Hello there everyone my dear friends.
Welcome to another cracking installment in the ongoing Author Interview series.
Firstly, here is my usual Public Service Bulletin before we get cracking.
Just a quick note before we get started properly. I link to a lot of other articles in my posts, so WordPress users please check your Spam folders in your Setting Menus and approve any links/pingbacks that you find from me to improve the visibility of your own blog posts, as well as mine, it’s a win win for us both 😉
And now we move on to the main event, where I would like to introduce to you all author Gil Miller, as he chats to us about his crime thriller extravaganzas and his writing experiences creating them.
Thanks for reading folks, have a fun time and enjoy yourselves 🙂
Hi there Gil, fantastic to have you over here to discuss your creative writing processes and your engaging Crime Thriller books.
Let’s start first with your books that are part of your Crime Thriller “Rural Empires” series. Please tell us about each of their plots and themes, along with their characters and how their stories carry over into their sequels and the prequel novel.
The overall idea behind the Rural Empires series is to portray the fact there are criminal empires in the countryside just as there are in the cities. In this way, I supposed they fall into what’s called country noir, and I’m okay with that.
The first three books—the prequel and two main novels—focus on a man named Lyle Villines (pronounced V’lines) who inadvertently becomes involved in the meth trade, working, ultimately, for the Sinaloa Cartel and Joáquin “El Chapo” Gúzman.
I have at least one more novel in the series that will focus on Lyle, but have plans for others, such as one set in the seventies that involves a family becoming involved in the marijuana business. This family is mentioned in the books about Lyle, and he even meets them in the one I have yet to finish.
Another idea I have for a future book is going to be a heist pulled on a fictional casino I’ve set in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. It’s managed by the man who pulled Lyle into the meth trade, and the heist is actually pulled off by his wife to get rid of him after she discovers he killed her parents in an “accident” in order to gain more control of the casino and other businesses they owned.
I’ve always loved what in science fiction and fantasy are sometimes referred to as über worlds—worlds where diverse characters and setting overlap, even if they don’t appear in some volumes. Stephen King does this with many of his novels, with many of them finding mention of the world of The Dark Tower series, and especially the character of Randall Flagg. I’ve read that kind of thing all my life, so including linked settings in my own books is a natural.
You also have another Crime Thriller novel called “Spree” which has just been rereleased. Can you tell us more about the plot of this one, along with its differences and/or similarities to your “Rural Empires” series and why the book has just been released again.
“Spree” is a bit different—and lighter—than the Rural Empires series, though it is still a serious story. I’ve often joked that it’s the Beavis and Butthead North American tour because of its two central characters, Steve Wilson and Eddie Jones.
The basic plot is that Steve and Eddie are both two-strike losers living in LA. Because of their records, they’re working dead-end jobs, and they know they can’t stay out of prison. Eddie is originally from New Jersey, and his mother is Italian, with all the connections that implies when you’re writing crime. He gets a phone call from his mother telling him his brother Jimmy has a brain tumour. It’s operable, but insurance won’t pay for it. Steve and Eddie, sitting in their apartment getting stoned, see this as the perfect opportunity for them. They decide to rob their way from LA to Jersey. They’ll drop off money for the operation and use whatever is left over to flee the country.
This was my first published novel, and it wasn’t long into the publishing process that I decided the publisher and I weren’t destined for a long-term relationship. I’m working with a much better publisher now—both as an author and one of their editors (and it happened in that order)—and I knew it had better potential with the present publisher.
So, when the rights ran out on the original contract, I asked for them back so we could bring out an edition that was more to my liking. There were some edits I didn’t agree with, chief among them being the opening sentence, which I felt set the tone for the entire book. But the original editor felt it was too omniscient, not enough deep POV to it, and struck it. In the desire to be published, I agreed with the edit, but always regretted it. That’s corrected in the new edition.
If any of your novels were to be made into films (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?
It’s ironic that, though I love watching movies (and some very limited TV), unlike many authors, I rarely use any actors as the basis for my characters.
