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Monday, July 5, 2010

INTERVIEW: Kirsten Miller

Aurora is pleased to welcome Kirsten Miller, author of the Kiki Strike book series, as well as her latest release The Eternal Ones.

Kirsten told me she's very proud of all her books and they're far too different to be compared. She admitted, however, "I consider my first novel to be my greatest achievement. Before I wrote Kiki Strike, I never imagined I could writing anything longer than a grocery list. It was like going out for a jog and finding yourself finishing a marathon."

All of her writing is based on her own life. The Kiki books borrow heavily from her childhood experiences, while The Eternal Ones was inspired by her high school years.

"As a teenager, I never really felt like I belonged in my hometown," she told me. "I always had this strange, sneaking suspicion that there was somewhere else I needed to be. I recall feeling extremely impatient. I had this crazy hunch that my destiny had an expiration date. If I didn’t get out quickly, I might never find what I was looking for.

"Unlike Haven Moore, the protagonist of The Eternal Ones, I didn’t experience visions of a handsome young man from another life. But Haven’s urge to leave home and seek her destiny is very similar to what I experienced at that age. I imagine quite a few people have felt the same way."

I asked her to tell us a little bit about this book.

The Eternal Ones is a twisted tale of past lives, sinister secret societies, and love at first sight.

Want more details?

For as long as she can remember, Haven Moore has had visions of a city she’s never visited and a handsome young man she’s never met. Haven’s visions, she learns unexpectedly, aren’t just fantasies—they’re memories. Memories of another life that ended in tragedy almost ninety years earlier.

At last Haven understands why she’s always felt like there was someone out there that she needed to find. And a chance glimpse of a young man on TV convinces her that she should look for him in New York. But Haven’s search for her one eternal love leads her into unimaginable jeopardy when she finds herself linked with a notorious playboy and a mysterious secret society. Before her quest is finally over, Haven discovers just how dangerous true love can be.

"What drives you to write books for kids and teens?" I asked.

"I write books for kids and teens? I write to entertain myself—that’s the only way I’m able to do it. I’m just fortunate to share many interests with young people."

Kirsten loves magical realism, particularly the works of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez and Angela Carter.

One book that she feels no author should be without is an unabridged thesaurus.

"A really great thesaurus is more than just a reference book, it’s a source of inspiration," she told me. "An online thesaurus will never be able to cut it."

Her favorite book, however, is a work of nonfiction--Outside Lies Magic by John Stilgoe.

"It’s the book that first opened my eyes to wonders of the ordinary world," she explained. "Life is so much richer when you know about the secret history of the interstate highway system or the unique ecosystems that develop near rest stops. After I read Outside Lies Magic, I felt like I was heading off on an adventure every time I left the house. My only hobby is exploring. I love traveling to new cities and exotic lands, but I’m just as happy to stay here in Brooklyn and search for sights I’ve yet to see."

"If you could give any advice to your readers," I wondered, "what would it be?"

"Practice a martial art. Always have an escape route planned. Keep your breath smelling minty fresh. Read more than you write. Collect nothing but good karma. Avoid people who are cruel to animals. Protect anything or anyone weaker than you are. Don a disguise at least once a month. Strive to be interesting. Exhibit good table manners. Research the secret, dark history of your own hometown. Open your eyes. Do something brave every single day.

"Is that the kind of advice you wanted? Ha."

If Kirsten weren't a writer, ideally she'd be an archaeologist or an auto mechanic. Realistically, though?

"I'd still be in advertising," she said.

"If your book was turned into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?" I asked.

"Most of these actors are a bit older than the characters, but I do like their style.

Haven Moore: Abby Cornish (Though she looks nothing like Haven. Maybe with a good wig and a southern accent.)
Iain Morrow: This one is super hard.
Beau Decker: A young Heath Ledger (so sad he’s not around anymore)
Adam Rosier: DefinitelyJames Franco "

She has two favorite words—one spoken and one written. For the written word, she likes chthonic, and orally—caliginous. However, she does not like the word bleat which she said was used to great effect in the most shocking, horrifying novel she's ever read--Underneath the Skin.

"What's the most embarrassing thing your mother ever did to you?"

"I was horribly allergic to poison ivy when I was a kid, which is a real problem if you live in the mountains of North Carolina. Once, when I was thirteen, I had a poison ivy rash that stretched all the way up my thighs. My regular doctor was on vacation, so my mother dragged me kicking and screaming to a pediatrician (a man whose super-cute son was my secret crush) and made me show him the full extent of the rash. I can still remember what underwear I was wearing that day. A couple of years later I went out with his son (very briefly unfortunately). I wonder if I told him that his dad had seen me in my underwear. Probably. That’s just the sort of thing I’d do."

Finally, I asked, "What's the one question that no one ever asks you and you wish they would?"

"Will you please visit our bookstore in Tahiti if we promise to pay all of your expenses?"