Friday Feature: Interview with Amanda Miller
Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Amanda Miller, a past contributor of Jenny Magazine.
Describe your first publication. Where was it, when, and what was the piece about? How old were you at the time and how did it feel?
My first publication was in Jenny in the second issue, Spring of ’11. The piece is called “Idora” and it’s about a girl who discovers (fictional) secrets of the iconic Youngstown landmark of the same name. It felt great. I had worked on the short story outside of my fiction class so to have it published was very validating.
What inspired your piece in the Jenny?
My dad had worked at Idora Park in its heyday and has tons of memories and stories from the experience. I took his old stories and plotted it around a real fire that destroyed part of the park in the ’80s. When I was young I used to sneak around the remains of Idora even though it was off limits. Nothing is currently there, not even a sign which I find disheartening.
Then “Geese Chamber” centered on the Mill Creek Park extermination of a large populace of geese. I drove through the park every morning and afternoon to my job. I often had to stop and let geese walk across the street and would slow my car and watch them in the changing seasons. They filled a meadow that was situated between two rivers each morning. I didn’t know of the plan to eradicate them, so from one day to the next, they were gone to me. Their absence was acutely felt in a way I didn’t know I had attached feelings to. Then of course I had heard the news and researched it a bit and a story was born.
What got you into writing?
I had a sophomore English class that relied heavily on the creative writing process. Short stories, poetry, nonfiction, were all encouraged and celebrated. Plus, that was the year I read Sylvia Plath and her writing was life changing to me. A supportive family always helps too. My family are always the first people who want to read my latest project, but I never let them. Ha.
What do you like writing the most? Is there a certain style you prefer?
I pretty much only write young adult. Any subgenre from there intrigues me. I read it all and want to try my hand in all of it from contemporary to fantasy to sci-fi to horror and everything in between. I just really gravitate towards the YA realm of fiction because it’s so multifaceted. I feel more liberated writing about/for that age group.
What are your influences? Who are your favorite writers?
I’m very influenced by day-to-day interactions with other people that are a little strange or bizarre in some way. That statement doesn’t always mean negative interactions. I like when people surprise me. I try to pack away the real life experiences that give me pause and unpack them and fit them into fictional settings. These can be emotions, odd conversations, or observances I had that I mold to characters and events. And, of course, local events and stories are a huge influence. My favorite writers are Suzanne Collins, Rick Yancy, M.T. Anderson, the Bronte sisters, Plath, Stephen Chbosky, George R.R. Martin, Gillian Flynn, etc. the list goes on and on.
What’s your proudest moment as an author?
When I share my story and the audience really “gets” it. When the words I write resonate long after someone has read my piece, those are always the proudest moments.
How has your writing developed over time?
It hasn’t, not particularly. I always write for myself first. I want to tell stories that I don’t see being done as a voracious reader. My tastes and passions ebb and flow.
Are you currently working on anything?
A novel length YA story about a girl who lives in Struthers, Ohio and has to deal with betrayal, an aging grandparent, and urban legends.
What’s your writing process?
I usually write pretty linear and in sprint-like fashion. Sprinting is when I set a time, like 15 minutes, and just focus and get the words out on paper. It’s always fun having a writing critique friend or sprinting buddy. Also, plenty of rewards for meeting word or page counts.
What are you currently reading?
Mostly working class literature and Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak when I get time for pleasure reading.
Have you ever co-written something with another author? If so, what was that experience like?
I haven’t, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it.
Have you ever worked with a medium other than writing? Or collaborated with someone in another medium with your writing?
No, but I would love to try writing a children’s book or graphic novel.
Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.