I got to know Heather Miller earlier this year, and I saw from the get-go that she was passionate about horror. In fact, she’s become well-known in the horror community as a horror reader and reviewer, to the point where she gets through multiple books a year and posts her thoughts on them. I considered it a true honor when she gave The Pure World Comes a four-star review.

I also learned that Heather is a writer as well, and that she had a book coming out. I not only volunteered to be an early reader (my review will be out later this month), but to interview her for my blog. So, sitting with me here today to discuss her upcoming collection, Tales My Grandmother Told Me, is Heather Miller.

Rami Ungar: Welcome to the blog, Heather. Tell us about Tales My Grandmother Told Me and some of the stories inside.

Heather Miller: Tales is a collection based on old stories and songs my grandmother used to tell and sing.  These stories are family heirlooms in a way, part of our oral history. In the book you’ll find stories of both supernatural and entirely man-made horror, you’ll find stories which are based on real events and stories which are clearly made up.  You might even find a bit of humor.

RU: What was the impetus for this collection? And was it difficult to turn those tales and songs into stories?

HM: I’ve always had it in the back of my mind to take Grandma’s stories and share them with the world.  I chose to do this collection at this particular time because my mother was in failing health and I wanted her to see our family’s stories go out into the world before she died.  Unfortunately, she passed away recently and never got to see the final copy, but she read the stories as I wrote them and knew the book was coming out.

I really didn’t find it difficult to turn the old tales into stories.  These are stories which have been percolating in my brain since childhood, so when I sat down to write, they just flowed out of me.  Some were certainly easier than others.  One in particular gave me trouble as it was one I remembered only vaguely.  But honestly, I had a lot of fun taking the old tales and twisting them around a bit, adding to them, making them my own while still honoring the old storytelling tradition of my grandmother.

RU: Did you have a particular audience in mind when you wrote the collection? Were you hoping to pass these stories to your children like your grandmother passed them onto you?

HM: The great thing about this collection is that these stories are unnerving enough to give an adult the creeps, but also perfectly suitable for older children to read.  There’s nothing in this book (aside from horror) that would be considered too “adult” for kids.  While this is certainly not a children’s book, or even Young Adult, I think these are easily stories that adults could read with their kids, if those kids like a good scare.

RU: What are some other works you’ve written? And do you have anything else coming out?

HM: I have a novella out, called Knock Knock.  It’s a modern Gothic ghost story.  Also I have stories coming out in a couple of anthologies later this year: my story “The Far Field” is part of the book These Lingering Shadows (Last Waltz Press), and my story “Baba Yaga in Repose” is in the book Into the Forest: Tales of the Baba Yaga (Black Spot Books).

RU: In addition to writing horror, you also regularly read and review horror from a variety of authors. In fact, you’ve gained a reputation as a discerning horror reviewer. How does that make you feel? Is that something you set out to do?

HM: Honestly, I just like to talk about books.  I never dreamed when I first started my Bookstagram account that just a couple of years later, publishers would be sending me books like crazy and authors would wait anxiously to hear what I had to say about their writing.  It feels good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also sort of weird to me still.  I’m just a girl who likes to read, likes to be scared, and likes to tell other people when I find a good book.  I also have come to love the literary horror community.  They are the most amazing people.

RU: What is it about horror that draws you in? And are there any particular kinds of horror stories or genres that you gravitate to the most?

HM: I’ve always loved horror.  Even as a small child, reading picture books, I was drawn to horror elements.  It could be June and I’d still go straight to the Halloween books section when we visited the library.  If a book had witches or ghosts or creepy monsters, I wanted it.  As I grew older, I discovered adult horror and delved right in.  I think I like horror because it is such an escape.  It’s fantastical because these things will never really happen but it’s so exciting to lose yourself in that world of suspended disbelief for a while.  And who wouldn’t want to live in a world where ghosts and witches and vampires are real?

I will read almost any kind of horror as long as it’s well-written, but my deepest love will always be for the old-fashioned kind of horror, the Gothics (original and modern).  A heroine finding her inner strength while battling evil in a haunted house will never get old to me.

RU: I hear that. Now, what is some advice you would give to other authors, regardless of background or experience?

Tales My Grandmother Told Me, out September 27th.

HM: Good readers make good writers.  Read like crazy.

Don’t be afraid to write what makes you happy.  You don’t have to write a certain way or in a certain sub-genre (or NOT write a certain way or avoid a certain sub-genre) just because it’s the current trend. Whatever you write, if well-written, will find it’s audience.

Find your voice.  Find your brand.  Know yourself and let that bleed into your work.

Kill your darlings but pay your editors.

RU: All good pieces of advice. Finally, if you were stuck on a desert island for a little while and could only bring three books with you, which books would they be?

HM: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, and The Collected Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

RU: Excellent choices. Well, thank you for joining me on the blog, Heather. Good luck with the release of Tales My Grandmother Told Me.

If you would like to check out Tales My Grandmother Told Me, you can find it available for preorder from most retailers and will release September 27th. And if you would like to connect/learn more about Heather Miller, you can find her on her website, Heather Miller Horror, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you’ll check out Tales My Grandmother Told Me once it releases (as well as my review once it’s out). Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 58 days till Halloween!

Comments
  1. Excellent interview. I think “read like crazy” is excellent advice for novice and experienced writers! Best of luck to Miller on the upcoming release of Tales My Grandmother Told Me!

  2. Great interview! Wishing Miller lots of sales and success on her upcoming release.

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