I say “rarely” because there’s a character in “Spree” who I pictured as looking very much like Jonah Hill, sort of a pudgy, nerdy guy. He becomes a major character with a lot of influence on Steve and Eddie—especially Steve—and from the moment of his conception, I pictured Jonah.
I’ve wracked my brain to pick someone to play Lyle. I always pictured him as looking a lot like the older Marty Robbins, but couldn’t see a current actor playing him. The other day, my wife said she thought Matthew McConaughey would do a good job and it clicked for me. Like Michael Connelly said of Titus Welliver playing his iconic Harry Bosch character, McConaughey doesn’t really look like Lyle, but he could play him admirably.
What would you choose as your own personal mascot or spirit animal when it comes to you and your style of writing?
Probably the coyote, the Trickster of Lakota belief (and some other tribes). I don’t necessarily teach lessons—unless it’s to reiterate that crime really doesn’t pay, not in the long run—but I do run here and there, getting into things with my writing. You never know what idea I’ll come up with next to try.
What do you think most characterizes or defines your writing? Do you have any writing quirks or themes that constantly crop up in your stories?
I like to write about the criminals more than the cops, and I do my best to follow Elmore Leonard’s maxim of revealing as much character as possible through my dialogue. I try as hard as I can to make my characters sound like real, individual people, not an easy task when they’re all coming from you. In fact, I’ve come to all but detest characters who sound like a professor giving a lecture—unless, of course, it fits the character.
Again, it all comes down to asking myself why criminals do the various things they do, and so far, each new situation has offered another way to look at the question. But I’m also branching out into science fiction (I have an almost-finished novel set in 2090 that’s a serial killer novel with a noir setting), and I have some ideas for fantasy stories, both of which are my first loves.
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
Actually sitting down and doing it. Once I’m in my chair, tapping away on my keyboard, I’m usually okay. But getting there can be akin to an Act of Congress some days.
Conversely, once I’m actually writing, even the bad days end up being pretty good, and I always feel proud when I’ve finished a writing task for the day. Even at my best, I can’t seem to write seven days a week. I tend to need a day or three to recharge. But boy howdy, when it’s going good, the writing is like taking dictation—I’m just along for the ride, and the characters often surprise me with what they do.
Who are some of the authors, poets and/or historical figures that inspire you?
I’d have to say the original inspiration for my wanting to become a writer was JRR Tolkien, and I’m still a Ringer—a fan of the Middle-earth books and world he created. Traveling through that setting with Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, et al made me want to create memorable worlds as well.
Another big inspiration was Louis L’Amour. I know, they don’t seem connected, but to me they are. L’Amour wrote in the style of an oral storyteller—something I try to do in my own way—and his portrayal of the West was as loving as Tolkien’s depiction of Middle-earth. And Westerns, in their own way, are fantasies where the good guys always win. And the authors always go to great pains to describe the settings, so you know they’re in love with the region.
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
Because I deal with criminals and the legal system, two of the biggest things I’m always looking up facts about are guns and police procedure. Guns are a bit easier, because although there are LOTS of different models, at least they stay mostly the same. If you can obey one basic maxim—that revolvers, on the whole, and Glocks, do not have safeties—the rest is finding out how a particular model of gun works.
With the police, though, it’s all dependent on individual departments and agencies, because they all operate differently. For instance, in the Rural Empires books I’ve written so far, Lyle is a confidential informal—a CI in cop speak—and the policies regarding CI’s and paying them varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The DEA will often let them keep a percentage of any deal they make, especially if they lead to arrests, but they can depend on the agent or supervisor on each case. And local departments all have their own policies, so nailing it down can be tough.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
Partly I write for the same reason as most authors—I have no choice. My brain is constantly spinning like a top, telling itself stories, and if I don’t get at least some of them down on paper, so to speak, I have sleepless nights because my mind won’t let me relax.
