Sep 3, 2011

Author Interview/Excerpt/Giveaway with Heidi Ruby Miller!

Good morning! Happy weekend! Please bear with me, as Blogger has introduced a new interface and posting a blog is much different than it used to be! I apologize if this post is all whacked when it finally publishes. Anyway, we have a fantastically awesome post to share with you today: an interview with Heidi Ruby Miller, author of Ambasadora, conducted by Stef!! Check out Stef's review if you missed it. Heidi also sharing an excerpt of Fragger, the sequel. And it gets even better folks: there's a giveaway!!! ELEVEN people can win! Stay tuned for the details below, but for now just enjoy the interview and excerpt :o)

For those of our readers who may not be familiar with you, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am an avid reader, video game player, science fiction fan, and wearer of high heel shoes—even when my feet hurt. You can always take them off in the car, then slip them back on after you get there. Though I've been known to walk barefoot into the house or down an empty hotel hallway after a long day, torturing shoes dangling close at hand. It's a sickness. My chiropractor would not like to hear about this. For the curriculum vitae details, really interested parties can always check out my bio.
I love reading science fiction novels, what attracted you to writing for that genre?
I have always loved reading and watching SF. The thought of what the future holds fascinates me as much as traveling in space. I wanted to be an astronaut for the longest time, then got into vectors in high school and realized I didn’t have the math skills for piloting. But sometimes those what-ifs in life provide the best fodder for stories.

How did you come up with the concept of Ambasadora? Did something in particular help inspire you?
The bit about Sara's struggle with sterility was a direct reaction to an ex-boyfriend who told me that if I didn't want to have children, there was no reason for us to get married. The relationship ended soon after that pronouncement, but I kept wondering, what if I wasn't physically able to conceive? I would be worthless to him. That never rested well with me, which led to thinking, what if sterility made one useless to a society in general? That one question birthed—excuse the pun—the whole Ambasadora-verse.

With all of the in depth world building you did, and creating the caste system and the type of family structures and societies in the novel, how long did it take you to write Ambasadora?
Six years. I have a little saying on my Twitter profile:  putting too much sex in her SF since 2005. That's the year I entered Seton Hill's Writing Popular Fiction graduate program and started Ambasadora as my thesis novel.

There are quite a few new terms you threw in there as well, was it difficult to come up with some of them?
At times, but I had a hundred writers at my disposal at Seton Hill, many of whom were established SF authors, so I bounced around a lot of ideas during critique sessions and workshops. It helps to have a tight-knit community for a sounding board. Since the society in Ambasadora is a transplanted, far-future society from Earth I tried to manipulate the language of some recognizable terms to make them easier for digestion by those who aren't used to SF. Most language doesn’t change much, even after thousands of years.

If you had to pick a favorite character from the novel, who would you say you enjoyed writing about the most? Did you have a difficult time writing any character in particular?
Sean. Rainer. Sean. Rainer. That's how it was during the entire first draft. Finally, I had to make a choice. I chose Sean. So I went back and made Rainer's character a little colder, a little more frustrating, and changed the ending. I won’t say how I changed it, but judging by how much most readers like the present ending, it was for the best. Deep down, though, I can see where Sara could be in love with both of them, even as Rainer's character is now. (It probably helps that when I think of Sean I think of Paul Walker with brown eyes, and when I think of Rainer I think of Colin Farrell with blue eyes, but that's beside the point….)

Okay, I HAVE to know – where in the world did you get the idea for the intra-tats from?? They sound SO cool!
Ha! My Mum asked me the same question while she was reading the book. It's all due to my inability to hide my feelings. I wear them on my sleeve (yes, cliché, but I'm off the clock right now!), even when I'm trying for a stiff upper lip. I wondered, what if there were a physical cue to show when you were agitated or sad, something you didn't want others to see, but couldn’t control? That would be infuriating, especially if the feeling you were trying to hide was arousal. (I guess we know how men feel now.) And, the idea of glowing lights below the skin, a tattoo that would never fade until you died because it was a part of you, seemed beautiful and erotic and unlike anything I’d seen before. I had already begun to picture the love scene and it made me breathe a little deeper at the thought. Thus, I had to give Sara bio-lights.

Let’s sidetrack from the novel for a moment, I’d like to learn some more about you! When you’re sitting down to write, is there anything in particular you like to have around you for inspiration?
No cozy writing spot with precious things spread around me. I can write anywhere, anytime, whether it's on my laptop on the front porch swing or on a bunch of napkins at a coffee house, much to my husband Jason's envy. I attribute this ability to the late author Madeleine L'Engle who wrote my favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time. She said in an interview that she had to learn to write no matter where she was or she wouldn't write at all. From that moment on (I was in high school), I trained myself to be in writing mode at all times. If there was nothing available to get the words down, I just kept replaying the scenes in my head, editing as I went, until I could purge them from my brain.

