His frown melted into a smile of recognition. “Rainey. Hey. Welcome to Triple S Camp.”
She bristled at the nickname her brothers used to irritate her. “It’s Raine.”
“I remember you as Rainey from the skit you did in junior high youth group. You cried all over the place—a pun on your name.”
“That was my total acting career… and ancient history. Better off forgotten. Please.”
“Sure, Rainey, whatever you say.”
“You remember my name.”
“You weren’t exactly low profile either.” She, like every girl in the youth group, had spent way too much time mooning at the high-school-Drew hunched over his guitar.
Jesse, the camp director, gave a shrill blast on his whistle. “Welcome to New Smyrna Beach Surf and Sailing Camp orientation.”
The noise ratcheted down. Thirty staffers in aquamarine shirts settled onto the benches lining the porch.
Raine swallowed and unclenched her fingers from the camp handbook. She refused to heave like she had at college orientation four years ago. Her thumb ran over the ridges in her palm where the spiral wire had dug into the flesh. Why had she never been to camp like any normal kid?
A guy in surf shorts and flip-flops came up the steps laughing with the girl beside him. Sun-white cords of hair, crimped like he’d worn braids, brushed his thick shoulders. He caught Raine staring. The interest crackling in his blue gaze jolted through her.
She let her chin-length hair fall like a dark curtain between them. A guy was one complication she didn’t need this summer, not when Africa was nearly in her grasp.
How can we find you on the internet?
Bio: Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives.
Fresh from college, Raine scores a teaching job at New Smyrna Beach Surf and Sailing Camp. A crush on the camp rebel/art teacher threatens to derail her plans to teach orphans in Africa. The broody recreation director spots her brothers meth addiction and Raine’s enabling. Raine believes she is helping her brother–until lives are threatened.
“Ann Lee Miller writes stories straight from the heart with characters who’ll become friends, remaining with you long after you turn that final page. You won’t want to miss Kicking Eternity!”
Jenny B. Jones, Author of the Katie Parker Production Series from Think and The Charmed Life Series, and other single titles from Thomas Nelson
“In Kicking Eternity, Ann Lee Miller masterfully weaves the delicate web of emotions experienced in that turbulent ‘twenty-something’ stage of life. Powerful family dynamics, intense loyalty challenges, and tender new loves find their niche in your heart as this story unfolds layer by lovely layer.”
Mesu Andrews, Author of Revell titles Love’s Sacred Song, and Love Amid the Ashes, which won the 2012 CBA Book of the Year, New Author Category
To see my review of Kicking Eternity, check out Monday’s blog.