Today, I'm interviewing Shandra Miller, author of Lethal Obsession and Helpless. I actually have a copy of Lethal Obsession to review, but I'm so behind on my reviews that I'm hoping to get to it as soon as school starts back up (6 days and counting). Stay tuned for that.
Describe your writing process.
Well, I’ve had a bit of a chaotic lifestyle for most of the past few years, so I wrote whenever I could, usually by hand. Only in the past year or so have I gotten a computer and had a little more control over my schedule. Ideally, I like to sit at a desk, facing the window (window always open) at night and write, with some music (Enigma, Loreena McKinnett, something like that) playing. Sometimes I write in the mornings, or afternoons, depending upon my work schedule, but I most enjoy writing at night.
As for actually working through story lines and plot points, I’m always doing that in my head. Driving to work, driving home, taking a shower – I often spend that time thinking through the story.
What do you think your greatest strength is in your writing?
I don’t want to sound as if I’m some great storyteller or someone who’s really stuck on herself, so please take this as just a simple answer from a simple writer. But, as a writer I try to look for places to go I haven’t seen others explore. I don’t know that there are any truly original stories to tell, and some of my work probably is like the stories told by a thousand other writers. I think of my first published shorts, Private Dining and Room Service. I had fun writing those, and I think they are a fun read, but I don’t know that they are significantly different than a thousand other erotica tales. However, I think, with Lethal Obsession and now its sequel, Helpless, I’ve maybe helped break a little new ground. I’ve tried to take what I hope is a hot, arousing erotica storyline combined with a suspenseful murder story. I think, at least I hope, that’s a strength of mine, trying to combine genres, expand erotica a little bit.
What is your biggest challenge?
Focusing, keeping my attention on the writing. You'll see from my other answers below I can sometimes go off on little life tangents. I rarely stop thinking about stories or ideas of tales, but I do sometimes struggle to sit in a seat for extended periods of time and type them out.
Name some authors who have influenced or inspired you?
E.L. James – not so much because of her writing, but because she was the one who made erotica mainstream. Whether that was through skill, an accident of timing, or both, all of us in this field definitely owe her a debt of gratitude for that. Stephen King – the guy’s a writing machine. He can be hit or miss, but when he’s on his work is exciting and fresh and oh-so captivating. Robert Parker – best modern writer I’ve ever read. A wonderful storyteller, maybe the best I’ve read at doing dialogue, and his writing is so sparse. I was sad when he passed away.
Tell a little about your most recent work. Title, genre, and tag line.
It’s called Helpless, Book 2 of the Lethal Obsession Trilogy. It’s a dark erotic-suspense tale that was just published on Aug. 15. Here’s the promo you’ll find at the front of the book (or, I suppose if it were in print, this might be the dust jacket copy).
Detective Angela Martin returns to pick up the pieces of her life – and track down a killer – in the darkly erotic thriller HELPLESS, the sequel to the acclaimed erotica suspense tale LETHAL OBSESSION.
In LETHAL OBSESSION, Angela found herself in the clutches of a BDSM master who knew exactly how to control her body and mind, to make her feel pleasure – mingled with a hint of pain and submission – in ways she had never imagined. Then women started turning up dead in her town of Moose Creek, N.C., bound and tortured in ways eerily similar to what Angela's mysterious master had done to her.
Despite the danger to her life and career, Angela couldn't stop herself – she kept going back to him, ostensibly to learn more about him as she investigated the deaths, but in truth because she craved his touch, his control. She belonged to him, body and soul, though her devotion had tragic consequences.
In HELPLESS, she is working through the guilt of having killed, the grief of having lost, trying to rebuild her life and career. She is driven to seek out darker, more dangerous sexual thrills, even when the bondage killer, or a copycat, returns to Moose Creek.
Her life is complicated when a writer from a national publication shows up in her town, determined to do a series of articles on the bondage killer, and her life. The writer turns out to be more than expected, and this time Angela finds herself fighting not only for her career and life, but maybe to save others as well.