But the inspiration comes from reading good authors and wanting to emulate them. I don’t mean copy them, but take, well, inspiration from them and do my best to entertain people. I don’t think there are many joys that equal having someone tell you they loved your story and couldn’t put it down. If I keep you up at night, I’ve done my job. And I’ve probably been able to sleep better in the bargain.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
Associating with other writers. And going back to basics by reading books about how to write. We all forget principles we should know, so it never hurts to reacquaint yourself with them. But there’s inspiration there as well, at least for me. Yes, they’re telling me how to do something, and that’s not necessarily the most exciting reading on the planet. But at the same time, when you read these little intricacies and innuendos you can put into your stories, it makes you want to try them out, see if you can work them into your own stuff.
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Get started on this stuff sooner. Get serious about it and believe in yourself, because you’ll find that a lot of people will tell you you’re a good writer, whether you ever believe it or not. Go with their judgement, not your own, and write write write.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
Free time? I’m an editor. Finding time for both avocations is a constant challenge!
In all seriousness, I have varied interests. Lots of reading, of course, but I’m also into video games. It’s probably not a surprise that I love the “Grand Theft Auto” franchise, and I actually gain some inspiration from them. Some of the things you do in those games are goofy, but the basic stories and the overarching themes can be very serious.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
Well, as I mentioned above, I have what I guess you’d call a future noir that’s almost finished, though it will require more rewriting than usual because I’ve never written a mystery before, so I have to go back in, put in red herrings and such so the readers don’t solve it too soon.
I’ve also just started on a Mad Max-type story that will take things in a different direction, in a way, than the movies did. I’ve always loved post-apocalyptic settings and always wanted to write one, but could never come up with an idea I wanted to run with. I think I’ve finally done that.
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
Don’t. Stop. Writing.
Seriously. This is a craft where you learn by doing. Reading all those how-to books will only get you so far. Sooner or later you’ve got to put your butt in a chair and WRITE.
And find a good writing group that actually critiques your work. I can’t emphasize that enough. It helped me to grow immensely as a writer, and if you can find a good one, it will you too. You never stop learning in this job, so don’t start thinking you’ve learned everything you can about it. Not long before his death, Louis L’Amour once stated that he felt he was finally learning his craft. Don’t take that as being depressing, but as being a challenge.
Never stop improving.
And that’s a wrap! Gil thank you for all of your wise words and tips, we can’t wait to start experiencing the thrills within your books 🙂
Gil had a normal upbringing, which means his parents aren’t to blame for him going into crime (fiction). Instead, he blames a steady diet of movies, shows, and books, from Miami Vice and Scarface in the ’80s to Breaking Bad and Justified in the ’00s.
To cap it all off, he discovered authors such as Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Don Winslow, and the late, great Elmore Leonard. Gil is a member of the Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop, whose members sometimes wonder where he gets his inspiration.
He makes his home outside Fayetteville, where he is at work on his next novel.
You can connect with Gil via the following Social Media channels:-
Facebook:- Gil Miller – Author (FB)
LinkedIn:- Gil Miller – Author (LinkedIn)
Twitter:- @authorgilmiller (Twitter)
Website:- The Book of Writing – Being a Treatise on the Writing Life
You can buy his books here:-
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.
Still want more? Well, in Gil’s series “Rural Empires”, loyalties are strained as the plot unfolds and the tension mounts in the characters lives until it reaches boiling point. For more articles on the theme of ‘Loyal’ then check out the links below:-
1. Tiny Fawns – pale yellow
2. emmapalova – Loyal public servant
3. Loyal – byindiablue
4. Loyal – Run and Travel
5. emmapalova – Inspiring Communities
6. Have Faith. Dream. Execute. – Candace A. Jones Ministries
7. A Life Retired – October’s love
8. The Daily Post Writing Prompt Challenge! – Allison’s Written Words
9. Exploring the World around us – A Command
10. loyal – Litterbox Riot
11. Beatings Of Heart – Wings Of Poetry
12. This soft spot. – awesomeloopy
13. Look What I Woke To … – Branching Out
14. A Prayer – The AAAmazing Phoenix
15. Notes to Women – Saved by Grace
16. How to drink socially without getting fat – LIFESTYLE DESIGN
17. Finding The Treasure – The Chicken Grandma
18. My Mixed Blog – Loyal Is A Dog
19. Back home again yesterday – The AAAmazing Phoenix
20. 50 By 60 – Friday Five – More Pingback Fun!
