Author Michael R. Miller speaks to me about his writing process.
Michael was born and raised in Ayrshire in the West of Scotland. Being useless at kicking a football around, he often resorted to imagining tales of magic and adventure in which he and his classmates would battle to save the school during their lunch hour. Fortunately for all, such embarrassing tales never made it out of his head and onto paper.
Like many young boys he quickly developed a love for daring knights who battled evil. When this was combined with endless hours playing Age of Empires and watching Lord of the Rings, a love for both history and fantasy was born.
He studied History at St Andrew’s University, dabbling in everything from Ancient Rome to Modern Scotland and a good deal of things in between. Graduating in 2014 he moved to London to pursue law. He’d rather forget that. In early 2015 he began to seriously turn attention to writing the fantasy story he had always dreamt of telling.
He had sketched out eight chapters over the years and, although they needed rewriting, they helped plot out the action of the story. He wrote a little each night and, slowly, he found things were improving. At a self-publishing panel event he got speaking with a representative from a hybrid publisher and so far so good. With a pinch of luck he hopes to avoid the phantom cubicle desk of real life pinning him down.
He hopes you enjoy reading Dragon’s Blade as much as he has in getting it from idea to page to published book.
What inspired you to start writing?
I wrote a fair bit when I was young but then it fell by the wayside. School and university don’t generally allow time for that or encourage it, which is a great shame. So it was at the end of 2014 and early 2015 when I dived into writing again, partly as a means of escaping the law course I was stuck on. I guess I had an idea for a story that just would not leave me alone and had been turning over in my mind for years. Writing was going to be the only way to get it out. I threw myself into it and then I began to really enjoy it. And once you start enjoying something you keep going.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Following from the previous question, I can only say you should write. It won’t be very good at first. I was disheartened when I wasn’t writing well to begin with and I think many are. We have his strange delusion that we can just sit down and start doing it because we’ve read a lot or we can write well academically. But you wouldn’t imagine you could just pick up an instrument and start playing it because you have listened to a lot of music. If you write enough, it should start to click. My strong advice for any aspiring sci-fi/fantasy writer is to go watch Brandon Sanderson’s free online lectures which you can find on Youtube on the channel ‘Write About Dragons’ and ‘BYU English’.
What do you wish you’d known about the publishing process?
I think I’d like to have known more accurately the amount of time things can take. You know that it is going to ‘take quite a while’ in a vague sort of way but then it can feel frustrating when it feels you are waiting around. In reality it’s going as fast as it can but when it’s your book, your baby, it can become all consuming. I had unrealistic expectations on the scheduling at times and now I know better I think I will enjoy publishing the next book more.
What are you currently reading?
Just about to finish Bloodrush by Ben Galley and it’s been a fun read. After that I’ll be moving onto The Promise of the Child by Tom Toner. I’ve been told that will blow my mind against the wall so I’m looking forward to it.
Tell us a bit about your main character.
The principle idea behind Darnuir was asking what would happen if you could reset a person and have them grow up in a completely different environment. There are stories and characters out there who suffer memory loss and such but not quite to the extent I’ve gone for (to my knowledge). So what happens when you take a sixty year old, arrogant, human-hating, brusque, thoroughly dislikeable dragon, and have him grow up in a new life surrounded by humans instead? Well that’s largely what this first book is about.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on the sequel and a smaller, more light-hearted, side project, when I get the chance.