Misfit Monday: Heidi Ruby Miller (gets Jack’d)

Heidi Ruby Miller is a seriously mad woman. Not mad as in, you better watch it or she WILL pee in your Cheerios, but mad as in, There be whales aboard! Kinda mad. Voices in the head kinda mad. Oh, wait… I just described the whole of the writer clan. Actually, Heidi is quite an intriguing woman, with one hell of a resume to back up some seriously mad skills. So, I thought it time the woman got Jack’d.

JW: Okay, here’s the thing … your bio could easily be mistaken as mine.

HRM: YES! I love it! But what about those action movies? You can’t tell me you didn’t love FAST FIVE. And, let’s face it, DIE HARD is the greatest Christmas movie ever made.

JW: You have a point. Although I am partial to “Nightmare Before Christmas” as my fav Christmas movie. What about her bio? Let’s look…

JW: She loves:

  • High-heeled shoes
  • Action movies
  • Chanel
  • Loud music
  • Video games

I love:

  • High-heeled shoes: Smexy check
  • Action movies: No doubt check
  • Chanel: I’ll check this one, but it depends on if we’re talking designer or fragrance.
  • Loud music: Hell yeah check!
  • Video games: Oh yeah check

And you’ve been putting too much sex in your books since 2005. Okay, I’ve been putting too much sexuality in my books…and “too much” is quite relative.

HRM: You’re so right—it’s all perspective. Some people probably think I don’t put enough in.

JW: Of course, outside of your bio, there are plenty of differences. But I must say, you certainly have an incredible bibliography working for you.

Mmmm…bibliography. Such a seemingly antiquated, yet still so yummy a word. It just rolls off the tongue. Say it with me…bibliography.

HRM: Bibliography. Bibliography. Bibliography. Now it just starts to sound weird. Like when you say your name over and over – Heidi. Heidi. Heidi. You’re like, what do those sounds even mean?

JW: Sorry, I slipped into Zombie Radio for a second there. It happens.

Okay, back to a topic. You are one serious writer. You have the credentials to prove it. I have a very different background and anyone that has edited a book of mine knows that English was not my focus during my ten years of college. You on the other hand, have a pretty serious English pedigree.

HRM: I actually have a pretty good Spanish pedigree as well. Estoy floja en la lengua y a veces ya duermo en español también.

JW: Is there anything outside of your studies that influences or helps you along with your writing career? I have found that life itself is the best inspiration for my writing. Just the act of living brings about some of the most incredible inspiration for my writing – even for my post-apocalyptic fiction! What about you?

HRM: I confess most of my inspirations are daydreams. Of course there are always real life experiences which prompt some of those fantasies and daytime nightmares, but they become warped by the time I arrange them in my head. Then warped even more as they go through the word processor. I basically live in the world of my fiction 80 percent of the time. Can anyone say avoidance behavior? Or does that make me a female Peter Pan?

JW: I am accused of living in a different world all the time. Sometimes it can be a real pain in the hinder as I am locked in various and sundry worlds while everyone else goes about their merry way in reality-land. But I’ve tried reality and found it way overrated. I guess that’s the lot of life we writers have to deal with. We’re dreamers by nature and that most generally means we choose to spend the majority of our waking time living among those dreams.

  • Always thinking our way out of plot problems.
  • Always placing new characters into sticky situations.
  • Always creating new plots, new worlds, new lives to ruin.

It never ends! This is especially true lately. I’m working on finishing up the third book in my Fringe Killer series (Endgame) and was having trouble with the ending. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. While I was doing that, I was also developing a new steampunk series (Klockwerk Kabaret) and couldn’t stop thinking about that. At one point I actually had to stop myself from thinking about the new series just so I could concentrate on ending Endgame! We are such silly creatures.

HRM: Klockwerk Kabaret has to be the most kick-ass Steampunk title I’ve ever heard. Seriously.

JW: Why, thank you! That title has a history of causing a bit of a ruckus on a few on line groups!

I wonder, if a “normal” person dug into our brains, would they be afraid? And, what’s worse, could we be clinically diagnosed with issues we probably don’t want to know about? The voices in our heads? The plots, the schemes, the madness? The HORROR?

HRM: It’s the voices which make the stories so good. I have any number of character voices in my head at any given time. Right now it’s a former fleet captain and a botanist, the stars of my upcoming novella Greenshift. The book is still part of the Ambasadora-verse, it just happens to take place before Ambasadora. But for anyone who wanted to get a more in-depth look at how David and Mari first got together, this is it! I thought they were such good secondary characters in Ambasadora that they deserved their own book.

JW: That’s one of the things I LOVE about writing a series… being able to play around with the time and time lines. You know, ?Oh wait, it would have been cool if this happened…so, I’ll just write another book and add it in!” That’s what I plan on doing. I came up with a great idea for a zombie one-off a long time ago and just figured out how to make it the perfect bridge between the I Zombie series and The Book of Jacob.

Now to just find the time to write everything. We all know there isn’t enough time in the day to get it all done. How do you manage? Do you have a secret formula or schedule you stick with? Do you have a habit that you refuse to break with your writing? I’m very much a creature of habit with my writing. I write my first drafts with pen and paper and then the first rewrites happen when they are transferred into digital form. Thing is, I always write the first draft in bed. I feel strange playing with my characters outside of the boudoir… like I’m cheating on them or something.

That came out all wrong. 😉

HRM: Hmm…I would like to play around with some of my characters, too.

I know what you mean about writing habits. I write every day, even if it’s just a few hundred words, and I outline. I mean, I outline! Like, as in 80 pages. Basically, it’s a very skeletal first draft with dialog. Then I thread in specific action sequences (usually scaled down fighting and sex scenes) in a second pass, and finally plump it up into a real book on the third pass by going into detail for setting and those action sequences. And then I give it to my relentless critique partners and they tell me everything that’s wrong. I fix that on a fourth pass.

For me, it’s all about staying in the story—24 hours a day, if necessary. That’s why it’s good that I’m such a daydreamer.

As for what I wrote on…it’s whatever is available—laptop, paper, napkins, Blackberry, day planner, but I always transfer everything to my Word file as soon as possible.

So, if you write in bed, do you always dream about your characters like I do?

JW: Thankfully no. The only time I’ve ever had dreams about my books was when I wrote the “Zombie Jesus” scene in Die Zombie Die. That one really messed me up. Although I have had plenty of Shero-like dreams, but that’s not fair since Shero and I are really tight (I have a direct line to the cell phone in his purse!) As far as living and/or staying in the story – yeah, pretty much 24/7. It sometimes can be a problem for me as it distracts me from every day life. I guess that’s why everyone assumes we writers are mad bastards.


Heidi Ruby Miller has been putting too much sex in her Science Fiction since 2005 because she believes the relationship is as important as the adventure. She loves high-heeled shoes, action movies, Chanel, loud music, and video games. Heidi also teaches creative writing at Seton Hill University, where she graduated from their renowned Writing Popular Fiction Graduate Program the same month she appeared on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. The writing guide Many Genres, One Craft, which she co-edited with Michael A. Arnzen, is based on the Seton Hill program and her novel Ambasadora was her thesis there.

She has had various fiction and non-fiction publications, as well as various jobs, including contract archaeologist, foreign currency exchanger at Walt Disney World, foreign language teacher, and educational marketing director for a Frank Lloyd Wright house.

Heidi is a member of The Authors Guild, Pennwriters, Broad Universe, EPIC, SFR Brigade, and Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA).

You can read her author interview series at http://heidirubymiller.blogspot.com.

She lives near Pittsburgh with her writer husband, Jason Jack Miller.