Our Interview today is with Vince Milam. Thanks for being here today, Vince and for agreeing to this Interview.
Question #1 : What is the best thing about being an author?
The creative process. What a joy to be able to create worlds, characters, story arcs, and – hopefully – a good tale told.
Question #2 : What are some of the challenges of being an author?
Goodness, I’d have to double up on the first question and say that the creative process presents its own special challenges. Staring at a blank page, unsure of how to craft a scene, is – in and of itself – a bit daunting. I would also add that the discipline of creating every day, even when the muse doesn’t call, can be a challenge.
Question #3 : Describe a Typical Day for You.
I’m blessed to be an early riser, so after coffee, prayer, and some stretching, I’m able to write prior to engaging my day job (Health and Wellness Coach). My goal is to write 2,000 words a day, something I attain less than regularly although I do average that number over any given week. In the evenings I enjoy reading (right now I’m into Tim Keller’s The Reason for God – that’s one bright fellow).
Question #4 : What genre(s) do you write? And why or how did you chose them?
I’ve just published my second novel in the Challenged World Series. This series falls in the “Spiritual Thriller” category, although “Spiritual Warfare” would also be an apt designation. I chose this genre because I love a good thriller, although the spiritual aspect of most tales were missing. There’s no reason – in my opinion – that a good thriller cannot have a strong spiritual component, flawed characters (aren’t we all?), real-life dialogue, and some assignment to the spiritual realm of the evil the world deals with daily.
Question #5 : Do you read the same genre that you write? Why or why not?
I do read Ludlum, Flynn, Clancy, etc. I enjoy the acceleration of a tale within the context of a story arc. I appreciate great character development.
Question #6: What is something that readers would be surprised to know about you?
Well, I’ve lived in over twenty countries around this world (Latin America, Africa, Middle East, Asia) and do appreciate the experiences of getting to know folks from all cultures. I’ve been able to learn that respect for the individual goes a long, long way even when there are wide cultural chasms. Oh, and roses. I became infatuated with roses – particularly antique roses that were developed many, many years ago – in my youth. For some reason, my love of roses often comes as a surprise to people.
Question #7: When and how did the writing bug bite you?
Over twenty years ago I wrote my first novel. It was less than stellar in almost all aspects, although it proved to me that I could, at least, produce a long tale. Since then I’ve written mostly short stories until two years ago when I sat down and committed to fill a gap I saw in the thriller genre – a gap of having a spiritual component to the story.
Question #8: When you write, do you plot everything out or not? Why does that work for you?
I endeavor to plot out the story arc, define the characters (especially with regard to what they have to gain and lose), identify the major disasters, and begin with an idea of chapter content. All that said, it changes and morphs during the writing process. At some point in each novel, the characters begin to “talk to me”, and define – to some degree – the flow of the tale.
Question #9: What is the best thing a reader or reviewer has ever said about you?
I’ve been blessed with excellent reviews. I was especially pleased with the reviews from agnostic readers who acknowledged the spiritual nature of the tale but found it part-and-parcel of the story and not off-putting. To read those is very heart-warming. My first novel (The Unknown Element) had a five star review from an Amazon Hall of Fame reviewer, and comments such as, “This will be a great book for a reading group to pull apart, examining all of its many aspects and different levels of interpretation. BUT if all you want is an exciting good read, you won’t miss with this one. If I could, I would give this a higher rating than five stars,” and, “Superbly written, no drags, no slow starts, just hop on board and ride the express to the end,” and “I loved this book! It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book that hooked me on the first page and sustained my interest right to “The End”. So far, this second novel has also received similar reviews even though it has only been out six weeks.
Question #10: What is the worst thing a reader or reviewer ever said about you? How did you handle that?
On occasion, someone who is clearly an atheist will lambast the book in a review (blessedly very few of those). I shrug it off and keep moving. If a belief in God and a tale with characters walking their individual spiritual paths is offensive to some, well, so be it. I’ve also had a couple of negative reviews from Christians who were offended by the language. There is cursing in the dialogue (hells and damns) because that is how people talk – even Christians. I don’t use “f-bombs” or sex scenes (there is some tender kissing). There is some violence, and some of that a bit gory, although these scenes are short and for a purpose.
Question #11: If you could go to one place and write, where would it be and why?
I’m so blessed to write exactly where I am now, on my back porch with a view of mountains, my garden, dozens of flying critters fighting over the bird feeder, and a cup of coffee.
Question #12: If you could have one experience back to do over again, what would it be and why?
Actually, I’d choose most of my experiences in my younger years. At the time I lacked mindfulness – an acute awareness and appreciation of here and now. All the small miracles that God has given us can so easily be passed by when one’s focus is on “get it done” and “what’s next?”.
Question #13: Who do you consider a mentor in your life? What did that person teach you?
My mom. Without doubt. She taught me to appreciate beauty in life, God’s creations, and the ability to laugh. Humor is so important, and we tend to take ourselves way, way too seriously. She also gifted me life-long frameworks, using expressions such as, “Rise above it,” when encountering criticism or mistreatment by others.
