‘Tho I Be Mute by Heather Miller / #Interview #BlogTour @maryanneyarde @HMHFR

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Home. Heritage. Legacy. Legend.

In 1818, Cherokee John Ridge seeks a young man’s education at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut. While there, he is overcome with sickness yet finds solace and love with Sarah, the steward’s quiet daughter. Despite a two-year separation, family disapproval, defamatory editorials, and angry mobs, the couple marries in 1824. Sarah reconciles her new family’s spirituality and her foundational Christianity. Although, Sarah’s nature defies her new family’s indifference to slavery. She befriends Honey, half-Cherokee and half-African, who becomes Sarah’s voice during John’s extended absences. Once arriving on Cherokee land, John argues to hold the land of the Cherokees and that of his Creek neighbors from encroaching Georgian settlers. His success hinges upon his ability to temper his Cherokee pride with his knowledge of American law. Justice is not guaranteed. Rich with allusions to Cherokee legends, ‘Tho I Be Mute speaks aloud; some voices are heard, some are ignored, some do not speak at all, compelling readers to listen to the story of a couple who heard the pleas of the Cherokee.

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Q&A

When and where do you prefer to write?

I wrote Mute surrounded by research notes and my Sadie puppy (my overweight dachshund) sitting in a recliner with my laptop. Since its completion, we transformed my daughter’s bedroom into an office. (Emma in nursing school away from home.) I love my new space! I now have a desk to spread out.

Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?

Yes. Also, I cannot listen to music with lyrics when I write. I will type the words of the song. I am an auditory person. I need to be able to hear the characters directly. Sometimes, they tell me what to type. I think novel writing, at least crafting dialogue, is the art of hearing voices.

If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?

Charles Frazier or Diana Gabaldon. Please do not make me choose.

I would love Charles Frazier to teach me his craft of perception and description. Every word in every sentence of his novels illuminates character or environment. His writing style has such quiet elegance, a subtlety I would love to study.

Diana Gabaldon is a creative plot weaver. For readers, she constructs intricacies without confusion, myth without muddle. One aspect of her literary art is that she can include many characters and keep each unique and present in the readers’ minds, over a series of exceptionally long novels. She makes each character rich and memorable, weaving them through the plot with meaningful intent. She also is a master world builder, a myth maker, not only in detail but manipulating the significance of time.

Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?

I imagine most people would say the ‘good one.’ I think it would be interesting to be the humane ‘bad one.’ Perhaps it is a personal flaw, a naivete, but I like to think people do not make poor choices on purpose. If I were the ‘bad one,’ I hope the character would make incorrect choices with good intention, exposing the morally grey area where we all reside.

Who would you like/have liked to interview?

For writing craft advice, I would love to interview Virginia Woolf and listen to her talk about drafting. She finds profundity and philosophy everywhere and writes with such depth about simple things. Mrs. Dalloway is a treasure trove.

For fun, I would love to have tea and interview Edith Wharton and learn more about her world of social capital at the turn of the century America. She is fascinating. Her heroine’s tragic journeys are rich in society and poor in opportunity. On my first reading her House of Mirth, I yelled at the book.

For girl talk, it would have to be Zora Neale Hurston. She is from Florida, and I from Georgia. I would love to sip lemonade from her and talk though relationships. Their Eyes Were Watching God holds such a mirror to the struggles of independence and acceptance for all women, but especially for women like her Janie. She’s lived and loved, and her writing elevates her experience, and in turn, the readers.

Where can I find you when you are reading?

Depends on what I’m reading. If it is for fun, I’m in the recliner with my Sadiedog. If it is something I need to stick a post-it in to remember later, I sit at my kitchen table or in my office. If I read in bed, I won’t remember much.

Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?

August through May, I spend most of my time in front of students with chalk in my hand. (Yes, I have a chalkboard in my classroom.) Otherwise, I am writing or driving to see my daughter or on research field trip.

What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?

The cover, obviously, but the book’s weight, both metaphorically and physically. I love paper. I find that if I read an ebook, I skim far more than if I am holding the physical book. With the physical book, I take ownership of the themes, the characters, the story. Probably, that sentiment is too philosophical, but I love books that bring empathy to the surface for readers. I love to hear character voices and put myself in their place.

How do you come up with a title for your book?

It is a line from the play Antigone by Sophocles, spoken by Tiresias, the blind prophet. It articulates the theme…we are all mute at one time or another to those we need to hear us the most.

It is also an introductory clause, implying this is the story’s start. I plan to write two more novels in the series, Yellow Bird’s Song and Remains. The trilogy’s titles make a summative sentence for the narrative and the characters. ‘Tho I Be Mute, Yellow Birds Song Remains.

How do you pick a cover for your book?

That was an arduous process, one that took upwards of 10 different drafts. I had too many ideas for the graphic designer to connect in meaningful ways that could have appear too cluttered. Choosing the font was easy; I knew I wanted a scripted font, one that could have come from the point of quill. Ultimately, I decided simplistic and symbolic represented the novel’s theme in more meaningful ways. I did not want realistic photographs; I wanted artistic renderings.

Thank you, Heather Miller and The Coffee Pot Book Club

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About the Author 

As an English educator, Heather Miller has spent twenty-three years teaching her students the author’s craft. Now, she is writing it herself, hearing voices from the past.

Miller’s foundation began in the theatre, through performance storytelling. She can tap dance, stage-slap someone, and sing every note from Les Misérables. Her favorite role is that of a fireman’s wife and mom to three: a trumpet player, a future civil engineer, and a future RN. There is only one English major in her house.

While researching, writing, and teaching, she is also working towards her M FA in Creative Writing. Heather’s corndog-shaped dachshund, Sadie, deserves an honorary degree.

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Author Links

Website: https://heathermillerauthor.com/home/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HMHFR

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HMillerAuthor

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-miller-896627208/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hmillerauthor/

Pinterest: https://pin.it/26kOsvl BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/tho-i-be-mute-by-heather-miller

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Book Link

https://books2read.com/u/mV6p5r

 

 

 

 

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