Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Conversation 38: Anesa Miller

Welcome back to Clockwork Conversations, everyone! It is my pleasure to introduce you today to Anesa Miller!

So glad to have you with us, please tell us a little about yourself.

AM: I'm a mom of grown children and wife of a scientist who refuses to retire. I'm a gardener and animal-lover. I'm a writer who has published in several different genres: short fiction, long fiction, poetry (both free verse and formal), also non-fiction and a few translations. Lately, I write primarily realistic contemporary fiction.

Q1: You have quite an impressive educational history: including a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures. What set you on a path to that course of study?

AM: In high school, my best friend and I wound up in AP English, and each chose a personal reading list from a foreign literature. I chose Spanish, and she chose Russian. She would pass me notes with quotations from the fascinating books she was reading, like The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. To this day, this is one of my favorite passages from any novel—

"Though I do not believe in the order of things, still the sticky little leaves that come out in the spring are dear to me, the blue sky is dear to me…such things you love not with your mind but with your insides, with your guts."
            "You love life more than the meaning of life?"
                   "Certainly. Love it before logic… only then will you understand its meaning."

I felt that my friend had made the more interesting choice. So when I started college and had a chance to study that language and learn about Russian literature, I signed up for those courses right away. "The rest is history," as the saying goes.

Q2: What was it really like, living in Russia as a student? What was the biggest life-lesson you took away from the experience?

AM: I spent the academic year 1983-84 in Moscow, back in the days of the "Evil Empire," when Russian-American relations were not so good. I was married to my first husband, and we were both graduate students. We had a 3-year-old daughter that we, of course, took with us for our year abroad. Well, caring for a small child was very difficult under the notorious conditions of that time: shortages of consumer goods, long lines in the stores, few prepared foods, crowded public transportation, and so on. 

As foreigners, we enjoyed some privileges, such as access to imported products, that locals did not have, but this was only a small help in the everyday scheme of things. So it was a huge learning experience for an American who had never known those difficulties. And the bureaucracy—just getting my daughter enrolled in day care was an epic saga! 

I broke down in tears at the children's clinic when I couldn't understand all the paperwork. Thank God, the nurses finally took pity on me and signed the enrollment materials. So I saw a broad range of human nature and learned more about international conflicts than I'd ever dreamed possible.

Q3: Your website says that you are a nature lover. What is your favorite natural environment, and why do you love it there?

AM: I love the state of Ohio (where my novel Our Orbit takes place). I wound up moving there for a job, more or less by chance, but then fell in love with the natural ecosystems. It's one of the greenest states and has many different kinds of beautiful trees and flowers. Moreover, I learned that my family history has deep roots in the Appalachian part of southern Ohio, which is so pretty with all the hills and valleys.

Q4: Given the chance to explore one of the following which would you choose and why: A secluded beach, a deep, cool forest, a mountain region, or a network of underground caves?

AM: Hmm. For relaxing, I'd probably go for the beach, but since you say it's an exploratory venture—definitely the forest. Forests have tremendous diversity and lots of wildlife, which I enjoy. Bird watching is one of my favorite things (not the fanatical kind, just seeing and appreciating our feathered friends), and I love woodland animals like foxes and deer.

Q5: *bonus question for everyone* Do you collect anything? If so, why?

AM: I don't think of it as collecting, per se, but I do love to purchase unique items from local crafters and artists when I have a chance. I've got a number of handmade baskets in my kitchen, several hand-thrown cups, and some nice beadwork. I like to shop direct from the maker at fairs and markets. It feels like win-win for everyone.


That is a fascination we share, Anesa, as I LOVE art fairs and buying things from makers when I have the chance : )

Thank you so much for being our guest today.

You can learn more about Anesa Miller and her writing by visiting her at: