I wish I could say that I bolted out of bed one morning, filled with the certainty that I would be a writer. In reality, even though I’ve been writing ever since I was very little (please see Exhibit A: a photo of the first book I ever wrote) I never considered that I might actually write professionally one day. My mother used to tell me all the time that I was going to be an author when I grew up, to which I strenuously rolled my eyes and scoffed. Seriously, Mom. I’m so sure. (Sidenote: Seriously, Mom. Sorry I was such a brat – you were so totally right!). It took me until I was in my (gasp!) thirties to start writing for real…and I’m never looking back!
Woah, that is a tough question. I’m going to cheat and pick two, at radically different ends of the spectrum. I found THE HANDMAID’S TALE on my mother’s bookshelf when I was in elementary school, and it’s one that I’ve picked up over and over throughout the years. Margaret Atwood is a genius – THT was written in the 80’s but predicted things like a digital society and terrorism on American soil. I didn’t realize it until I was writing this interview, but I see a lot of THT’s inspiration in THE VIOLET HOUR. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I must mention TWILIGHT. This was the book that motivated me to start writing YA. Haters gonna hate, but I LOVE THIS BOOK!
In your Debut Novel; The Violet Hour, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
THE VIOLET HOUR takes us inside the twisted world of Harlow Wintergreen, the adopted daughter of a charismatic cult leader who harbors a dangerous secret…the sinister voice that whispers in her head, commanding her to kill. The voice shows her visions of a blood-soaked alternate reality. When the visions start bleeding over into reality, Harlow has to make an impossible choice – face the monster within or risk losing everyone she loves. TVH is a horror novel at heart, with a dash of science fiction, humor, and (of course) kissing for good measure!
For those who are unfamiliar with Harlow, how would you introduce her?
“This is Harlow Wintergreen. (Yes, THAT Harlow Wintergreen.) We’re not really on speaking terms right now due to all the awful things I put her through in THE VIOLET HOUR. However, I can tell you that she is scary-smart, endlessly clever, kind-hearted, and ultimately a complete and total badass. Oh, and she has a hilarious best friend and a really hot sometimes-boyfriend.”
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
THE CRIMSON GATE, the sequel to THE VIOLET HOUR, will come out next year. It’s filled with even more international intrigue, gruesome-tastic adventure, and angsty romance than TVH. It’s like TVH’s older, more experienced sister. Outside of this series, I’m experimenting with stories in other genres. I like to be challenged by what I’m writing, and stretching outside my literary comfort zone is a great way to do this. Stay tuned!
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would introduce Harlow and Dora to Frankie Landau Banks (from E. Lockhart’s THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU BANKS) because all three of them are hilariously awesome and usually up to some kind of shenanigans.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
“What’s the one question you always answer with a lie?” (Do you feel like you just got Inception-ed?!)
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
Working at The Gap. I never folded my jeans the same again.
Who was your first boyfriend?
Tell me about your first kiss.
When was the last time you cried?
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
What is your greatest adventure?
If I had a time machine I’d be too busy to go back to my high school years! Heading back to Ancient Rome and forward to be there to greet the aliens when they land can keep a girl’s schedule pretty full. Plus, I really liked high school! But if I did manage to squeeze this in (and not freak all my classmates out about how OLD I look), and it was guaranteed not to mess up the trajectory of the rest of my life, here is what I’d do:
1. Stand up for the kid in my 9th grade history class when that mean girl who sat behind him mercilessly made fun of his acne. I’ll never forget that I did nothing. If I couldn’t change anything else, this is the one thing I would pick.
2. Appreciate more. I had two parents who loved each other and me (still do), plenty of food, nice clothes, a great house, two cool brothers, perfect health, intelligence (those sound like brags, but I don’t mean them to be), and pretty much no adversity to speak of. I’m not saying I wasn’t grateful for all of that – I absolutely was. But I didn’t have a very broad perspective on the world at that age, so I didn’t appreciate that I was basically holding the mega-lotto jackpot ticket of life. I would go back and be grateful.
3. Not take it so hard when I didn’t win the election for Student Body President. Now I know there’s more to life than decorating the gym for Homecoming.
4. Reach out more to others. I had my group of friends and we had a really great time. But there wasn’t a lot of diversity (in any sense of the word). I branched out a little – the drama club, the show choir, the swim team – but not as much as I could have. I would try to see the people, not the labels. Behind every “burnout,” “band geek,” or “math whiz” there is an individual. Forming relationships with all different kinds of people is such an enriching way to live. I would teach myself that earlier, and do way more of it.
5. Realize that I wasn’t even remotely overweight, and enjoy the amazingness of youth. I look back now at pictures from that time and am sometimes overwhelmed with a wave of sadness – that girl was radiant (and still is!) but she spent all her time obsessing over losing that next pound and fixating on all her supposed flaws. What a waste.
6. Never touch the menthol cigarette a “cool girl” gave me to puff on senior year. It led down a slippery slope that was hard to come back from, and there was nothing cool about it.
7. Write more. I often wonder where my writing skills would be if I’d started honing them more, earlier in life. Like anything else, writing is a skill that is honed through repetition.
8. Sing more. Dance more.
9. Don’t worry so much. Time heals all wounds, and in the end most of the things I stressed about are long-forgotten. The little worries aren’t worth it. (More advice I should follow now!)
10. Break more rules. I have always been a rule-follower, and still am. But often the people who are most successful are those who don’t blindly follow the guidelines others set out for them, but rather decide which ones are valid and ignore all the rest. I wish I’d done more of that throughout my life.
The voice inside me is breaking free. I can’t stop it.
Some call VisionCrest the pinnacle of religious enlightenment. Others call it a powerful cult. For seventeen years, Harlow Wintergreen has called it her life.
As the daughter of VisionCrest’s patriarch, Harlow is expected to be perfect at all times. She must be considered a paragon of integrity by the other Ministry teens and a future leader in the eyes of the world.
Despite the constant scrutiny Harlow is keeping a dark and dangerous secret, even from her best friend and the boy she loves. She hears a voice in her head that seems to have a mind of its own, plaguing her with violent and bloody visions. It commands her to kill. And the urge to obey is getting harder and harder to control….
Often times, the horror genre follows a formula that makes all of them seem stale and dull. However, Ms. Miller embraces this genre with an unconventional approach. She takes us into the world of cults and readers are quickly clouded with mysteries. There’s darkness into the things we know little about and it provided the right element for a very exciting read. Although the path she has paved is dark and mysterious, the unknown and uncertainty of cults become fascinating.
Harlow is a character that is very dynamic and the way readers will perceive her emanates mixed feelings towards her. The dark voices and visions are enough for readers to fear her but it’s the mystery of these occurrences that makes her a very intriguing one. Readers go along on a ride that will see her trying to battle out of the voices and its horrific demands. Her distressing situation will beg pity from readers and implore the need to keep turning the pages.
Written with a crisp style, readers will enjoy every bit of the novel. Ms. Miller is a master at providing backstories and developing characters that will become memorable. Wonderfully paced with a build-up that is absolutely mind-blowing, The Violet Hour stipulates warrant for a darkly mysterious, yet very exciting and fear-provoking story.