21. 5 Simple Stretches You Should Do Every Day
22. Epiphany – Dutch nationalism – the anthem
23. Stop buying these so-called health foods – LIFESTYLE DESIGN
24. logicaldreams – Short Story: The Remaining One
25. GO CHASE YOUR DREAMS – Rainbow
26. After All These Years, Why Now? – Specscladeyes
27. Finding My Own Way – A man named Loyal
28. Prompt: risky. it’s brief. – Karyn’s Domain
29. Corporate promises – The Chaos Within
30. Ups, Downs & Deviations – No Second Chances
31. The Holly Tree Tales – When We Feel Heard And Valued
32. “Loyalty.” – Expedition Overlanding Nomadic Adventures
33. Lessons over lives – Oh, border!
34. The Daily Prompt – Loyal – Come in, sit down
35. Love Breaks My Bones – By Sarah
36. Final Siren – By Sarah
37. Loyalty vs. Indifference – The Shaming Room
38. For the Queen – motus in verba
39. slideaways – overload warning
40. ARTICLE/APPRECIATION: Happy Birthday Super Producer 14KT – Writing. Warm Plates. Wanderlust.
41. A trip down my Canine Lane – Vj Dogra
42. Love requires effort – Just Listen to Ezimen
43. Toortsie, Kameel en Bokbaaivygie se blog – As Afrikaans sou uitsterf – le jou eier oor jou erfenis
44. sonja benskin mesher – the garderobe
45. Ambrose VII – Writer’s block
46. The Home Of DJ Sung Mo Koo – The Dog and The Wolf
47. Loyal Kind and True – Leigha Robbins
48. In(between) Dreams – You carry it, even if it’s heavy
49. JasonFLBlog – zeitgeist, loyalty feigned and real, and a talking blond wig named womp
50. Lincoln Town car – On a mission
51. Sticking thorns into my spine. – Confessions of a Chronic Crier
52. Scarsdale – part 4: Heading out the door – My Corner on the Internet
53. Netdancer’s Musings – Loyal
54. Halloween Challenge: Treat – MindEscapes
55. Loyal… – Cyranny’s cove
56. Elevator’s Very Known Strangers – Mahesh Nair
57. Part 3 – Game of Thrones S7 Review
58. I Don’t Need You – hannah t.k.
59. helen meikle’s scribblefest – Daily prompt: Family
60. Sascha Darlington’s Microcosm Explored – Mouse on a Bench #amwriting
61. copypower – Be Loyal Amongst a Fake Crowd
62. The Hockey Mom Fit Life – Loyalty
63. bethlovesblue – What it Means to be a Family Dog.
64. Pumpkin Picking at Boston Hill Farm, North Andover, MA
65. Self-Care / Self-Harm – Cat and Moth Writings
66. What Does Loyal Mean to You? – Tea, Wine, and Cheese, Please!
67. Rome was not built in a day – The Musing Monkey
68. Misifusa’s Blog – Loyal Felines
69. Trust You – Wind Kisses
70. Time – I am a paradox.
71. Na’ama Yehuda – Trusty
72. Mirth and Motivation – Motivation Mondays: LOYALTY
73. Steps Times Two – War
74. Loyalty is Family – The Long and Short Stories of Life
75. ~289 Of 365~ – ……….365 Days………..
