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Author Interview: Martha Miller Chats about Retirement Plan

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Get ready to learn more about the book Retirement Plan in this discussion with sapphic author Martha Miller.

Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz Martha Miller about Retirement Plan, writing, reading, and more.

This book is part of the Love After 40 category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.

Why did you write Retirement Plan?

The reason I wrote Retirement Plan is one of our favorite stories. One night my wife and I were eating out and discovered the prices at this restaurant were higher than our usual places. So, my wife said, “When we are old, if we run out of money, we can become hired killers. If we get caught, we will have a roof over our heads, three meals a day, and health care. Plus, everyone has someone they want dead. So we would never want for business.” That got my wheels turning and I started writing. Now and then my wife mentions that it was her idea.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

I love both Sophie and Lois, both of the old ladies. I had lots of room to do backstories on them. By the time I was done, I knew them like old friends. I still think about them. They are a lot like my wife and me. Their backgrounds have a few stories from our pasts.

What inspired the idea for Retirement Plan?

l wanted to write a book about an older couple and how hard money can be on a pension. Most lesbian books are about younger women. It seems to me there are a lot of women readers my age.

What was the biggest challenge writing this book?

The book has multiple points of view from the old ladies, to the Homicide Detective and then some of the victims. Bold Strokes Books assigned me an editor who helped me a lot—mainly by developing the character of the Homicide Detective. In the end, I had a better book.

How much research did you need to do for Retirement Plan?

The most memorable research I did was go to “The Citizens Police Academy.” There I learned some police procedures and how to shoot. I loaded and fired a 9-millimeter hand gun, and fired an M16. There were friends that told me Lois (the retired Vietnam Nurse) would get knocked over firing and M16. It did have a kick. But I managed it.

What is your writing process like?

When my kids were young and I was working a full-time job, I’d get up at 5:30 in the morning and write for a couple of hours. I felt good about that because I had the ‘most important’ thing done for that day. Since I’ve retired, I eat breakfast and then spend several hours in my office. The one sin I have is looking at email and Facebook before I start writing. I want to stop that, but so far, I can’t seem to.

Where do you usually write, and what do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

I have always had on office in my house. It’s the small bedroom of a three bedroom house. My computer is placed next to a window. There’s always a bunch of clutter around it. I want to quit that but can’t seem to.

How do you celebrate when you finish your book?

I don’t celebrate when I finish a book. I feel lost.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing, and by whom?

My valuable piece of advice I’d give other writers is Read, Read, Read! And when somebody walks up to you in the bathroom and tells you they liked your book—then you know it was a success. Happened to me only once, but I haven’t forgotten it.

What do you do to get inside your character’s heads?

I don’t do anything, after working with a character for a chapter or two, the character gets into my head. She’s out of my control. If that doesn’t happen I know I’ll have to start over.

What author in your genre do you most admire, and why?

Lee Lynch was the first lesbian author I read, and as far as I’m concerned, her book The Swashbuckler is still my favorite.

Do you feel bad putting your characters through the wringer?

I put my characters through difficult times because adversity is the heart beat of every story—that and over coming adversity. A book would be pretty dull with out tension.

Have you ever hated one of your characters?

I hate the characters that the reader is supposed to hate.

What type of books do you enjoy reading the most?

I love all kinds of books. I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird about five times. I like mysteries and have my favorite authors. Recently for a webinar I’m attending, I started reading The Hound of the Baskervilles. I find a lot of good writing in it.

What books have you read more than once in your life?

To Kill a Mockingbird. I can tell you word for word how that book ends. “He would be there all night and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.” I didn’t even have to look at the book to write that. I like anything else that’s well-written. These days I am also fond of Elmore Leonard and Stephen King.

What book do you wish you had written?

I always believed that Scout Finch was a lesbian in the making. I like the cadence of the tale that Scout tells. The words of a child that tells adults exactly what is going on.

Describe your favorite reading spot.

Recliner in the family room.

Meet Martha Miller

I am a retired English Instructor and I miss teaching. I have eight books published by different publishers and I just signed a contract for the ninth. I live with my wife, two unruly dogs, and two cats–one of which sheds a lot–in Central Illinois.

Visit Martha’s Website

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Author Interview