Where is your absolute favorite vacation spot?
WaltDisney World! Not only have I worked for Disney twice in my life, but my family has been taking our big family trip there since I was three years old. That first Disney experience is one of my earliest memories. We still go back every year with a group ranging from six to twelve—the concierge has a time making our dining reservations! We always stayed at the Polynesian Resort because it was one of the first ones on property and is so gorgeous—you can see the fireworks blooming behind the Magic Kingdom castle at night from the Poly's beach. But, for the past ten years, we've been switching off between the Boardwalk and the Beach Club in the EPCOT resort area because the night life is energizing, plus you can walk right into EPCOT, my absolute favorite park! I could go on for pages about how much I love Disney World, but we'll leave the topic knowing that my inspiration for Carrey Bay in Ambasadora came from Crescent Lake.

Both Mickey and I are pretty big on animals, any creatures in your life that you love?
A little pound cat named Francesca "Puddahs" Miller. The name Francesca is in honor of Frances Mayes from Under the Tuscan Sun. But when Miss Francesca is copping an attitude, my husband refers to her as the Baroness Puddahs Von LongClaw. I then become her sidekick Dutchess Weasle Von Trapp. Apparently my husband feels I cop the same attitude.

What’s your favorite movie?
TheFifth Element with Bruce Willis, Mila Jovovich, Chris Tucker, and Gary Oldman and written and directed by the ever talented Luc Besson. I will admit that some of the set imagery there inspired part of my world-building for Ambasadora.

According to your profile on Goodreads, you teach at Seton Hill University. What’s your favorite thing about being a teacher?
Reading and critiquing students' stories. To see a project take shape over just a few weeks is satisfying enough, but to feel a student's excitement when they see their vision coming to life on the page is rewarding on so many levels.    

If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, who would you pick and why?
I'm sure this answer would change on a daily basis, but today I would like to meet the Dalai Lama. He was at Seton Hill (with Mr. Rogers, no less!!) a few years before I got there, so I never had the opportunity to be in his presence. The why is probably pretty self-explanatory.

What’s your favorite, and least favorite, place to eat and why? (I love food ;) )
Me too! That's why I do yoga, cardio, weights, and spinning five times a week. I'd rather keep to the workouts than give up too many calories. My favorite dining spot is Mother India in Morgantown, WV. I could eat Indian food everyday. I sometimes get in the mood for a Five Guys burger and fries, but that's a once a month treat. (Is it that time of the month yet?) I could also go into all the favorite places when traveling (Le Cellier at EPCOT; Tony's at Magic Kingdom; Mama Kwan's at OBX; Brenda's at Deep Creek, MD) but that list is way too long. Least favorite…I don't know. Maybe because if we didn't like it we never went back. Jason and I are good at calling a boycott on a whim, usually when one of us gets sick. The last boycott we called was against Cracker Barrel.

Finally, two last questions about the book – Goodreads says Ambasadora is “the first book in a futuristic romance series”, how many more installments of Sara and Sean can we look forward to? Can you share when we can look forward to diving headfirst into their story with the next book?
I have a five-book arch worked out for the main series and at least three novellas within the Ambasadora-verse. The first of those novellas features David and Mari six weeks before Sara comes to the Bard. It will be out next month. You'll see Fragger: Book 2 of Ambasadora out the first of December. As the title implies, this will be more Sean's story this time, though I continue to use the multiple POVs because I feel that's what gives my stories the depth they need. The bio-lights play a big role in the beginning of the book in an unexpected way. And, Sean is going to have to finally face his drug abuse head on. In fact, I'll leave you with a little excerpt from Fragger. Thanks for having me!


Ignoring the doctor's cheerful humming, Sean Cryer grasped the water glass from the tray in front of him, anticipating the spikes of pain that usually shot through his two new fingers. No pain, but the tactile sensations had returned, though his smallest finger was a little numb at the tip.

"It already feels natural, doesn't it?" Yul, his doctor, asked with pride. "I'm glad you opted for the reconstruction."

Had this happened before Sean met Sara, he never would have had the surgery, but he didn't want her to see his missing digits and be reminded of Palomin. She already carried enough horrible memories of that place and its torture. He wished he could see her now. Two months had passed since they escaped Palomin Canyon.  Half of that time they spent in separate hospital rooms recovering from their injuries. He didn't remember much about his convalescence due to frequent sedation and was thankful for the drugs—they helped numb some of the agony from a list of injuries that ranged from having his fingers cut off one at a time 
to having his kneecap smashed to bits.
He did remember Sara at his bedside occasionally, changing his bandages, stroking his face, and talking to him, but even those memories were too fuzzy to cling to now.

Only a few days ago did he move away from the antiseptic smell of this hospital room to bunk with David Anlow, the Armadan captain turned civvy who used to pilot Sean's old ship, the Bard. Sean would have preferred to wake up in bed next to Sara, breathing in the lalido smell from her scentbots, the ones he had programmed specifically for her. Instead he slept on a fold-out cot listening to David talk about his days in the military and wondering why most Armadans smelled a little like freshly brewed green tea. Did Sean smell that way to other people? He was only half Armadan and actually gave into the vanity of scentbots, but maybe there was still some trace in his DNA. Sara had never mentioned it to him.