Tell us about your favorite character from the book.
Detective Angela Martin. She’s a woman I hope many readers can identify with – she’s accomplished in her career, but a little empty at home. That leads her, in Lethal Obsession, to make some questionable decisions, meeting up with a stranger in a hotel room, experimenting with the world of BDSM. Along the way, she’s conflicted, knowing she’s not being smart, is playing with fire, at the same time she wants more, to learn and experiment. And, along the way she starts to fall for the guy.
When a series of murders begins, and it appears it might be her man, Angela is really conflicted. She knows exactly what she should do, but ends up doing the opposite sometimes (boy, can I identify with that). In the end, some really horrible things happen to her.
In the sequel, HELPLESS, she’s trying to regroup, deal with her decisions and the consequences, put her life back together. Her career has been set back, her personal life is really difficult now, and just as she starts to make some headway it happens again—the murderer returns (or, at least a copycat).
I know the murders and the erotica makes the story line a little more exciting than most of us ever experience, but the idea that she’s a regular woman, struggling with right and wrong, sometimes making the wrong choices even though she knows better – I think many of us can identify. I also like that she is strong, that she keeps rolling up her sleeves and working, doing the only thing she knows, to keep moving forward.
What makes a good story?
Smooth, concise writing, life-like dialogue, and a sense that there is something at stake with characters I really care about.
How do you market your work?
Not very well. I’m not the most organized person, and I actually came to the world of Facebook and Twitter really late (I don’t even own a cell phone), so I don’t really grasp all of the social media and writing websites. Right now I just muddle through, trying to put together a blog tour every time I release a new work, I use Twitter some, and I have a blog. I have a couple of friends who are showing me how to more effectively use Goodreads and some other sites, so maybe I’ll get better at this part of the job.
Tell us about yourself, outside of writing.
Well, I’m a little bit of a free spirit. I don’t mean I’m wild or a party-girl – I’m actually the opposite, preferring quiet time, alone, sometimes isolated even. But I tend to drift along, get distracted easily. I sometimes will go outside to pick up something and next thing I know I’ve spent an hour lying in the grass looking at cloud formations. I spent three years working for a carnival, and three more years for one of those small traveling circuses that go to small towns and set up shop for a day or two. I guess I had a lot of down time and learned to occupy myself with silly activities like that, and now I can’t stop them. I love lying outside at night looking at the stars, I like running, I try to go running three or four times every week, and I most love it when it’s raining or really cool outside. I recently moved from North Carolina to Virginia, and at present I’m staying with some friends while looking for a place. My part-time job is waitressing at a restaurant on the Blue Ridge Parkway, though that will come to an end after the tourist season ends in October. And I have a solid white cat named Lilly.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
One thing I’d like to tell everyone is that Lethal Obsession is now an audio book. That was something I never considered until a writer friend of mine said she had several audio books. I have to say, I wrote Lethal Obsession, knew it inside and out, even know when a tiny, teeny little word was changed by the narrator without having to look it up, yet when I heard her narrating the novel – wow, I was blown away. It was like it was all new to me, and I have to admit, a little…um, I’ll just say exciting. The narrator, Karen Kruper, did an incredible job. I hope some of your readers will check it out.
Thank you so much for having me here, Anne. Great questions, I had a blast answering them.
Shandra's LETHAL OBSESSION is available at:
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lethal-obsession-shandra-miller/1114727993?ean=2940016377414
HELPLESS, Book 2 of the Lethal Obsession Trilogy, is available at:
HELPLESS will be available at both Barnes and Noble and Smashwords by Aug. 20.
To follow Shandra and her work, visit her blog at For more information about Shandra Miller and her work, or to get download links when HELPLESS is release, check out her blog at http://shandramillerwriter.blogspot.com/
Follow her on Twitter at @shandramillerwr
Send her a friend request on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/shandra.miller.52