Kelly grew up shivering in Illinois but now enjoys the year-round sunshine in Tampa, FL. Her debut novel, Dead Like Me, won second place in the best mystery category of the 2011 FWA Royal Palm Literary Awards competition. It was also named a semi-finalist in the mystery category of The Kindle Book Review’s 2013 Best Indie Books Awards competition. The Detective Kate Springer series continues with the second book, Deadly Fantasies.
In Kelly’s newest book Splintered, a 2015 Kindle Scout winner, she introduces her readers to a whole new cast of characters. Visit www.kellymillerauthor.com to get a glimpse into the inner workings of her writing life.
When did you first discover your passion for writing?
Writing has always been in my blood. Since the age of thirteen when I coauthored a cheesy romance novel in a blue, spiral bound notebook, I knew I wanted to pursue writing as a career. But somewhere along the way, I lost my voice. As is often happens, life simply got in the way. I got married, had three children, and adopted a black Labrador. As a stay-at-home mom, I was lucky to get an hour a day to myself. And when I found those few precious minutes, they were spent reading a good book. But it was time well spent because I feel like I’ve been researching the mystery and suspense genres for more than two decades. It was in my search for my own identity after staying at home with the kids for so many years that ultimately lead me back to my love of writing. I started my journey towards publication in August 2010 and haven’t looked back since.
Do you have a favorite author?
By far my favorite author is Lisa Gardner. She writes in the same genre as I do and I adore her main character Detective D.D. Warren. Lisa has had quite an influence on my writing and I’m always first in line at the bookstore to pick up her newest paperback.
What is the best part about being a writer?
Getting to create characters. The people in my novels are completely real to me, like friends you don’t get to see often but that still hold a special place in your heart. To create something out of nothing is truly magical.
Life turns from barely tolerable to complete hell when Maddy Eastin’s impulsive plan to win back the attention of her absentee father backfires. Word of her scheme spreads through her high school, but when mockery escalates to cyberbullying, Maddy and her failed stunt become headline news. But the worst is yet to come…
A disturbed man is fighting the overwhelming urge to surrender to his true nature—a moral code molded by a sadistic father who taught him that a girl needs proper training to become the perfect subservient woman. As he watches Maddy on the evening news, his already fractured psyche completely splinters. She’s the girl he’s been waiting for.
When Maddy disappears, she’s labeled a runaway even though her mother believes it was foul play. Will the two detectives investigating Maddy’s disappearance find her before it’s too late? Or has she already fallen prey to the vicious stranger hunting her?
This mystery/psychological thriller unfolds through the viewpoints of five deeply flawed characters. Each is on their own emotionally charged journey that ultimately intersects in a collision course of devastating consequences.
What is the worst part about being a writer?
The constant need to market myself as an author. Like most writers, I just want to write. But that’s not reality if you want to make a living in this industry. There are so many books available in the marketplace that sometimes it seems I’m screaming into the wind trying to get readers to notice my work. It can be frustrating at times.
What draws you to this genre?
Have you heard the saying, “I didn’t pick the genre, it picked me.” For me, this is true. Before I started my writing career, I was a voracious reader. I still love to read but now my schedule is so full it’s difficult to find time to read a book unless it’s in the school car line or on the elliptical. At the bookstore, I’ll pick up a variety of genres but my favorites are mysteries, suspense, and psychological thrillers—probably because that’s what I write. The way my voice comes through in a book perfectly matches the crime fiction genre. So for now, I’m sticking with what works.
Which character or characters do you identify with in your book? Why?
In a small way I can identify with Lily Eastin, the mother in my novel. You see her daughter, fifteen-year-old protagonist Maddy Eastin, was born with a cardiac disease called Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT). In layman’s terms, it’s an abnormal heart rhythm that causes the heart to beat too fast. I decided to use my own personal experience as a mom who went through this with her baby. You see, my daughter was diagnosed with SVT when she was only seventeen days old. The trauma of her near-death radically changed me. I found myself emotionally distancing myself, fearing that I would lose her at any minute. I was eventually able to overcome my insecurities, but I decided to model part of the character of Maddy’s mom, Lily Eastin, after the person I could’ve seen myself becoming had I not overcome my fear.
