AUTHORLINK: Why the long hiatus between THE LAST FAMILY and INSIDE OUT?
MILLER: After publishing THE LAST FAMILY, I had written a draft of the second book but my editor didn't think it was as good as THE LAST FAMILY. After a couple of attempts to fix it, Bantam released me from the seven-figure contract. I wrote another book, which was to become INSIDE OUT, and sent it to Beverly and she thought it had potential. While I was working on it, Beverly died suddenly. My agent at the time had sent one other book around but she wasn't having any luck interesting any publishers in the work. After I finished WINTER, my agent sent it around. After several months she had gotten three responses to it. Now three years after publication of THE LAST FAMILY, I determined I needed to rework WINTER one last time and I also decided it was time to change agents. It took me a year to rework the book. I then gave it to Anne Hawkins of John Hawkins & Associates. She sent it out on Thursday. By Monday we had answers from six of the seven editors. That's the difference between agents.
Kate Miciak at Bantam Dell wanted to buy the book, but I had been released from my contract at Bantam, so they were gun shy. [Bantam and Dell are separate imprints under the same publishing division at Random House]. The brass at Bantam Dell said that perhaps Kate would be a perfect editor for me and they agreed to let her take me on. Kate said she would buy the book for Bantam if I would make the changes she wanted for INSIDE OUT and would give her an outline for a follow up book. I agreed and she bought them both. We would eventually add a third book to the deal, bringing it to a total of three books at six-figure advances.
AUTHORLINK: What were some of your challenges in writing book two?
MILLER: I finished the first book for Dell in 2002 and went to work on the second one in the series. Then, I completely rewrote it, changing the characters and plot. Originally, book two was centered around my protagonist finding a 21-year-old man. I changed the main character to a 12-year-old girl in real peril, and rethought the entire story. That book became UPSIDE DOWN.
The secret to making my books work came when I realized that I had to completely visualize the book before writing it. Earlier I had an idea, but I wrote without really knowing my characters intimately, but developing them as I wrote and forcing them into the action. Kate had to break me of bad habits, which she did, and it is amazing to me that she and Bantam believed it was worth the trouble. I felt as if I were taking Writing 101 from Kate Miciak, who spent a lot of time e-mailing back and forth on both books and working through things. It was a lot of work, but when editors who are as good as Beverly Lewis and Kate Miciak offer criticism, I listen. I don't argue if there's a good reason for the change.You have to be flexible. No editor wants to work with somebody who won't listen. Good editors want relationships with writers, and it's a give and take deal or it doesn't work.
AUTHORLINK: Did you have the same experience with THE LAST FAMILY?
MILLER: I had a lot of input from my editor, Beverly, but there were no giant changes.
AUTHORLINK: How long did it take you to finish INSIDE OUT?
MILLER: It seems like it took a lot longer to finish that one than my first book. I completed INSIDE OUT in 2003. When they showed me the cover, I didn't like it. And they kindly agreed to revise the design. While the publisher was working on the cover design for book one in the series, I was working on UPSIDE DOWN.
AUTHORLINK: How has INSIDE OUT changed from your original idea?
MILLER: A major change was in the title. I had originally called it WINTER. Then I changed it to BLIND SIDE. But another author came out with that title, so I changed it to INSIDE OUT.
AUTHORLINK: How did the super release deal unfold?
MILLER: INSIDE OUT was originally slotted for a November 2004 release. But when Dell sent out advanced reading copies, they got such a great response they decided to hold back and make it part of a super release. About that time, I submitted UPSIDE DOWN and they loved it. Since they were working on the first book's cover design, they decided they could do a design that would work for both books at the same time, and also work for a series if I wrote more Massey books. The Dell imprint, as it turned out, had an open slot for a super release in May 2005. If I could do a third book, they would move me from the Bantam imprint to Dell and give me the super slot.
AUTHORLINK: So, you had to write a third book?
MILLER: That's right. I wrote SIDE BY SIDE in two months, and Kate accepted it last Christmas as written.
AUTHORLINK: Wow! What pressure. How did you write it so fast?
MILLER: I outlined the entire book and started from scratch. It was one of those things that just fell together. Luckily I had learned enough about how I should do things from the first and second books.
AUTHORLINK: What sort of print runs has Dell done?
MILLER: They printed 220,000 copies of INSIDE OUT, and a second printing of 20,000, and recently a third. About 260,000 copies of UPSIDE DOWN were printed, and it was reprinted again a few weeks ago. The print run for SIDE BY SIDE was almost 300,000.