Question #14: Is writing your only job? If not, tell us a little about your “day” job.
My “day” job is as a certified Health and Wellness Coach. I got into this profession later in life as an opportunity to truly help others achieve their life vision. Wellness coaching is particularly interesting in that the coach doesn’t “tell” the client anything. Most folks are inundated with all sorts of experts telling them this and that. Telling them what they “ought to do.” A wellness coach assumes the client is whole and capable and already knows what needs to be done. I help clients identify their core values and their personal vision and then help identify steps to get there. It is very rewarding.
Question #15: If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
Oh, goodness – I suppose I’d still need to find a creative outlet. Music, perhaps? My son is extremely talented in that regard. I, on the other hand, make dogs howl and scare young children when I sing. And have about as much rhythm as a loaf of bread. Okay, so maybe not music. But we all have a creative need, and I would have to find something.
Question #16: What is your favorite verse in the Bible? Why?
John 1:1 to 1:5. Without doubt. It is simply so awesome – so all-encompassing – that I can contemplate on it for hours (and have). It provides me an anchor-point for my faith. I was in awe of this verse when I first read it, and still am.
Question #17: What is your favorite quote? Why?
Oh, mercy – I don’t know that I have one. Is that terrible? I will drop this little insight: a fun game to play among friends is to randomly provide quotes and then identify them as either Biblical or from Shakespeare. Our common vernacular is so grounded in either the Bible or ol’ William.
Question #18: What is your favorite book? Why?
Clearly, the Bible. As for secular books, I’d have to say either McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove or McCormack’s Border Trilogy. Lonesome Dove was the first novel that, literally, kept me up all night to finish. Talk about a good tale told! Then as a benchmark for wordcraft, the Border Trilogy. I can pull that down from the bookshelf, open it anywhere, and be in awe of his writing talent.
Question #19: What other hobbies do you have?
I love to garden with flowers (especially roses!). I love to fly fish (I recently came back from our annual trip to West Yellowstone. To cast a fly in streams while bison and elk meander by is such an amazing experience). I used to love bird hunting, but my last bird dog just passed away and I’m vacillating on getting another one (or another pair – I like having two little French Brittanys around at the same time). The pain of such a dear companion passing – well, it just tears me up.
Question #20: What is your workspace like? Clean or chaos?
Fairly doggone clean. Laptop computer. A couple of notebooks (filled with ideas and flow and scenes – most of which will not come to fruition). Binoculars in case I spot an interesting bird (there’s been a small hawk trying to snack on my bird-feeder critters lately). A coffee cup. Or two.
Question #21: How did you break into writing?
It was time. I’d read so many books where, after fifty or one hundred pages, a little voice would speak and tell me, “You can do that.”
Question #22: Where can people find you on the Internet?
My website is www.vincemilam.com. There is a contact form there, and I’d love to hear from you!
I’m also on Facebook, although the whole social media thing is somewhat daunting for me.
Question #23: What advice do you have for other authors?
Write. Don’t agonize, just write. Also, get a good editor. That is absolutely critical. I go through four or five drafts, then send what I believe to be better than good prose to my editor. He returns it with corrections and suggestions on, literally, every page. In essence, he beats it up. Rightfully so.
Question #24: Tell us about your book.
Ebola, ISIS, blood diamonds, drug cartels, and a dark force driving events. In pursuit, an eclectic team of three very dissimilar individuals.
A reserved small town sheriff on a reluctant quest for justice. A beautiful and eccentric technology genius striving to piece together international clues to terrorism. An epicurean French priest committed to combat. Can they work together to challenge a nightmarish conspiracy without driving each other crazy?
The resurrection of the blood diamond trade in the fetid jungles of Ebola-infected West Africa draws the trio together. They are joined by a stunning CIA professional killer with a clear and final solution to any problem. Together they struggle against the leaders of the illicit diamond trade and the foul entity providing the child slave labor.
Have they won? The doggedness of the technology genius and the assuredness of the French priest uncover deeper plans—a game of misdirection and intrigue masterminded by a powerful source nested in the evil enclaves of ISIS.
The stakes rapidly rise as the trail leads them into the wild heartland of a Mexican drug cartel—a launching point to unleash a hellish scenario into the U.S. The final conflict looms as forces for good and evil muster for battle. Can three regular people prevent this terrorist attack? They need to, because failure will forevermore alter the life of every American.
Question #25: Tell us about the characters in your book.
The three core protagonists are the same in both novels as they are part of a series.
Cole Garza is the sheriff of Aransas County, Texas—a Gulf Coast county with as many boats as pickup trucks. He has more than a dollop of Comanche blood in his lineage, and while he presents a very laid-back approach to life, when faced with adversity he becomes—to quote a local citizen in his town—“all fight”. Cole, on occasion, has more faith in his .45 pistol than in the Almighty.
