Interview: Miriam Pia
Michelle Devon has graciously invited me to be interviewed as an author. She has asked me to introduce myself:
My name is Miriam Pia. That is normally how I am known.
I am one of the Americans. I come from “the sexual revolution generation” or something like that – essentially the America with liberated women and everyone having sexual freedom. I grew up a Unitarian Universalist, which I have also practiced for a good 10 years as a weekly church-going style UU.
I have mostly lived in the USA but also lived in England for five years and currently reside in Germany. I love my country but like to be a broad-minded, worldly American rather than a narrowed down, close-minded American. My family background is a mixture of upper poor and lower middle class.
Poverty gets tiresome after a while and some of the pathways out of poverty are not worth the spiritual cost they charge to get you there. I have been formally educated to MA level but was held back to the Postgraduate Diploma level in order to stay with “the men” in Modern European Philosophy. That tells you more than enough…except maybe brunette, 7 or 8 on looks where 10 is best.
It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job, and if so, what is it?
Miriam Pia: I did try to. I went to both university and graduate school to make sure I could have a real job. Then I ended up backed into a corner because I let a husband support me as I took my writing to the next level so that when he abandoned me 2 or 3 years later I didn’t have a real job to fall back on but only the writing. That was my late 30s if anyone is wondering, and after I had the baby.
What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life? I have managed to teach one class in philosophy once – as that was one of my planned ‘real jobs’ it’s a bit weird that I’ve done so little of it.
That was at a university; I was an adjunct faculty member. I have worked also in offices as a clerk, been a trainee asst. manager at news agent/miscellaneous item shops, accumulated 6 years experience as an administrative clerk/low level secretary, and have been a gardner, a nanny and a camp counselor and kitchen staff.
I even tried witnessing but I’m not that great of a dancer so it didn’t go very well. I had planned to work in a science laboratory or for a zoo or in forestry or for the USGS as a geologist, or as a university teacher of philosophy as a day job but was shunted to writer.
What compelled you to write your first story or book?
Miriam Pia: I was actually a little kid and it was second nature.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Miriam Pia: No. The joke about “the Gemini moon” is “What don’t you want to be when you grow up?” I think sometimes writing stories is a constructive way of burning off all the wild ideas and possibilities of what if I did this? What if I did that? What if I was different from how I am? What if I was able to be everyone and to do everything in the world – wouldn’t that be cool? OK, maybe that’s too much to take on.
What compels you to be a writer?
Miriam Pia: It started out as a cheap form of therapy – Dear Diary, and as a cheap way of developing a skill, since I read so much: which is also cheap fun, it made sense.
I am talkative and have a powerful imagination: writing fiction simply harnesses this natural energy.
Tell us a little bit about your writing. Do you have any published books? What are their titles?
Miriam Pia: Uh…is there anything called ‘semi published’ in this business?
People can get: An Adventure in Indianapolis. Its out on the Kindle right now, and by 2013 it should be out as an honest to God ‘traditional book’ thanks to Alethia Publishing.
This is a great urban crime fighting story written for a general adult audience. I also do a little juvenile writing, that’s what I mean t differentiate from. There are 4 main characters, not just one. They are: a Father, a lawyer, a fighter and a burglar. They serve the fictional Mayor of the real city of Indianapolis to fiction fight a fictional case of a real crime problem that Indianapolis has. So, its ‘true to life’ but not true in many ways.
I like to call it “a law enforcement fantasy story” because it is about how 4 people work for the City to solve a crime in a case where the villains are real “weasels” and have taken cover under the very law which is supposed to be able to catch them and hold them accountable for their crimes.
Naturally, as citizens we fantasize about people like that getting caught, and I imagine the cops fantasize about it even more. In this story, the bad guys actually get it, but how?”
There are also some books that I helped with. I am not the author but I did work on them. They are:
Be Diversity Competent! By Jermaine Davis
The Complete Guide to Investing in Mutual Funds by Alan Northcott
Think and Grow Rich – Family Style put out by Angel Publishing
The Expatriot Guide to Moving to the USA by Expatriot Focus 2005 edition
There are some dating guides through Closeout Explosion which may exist, but I’m not really sure.
I don’t even know now whether or not I will ever re-write and get published my first novel, which I really liked and was very proud of the 2nd draft of.
Have you ever won any writing awards? If so, what?
Miriam Pia: I have received an Honorable Mention from Iliad Press Summer Art Awards for a short story in 2003, and 2 Editor’s Choice Awards from the International Society of Poetry – in 2003 and again in 2008 or 2010 [embarrassing but I’m not even sure. I had the award up on my kitchen cupboard in Indianapolis but then I moved to Germany and don’t have it any more.]
