1. Tricia: You book One Eyed Jack sounds great. As a Montana resident, I think you made a great choice for a setting. Where did you get the idea?
Paula: My grandparents lived in Idaho, so every summer my family would pile into our camper and travel across Montana. I came to love the openness of the country. The mountains. The foothills. I also love western movies/fiction/history — anything 1800’s or older, and all of the adult novels I’ve written take place in either Montana or Wyoming. I just love that area; it was an easy choice for a children’s book as well.
2. Tricia: How are you able to share spiritual truths through this story?
Paula: Ya know, writing for children is a lot harder than it looks. And trying not to preach when you’re writing about a spiritual subject close to your heart is even harder. But the one truth that amazes me every time I think about it is God’s sovereignty. To realize that no matter how bad life gets, God has it all in control. That’s what I try to share in this story. My protégée, Nate, slowly comes to realize this through a mishap of adventures he has no control over.
3. Tricia: One of the workshops you teach is: The Man Behind The Mask. What is your number one tip for creating a character with depth?
Paula: I love this workshop. I have so much fun teaching it to students. But the number one tip . . . hmmm. I’d have to say it’s something I learned after reading “Getting into Character”, by Brandilyn Collins. She said that when you are writing about a character, become him. Get into his head. If he’s angry, get up and pace the floor like he would. If he’s sad, sit down in a corner and think what he would think. If he’s jealous, go through those emotions in your head. Then ask yourself, how am I sitting/walking? what do my facial expressions look like? are my muscles tense or loose? what am I doing with my hands? I get so much more word flow when I become my character.
4. Tricia: What is one of the biggest heartaches you’ve faced in life, and how do you feel that has impacted your writing?
Paula: Wow, that’s a question very dear to my heart. About four years ago our daughter was stillborn just four days before she was due. We had absolutely no warning or hint that anything was wrong. I struggled for several months between questioning God, emotional bouts of tears in public and anger at my husband because he didn’t express himself and I couldn’t talk about anything else. That was the point that I really learned about and began to understand God’s sovereignty. That’s also one of the reasons many of my characters also face that issue. And it is a big issue, finding out that absolutely nothing is out of His control. It’s amazing really.
5. Tricia: What’s one of your favorite movies you’ve watched this year? Why?
Paula: Ha. I love westerns as mentioned above, but lately I’ve become a period film watcher. I absolutely love the BBC Pride and Prejudice – 5 hours of history, romance, and sparing word wars between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. The woman who plays Elizabeth Bennett is a perfect example of someone who gets into her character. I love watching her facial expressions – the tiniest quirk of an eyebrow says more than anything she could have said out loud.
6. Tricia: If you had to choose one thing to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a week, what would you pick?
Paula: Pizza. I love it cold, I love it hot. I love anything with cheese and bread together-so it’s perfect.
7. Tricia: Tell me what your writing day is like?
Paula: Well, in my house writing comes in small spurts for the most part. A little here and a little there when I can squeeze it in. We homeschool and have three boys 8 and under. Our house is a mixture of racing cars, roping cowboys, and sword fights. I do require at least one hour of ‘quiet time’ when the littlest takes a nap and I can get in a bit there, but otherwise I do my writing at night. It’s 2:13 a.m. as I write this.
8. Tricia: If you could play a part in any sitcom, which would you pick?
Paula: That’s a hard one. I don’t watch sitcoms, in fact I don’t even have the slightest idea what sitcoms are on T.V. right now. But I guess the only one I can think of would be Debra(?) on Everybody Loves Raymond. The few times I saw that show she had kids bouncing around the house and there were toys everywhere. I think I could play that part without a problem!
9. Tricia: If we went shopping at the Mall of America together, which store would you drag me to first?
Paula: RCC Western Store – I love walking in there and just smelling the leather.
10. Tricia: Which attribute of God has filled your heart with joy lately?
Paula: You’ll get tired of my answer, but His sovereignty. My husband Travis and I just went away this past weekend for our 10 year anniversary, and I’m happy to report that I think we’re more in love now than we were when we got married. Well, no, maybe not more, but in a deeper sense. He’s my best friend, and when we sat and talked about the last 10 years, there’s just no way we could have ever planned it more perfect than God did. All the trials, tribulations and losses have made us the husband/wife and parents we are. God is molding us all the time, and it’s sobering to realize how much we’ve changed. See, I told you it was hard not to preach about something close to my heart! I’ll stop now and haul myself upstairs to bed.
Thanks for having me!
Paula J. Miller
Paula J. Miller One-Eyed Jack – Rattlesnakes, lassos, and learning to trust God.
How much can one boy & his dog handle?
Ordinary people; ordinary lives. One sovereign God changes them all.