Today, I'm fortunate enough to bring you an interview with the badass Marietta Miles, author of May, a dark thriller that is as raw-boned and gritty as it is atmospheric and brimming with a quiet, dangerous tension. Enjoy!
“Every page has a lovely line, something to savor, even as the story uneasily slips under your skin. There’s beauty in the violence in this novella about loneliness and the lengths people go to free themselves from its grasp." —E.A. Aymar, author of You’re As Good As Dead
Which character in the novel gave you the most trouble?
Oddly, the decent characters are a real challenge. To me, they are the most unbelievable and I strive to make them more credible. If there is one type of person I do not trust, it is a perfect person. Everyone has a nick or divot in their armor and what that weakness is can be really important. It can tell you quite a bit about that character. In May we meet Aunt Madison, one of the more thoughtful characters in the story. She’s the main mother figure, however we watch as she takes short-cuts here and there. When May’s mother dies, Maddie begins giving May cough syrup to help her go to sleep. Coffee to get her through the days. It seems small and even well-meaning at first, but it leads to May becoming dependent and unable to handle the real world because she doesn’t know how.
Who was your intended audience for the novel?
I’ve never had a set audience in mind, but I have always been very interested in what women have to say about my work. I want to hear if I get it right. Even when I get acceptances or edits from publishers or editors who are men, in the back of my mind, I’m always wondering what their female friends, wives, moms, or sisters might think.
But, but, but…I have been so pleasantly surprised with the amount of support from male writers. It’s been very encouraging. And when I say support, three of these gentlemen, quite literally, put together a public relations blitz for May out of the goodness of their busy hearts. Their efforts were priceless. They continue to recommend and review and that is the best compliment I could hope for.
How do you handle writer’s block?
When I come to a point where I cannot see the next passage or imagine the next part of the story, I try to flip my perspective. Particularly if I’m super committed to the work, say I’m several thousand words in or my mind can’t quit the character or story. For instance, in May, she and Tommy have a fairly uncertain ending. I knew as I started the follow-up I wanted it to be the end of their story, but I couldn’t shake the fog from my brain enough to get a clear storyline. After a few days of not writing I tried again, but from Tommy’s point of view. It was a shot of adrenalin, the words flowed much easier.
What piece of your own writing are you most proud of?
“Tell Her.” It’s a piece of flash fiction from 2014. Joe Clifford published it at Out of the Gutter online. When he emailed me to tell me he was publishing it I was walking into the coliseum with my girls to see Frozen on Ice. His enthusiasm and the kind things he said in his message made me cry. Everyone around me thought I really, really liked the show. Before that, when I initially wrote the piece, I asked a friend to read it for me and she told me I made her throw up. Made my day. Even now, Will Viharo and Joe still recommend the story to people. Nothing better.
Have you ever given up on a writing project?
I really try not to. If something is just not working, it doesn’t make my heart race or my hands shake, I’ll dissect pieces of that story and parcel it out to other projects before I give up. I don’t get a huge chunk of time to write, so when I sit down and actually start working, what I’m writing is something that I have quietly obsessed over for some time. I trust that the story or character matters too much to give up. There have been times when I’ve cut a short story down to a single passage in a full-length piece because I thought it would work. Several secondary characters from Route 12 started with their own short or novella.