Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tammi A. Miller -- Writing from Wordsworth's Overflow

I met quite a few interesting and fascinating new (to me anyway) writers while at Connooga this year. For a few weeks, I'm going to introduce them to you. Let's start with Tammi A. Miller.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

Most recently I wrote a short story that was turned into the pilot episode for a series called Outliers. Foley, the pilot episode, is still in production. I’ve seen some stills from the filming and they look fantastic. It was shot in Los Angeles and San Francisco using SAG-AFTRA actors.

The short story itself was a challenge because dialogue was extremely limited and the main character is autistic. I had to do decent amount of research. I had to find a way to show in words what would later be shown in film without having the character speak those words. Just as challenging was the location. I live across the country from where Foley takes place. While I did once reside in California for awhile, it was many years ago and I only visited San Francisco once.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

Communication. I don’t plan on it, but for some reason the difficulty we have communicating with one another often creeps into my writing. It can be a difference of language, age, status, or even species but in all comes down to communication.

What would be your dream project?

A dream project? That is a tough one. I guess it would have to be something I couldn’t do on my own like a collaboration or a graphic novel. I would love to work on a graphic novel. I consider myself fairly decent at writing dialogue and story, but drawing and inking are outside the limits of my talents.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

The Oak Muse and Other Stories, my book of very short fiction. Something has always felt off about it. I probably would add more stories and maybe remove one or two of the ones that are currently there. I still may do that someday.

What inspires you to write?

I love to write. It really is something I feel compelled to do. Ideas crowd my head if I don’t write them down. William Wordsworth once said that poetry comes from and overflowing of emotion. I believe that prose writers write from that same overflow only it would be more accurate to say it is an overflow of life. Words are just how we translate the world. And who doesn’t love a good story? It gives you a break from the way you see things and allows you to live through another’s eyes for just a little while.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

I read a lot so pinpointing just a few writers would be difficult. Though, off the top of my head, I would have to say Mercedes Lackey, Simon R. Green, Kevin J. Anderson, Michael Stackpole, and Sir Terry Pratchett. I really do read a wide variety of stuff, so this list is just me sticking with what I write. However, I think every writer should read Stephen King’s On Writing. I highly recommend it.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

I would be somewhere in the middle. Writing to me is a little bit of both, even writing fiction. There is art to it. You have to be able to visualize the pictures you are trying to implant into your reader’s heads. You have to create from whole cloth worlds and characters. But there are also rules. Writing is a form of communication. It is language. All languages have rules. There is also research that needs to be accomplished for some projects. Like with Foley, I couldn’t have my character walking around and area that I knew nothing about. He is in a real world setting an I had to know about that setting. Also the main character is Autistic. I had to learn about Autism and how people with Autism communicate. I had to learn about the challenges they face and how they see the world and hear the world. Writing is a place where science and art meet and meld together.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

I am currently working on a new novel called Loose Strings. It should be released later this year.Loose Strings is a bit like Mercedes Lackey and Terry Pratchett shared a bottle of rum. There are pirates, assassins, magic, thieves, and bodies that don’t remain as dead as they should.