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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Spotlight on...Judith McCoy Miller

I first "met" this week's spotlight author through one of my favorite authors, Tracie Peterson, and discovered yet another talented writer with the ability to portray characters that stayed with you long after you finished the book. Now, it's my distinct pleasure to feature her here.

Let's hear more from her:

Thanks so much for inviting me to be your spotlight author today, Amber. I am an author of historical fiction and live in Topeka, Kansas. My husband and I are the parents of four children, but we're now empty-nesters. I'm the author of fifteen novels, several novellas and one book for children. I began my writing career with Heartsong Presents. I co-authored both the Bells of Lowell and Lights of Lowell series with Tracie Peterson before writing the Freedom's Path series. I'm currently working on a new series, Postcards from Pullman, and Tracie and I have another series we are co-authoring with the first book due to release next year. If you've visited my website, you know that scrapbooking is my hobby of choice, but I do enjoy crafts of all sorts when time permits. I love the Lord, my family, hazelnut coffee, chocolate, and cranberry tea—in that order.

Don't forget to post a comment for your chance to win a FREE AUTOGRAPHED COPY of DAYLIGHT COMES.

1. Daylight Comes is the 3rd book in your Freedom's Path series. Where did you get the inspiration behind this particular story? How is this one connected to the other 2?

Part of the inspiration came through researching the elected Kansas officials during that time period. Truth's husband, Moses Wyman, is loosely based upon E. P. McCabe, who lived in Nicodemus, Kansas, and was elected to the position of Kansas State Auditor. He was the highest-ranking African-American official in the West during the early 1880's. I was both pleased and surprised to discover the state had elected an African-American to a high-ranking office at that point in time. After learning about Mr. McCabe, I wondered about the difficulties his wife might have faced as she attempted to adjust to the changes his election would cause in their lives.

The Freedom's Path series is a continuing saga of two families, the Harbans of Nicodemus and the Boyles of Hill City. These two towns are approximately eighteen miles apart and were settled by the same town company: Nicodemus for the African-Americans and Hill City for Caucasians. The families are fictional, but the setting is historical. Nicodemus is the only remaining community that was settled by African-Americans in the west. There are many people who have never heard of these pioneers and I wanted to incorporate some of their history into this series.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Truth, Macia and Jeb? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

I'm old, but not quite old enough to have experienced some of the trials and tribulations my characters experienced. :) On the other hand, characteristics and flaws do span generations. I married and moved away from my family many years ago, and I still remember the transition and difficulties I faced not having the immediate support of my parents and siblings. Some of those memories played into Truth's fear of leaving home.

Both Truth and Macia must come to grips with bouts of selfishness and self pity. Unfortunately, I was able to draw upon some of my own actions and reactions to challenges I've faced in my past. However, like Macia and Truth, I think I've managed to outgrow some of those character flaws—at least most of the time. :) Having his parents die has caused Jeb to become protective of both his own feelings and his little sister. He doesn't want to experience further emotional pain so he's built a wall of protection. I think many of us do that very thing in our own lives, but unless we're willing to knock down that wall, we can't experience the pleasure of genuine love and relationship.

3. What themes exist in Daylight Comes that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Trust is the primary theme throughout the entire series. Of course, I also want the reader to experience the intestinal fortitude and faith these settlers exhibited in order to settle their land and begin new lives in a very harsh environment. Some of the characters exhibit that same tenacity in their personal trials. Nowadays, many of us give up too easily, we don't commit for the long haul. You see both types in the series: Those who had the resolve to fight the elements and trust in God and those who turned back.

4. What was your most difficult part to write? Your favorite?

Macia's character was the most difficult. She's not a very likable character in the beginning of the series. She needed to be very selfish and yet have enough endearing qualities that the reader would be willing to follow her throughout the series. My favorite character changed as the series progressed. Other than my protagonists, I truly enjoy having a feisty secondary character. In First Dawn I enjoyed writing Miss Hattie. In Morning Sky and Daylight Comes, I enjoyed writing Lilly's character.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book will release in April 2007 and is titled In the Company of Secrets. It is the first book in the Postcards from Pullman series. This series is set in the town of Pullman, Illinois, a company town built by George M. Pullman, the man who made an empire out of his Pullman railroad cars. The story is about two young women who flee England in 1892—one of noble birth, the other a scullery maid. The story deals with the lies and deceit they create as their lives intersect and they settle in the town of Pullman.

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Judy, thank you for joining us in the spotlight. Everyone else, hope you enjoyed the interview.


Jennifer Y. said...

Another great interview! This sounds like a very good book. I really enjoy Judith McCoy Miller's books.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like another winner from Judith McCoy Miller. I have enjoyed her previous books before and this one sounds good as well. I enjoyed reading the interview and learning more about her.

Anonymous said...

Judith, I've never read any of your work, but would love the chance. :-) Thanks so much for a great interview!


Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

I forgot to post the winner here, even though she's been contacted and probably has her book already. Sorry about that, Jennifer. :)

Jennifer Y. said...

I received my book...thanks Tiff and Judith!