76. Loyal To The Photography Game – And Then She Took Pictures
77. October Poem 35: The White Knights of the NFL – therichardbraxton
78. Single Guy Says – Single Guy Does Music Mondays: ‘Midnight Train’ by DJ Okawari feat. Emi Meyer
79. Swell Time – Part of the problem
80. The Loyal Royal Life – kindfeelings
81. Life On The Skinny Branches – Me Too
82. Bajezen – Loyalty Or Self Sacrifice ? Be Loyal To Yourself First
83. A Booksale Haul – A Beautiful Mess
84. Loyal – Ashley
85. Loyalty and friendship blended well – Your Nibbled News – 2017 YNN
86. Loyal – The Bag Lady
87. An Upturned Soul – How Do Children of Narcissists Stop Feeling Guilty for Doing What is Right for Themselves
88. Loyal or Codependent? – Resting Bitch Personality
89. Don’t just be loyal, be devoted – Smile at Life
90. Home is Where You Are – ISAIAH 46 MINISTRIES
91. my own personal hell – Sweet Tea with a Slice of Faith
92. Lowland – Loyal
93. Walk with God – In Life, Love, and Friendship
94. MC’s Whispers – The world and a star
95. Rewarding Loyalty – Just me and us blog
96. We Must Love and Be Loyal to Ourselves First – My Loud Bipolar Whispers
97. A British loyalty – Sarahs Crazy Mind
98. When Fire Destroys – December Rose
99. Jax – Water….simply said
100. loyal? okay; let’s talk about dogs ⋆ Obsolete Childhood
101. Waiting to be Opened – The Introspection Connection
102. mazeepuran – Monday Magic: create your own
103. Loyalty: The wrong application of the right belief – Smudges on my Mirror
104. The Fall – This is Nobody’s blog
105. Charmed Chaos – The Blaze
106. The “CAN” Polish is Free – Author Flawed to Perfection
107. I must be chasing after rainbows – In my world
108. When Freedom is Lost, a poem – Sumyanna Writes
109. Nomad. She’s Loyal… – Nomadchasingwaterfalls
110. The Scream – memoriter
111. Living Authentically – Choosing Your Lessons and Teachers With Care
112. juantetcts – Daily Post
113. To Degree Or Not To Degree?… – Success Strategies
114. Loyalty is a luxury! – Lost soul
115. Vampire Maman – I Feel Like a Ghost …
116. Crossing Colorado – 7 Ways to Be Steadfast for Better Health
117. Loyalty – Dark Side of the Moon
118. LOYAL LACK OF KEYS – A Life Retired Blog
119. Loyal – Jeremiah Abernathy’s Blog
120. Just for a day…Cheat yourself…. – My Opinion
121. Bangkok? Wat Pho? – Don’t hold your breath
122. Curious Hart – Leeches are Loyal
123. DIY Book Pumpkins – Adventures of a Busy Mom
124. He is Loyal – novus creaturae
125. I Have Pretty Strong Convictions, I Guess – Loyal
126. Loyalty is a Lifestyle – Revolving Around Life
127. The Practice – The Budding Ken
128. I won’t hear his voice in the drawing room again. – arpi3site
129. The Romantic Quill – #AuthorToolbox 06: oh character! how thou meow?
130. This is Life – Debbie Gravett
131. Making it write – An Announcement in Poetry
132. Loyal – Covert Novelist
133. Trophy Duality – Wells Baum
134. Clack-clack: California Typewriter, the movie – Wells Baum
135. Monday Haiku – Wanna Read My Mind
136. I Can’t Get No Satisfaction … While in Radiation – Fox Fresh
137. Loyal – wordsareallihavesite
138. Narutomath96 – A loyal servant
139. Rise, Fall and Rise Again Like No One – Sara Khan – Mission WUNITT #Day14
140. Twenty Years – Polka Dotted Daisies
141. Horse Tale – A Unique Title For Me
142. Top Ten Pet Halloween Costumes for 2017 – This and That
143. David Writes – The Twilight of the King
144. Am I loyal? To myself? – A Ray of Sunshine
145. Something is Going Around – A lot from Lydia
146. Musings of a Random Mind – A Symbol of Hope
147. Loyal to a Fault – This, That, and The Other
