Sunday, February 21, 2021

Interview with Author B.L. Miller



Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.

B L Miller was brought up in London, born during  WW2; he lived most of his early life in Ruislip, Middlesex, where he had a difficult period throughout his teenage years. He always knew he was a writer but only realised his ambition later in life after retirement. After leaving school with few qualifications and described publicly as a failure by his father, he picked himself up and worked hard to prove him wrong. After a career in computing, he moved out of London and now resides in a leafy rural idyll in Wiltshire, just a stone throw away from the much larger stones of Avebury and Stonehenge. B.L. Miller is married with three grown-up children and three grandchildren too.


What inspired you to author this book?


I listed two because in a number of ways, they are inextricably linked. I write about women’s lives. Men do not feature heavily in my books and when they do its not always in a positive way. I do not relate well to men, starting at school where classmates made my life a misery. My first day at work saw me stripped of my clothes and left shivering in a toilet cubicle. Later, I drove myself to achieve beyond my expectations or others of me, but only by a massive role play of Oscar winning proportion which saw me climb the ladder of success without regard to the heads and fingers crushed under my shoes as I rose as far as I chose to go. My choice. I’ve always related to women. Unsurprisingly I chose to write through the eyes of women I admire.


The main book I describe is The Atonement of Naomi Owuso. A Black woman, born in war-torn Mozambique and brought to England together with her sister Fayola. Together with The Weekend, this book explores troubled women seeking to atone for wrongdoing in their past life. In the case of The Atonement of Naomi Owuso, there are clear reasons why she feels this need while in The Weekend; while the need is real in the mind of a woman named Jennifer Wallace, it is much less clear to the woman tasked with carrying out the atonement. The same woman carries out a brutal act in both books; in The Weekend  this includes a humiliating ‘trial’ before sentence is passed.


I wanted to explore this troubling ordeal as an onlooker, watching both events unfold. Both books introduce other characters created as my writing progressed through nine full novels.
In the case of The Atonement of Naomi Owuso, I gradually bring them together. One final point, this book was written during the period of George Floyd’s death in the US. A period of protest and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement. I deliberated about publishing this book, which addresses slavery and the brutalization of black women. I tried hard to be subjective and sensitive without removing a reticence on the part of two white women over whipping a black woman. It was hard to write, but a necessary part of the book for which as a white male author I make no apologies for creating.

Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?

Jennifer Wallace as an abused child in The Weekend, Naomi Owuso as an adult submissively positioned awaiting atonement. Both covers speak volumes for what the reader will find within the book. It is worth pointing out; neither book is for the faint-hearted. I don’t hold back; I tell it as it is.


Who has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?

Individually, an inspiring teacher named Mr. Crombie. An oasis within an arid desert during the worst three years of my life at school. Years earlier, a teacher had said Id be a writer one day. I didn’t know Id have to wait 60 years to publish my first book, although I always wrote. The other was a female writer whose name I do not recall. She was interviewed on the radio as I drove my car. What she said changed everything. Write about what you know, places you know. All my books are based in the southwest of England, North Yorkshire, or Boston USA. Don’t plan. Start with a theme and then let the book take you where it wants/needs to go. Finally, and the biggest of the lot. Write without fear! It worked; I’ve never planned a book, okay I keep a note of character names, but you won’t find a timeline or a post-it sticker anywhere near where I write.


What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?


I believe I have already covered this. Self-belief, time, but most of all, following the advice not to plan in detail when things dried up to learn to walk away, you always return. Courage maybe. Did I want people who know me to know my chosen genre? Once I got past the ‘what the hell’ obstacle, it all came good. I write for ME.



Tell your readers about your book.


The Atonement of Naomi Owuso


There is street robbery on London’s streets, teenage boys two up on stolen scooters rob people, snatch bags, even squirt the corrosive liquid into people’s eyes. One target is to steal a phone; someone making a call would have their phone snatched from their grasp by the pillion passenger as a scooter speeds by. I wanted to write about a vigilante who was fighting back. A main character, Dominique Vasson, (Dommy to her friends, a close friend of Petra Larson, who features in most of my longer books), wanders along a lonely wind-swept beach, trying to sort out her life and hopefully find a new direction. Dommy sees newspaper headlines about this mysterious person responsible for a number of deaths resulting from these thefts. Prominent drug barons are being targeted, too, and these two separate crimes are now being linked. Dommy is a hacker, and she sets out to find the assassin. What she finds comes as a huge shock, putting her at risk, especially when she gets far closer than she ever imagined getting herself enmeshed in issues of race, guilt, and coming to terms with a woman who is struggling to atone for what she has done; made even more difficult because family issues have to be settled first, bringing someone to account for their own crimes. Enter Petra Larson, who has a plan of her own, one who will have the potential to destroy her relationship with Dommy.

The Weekend

Petra Larson is getting her life back together after a savage attack, which left her raped and scarred for life after a brutal beating—having fled to Boston, USA, where a close friend and mentor repairs her broken life. Returning to England, she is contacted by a woman who makes a strange plea for help. Petra has returned to her life as a high-class Dominatrix; previously, all her clients had been rich men. Now, a woman, a prominent prosecution barrister, requests her services. Petra is torn between helping her or sending her away? Eventually, they meet, and over a torrid and emotional weekend, Petra learns how far a person will go to receive atonement. Petra discovers Jennifer Wallace, (Jen) is riddled with guilt and seeks Petra’s help to atone for her mother's death who felt rejected by her daughter.


Who is your target audience, and why?


The is a heavy gay, lesbian slant to all my books with a rich blend of BDSM thrown in. I believe there is a market for such writing, written with knowledge and care. At this point, I will include the final question what one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre. I link this because it is important. Few writers in this rather unique and specialised area of writing write long books. Getting much over 20K is a rarity. As a result, there is so little time to put a meaningful story together. I write short books too, but I prefer to construct a story with a word count over 100K, The Weekend extended beyond 140k. The Atonement of Naomi Owuso just over 122k. I believe I write from knowledge of the scene with my characters largely based on real people, people or know or knew and sadly in the case of the woman upon whom I based Petra Larson having tragically died of cancer a few years back. I do not write purely to arouse; I try to tell a realistic story. I don’t believe many writers in this genre even know their subject and most of the writing is of very poor quality and has just been written for commercial considerations.


What do you consider your greatest success in life?


Turning my life around at 16 after picking myself up off the floor having been described a failure by someone who really knew what failure was. I go back to my second day at work after the ordeal of my first. Then fighting my way to achieve a career in computing as someone who has always seen mathematics as a total mystery, then turning extreme shyness around and succeeding in senior management. Seeing monumental events in person. Russian tanks in Prague, weeks after the Prague Spring of 1968. Meeting Donald Woods editor of the East London Daily Despatch in 1974, having been sent out to fix the newspapers computers, during the South African apartheid era. Surviving nearly 50 years of marriage with all its ups and downs and seeing my two daughters graduate and seeing my son who has Downs Syndrome through many traumas in his life. Pick the last one. He’s my pride and joy.