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Q&A with M.G. Miller

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No power on Earth could save them from their sins.

 

            On a Sunday afternoon drive, elderly Zassy, mother of the legendary Bayou Jesus, reveals the poignant story of her son’s spiritual journey, and of those who are touched by him.  Born in an abandoned barn on a Louisiana bayou, Franklin Christian Potter’s destiny is clear from the day he and Zassy are taken in to serve at the Boudreaux plantation, Bellwether.

            Samson Boudreaux returns from WWI to find he has lost control over the plantation and his family:  Marie, his embittered and unbalanced wife, Teense, his aunt who allowed strangers into his home, and his daughter Alice, who ultimately denies her heritage.  Pushed to the edge by the inevitability of changing times, he feels his ingrained beliefs slipping through his fingers.

Frank begins a mythical journey into the bayou to find himself and God, gathering followers and an imposing disciple along the way.  But Alice, in her quest for unconditional love and a higher truth, has made a decision that seals not only the fate of the man known as Bayou Jesus, but her own--and everyone she loves--as well.

Q&A with M.G. Miller, Author of "BAYOU JESUS"
 
 
 

Q:  When did you decide you wanted to write?

 

A:  As soon as I learned to read.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have either a book or a pen in my hand.  From the start, I was hooked on the power of the written word, and I knew it was something I wanted to do.  I wrote my first short story when I five years old and have been writing ever since.

 

Q:  How many novels in all have you written?

 

A:  Eighteen.  That’s not to say they’re all readable, though, considering I wrote my first in the seventh grade.  But I still count each finished project as a stepping-stone that took me closer to my ultimate goal.

 

Q:   How long did it take you to write your first novel?

 

A:  I honestly can’t remember back that far.  I do, however, remember it took sixteen months to write the first draft of BAYOU JESUS, my twelfth novel, but the first I considered trying to publish.

 

Q:   Tell us about BAYOU JESUS.  What made you decide to write a story like that?  Are the characters based on real people?

 

A: BAYOU JESUS is a book of juxtapositions:  black and white, good and bad, beauty and ugliness.  Frank Potter, a young, divinely-inspired black man, and Samson Boudreaux, a white man of great power and greater weakness, live in a house of haunted women.  And when the possibilities of miracle surrounding Frank become all too real, the tragedy of Christ’s passion unfolds in depression-era Louisiana.

BAYOU JESUS is more a collection of different impressions left on me over the years, rather than a single idea.  I’ve always been fascinated with Southern culture, race and religion in particular, and for years I carried around different story ideas centered around those themes.  But when I visited Louisiana for the first time, that’s when all those ideas just seemed to come together like pieces of a giant puzzle.

The characters in the novel are composites, rather than being based on actual persons.

 

Q:    After writing your first novel, did you self-publish?  If so, how was that experience?

 

 

A:  I self-published BAYOU JESUS and another novel with iUniverse, but I only recommend doing it if you have the time and money to aggressively market and promote, or it will soon fade away.  Trying to get BAYOU JESUS published traditionally netted many, many rejections over a period of ten years, and self-publishing seemed to be my last alternative.  But  like a lot of us, the time and money to market and promote just wasn't there for me. 

I did what I could, however, which was to create a website and network at online writer forums.  It was by joining a forum that got my website and self-published novels seen by the right person and picked up for traditional publication.

 

Q:    What feedback have you received from fans?

 

A:  BAYOU JESUS was in limited release earlier this year, and I’ve been very lucky so far to receive positive feedback from all the readers and reviewers.

 

Q:    What authors do you admire?  Did one of them inspire you?
           

A:  Maya Angelou, Erskine Caldwell, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Alex Haley, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Flannery O’Connor, Lillian Smith, William Styron, Tennessee Williams, Richard Wright.

Each one has inspired me in different ways.

 

Q:   Is writing your only passion?

 

A:  People are my passion, and as an amateur anthropologist of sorts, writing about them just seems to come as second nature.

 

Q:    Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

 

A:  Regardless of what the future brings, I’ll be sitting right here at the computer, writing and challenging myself every day.

 

Q:    What advice would you give aspiring authors?

 

A:  Write.  “Wannabes” talk about writing, “Gonnabes” do it.

Discipline.  Write every day, and finish what you start.

Edit.  Writing it was the easy part.

Network.  Join writers groups and attend conferences; enter contests.

Read.  Reading and writing feed off each other.

Persist.  You’ll get rejected, you’ll get disappointed, but you won’t get published unless you keep trying.

Be wary.  There are too many people out there waiting to take advantage of a writer’s dreams.

Believe in yourself.  There are plenty of times when no one else will.

 

Q:   What would you like readers to learn from your stories?

 

A:  To learn something about themselves.  Each reader brings an individual perspective to BAYOU JESUS, and like the title character, himself; the novel means different things to different people.  It doesn’t tell you how to feel; it asks, “How do you feel?”  The message may hit hard and without compromise, but my hope is that in doing so, it speaks directly to the heart.

 

Q:  Are you working on another novel? If so, what is it about?

            

A: Currently, I’m close to finishing a contemporary novel based on a true crime.  I call it MURDEROUS.

Forthcoming from Cavern Press is my gothic horror novel,  HER GRAVE EMBRACE. Set in old New Orleans, it's a story of voodoo, revenge....and undying love.

The sequel to BAYOU JESUS is waiting in the wings for someday, too.  SEVEN DEVILS follows a band of unorthodox missionaries on a doomed sea and jungle voyage.

 

Q:    Where can people purchase your books?  Do you have a website?

 

A:  After September 28th, BAYOU JESUS will be available wherever books are sold in the US, Canada and Europe.

My website is www.mgmiller.cavernreal.com, where you can find reviews, appearances and an excerpt.  Do stop by--and let me hear from you!

 

*A special thank you to Shay, for giving me the opportunity to share my information.

 

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