Nadine May is an information technology genius, contracting to the NSA, FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security. She can break through any electronic firewall or security system and may well be the world’s best human bloodhound when it comes to finding answers. Her thinking process pinballs from one subject to the next, rarely with a logical sequence—a trait that drives most folks crazy. Nadine has a heart of gold, an OCD habit of doing things in threes, and lives with her pet, Mule the Cat. Her faith is recently acquired, and in a framework uniquely Nadine.
Francois Domaine is a French priest, residing at the Vatican. He has the ability to hone in on manifested evil. He is also a bon vivant—clothes, food, and wine are critically important to him. A lavender pocket handkerchief will, absolutely, be paired with lavender socks and custom Italian shoes. He fully expects Pouilly-Fuissé wine with his BBQ chicken, chain smokes French cigarettes, and often wafts a hand in a dismissive gesture if the subject at hand doesn’t meet his approval. He is, after all, French. And he is absolutely fearless. Francois confronts evil head-on, a short, rotund bowling ball of a man rolling towards danger.
In Pretty Little Creatures, the trio are joined on their quest by JoBeth Clark, a CIA assassin. JoBeth is a Mississippi belle, well educated, tends to addresses people as “Sugar” and “Honey”, is always impeccably dressed, and will kill you in a heartbeat. She is legendary in the clandestine services.
Question #26: Do you include your own life in your books? Why or why not?
I do include settings and scenes I’ve experienced in life. Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, etc. I also include bits and pieces of character traits I’ve run into over time, especially when it concerns dialogue. I love the spice of local vernacular.
Question #27: What is special to you about this book?
This book, as well as my first one, openly present evil as a supernatural element. As a society, we have become so convinced of rational scientific explanations to every ill we face. All wrongs are societal, or cultural, or rooted in mental illness. My novels offer up an alternative – that true, living, supernatural evil is among us.
Question #28: What do you hope readers take away from this book?
First and foremost – a tale well told. Any messaging, in my opinion, has to be provided in a framework of a good story. A tale that engages and draws the reader forward. Within that tale the different spiritual paths the prime characters take can be presented and mused upon, along with the concept of manifested evil.
Question #29: What’s your favorite “treat”?
BBQ brisket. Oh, mercy. I can just flat overdose on good BBQ.
Question #30: Morning or night, which is the best and why?
I do love mornings. The good Lord has presented and blessed us with another day with all its wonders, large and small.
Question #31: Favorite season and why?
Fall. The air turns crisp, engaging in the miracles of the outdoors is a joy, and we prepare to hunker down for winter. Fallen leaves, approaching holidays when family and friends gather, the sound of geese heading south. All good.
Question #32: Favorite sport and why?
I do enjoy walking, weight lifting (my personal fountain of youth), mountain biking, softball (albeit in a league of ‘older gentlemen’), and bird hunting. All that said, fly fishing is something of a passion. It is the selection and presentation of an artificial insect to a trout with the anticipation that it will entice a strike. Also, the fish I tend to remember are not those of size or fight, but rather the setting in which I engaged them. How the sun struck the water, the smells, the rush of river against my waders, and rocks and logs I had to navigate.
Question #33: Least favorite household or yard chore?
Cleaning the microwave. How, how, how does that doggone thing get so grimy so quickly?
Question #34: Least favorite thing to do?
Putting down an old and faithful pet. Don’t get me started – it is painful beyond description.
Question #35: Favorite thing to do?
Sharing a laugh and great conversation and a glass of wine with dear friends and family. It simply doesn’t get better than that.
Question #36: You have a whole day to go anywhere and do anything. What would that be and why?
Start the day with breakfast at Brennan’s, jet to the Caribbean for snorkeling, jet to a great BBQ joint for late lunch, jet to the Rockies for drinks and dinner with friends and family. Odds are, that isn’t going to happen any time soon.
Question #37: Pose a question for our readers to answer…
What is most important to you in a spiritual thriller? A message? Plot? Characters? Story flow?
B&B Photography Boise’s best studio
About the Author:
To tell a good tale. It’s a simple and valid answer when the question pops up, “Why do you write?”
At the end of the day, it is to tell a good tale.
I’ve been fortunate enough to live and work all over the world—in more than twenty countries—and I still relish the opportunity to learn and explore new facets of life. These experiences, new and old, fire up the creative engine and allow me to spin tales and create characters that take on some of the larger questions of our existence—and have some fun in the process!
I’ve always relished fast-paced thrillers with a twist, and this theme is woven into the books of the Challenged World series. If I can entice you to stay up late into the night, reading, then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.
I have a passion for learning, spiritual reflection, great reads, fine trout streams, family, and old friends. As a Certified Health & Wellness Coach, I have heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity to help others. As a writer, I am so appreciative for the friends and feedback I’ve received in the course of putting pen to paper and opening up a vein.
I live in the Intermountain West where soaring mountains and vast high deserts give a person plenty of room to think. All in all, life is a joy and I am so very lucky to be a part of this world we live in. To all who have purchased my novels, Thank You. I sincerely hope a great tale was told, and your expectations were met.
Twitter Handle @vince_milam
FaceBook Page https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006177615953