Raine Miller has been reading romance novels since she picked up that first Barbara Cartland book at the tender age of thirteen. And it’s a safe bet she’ll never stop, because now she writes them too. Granted Raine’s stories are edgy enough to turn Ms. Cartland in her grave, but to her way of thinking, a hot, sexy hero never goes out of fashion. A former teacher, she’s now writing sexy romance stories full time. She has a handsome prince of a husband, and two brilliant sons to pull her back into the real world if the writing takes her too far away.
Loren Kleinman (LK): Are you a John Keats fan? Why?
Raine Miller (RM): Yes. His words are so hauntingly beautiful for a young man who didn’t live past his twenty-fifth birthday. I often wonder how he was able to write about love so deeply and eloquently having lived so short of a life. I think about the experiences he couldn’t have had and curious how he knew about love so thoroughly. He had to have known, or I don’t think his words would be as relevant.
LK: Tell us about Priceless. What can readers expect?
RM: Priceless is book 1 of a new series I am writing called The Rothvale Legacy. It is the story of a British Lord, Ivan Everley, and his chance meeting with an American Art Conservator, Gabrielle Hargreave, through his cousin, Ethan Blackstone. The series has been born out of Blackstone Affair obviously, and will offer glimpses of those characters from time to time, but the focus is new characters. Rothvale Legacy is a broader story than Blackstone Affair was, with several side plots of a mystery/suspense nature. There is also the discovery of some priceless paintings which were painted by my fictional artist, Tristan Mallerton, in my companion historical prequel, The Muse, taking place some two hundred years prior in the world of Ivan’s ancestor, Graham Everley with his beloved Imogene. All worlds and series interconnect into one big Raine Miller story web, which makes one of my most favorite parts about being an author.
LK: You have books now translated into Italian, Spanish and German. Can you talk about how your series have developed internationally and what the demand has been like?
RM: Self-publishing with foreign markets is a challenge I will tell you. I needed to try it to prove to myself it could be done, and with the help of some wonderful people I was able to accomplish it. That being said, it is solid work getting a book ready for publication, as much work as getting my English books prepped. I am not sure the benefits outweigh the costs just yet, but I think they will in time as your fan base grows, and as ebooks gain popularity in those countries. Typically with a new release the book will hit the top 100 and stay there for a month or more easily. Readers are impressed and grateful to me for self-publishing the books, though. They send me messages all the time thanking me for choosing to self-publish. The hottest market is Germany and lucky for me I have a very dear and brilliant friend who lives there, and was the catalyst in getting started with my own foreign translation.
LK: You also write historical fiction. What was the inspiration behind The Muse?
RM: The Muse is the very first book I ever wrote. It’s been under the bed in a box for many years. The story was crafted over a long period of time and the basis for my whole literary world of created characters. The people in my Blackstone series are descendants of the people in who are introduced in the world building of The Muse. The theme of paintings and hidden art was also born out of it. Every book I write, no matter the time period, will have some reference, even if very small, back to the people or events in The Muse.
I’ll finally press publish on that book sometime before the end of 2014 and I am excited. The inspiration of the book is the painting Flaming June by Frederic Leighton—a woman in an orange dress sleeping in a chair. A mystery to the art world since it was painted, and as it was one of the last works by the artist before he died, never explained. My book, The Muse, is a fictional tale of how Leighton’s painting came to be inspired.
LK: What’s so intriguing about writing historical fiction? Is it the fact that there might be more skeletons in the closet than what we originally thought?
RM: I began writing what I loved to read. Historical romance was my first love and a genre I still read and will always read. My first two published books were erotic historical romance and while they had good reviews and people enjoyed them, commercially the market is not busy in the genre at the moment. I am hoping the recent success of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon will help the genre overall.
I am a true believer that truth is stranger than fiction, and I think there are MANY historical stories just dying to be told. When I ventured into Contemporary Romance with my Blackstone Affair series, it was very easy to connect those people and places back to my historical book characters. When readers discover the connections they really love it, too.