148. Truly Loyal – Just Happy To Be Here
149. lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Burnt Offering
150. SERENDIPITY – LOYALTY, THY NAME IS DOG
151. Muse of the Day – Everyday Strange
152. Loyal to My Heart – Love it Now
153. Loyalty in life and love – introspective
154. Inktober 2017 – Day Thirteen to Fifteen Entry – Gratitude – Sketches By Nitesh
155. Dusty T. Dog and His Scary Bark – I’m a Writer, Yes, I Am!
156. Just hope no-one describes you as “loyal” – Looking back in sadness
157. The maid and the dog – My little storybook
158. Telling the Truth – Monday Morning Sunshine
159. Daily Haiku / Senryu : Loyal – Cactus Haiku
160. Innocent eyes – Her Only Redemption
161. Hey Howdy! – AHAmoments
162. Three photos of “loyal” – Karyn’s Domain
163. theempathyqueen – Striving to be Loyal
164. Miss Pelican’s Perch – The Year of the Dog
165. Piper’s Adventures – A Steady Life
166. Expectations of customer loyalty from service & product providers – Bird Flight
167. Loyal – New Ideas And Inspirations
168. Loyal to the King – As I was saying…
169. Everything and anything – He Wasn’t Loyal..
170. The metallic self sabotage that proved that not all loyalty should be rewarded. – Individual expressions of a naive mind.
171. Why Meal Prep? – Zeckrombryan
172. Kimberlee K. – Thoughts I Had While Watching Star Wars For the First Time: Episode IV
173. The Cat Chronicles – Daily Feline Prompt: Loyal Feline
174. If I’m gone tomorrow – Dear Children,
175. Zombie Flamingos – I know where my loyalties lie
176. Real Strength – Edwin’s Journal
177. 50 By 60 – Weekly Weigh-In
178. My Loyal Friend – Women’s Health and Fitness
179. B*_ live – Until the End
180. Loyal – Daily Prompt – Ladyleemanila
181. Finding The Northern Gems – Journeys of Len
182. Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss – Loyal to who?
183. Traits – This Girl’s Got Curves
184. Dronstad – Rant and notification to 42. Cyber Corps
185. Reckless love – THEGIRLVERSUSWORLD
186. Stages of sharing – stoneronarollercoaster
187. Loyalty? – That’s My Philosophy
188. the15thday – my oomph is on a break
189. Un-love someone #Loyal – The Secret Letters to Timbo
190. Daily Prompt : Loyal – Tower of Pathos
191. Getting Ready – The Stars, Moon and You
192. Burning Embers for Pre-Order! – fibijeeves
193. Shed The Uncertainties – emotionsoflife2016
194. Dogs – citySonnet
195. Mirror Mirror, Who Is The Most Loyal Of ’em All? – Angelin Veronica
196. Wat is adventure racing? In gesprek met Dirk – Peter’s Blog
197. MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO – Loyal
198. Loyal – GARY’S WRITING CORNER
199. Loyal?The Silence of the Abused. – Chronicles of an Orange-Haired Woman!
200. The Loyal Partner – Islamic Methodologies Made Easy
201. Finding Loyalty to Yourself Regardless of the Actions of Others – Shelby’s Starlit Crossing
202. The Secret Ingredient – The Flittering Soul
203. Six-word story: Loyal – writingiswonderful
204. My Dear Adonis – The Bonny Cat
205. Oscar Levant – cocoa2
206. y – on a scale of summer-
207. loyal – Full Frame Images
208. The World Outside the Window – Saharan Dust
209. Matey – Scribbled on Paper
210. Never Betray – Blog of Hammad Rais
211. A-MAZE-ing Monday: Maze #3 – MindEscapes
212. Designer Sophisticate – Ride or die.
213. KO Rural Mad As Hell Blog – loyal
214. Loyal – All About Writing and more
215. This Moment – Divinity
216. We forget the mundane and remember the weird – Wells Baum
217. Frank Prem – with a view to the sweet-grass
218. A Pipe Dream – Jajabor, The Nomad
219. Frank Prem – a definition of us
220. Frank Prem – from each the same