Thursday, April 18, 2024

Q&A with Anesa Miller




Anesa Miller is the author of the new novel I Never Do This. She also has written the novel Our Orbit. She lives in Ohio.


Q: What inspired you to write I Never Do This, and how did you create your character LaDene?


A: The seed that grew into my novel, I Never Do This, was the predicament of a woman who comes home from work on an ordinary day and finds a man lurking in her apartment. It's something I'm sure we've all worried about at one time or another.


But early on, I decided that the man who broke into my heroine’s place would not be a stranger to her. Then, I decided that he wouldn’t be entirely ill-intentioned — not a random criminal threatening her safety.


That scenario could certainly make for an interesting plot, but I was more drawn to exploring the characters’ personalities and experiences in terms of a past relationship as well as what they might mean to each other in the current situation. So the intruder became her cousin, Bobby Frank — fresh out of prison.


LaDene’s personality developed as I realized that she had to be a very forgiving person who’s willing to sit down and visit with Bobby Frank after he has damaged her door and given her a serious fright. From there, I imagined her childhood and past attachment to Bobby.


Q: How was the novel’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: I Never Do This was drafted as a short story, which went through a series of uninspired titles over the course of numerous revisions ("Now I Know," "Common Cause," "On the Way Out," to name a few).


Once the novel got underway, I understood that Bobby Frank’s appearance represents more than a chance disruption of LaDene’s routine.


He breaks her out of a holding pattern in which she has kept her head down, in a state of denial, for the past decade: She never talked about the past, never complained, and never got her hopes up for a better life. Before our eyes, in the novel, she’s suddenly doing all of those things; she’s doing “This.”


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: The kidnapping and assault of Mr. Rutherford were in the original short story version, and I always meant to keep them as the novel developed. Those incidents remain much as I initially drafted them but are now set in a deeper context. So, yes, I had the ending from the beginning.


The challenge came in building a sufficiently meaningful personal history for LaDene and Bobby in hopes the reader could care about them, in spite of the bad things they do.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I'm planning a sequel to I Never Do This that will cover some of the same ground from Bobby's point of view, while also giving a fuller perspective on the Howell clan and their generations in Appalachian Ohio.


I'm also excited that Sibylline Press wants to reissue Our Orbit, my previous self-published novel. It's a prequel of sorts, in that it takes place in a similar small town of the same region and addresses several of the same social issues: addictions, religious fundamentalism, spiritual abuse, and reproductive rights.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I'm hoping to revamp a novel I wrote back in the early 2000s about a Kosovar refugee who makes her way to the United States — very different from the regional fiction I've been working on. And would also like to pull some of my recent essays into a collection.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb


  1. Fabulous Anesa! Thanks Deborah. This just released book is available wherever books are sold and also at the website this month for a special launch price.

  2. Thank you, Deborah! I appreciate your interest )))))))