RM: Mostly, I’ve been lucky finding images that speak to the story, and then in finding a designer that will listen to me and try to pull it all together. For Naked I was trying something totally new at the time. When I put that cover out it was eye catching because it was so different from the other romance novel covers published. It had a black and white image, which virtually none had then. Now, a black and white image on a romance book is commonplace. I want my covers to look different and be eye-catching enough to make the reader want to read my book. I also make sure to include the cover image in a detailed scene in every book. Whatever is on my cover, will be written into the story. When readers tell me they bought the book for the cover it makes me happy. That way is truly bringing in a new reader who didn’t know about me before. A total bonus!
LK: Can you share with readers how you go about crafting your books?
RM: Well, I am a plotter and not a pantzter for sure. When I start a new series I have character bios and a timeline in advance. I know the ending before I start writing the beginning. I have a composition book with handwritten notes and ideas for how the story can unfold. I keep every single one. From all of that I will make an outline in a Word doc and start a Pinterest board of images. The more books I write, the more I rely on images to drive scenes. If I find an image that I really love, I will write a scene around the picture, rather than the other way around. This method really gets the fans’ attention when you can show them an image and have the scene or teaser match it perfectly.
LK: How many books do you typically write in a year?
RM: I can write a book in a month if I am focused on the task. I don’t write my books on the longer end of the spectrum either, mostly due to my writing style. Not a lot of extra pages of descriptions of things that I would skim if I were reading. I like tight stories where every detail has a purpose in being revealed to the reader. That being said, the past year did not bring the kind of output of new content I would have liked, because of family issues. I lost my father after a long illness and really wasn’t “feeling” the writing. My head was elsewhere and I just didn’t want to write a book. It took some time to sort through all of those emotions and get back to where I was before. Readers will see a big increase in new book releases from me. I have five new books publishing in five months’ time.
LK: What’s been the most important thing you’ve learned from the writing business?
RM: The MOST important thing I’ve learned is how fast moving it is. This business changes FAST…and as a writer and a self-publisher, you have to adapt and keep in the game. You cannot discount any avenue, or any strategy to get the word out about your books. It’s a hard business to predict what will happen next, but I have three rules if you will:
1. Take care of your readers.
2. Take care of your finances.
3. Write EVERY day.
After you do those three things, then nothing else matters in my opinion. I write the stories I love and want to write, and keep my blinders on for the rest of the distractions out there trying to get me. [laughs]
LK: Will you always remain indie? Why? Why not?
RM: I cannot say for sure. I do have an excellent agent in New York who is always asking me to submit something new to a publisher. I won’t discount the possibility, but think it is more likely I will continue to be an indie author. I like having the freedom to decide what to deliver. It is mine and nobody influences my vision of my stories or where they will lead.
RM: Right now I am deep into launching my new series, The Rothvale Legacy and having a lot of fun with it. I think ending a series of a beloved character [Ethan Blackstone] and giving fans a brand new hero to read about is a big challenge and one I am determined to win. I love to hear a reader say something like, “I didn’t think Raine Miller could make me love anyone as much as I love Ethan, but she just did.” Day made for me.
LK: If you couldn’t be a writer, what you would be?
RM: I would be a teacher, as I was for twenty years.
LK: Who are your cheerleaders?
RM: My husband and my kids, and a couple of dear and wonderful friends I have met through my books. They keep my chin up and my eyes focused on the goal.
LK: Did you have support at the beginning and/or during your writing?
RM: From my husband and children yes; most definitely my biggest supporters, but the rest of my family, not so much. They were critical of the time I spent on writing and felt it was not a good use of my time. Feels good to know they were wrong about that last part.
LK: Did you always have in mind to be a writer or it just happened?
RM: It just happened for me. I was happily teaching first graders to read when I needed to have a medical leave for a surgery. The months at home left me empty handed and that is when I began writing the first book. Once I delved into it, I just couldn’t stop, and even after I was back at work I wrote in my spare time every single day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
LK: Aside from writing, what do you enjoy doing on your spare time?
RM: I like to take a daily walk in the wilderness behind my house, read by the pool, dig in the garden if the weather is not too hot, and make crafts. The crafts are now mostly book related swag and velvet ribbon bookmarks, but I still love to play around with my Christmas crafts every season and decorate the house.