I’m so delighted to welcome Patti Petrone Miller to my blog! Patti has used her family experiences and expertise as a special needs educator, as well as her love of all things scary, to inform her work as a multi-published author and television producer. Below are her responses to my interview questions, followed by her bio and buy link.
First off, congratulations on the forthcoming release of the first book in a new series, Ghastly Ghouls. Can you tell us about the series and what inspired it?
Thank you! I always loved watching scary films since I was young. The black and white Dracula, Frankenstein, Mummy, etc…and Creature Features which aired on Saturday nights. I was always inspired by anything monstrous or spooky, As I grew older I watched more like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Mummy, Invisible man. In the 80’s/90’s RL Stine created the GOOSEBUMPS series which piqued my interest. I gobbled up every single book he penned, purchased the DVDs and watched the series which aired in the late afternoons. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on as a kid, including HG Wells WAR OF THE WORLDS. Horror, the paranormal, UFO’s have shaped my world which is why I write them today. Not only for kids but also adults.
You’ve had such a distinguished career in publishing, including co-executive producing a series of children’s books made for television titled THUMBS UP! Can you share what the joys and challenges are for developing content for television?
It’s not easy!! The best part was meeting my team and bringing them on board the project. Film is a very long tedious process! There is so much involved from the creative process which is through animation. It has been a challenge searching for the right avenue to finding funding and a network. We have been working at it for eleven years bringing it into the world of entertainment back in 2015. So it has been quite a long haul but an exciting one and a journey I am looking forward to.
It all began with an idea about writing a book for our special little Sheltie, Elliot back in 2009, quite a little character. We decided to combine Elliot with opposable thumbs so that he was able to do things other dogs couldn’t. I then paired him with a young boy with Autism named after my son Joseph. The story became “ELLIOT FINDS A HOME” which is available at Amazon, Walmart, Waterstones, Barnes and Noble.
I know that you are a retired educator in special needs, whose specialty includes Autism and Down Syndrome, and that you are married to a lovely man who is on the spectrum. How has that influenced your choice of subject matter and your ability to sensitively portray kids with learning differences?
Anything is a challenge when you live on the spectrum. My youngest son was born with many neurological issues as a premature infant, so this all began when he was born. They have a voice that needs to be heard, An understanding if you will. Most people don’t understand the spectrum which is BROAD. There are many aspects of it that don’t stop at Autism. They vary quite differently from one another. People need to understand the signs; we need more compassion and understanding so people not on the spectrum will know when they come across someone on it. They are as normal as normal can be for them. They are humans who need respect and kindness. Their stories need to be told and they need to be included. We talk about diversity and inclusion all the time, yet the spectrum is always placed on a back burner. THUMBS UP ELLIOT FINDS A HOME is about family, for families so they can see themselves. Kids can see themselves and say, “I can do that too.” Families on the spectrum are not alone. THUMBS UP series is the first of its kind and will be around for many years to come.
Speaking of your husband, Andrew Miller, I understand that you often work together on projects. How does your creative process work when you’re developing projects together? And what has it been like to do all this wonderful creative work with your spouse? (Full disclosure: My husband and I worked together for many years as dancers, and I’m always interested in how other couples handle working together!)
Well, it helps if you have things in common first and foremost. That you respect one another as a professional and accept constructive criticism. It can be challenging when we do write together. We’re fairly good at brainstorming when we do. We each have our own niche. Andrew has several books he penned alone, UNIQUE, MICHAEL WILLIAMS LIVES IN SPACE and LONE HUNTRESS (Available in Amazon). We collaborate on books and edit together. Right now I am working on several books in mystery, paranormal middle-grade, fantasy, romcom and more.
You’ve written more than forty books for children through adults in a variety of genres. Do you have any special favorite books that you’ve written?
Yes actually. The GHOST TAKES MYSTERIES series is a fantastic series I wrote for middle-grade based on British urban myths. Spooky and edgy stories, WELCOME TO SCARECROW HOLLOW and THE PENDLETON WITCHES both available in Amazon. I also have three other favorites which focus on climate change. LORDS OF THE ARCTIC about a young boy named Yutu on an adventure in the Arctic with a team following the life of the polar bears and how climate change affects them and the land. THE PLASTIC FISHERMAN about a young boy named Puck who helps clean plastics from the ocean. ENDANGERED SPECIES SERIES, ELEPHANTS follows a baby Elephant through Kenya telling the story of their survival living with poachers and climate change.
Tell us about your writing process: Are you a pantser, plotter, or somewhere in-between?
Well I started out as a pantser, as of late I decided to plot out the books since I have over one-hundred and sixty-eight to write. There are times I allow my characters to take over and usually they are better then I am at what they want to do. Sometimes allowing them to tell the story works out better. It all depends. Some books have to be plotted due to the historical nature. Some, it’s easier and more enjoyable if I can make things up.
What advice would you give aspiring writers who would love to have a long and successful career such as yours?
Do your homework, write what you know and have fun with it.
What are you currently working on writing-wise?
Cozy mysteries. I love the intrigue…and the funny whodunits…At the moment I have about thirty to write. Ranging from contemporary, to steampunk, witches, baking mysteries, coffee house mysteries.
I know you make your home in Las Vegas, Nevada. When you’re not writing or producing, what do you enjoy doing?
Crafting. Painting, crochet, reading when I can, spending time with family, our dogs and friends, theater, shopping. My life is usually filled with writing.
Anything else you’d like to add about yourself or your work—or wish I’d asked that I didn’t?
We have books for everyone young and old. You can find us in Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell Book store, Wild Rumpus, Waterstones and some libraries. You can find me and any announcements in Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pattipetronemiller
Patti has spent forty-seven years as a published author for children through adult and has seventy-five books in print. As an educator, she spent twenty-two years teaching special needs children on many aspects of the spectrum. Living through the spectrum in her everyday life through immediate family members on it, it came only natural to her and her co-creating half who is on the spectrum, to write a story. Back in 2009, “Elliot Finds a Home,” was the first book written about a special dog and his boy with Autism. In 2014 it gained attention from Disney executives and two of the top executives in the industry and formed into an animated series for families about love, courage, compassion, awareness and kindness.