Sean took a breath before asking, "How's Sara?" He hated this question, one he asked each day, sometimes several times a day. Often, the answer wasn't encouraging.

Yul's pause didn't bode well.

"We've had to put her under indefinite sedation. Just can't steady her heart rate."

Sean dropped the glass at this latest news. Crushing the shattered bits with his boots, he covered the short distance to Yul. "Is it complications from the irradicae?" He thought the illegal cell destroyers that Sovereign Prollixer had injected into her body would isolate on her ovaries, not spread throughout her body.

"No, it's not. We managed to remove and replace the effected tissue, except for her eggs." Yul paused, apparently in anticipation of Sean's response. Sean didn't have one. He cared about Sara, not whether or not she could bare his child.

"Something is…manipulating her nervous system."

"Like what?" Sean's tone sounded harsher than he intended, but Yul didn't seem to take offense. Their friendship went all the way back to Sean's induction into the anti-government fragger organization almost a decade ago. Yul had as much tech savvy as Sean, but not nearly as much hatred for the Embassy and its ruling Sovereign.

"I believe the problem stems from her bio-lights."

Sean pictured the small lavender dots of the intra-tattoo swirling under the skin of her arm. It had been too long since just his touch could send them racing and pulsing. Their mesmerizing effects had been as good as a drug during the one night they were intimate. He thought about that night ever since, wondering when they would have the opportunity to be that close again. Fear of losing her twisted his insides like no amount of torture ever could…or had. He pushed the terrors of Palomin out of his mind. They'd just revisit him tonight anyway.

"How can you know for sure that it's her bio-lights?" he asked.

"I'm running some tests, but I have to be careful. She's almost coded twice. Her heart rate and respiration blast through the roof without warning. I only made the connection with the bio-lights because they flashed in the same pattern each time."

"Couldn't the flashing be a result of the high heart rate and not the other way around? I've seen that happen myself." Sean didn't go into details. Unlike the rest of this voyeuristic society, what he did and who he did it with was his private concern, not meant to be shared by the telescoping cameras and direct Media feeds of hovering voyeurs. Not that any were near this forsaken jungle beach. Still, he didn't even feel comfortable telling an old friend like Yul what could make Sara's lights flash.

"Oh. I hadn't thought of that." From the way Yul looked off into space, Sean couldn’t tell if his last statement was meant to be ambiguous.

"I'll keep that in mind," Yul said. Then quickly, "I mean about the heart rate affecting the bio-lights instead of…"

"Just let me know, okay?"

"You'll be the first one."

"Can I see her?" Sean knew the answer, but had to try.

"It's still a sealed hygienic room, Sean. I have to wear—"

"Got it." He'd heard this all before, but it became more difficult each time. Soon, he kept telling himself. He'd be with Sara again soon.

Heidi Ruby Miller is just a girl who writes stories where the relationship is as important as the adventure. She loves science fiction, high-heeled shoes, action movies, Chanel, loud music, and of course, romance. She also teaches creative writing at Seton Hill University, where she graduated from their renowned Writing Popular Fiction Graduate Program the same month she appeared on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. The writing guide Many Genres, One Craft, which she co-edited with Michael A. Arnzen, is based on the Seton Hill program and her novel Ambasadora was her thesis there.

She has had various fiction and non-fiction publications, as well as various jobs, including contract archaeologist, foreign currency exchanger at Walt Disney World, foreign language teacher, and educational marketing director for a Frank Lloyd Wright house.

She lives near Pittsburgh with her writer husband, Jason Jack Miller.

 Giveaway Alert!!!

Ten readers who tweet a link of this post @imabookshark and @heidirubymiller with the hashtags #AMBASADORA #SFR, then post a comment here letting us know you tweeted it, will receive a free e-copy of AMBASADORA. If you already have AMBASADORA, Heidi will keep your email address and send you a free e-copy of her novella GREENSHIFT (also part of the Ambasadora-verse) when it's available at the end of September! One lucky US reader out of the tweeters and commenters will receive a signed print copy of AMBASADORA.

Questions? Comment here with a way to reach you and we'll answer your question. Good luck!! 


  1. Thank you for the chance to win!
    I tweeted abt the giveaway / interview:!/_yay_/status/109980881703272448
    Haven't read much SF. I'm definitely interested though. Fab interview :-) WOW 5-book arch all worked out - awesome!

  2. Thanks for having me, Stef and Mickey!

    You asked some awesome questions. Made me think. ;)

    _yay_ - thanks for stopping by and tweeting!!


  3. Nice cat. Nice interview, too. Weasel von Trapp can be pretty entertaining when she wants to be.

  4. I tweeted for you ladies! Great post. I love the cat!


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