*The Author’s Interview was previously known as “Author’s Corner” on my Kindle Worlds, Vampire Diaries blog. These interviews are my way of showcasing up and coming authors who honed their skills writing fan fiction*
- Mara, please share your full name and any pen names you may use.
It’s Mara A. Miller. As far as pen names, I THINK I do. On fictionpress.net (fanfiction.net’s sister site) I might be floating around as either Mara Miller or Mara Gover…though, I think I changed that. My screen on FFN is AnglcDmn1986.
- Where are you published?
Here is my author’s page on Amazon.
You can find me here on FFN.
The only fan fic I have up is something I wrote for the IWRY (I Will Remember You marathon they have every year in memory of the episode where Angel turned human). I have taken down all of my fan fiction in favor of eventually finishing it so I can publish it on Kindle Worlds…and so my work stops getting plagiarized/saved without my permission.
If you want to read some of my really old, really crappy poetry for fun: Mara’s Poetry (that’s a link to a silly poem I wrote in the tune of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner for an English class, but if you click on my name there it’ll take you to my profile). If I write poetry now it doesn’t go online anymore since it’s more something I do for myself.
- Tell me about your real life? Do you work outside the home? Married? Children? Are you a student? How old are you?
Not many people probably realize this, but I’m divorced (AKA happily single again). I work at home as a market research interviewer for Ipsos Reid (big international company) in the evenings. More or less I do surveys with people on the telephone, and it’s incredibly fun.
I graduated from Eastern Kentucky University in 2010 with a degree in Anthropology, and then later in 2012 with a degree in Creative Writing. I still haven’t decided if I want to go back for my MFA in creative writing.
My ex-husband has a 13-year-old son who I still consider my own and I keep in contact with him and his momma as much as possible even though distance has made it hard to keep in touch.
I am, however, a very proud mother to two rabbits and almost thirty chickens that I’ve been hand raising since April. I might get a puppy. I’ve kind of gone animal adopting crazy since I moved in with mom and she doesn’t mind pets—we’ve always been this way.
I have two brothers, Mick and George. George bought a house a year ago and our entire family was going to move there but Mom couldn’t bring herself to sell her land and she was getting lonely, so I moved out of the house and came back home. I live in the National Daniel Boone forest in Kentucky (up in Appalachia).
If I’m not taking care of pets or writing I have a knitting project in my lap, or I’m reading mom’s poetry, or I’m spending time with Tisha, one of my close girlfriends. She showed me how to shoot a gun. At zombie targets her husband taped to a tree stump. After I got over being terrified of the .375 mm pistol it was loads of fun.
- What led to your interest in The Vampire Diaries? Have you read the books or do you just love the vampire genre? Perhaps it was one or more of the actors involved in the show?
I kind of have a funny answer to this one.
I started watching the show as an F-YOU to my ex-husband. Every time I almost put it on Netflix he’d complain that it was something we wouldn’t like (even though he got me hooked to Buffy) and by the time the divorce went through in August 2012 (best birthday present he ever gave me) I was HOOKED. Childish on my part? Yes, probably, but I also loved Ian Somerhalder already from his role as Boone on LOST and was craving something good to watch because I suddenly had a LOT more free time on my hands. I wasn’t writing very much then, either. The fact that Ian had a much larger role than I realized was the hook, line, and sinker. I spent days on my couch for hours with my rabbits in a serious Netflix and pizza binge for the first three seasons.
In regards to the TVD novels, I have read one of the books. Absolutely NO disrespect to L.J. Smith, but I find them hard to read. I don’t think Elena is very likable in them.
- Do you watch any other vampire series? If so, which is your favorite?
I have a MASSIVE loyalty to Joss Whedon and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There are fundamental differences between that and TVD. Buffy is my favorite vampire show. I also enjoy True Blood.
- Who is your favorite Vampire Diaries character and why?
Okay. So. *Filling this out after the season 5 finale and trying not to burst into tears again* I love Damon. I think I love him more than I loved Angel (in Buffy) and that’s a HUGE declaration from me. He’s just…he’s a smart ass, but at the core of this character, he just wants to love and be loved and I identify with that strongly. He screws up, in major ways, in some that aren’t forgivable, but you end up forgiving him anyway.
- What motivated you to start writing fan fiction? Have you always written in some fashion? Do you write for any other shows/books/movies?
I started writing when I was ten years old. I think. It might have been earlier. I have dyslexia and was told up to a certain point by many people that reading and writing would always be difficult for me, if not impossible. I’ve always had an overactive imagination and vaguely remember wanting to make stories up with my brothers when we played outside together.
I’d been writing a good while when I made friends with a girl, Kelli, in my freshman high school gym class. We bonded over a mutual love for the Final Fantasy games and proceeded to write almost every day in class because our teacher didn’t mind it when we climbed into the bleachers because we weren’t very sporty to begin with. The two of us wrote over 1,000 pages of fan fiction together during the course of our high school career. Kelli, or Keebo on FFN, introduced me to the website. If you look on my profile you’ll see I’ve been a member for ages—I remember when they used to allow stuff like fan fiction for real people and when the site wouldn’t work for days on end.
Stuff I’ve written fan fiction for (most of it has been deleted):
- I WANT to say Cowboy Bepop, but it was probably something I never put on the site.
- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Vampire Diaries (obviously)
- Harry Potter (had a massive story called Moonlit I was writing with a friend due to issues in college we decided to delete it and I regret it.)
- Final Fantasy VII, VIII, XI, X and Kingdom Hearts
- Do you already or plan to write original fiction, creating your own characters/scenarios/etc.?
