10 Questions for Judith Miller
1. Tricia: You have written numerous books. How many total? What does your family think of your success?
Judy: Let’s see, I’ll need to count. I started our writing inspirational romance for Heartsong Presents. I wrote five books for them and four or five novellas. In between, I wrote a children’s book. I’ve recently completely my tenth book for Bethany House Publishers. Six of those were co-authored with Tracie Peterson. So, I guess the short answer is sixteen books and four or
As for my family’s thoughts on my “success”, my husband is extremely proud of me. He’s my biggest cheerleader. The kids? Well, I suppose I better admit that the “kids” are really adults. Except to ask what I’m working on, they don’t comment much to me personally. However, I’ve discovered they talk to others about my writing.
2. Tricia: When did you first become interested in history? Is there any historical period you’re too timid to set a story in?
Judy: My husband inspired my interest in history many, many years ago. He used to request history books and magazine subscriptions for gifts. He’d mention an interesting book or article he’d read, and I soon found myself enjoying his books and magazines.
I don’t know if I’d say I’m too timid to set a story in a particular time period, but I don’t have a current interest in writing stories set in Biblical times or even prior to 1700. I truly prefer the Victorian and Edwardian periods, and I enjoy writing stories set primarily in this country.
3. Tricia: When is the last time you cried when reading a book? What book was it? What stirs your heart as read?
Judy: Let me admit that my ‘to be read’ pile is growing higher and higher. Most of my reading time is currently filled by reading research books. Probably the last book that caused me to cry is River Rising by Athol Dickson. The thing that stirs my heart is a character who is struggling to work through a difficult situation without compromising his or her Christian values and
beliefs. I am stirred by situations that touch me on a personal level or by seeing a character come to grips with the devastation he or she has created in someone else’s life. Those situations evoke emotion for me.
4. Tricia: I know you like Scrapbooking. If you were creating a new page with four photos highlighting your year, what would they include?
Judy: I would want to include a picture of our family enjoying a Caribbean cruise, which is planned for later in the year. Next would be a picture of the Hotel Florence in Pullman, Illinois, the setting for my next series. Third would be pictures of George Eastman’s home, part of the research for a new series with Tracie Peterson. And last would be my husband and I visiting Niagara Falls, a trip which is supposed to take place before the end of the year.
5. Tricia: In addition to writing your own novels, you also co-write. What do you love about working with another author?
Judy: I have co-authored six novels with Tracie Peterson and it was a great experience. In fact, we’ve contracted to co-author another series for Bethany House. Having another author intimately involved in a project means you always have someone available to help deepen the plot and characters. In addition, if you run into a problem, the other author knows the setting,
characters and story. Without a lot of explanation, the co-author can jump in to lend immediate assistance. We have worked out a process that has been a good experience for both of us.
6. Tricia: What challenges come with working with someone else (no matter how wonderful they are) on a project?
Judy: The most difficult aspect is conflicting schedules. If you each have independent deadlines as well as joint deadlines, you’ve got to juggle and balance when you’ll fit in the research trips, necessary time to brainstorm different aspects of the project, and the actual writing.
I think it is particularly important that the authors have similar beliefs and similar writing styles. In addition, you need to be willing to share the creative process and be open to suggestion and change. I understand some writers might find the concept of shared creativity unpleasant or even impossible. However, I am invigorated by the process
7. Tricia: How do you hit the right balance of “show” and “tell” in your historical novels?
Judy: Using description rather than exposition is the simple rule I attempt to follow when writing. Short snippets of telling can be effective in conversation between the characters. The key word is short. People don’t converse in lengthy exposition in their day to day conversation, because the listener would become bored (or interrupt). The same is true of readers.
Readers want to be involved in mentally picturing the scenery or people. Rather than simply being told someone is nosy, they want to see the person sneak a peek at their neighbor’s mail or hold a drinking glass to a neighbor’s wall while attempting to overhear a conversation. The reader would rather figure out on their own that this is a nosy neighbor than be told by the
Of course, when I forget to adhere to the above guideline, I hope a good editor will come to my rescue and point it out.
8. Tricia: City skyline or fields of grain?
Judy: Fields of grain. I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and lived there until graduating from high school. A month later I moved to Kansas and I’ve lived here ever since. I consider myself a Kansan. However, I must admit that I enjoy the fact that Kansas City is only sixty miles away.
9. Tricia: I love visiting museums. If I called you up and we made plans to go to any museum together, which would you pick? Why?
Judy: Oh, I love museums, too. We could have such fun! Since I’ve never been to Europe and my first love is American history, my choice would be a visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. It has been years since I’ve been there, and I want to return. Why don’t we pack our bags and get going!
I chose the Smithsonian because there is so much American history contained in one setting, but I also enjoy living history museums. Since I’m a visual learner, I enjoy seeing history recreated. I would highly recommend Williamsburg, Virginia, Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan or
Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts for starters.
10. Tricia: Finally, every writer faces highs and lows in their life. How do you ensure your heart stays steady?
Judy: I have a Christian sister who reminds me how blessed I am, a Christian husband who redirects my thinking, but, most importantly, I get on my knees in prayer.