The grumble of a heavy diesel engine alerted Maddy that only two minutes separated her from either a ride to school or another lecture from her mom about missing the bus. She slammed the front door and stepped into the sticky heat of a dark September morning. The moisture in the Florida air enveloped her, its thickness slowing her down. Or maybe the lethargic pace simply matched her outlook toward this dreary school day.
The geometry book jutting out of the small hole in the bottom of her backpack cut into her ribs with every step. She yanked down the sleeves riding up her arms to hide the fresh marks. From behind her, a metallic grinding of brakes cut through the darkness. She reached the bus stop expecting to see the yellow beast that would drag her off to school. Instead, a fat guy hopped off the back of a garbage truck and lifted a recycling bin off the ground.
Dammit. I forgot to put the trash out. Something else for Mom to complain about.
The bus was late again. Maddy wondered where Sabrina was—her friend usually beat her to the bus stop, but this morning she was a no-show. Maybe Sabrina’s cough had turned into something more serious.
Lucky. Now she will have an extra day to study for our geometry exam.
Maddy had thought about playing the sick card this morning, but she knew there was no way her mom would have believed the act. And the only thing Maddy dreaded more than geometric theorems was cleaning the toilet. Bending down on one knee, Maddy swung her backpack to the ground. She squinted through the murky haze of the nearest streetlight and fumbled with its zipper.
Why we moved us to this dump of a neighborhood is beyond me.
Half the streetlights were burned out, including the one directly over Maddy’s head.
The sun wouldn’t rise for another hour, but she still found herself wiping away moisture collecting near her hairline.
A soft squealing noise jerked her attention away from the task of rearranging the books in her bag. A van had pulled up to the corner—a real piece of junk from the sound of the roughly idling engine. The feeling of being watched caused a crop of goose bumps to pop up on her arms.
Really? Now a van has you spooked?
Maddy blamed the paranoia on those stupid stranger-danger videos her mom had forced her to watch as a kid. She could still hear the nasally narrator’s voice in her head, warning her not to get into a car with someone she didn’t know, and never to accept candy from a stranger.
Maddy zipped her backpack closed and stood, still staring at the van. It’s not like work vehicles in this neighborhood were an unusual occurrence. Most days it was like playing Mario Kart, having to dodge all the trucks on the street. It seemed half the neighbors cut grass for a living and parked their trailers full of lawn equipment on the road every night after work.
The smell of burning rubber drifted toward her. The voice in Maddy’s head morphed into her dad’s and informed the idiot in the van that he should change the belts. Of course, the source of the smell could’ve been coming from an oil leak in the engine. Maddy couldn’t decide the exact cause. She’d always hated it when her dad forced her into the garage to help him tinker with the car. Even so, she’d give anything to have him back now, to complain one more time about the grease stuck under her fingernails or how impossible it was to remove oil stains from her jeans.
A muted flash appeared behind the tinted glass of the van’s passenger window. Someone still sat inside.
Probably getting his rocks off staring at my bare legs.
The window slid down a crack. A new scent skirted the air, a sweeter smell that caused a craving to wash over Maddy. She strained her eyes, looking for writing on the side panel of the van. Nothing visible. She wondered if a workman had arrived early to a job site. The sound of a garage door opening down the street tore Maddy’s attention away. She turned, hoping to see Sabrina rushing toward the bus stop. The low light of the streetlamp illuminated a dark figure pushing a garbage can to the curb.
Another rumble drew near. Maddy breathed a sigh of relief when she caught a glimpse of yellow passing between the houses and trees on the other side of the neighborhood. Her stop would be next.
She cocked her head to the side, realizing the smell of smoke was closer. Just as she turned her head, an iron hand clamped around her wrist.
Anything else you’d like to add?
You can download my novelette, My Blue Nightmare, for free on my website (www.kellymillerauthor.com). It’s the first in the My Nightmare Series which will feature a new terrifying psychopath in each story.
Thanks very much for joining me on the blog today, Kelly. Splintered looks like a great read if, like me, your idea of a great read comes complete with thrilling and a whopping side-dish of mystery.
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