Do you belong to any writing forums or organizations that have helped spur your career as a writer? If so, tell us about them and how they’ve helped you.
Miriam Pia: Online, yes. At LinkedIn I belong to something like 5 writer’s groups. I also joined CrimeSpace. I also use Twitter and Face book a lot and have approximately 30 – 40 professional writers as Facebook Friends so I see them on most days.
I have landed the most contracts through Guru.com and have used places like Elance and Freelance Success and many other online freelancing places all in an effort to find contracts. I also submit to traditional publishers. Sometimes I only submit to ones who can take electronic submissions because I am broke or out of printer ink or horribly impatient in certain “left handed” ways.
What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?
Miriam Pia: It’s not always the same. I love classical music and Enya. I’m a giant Rush and U2 fan, but I’ve heard a lot of other bands ranging from Beatles to Ozzy and Disturbed but also Oasis and now and then one of these quiet classical musicians…violinists and pianists mainly.
What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?
Miriam Pia: Sometimes a great idea or contract. Other times its just that I’m bored and lonely and still feel verbal and if I write a story while I’m daydreaming I feel like I’m harnessing this natural energy.
What about your family?
Miriam Pia: I have one child whom I adore. He is now a 15 year old dual citizen of the USA & Germany: he comes from foreign graduate students in London in their 20s. I have some living ex-husbands who are presently married to other women.
The one who didn’t want any children has no children and the others have had at least one daughter by another woman. Obviously there is ‘some issue’. The good news is that ‘I love a lot’ the bad news is that some guy isn’t even with me any more….unless that’s not bad news.
Not sure. To be very truthful: one day a year or two after my most recent divorce I was in a therapist’s office answering a 600 question questionnaire. I did not answer the 100 questions about family. When it had been 4 years since the most recent divorce I was able to say “I have a family of 2” without bursting into tears. “It’s me and my son.”
When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?
Miriam Pia: Most of my childhood there was no man living in my home and my mother was not remarried. During that decade and a half I read avidly. I loved massive amounts of SF and fantasy, much of which blurred together in my mind.
Ones that stand out: Tolkein, that lady who wrote the Pern books where the dragons have to burn the thread before it kills everyone, The Sword of Shannara and other related stories, CJ Cherryh, Isaac Asimov, CS Lewis – the Chronicles of Narnia, Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys, my older sister told me about Dune but I never read it.
I watched the movie with a lover who’s name I won’t disclose in 2009 or 2010 a few years after the most recent divorce, Robert Heinlein, Harlan Ellison, Anne McAffrey – Wind in the Door and others, Alice in Wonderland and …Through the Looking Glass, anyone my older brother said was good after he was finished with it and handed it off to me.
After all, I’d already shared our mother’s womb and had worn his old pajamas; I might as well also read the same book…most of the time if he liked it or my sister liked it so did I.
Hey, let’s get morbid. When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say?
Miriam Pia: She loved well / was much loved.
Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like?
Miriam Pia: It’s boring to watch.
What about movies?
Miriam Pia: In truth, SF and Fantasy blockbusters. Usually, when everyone else – or millions of other people like it; actually so do I.
Is there any one particular book that when you read it, you thought to yourself, “Man, I wish I’d written that one!”?
Miriam Pia: No, I’m the one who always wants me to be me. “I hope I do something that great, but it will have to be something I can do as myself or else it would be meaningless.”
Many authors have said that naming their characters is a difficult process, almost like choosing a name for their own child. How did you select the names of some of your lead characters in your book/s?
Miriam Pia: Talitha in An Adventure in Indianapolis is named after a handicapped teen I took care of – or tried to, for a few months in Indianapolis in 2000. It was hard; she’s very difficult but in truth I did actually like her but I almost never express it to her that I haven’t forgotten her and still care. So I named a character after her in the novel. She doesn’t even know about it.
Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?
Miriam Pia: Read it and find out.
Do you have any book signings, tours, or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending?
Miriam Pia: I hope to but right how I have to really watch the pizza that’s in the oven. I already ruined one because I was answering these questions.
If so, when and where?
Does being a published author feel differently than you had imagined?
Miriam Pia: I don’t know…ask me again when there’s a hard cover. So far it is anti-climactic. Like how I have never had a bridal gown or honeymoon even though I got married.
Now, use this space to tell us more about who you are. Anything you want your readers to know. Include information on where to find your books, any blogs you may have, or how a reader can learn more about you and your writing.