Thursday, November 7, 2013

Author Interview – Fenella Miller

What must you do to make money, other than write? It is rare today for writers to be full-time.

I am a full-time writer as well as a retired teacher. I’m earning more from my writing now than I received as a top of the scale teacher. I would certainly not need any other employment in order to live very comfortably even if I wasn’t retired.

What other jobs have you had in your life?

When I was first married I worked in an office but stopped when we had children. My husband was a full-time student and so I worked as a cleaner, part-time shop assistant, fieldworker, and waitress in order to help out with his student grant. During that time my husband and I got involved in Wivenhoe Arts Club and ended up running the bistro there. Through doing this we became part owners of a hotel in Cornwall, but this was not a good move and we returned to Essex. I then trained to be a teacher and worked for ten years in secondary schools, first as a special needs teacher and then as a maths teacher, before opening a French style bistro with my husband. I worked as a chef there for five years and then returned to teaching but this time as a primary teacher. I was offered early retirement and took it eight years ago – and have since written over thirty books.

Tell us a bit about your family.

I have an exotic heritage of which I am very proud. My father was from Yorkshire, the son of a schoolteacher and became a squadron leader in the war. My mother was Anglo-Indian, the only daughter of the eldest son of the Rajah of Tajpur. I have written two books about an Anglo-Indian girl which open in 1939 in India. This first part of the first book is based on my mother’s memoirs, although the characters are entirely fictional. I married at 18 and am still with the same man after almost 50 years – I have two wonderful adult children and three amazing grandchildren.

How do you work through self-doubt and fear?

When I started writing full-time almost 10 years ago I wrote with little regard for publisher or reader. This gives a writer the most incredible freedom and spontaneity – once I was published I had to write what my publishers wanted, to a deadline, and accept even the most heavy-handed editorial input with good grace. Constant criticism can harm your writing and produce self-doubt. This is the main reason I no longer write for a traditional publisher but publish my own books. Employing an editor, proof-reader and cover designer is quite different from having them imposed on you. I have just completed the first new novel in more than a year and I’m certain my inability to write was caused by the way one of my publishers behaved.

What scares you the most?

I don’t like being high up or being in an enclosed space – but I wouldn’t say that I am actually scared of these. What scares me is getting older and one day not being able to write any more or control my environment.


Barbara’s War has been given The IndiePENdents Seal # 10112245 .
This certifcate is issued to books that meet their standards of good writing.

“BARBARA’S WAR by Fenella J Miller is a gripping tale of a young woman in wartime changing the course of her unhappy life. Some very dark moments. A really excellent read.
Maureen Lee

‘A captivating story, so evocative of the period.’
Jean Fullerton.

“If you liked War Brides you will love this book.”

As war rages over Europe, Barbara Sinclair is desperate to escape from her unhappy home which is a target of the German Luftwaffe. Caught up by the emotion of the moment she agrees to marry John, her childhood friend, who is leaving to join the RAF, but a meeting with Simon Farley, the son of a local industrialist, and an encounter with Alex Everton, a Spitfire pilot, complicate matters. With rationing, bombing and the constant threat of death all around her, Barbara must unravel the complexities of her home life and the difficulties of her emotional relationships in this gripping coming-of-age wartime drama.

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Genre – Historical fiction

Rating – PG

More details about the author & the book

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