I’m published with original work! Cheap Guitars was my baby and the first original thing I wrote after a long writing jag where I wouldn’t write for months at a time after I graduated with my creative writing degree.
I always read a lot of romance, and before my grandmother died, she said this to me: “Romance sells. Sex sells more. I know you’d be amazing writing it.”
I have several novels planned, both as original and fan fiction.
I published my second novel, Head Over Hoof, recently, and I’m working on the sequel to that one. I think it’s going to be a series but I just haven’t decided yet. I like to leave my options open!
Click on any/all of these to check out/buy Mara’s published work:
- If you write original fiction, which do you find harder, fan fiction or your original fiction?
Writing both comes to me naturally but I feel like my original work has more depth to it. I have to actually sit down and develop scenes and characters. I know this probably isn’t the case but I feel like my fan fiction writing comes off flat sometimes unless it’s an AU/AH. But neither is harder than the other.
I guess fan fiction feels more like I’m answering a writing prompt? I don’t know. But it’s far more predictable than original work most of the time depending on if it’s canon or AU/AH.How has writing fan fiction changed your view of yourself as a writer?
It’s given me confidence. Writing it made me realize that this is what I’ve been meant to do—to be a writer. I live and breathe every word I write and there’s nothing better than being up to almost 2 in the morning, writing until my hands are tired and popping like crazy and then writing some more.
The fact that people read my stuff, too? It’s incredibly rewarding.
10. What have you learned about writing that you didn’t know before you started?
‘Find and replace’ in Word is not a wise feature to use unless you want to end up with something like “Brandon pressed Elise against the Richardess.”
All joking aside, I have a creative writing degree. I’ve learned loads. The biggest thing I’ve probably learned is not to tell when you’re writing. It can make the prose boring. They really came down hard on me the first time I took a creative writing class for that. Not to say that it’s not okay—sometimes it’s important—but it’s the matter of finding just the right balance.
11. I’m sure you love getting reviews on your stories. Do you review the stories you read? Why or why not?
I’m a review whore. And proud of it. But I don’t beg for them or anything like I used to, haha.
I try to review—I will if the story keeps my attention. I’m picky. If the story doesn’t make sense after a few chapters in fan fiction I’ll get irritated and close it out and that’s usually when I don’t review. I need to get better about reviewing novels I’ve read on Amazon or on Goodreads.
12. Who is your favorite author? (mainstream or fan fiction or both)
Fan Fiction—It’s hard. I can’t choose one author.
- Taaroko for one, but not just because she’s one of my close friends. Her “Worlds Apart” rewrite for a Buffy fic was amazing (and I’m holding the signed copy of Cheap Guitars and the Jayne hat I knitted for her graduation present hostage ‘til she updates Season 9).
- I adore Goldnox and her recent AU/AH fics. Elvishgrrl, thisismyescape, and Cher Sue have been writing some pretty amazing stuff lately as well.
Nora Roberts has been a role model for me for years. She’s the author who hooked me to romance novels. I don’t write classic romance like she does since I prefer New Adult, but every time I have one of her books in my hand I can’t put it down.
13. What is your favorite book and why? (mainstream or fan fiction or both)
So freaking hard to decide! But for fan fiction:
It’s a story called Phoenix Rising. It works under the premise that Buffy did not get resurrected after her death in ‘The Gift’, but instead 350 years later. Angel is still alive, but they are in a very different environment than that of 1996. Angel is a member of the new council and some other Slayers from the past were brought back to life as well. It was so incredibly well written that I’ve probably read it several times by now and freakin’ wish we could publish Buffy fan fiction on Kindle Worlds.
As far as mainstream?
Nora Roberts’s Sisters trilogy is my favorite. I loved this story about the witches on an island. I can’t remember it much, but I do know they were related or something. Dance Upon the Air was the first book in the trilogy and I remember reading it over and over again when I was a teen. I’m tempted to find it again!
I also LOVED Slammed by Colleen Hoover. The slam poetry (I love poetry) and the way she built up the relationship with Lake and Will—I don’t want to call it perfection, because it wasn’t, but there was just something in that story that grabbed my attention when I started reading it and I couldn’t put it down until I had all three novels on my Kindle. I felt for those characters and became attached to them—not something easy to do for me.
Oh! And Abbi Glines’s “The Rosemary Beach Collection.” Man. I loved it so much. I’m a huge book nerd even though I don’t talk about what I’m reading often.
14. Do you have a favorite couple on The Vampire Diaries? Why do you like them together? Are their two characters you’d like to see together that aren’t?
I adore Damon and Elena together. It’s not just because of the fact I’m a little bit in love with Ian Somerhalder—it’s that no matter what, he seems to always try to put her first and he was mostly always honest with her. I especially loved the earlier seasons before they got into a relationship and were falling in love with each other. They kind of remind me of Buffy and Angel in certain respects—trying not to get too comparison crazy so I’ll just leave it at that.
I SO want Caroline and Stefan to hook up. I—just—I want to see it. Could care less about Klaus and I’m being nice about it… Put that girl with Stefan! They work so well as friends that I’m sure they’d be amazing as a couple.
15. Finally, are you familiar at all with the Kindle Worlds program? If so, how do you think it will or won’t change the fan fiction experience? Do you think it’s changed anything since it started last year?
It’s an amazing opportunity for fan fiction writers. I never thought I’d be able to earn money or put my fan fiction in a more professional format, but I’m so glad they’ve created this program. It is going to change the fan fiction experience—it already has. As writers, we’re earning money, and as readers, we get to read everything in one go instead of waiting for updates.