When not writing, Maryann likes to play on stage.
Here she is as Mildred in "Squabbles."
Today we welcome one of our own for an interview. Maryann Miller has a new book out from Five Star Cengage/Gale, the second in her police procedural series set in Dallas, Texas. Stalking Season was released December 19th, 2012. The underlying ground in the series explores issues involving racism, rooted in the partnership between the two female police detectives, one white and one black. Here’s a brief synopsis:
In this second book of The Seasons series, homicide detective, Sarah Kingsly, and her partner, Angel Johnson, are pitted against an uncanny killer while still struggling to feel like real partners. Neither wanted the pairing in the first place, and it isn't getting any better. A young girl is killed in a cheap motel, and when her identity is discovered, an influential Dallas businessman brings the heat down on the department. It isn't easy to work under the thumb of the mayor and the police commissioner, and it doesn't help that Lieutenant McGregor has his own issues with the brass.The investigation takes the detectives inside an exclusive gentleman's club, a prestigious private school, and leads to a killer that surprises them all.
Dani: Okay, so let’s get right to the gentlemen’s club part! Did you actually go to one to do research?
Maryann: Yes, I really did. It is hard for me to write a scene set in a real place that I have never seen. I always scout locations for places where major scenes take place in a story. I must say, my son, who is my research assistant, enjoyed the visit to the club more than I did. He took copious notes about the dancers, just in case I needed lots of detail. (smile)
Dani: What made you take on the subject of sex in this second book? Was it something you read in the newspaper that struck a chord? How did you get the idea for this story?
Maryann: Unlike the plots for my other books that started with a real crime or a real person, this one started with wanting a different kind of killer. As I played around with finding a not-your-typical serial killer, the character came to me. Then I had to decide what would motivate this person to kill young women. All that thinking evolved to the young girls dancing at the club, initially just on a lark.
Dani: Let’s touch on the ongoing subject of racism in this series and some of your other writing. What’s the motivation for using this theme in your fiction?
Maryann: That probably stems back in large part to my involvement in the civil rights movement as a young college student. (There, I've dated myself.) In working with people of all colors, I have discovered that we really can't experience the issues of prejudice and bigotry the way the other person does. I have a good friend who has had many discussions with me about this, and she said that even though I did experience some discrimination because of my background, it still did not put me in her shoes. She has also been very willing to acknowledge that racial prejudice is a two-way street. Until we can stop defining ourselves in terms of color, the prejudice is always at work, even in small ways. I find all of this incredibly interesting, which is why it does creep into my work.
Dani: Are you working on the third book now? You have a wicked set-up at the end of this book, and I’m anxious to see where it leads!
Maryann: Thanks, Dani. I am working on the third book. It is still early in the process, so I really need to buckle down and concentrate on finishing. It is called Out of Season and we will take a break from the serial killers. The set-up you mention does get followed up on in this next book.
Dani: I just got an email from LJ Sellers (who visits us tomorrow) asking readers to stop by her Facebook page and inviting them to leave a review of her latest book. I notice you only have one review on your Facebook page for Stalking Season. Do you ever ask your readers to do this? If so, how?
Maryann: Requesting reviews on Facebook has not been something I have ever tried. If I know someone has read the book, I do send an e-mail thanking them and asking if they could post a quick review. Obviously, that has not spurred a lot of response. (smile) I have also posted on Twitter how important reviews are to authors, but I have not specifically asked for a review of a particular book. I need to be more diligent about seeking reviews. And, of course, if anyone who reads this has read the book, I would love to have a review.
Dani: If I wrote a quick review of Stalking Season, here’s what I’d say:
The ongoing personal issues between the two women partners, as well as the sexual misadventures of the young victims, probably make this novel more interesting to female readers. Much of the action is emotional on many levels, and certainly women will view the “gentlemen’s” club setting in a markedly different way to most men who might shrug and think, “What’s the big deal?” I found the themes particularly relevant to the modern world, where racism is often swept under the carpet, cheap sexual themes are ever-present in the media, and women are more objectified than ever. Each protagonist is likeable in her own way, although decidedly different and the development of the friendship between the two is well-crafted and heartening. It’s probably my favorite part of Miller’s writing, and makes me look forward to the next installment.
Maryann: You should go put that review on my Amazon page. (laughs)
Dani: By golly, I think I will. What about you, readers? Do you make it a point to leave an Amazon review on a book page? If you loved the book? If you hated it? How long does it take you to write an Amazon review, and what do you focus on? How do you determine the star rating for a book? Please leave us a comment!