Sunday Conversations with Carolyn Miller

Hey Everyone!

I am excited to have Carolyn Miller on my blog today. Her latest book Miss Serena’s Secret will be arriving on bookshelves on July 24!  So grab a cup of coffee and join us in a fun conversation about books! – Becca

Hi Carolyn! I’d like to start off with some questions so your reader’s can get to know you a little bit better.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?

I’m an Australian who lives halfway between Sydney and Canberra, our nation’s capital. I’m married to Joshua, and have four gorgeous children aged from 9 to 15.

What hobbies and activities do you like to do?

I know this will surprise people, but I love to read! I’m also a big movie fan, I enjoy watching English TV drama, I sing and play piano (mostly in church), I love visiting art galleries, gardens and historic homes, and occasionally I’ll try to get my creativity on by dabbling in painting! (Needless to say, I have little interest in cleaning my house!)

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I used to be a night owl, but these days I’m leaning more to earlier mornings, perhaps because of the emails and notifications that arrive overnight from the US.

Growing up, what did you see yourself doing as a career?

I always wanted to be a missionary, and thought teaching might be a way to get into otherwise ‘closed’ countries. I ended up working as an English teacher in both private and public high schools in my local area for a number of years.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

My mum is a librarian, so my brother and sister and I grew up reading and finding enjoyment with words. 

Thank you for these great answers! I have some questions about your writing and books.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

It depends on the book. Some of my books have demanded far more research than others as they’ve been more steeped in history. I tend to get an idea then sketch out the bones and then undertake and apply the research as I go. Research can consist of all sorts of things, such as looking up maps (I have a giant-sized map on my office wall that shows London in 1815 – it’s fabulous!), finding primary sources (mostly on the internet), such as diaries, letters, journals and the like from the early 1800s. For The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey I found some of King George IV’s letters online and used this to emulate the style and address of him for my book. For my seventh novel I found a pictorial guide to Sidmouth which explained exactly what this south coast resort town was like in Regency days. The discovery of such resources definitely feels like God’s provision!

Is anything in your books based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

I have been fortunate to visit many of the places I describe in my books, such as Brighton, Bath, London and Derbyshire, so I’ve experienced a tiny bit about the places I write! Research helps, so I might use certain elements based on history, tweaked for my own purposes. The shipwreck mentioned in Miss DeLancey was based on a famous shipwreck that happened in 1815, but tweaked for my story, as it is fiction after all! I do try to ground my stories with realistic factual descriptions from this time, but mostly the plots are about my imagination at play

What weather inspires you the most, in terms of bringing out your literary best?

I’m a fan of the moody, cloudy weather – but then, that can tempt me to curl up next to the fire with a good book – or to watch another episode of Midsomer Murders!

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I usually have an idea of where to start and where it will end, and a very basic plan as to how to get there. I do like the freedom of being able to follow rabbit trails of inspiration, though!

Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with again?   

I’ve incorporated glimpses of various characters in subsequent books, but I want it to feel realistic and not overly contrived, so I don’t know about lengthy revisiting of any of the couples we’ve met so far. Maybe their children? I’ve tried hard to keep the plotlines different, but some of the themes may be similar, so I’m hopeful that the stories I write can be presented in a fresh way – even if there always is a happily ever after.

If you had the choice to rewrite any of your books, which one would it be and why?

I don’t know that I would! I’m pretty happy with them; my editors have done a great job.

Which book would you want adapted for the silver screen?

I think The Elusive Miss Ellison would make for a fun, funny film. (And then the rest could follow )

Your latest book is Miss Serena’s Secret, releasing in just a couple days!  It’s exciting to see your book launch into the world. 

Can you tell us a bit about your novel?

This is from the blurb: Scarred by her past, Serena Winthrop is determined to protect her heart – especially from flirts like the too smooth Viscount Carmichael. But when forced to share his roof, she discovers another side to the man who gambles with women’s hearts as he does their husband’s money.  Henry, Lord Carmichael, struggles with the weight of his Derbyshire’s family’s expectations, until he finds a hope shared by the too perceptive, too young artist. But he’s promised to protect his best friend’s innocent sister-in-law, not charm her, much to his – and her – private dismay.  When her art leads her to London infamy, he’s forced to choose between the life mapped out for him, and the love of his life, with whom marriage might prove the end of his family line. 

What inspired you to write this story?

I’ve always been interested in art, and wanted to explore what it was like for a young woman in the early 1800s who had a passion for art yet wasn’t able to follow her dream, due to the social constraints of the time. Social mores of the day dictated many things, including marriage, so I thought it might be interesting to give her an interesting medical condition unknown to early 1800s doctors that might mean she is unmarriageable. Should she tell any prospective suitor about this? Questions regarding honesty in relationships always adds some lovely tension.

What is one thing that you learned while researching for this book that was surprising to you?

I learned more about the Summer Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, an academy that celebrates 250 years of London art exhibitions this year, and began with two female artists in their ranks as founding members. The interesting thing was that no more female artists were admitted as members until 1922!

What do you want readers to take away from your books?

I really hope people finish reading my books with a smile, and with a sense of hope, and a (re)new(ed) appreciation that God loves us and is interested in our lives.

What will you be writing next?

My sixth book, The Making of Mrs. Hale, releases November 27th, then I have another series titled Regency Brides: The Daughters of Aynsley that comes out in 2019. As these books are written and undergoing various rounds of edits I’ve got the freedom to focus on something new, a new book (maybe the start of a new series?) that will focus less on aristocrats and more on those we might consider wallflowers. I’m a little bit excited!

Do you hide any Easter Eggs  in your books that only a few people will find? Would you be willing to share a clue with your readers?

Those who know me know I’m a proud Australian, so you may well find a reference to certain Aussie things in my books ☺  

Thank you Carolyn for visiting with me and answering these questions!

Purchase your copy of Miss Serena’s Secret here: Amazon

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