Countdown to Muse 2015: Micro-Interview 8 (Sue Miller)

The Muse and the Marketplace
 kicks off on May 1st at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston. In anticipation of the conference, we collected micro-interviews written by authors, agents and editors who will be attending the event. This is the eighth in the series.


Micro-Interview with Sue Miller, author of The Arsonist


1. What is the strangest interaction you've ever had with a reader?

After my first novel, The Good Mother, came out, I got a phone call from a reader one day – this was in 1986, no cell phones, and my number listed right there in the telephone book. She loved the book, she said. Oh, thanks, said I. It was amazing. Thank you so much. It was hard to believe I’d written it all myself.  Well, (laughter) yes, I …  “And actually, Sue,” she said, “you didn’t write it by yourself, did you?”

There followed a long, demented, increasingly angry explanation of how I’d taken the ideas for the book directly from her brain. We had several subsequent calls, more of same, and finally I told her that these were such serious charges that she really needed to be in touch with the legal department at Harper&Row. And changed my number to an unlisted one.


2. Do you have a favorite local, independent bookstore? Where and why?

At the moment, I divide my loyalty between Harvard Book Store and Porter Square Books. Harvard Book Store is older, and I’ve been going there longer – forever, it feels – and I like that sense of deep familiarity with it. And the fact that I can usually find even relatively esoteric things there. Porter Square Books feels very different, with the café in front and the children’s area in the back – it’s livelier, in a sense, and friendlier. And the parking can’t be beat. I miss Wordsworth. I miss Reading International.


3. Is writer’s block real?

I don’t experience it. Sometimes I don’t write for as long as a year, but this seems part of a process I need to go through. Self-flagellation, self-disgust, depression, despair. And then, when it gets bad enough, I rescue myself.


4. Do you prefer reading books or e-books?



You can catch Sue's craft discussion, "The Writer as Boss," on Friday, May 1st, 2:15 PM, at the Muse. But don't wait -- these great sessions are filling up fast! For all the latest Muse news, follow #Muse15.


Sue Miller is the best-selling author of the novels The Senator's WifeLost in the ForestThe World BelowWhile I Was GoneThe Distinguished GuestFor LoveFamily Pictures, and The Good Mother; the story collection Inventing the Abbots; and the memoir The Story of My Father. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

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