Miri C. Golden is the author of Land of Perpetual Night (one of my favourite books last year /Nils), and her new book, All That’s Left Behind, was released only just recently. We are delighted that she agreed to answer a few questions for us.
Q1. In your author bio, you mention a sexy husband, horrible monsters, and working in the art business – outside of writing. What can you share about yourself that isn’t in the bio? I believe you’ve been working as a photographer, and I think I’ve seen you mention doing your own covers? You’re a creative person?
A1. Hey Nils! Thanks so much for this opportunity to chat. Yes, I’ve run a fine-art photography company for almost a decade now, specializing in weddings and events. Art and the act of creating is integral to my life. For me, it’s therapeutic, if not cathartic. I’m a maker—if I’m not making something, I feel unproductive and unsatisfied.
What can I share about myself that’s not in my bio… Hmm. I was raised in a martial arts studio run by my father. He taught TAI, the system designed by the late and great David German, which emphasizes ground fighting and joint manipulations. So I spent years having my ass handed to me by corn-fed men who outweighed me by a hundred pounds. Prior to having children, I worked as an electrician. I have fond memories of those days, but I don’t miss running two-inch rigid conduit on hot commercial roofs in the middle of August. At all.
Q2. Why did you choose to produce and publish your books yourself?
A2. One word: joy.
If I’m not experiencing joy from the act of creating, there’s no point in it for me. My work is sh!t when it’s not born from a place of joy. And the fastest way to eviscerate my joy is to put constraints on my creativity. Producing and publishing my own content leaves the creative control completely in my hands, allowing me to cultivate that joy.
Q3. The description for (prequel) Land of Perpetual night says that the Empire of Ash (previously named Blood Forest) was due to be published in its entirety in 2020, but in the end that didn’t happen. It’s safe to say that last year made a mess of a whole lot of things. How did this affect your creativity, and how did you deal with it? Have you been able to keep writing? Also, kittens?
A3. Hahaha. 2020 can suck my [REDACTED]. 2020 was NOT a good year to earn a living photographing weddings. Production costs derailed my original release schedule, along with wildfires that gutted my community, but the upheaval didn’t affect my creativity. I wrote four novels last year—that work kept me sane.
Yes! Kitties! We have two heathen cats who rule our house now. So far, they’ve destroyed every single houseplant, ate an oil painting, broken a half-dozen glass picture frames, and deprived us nightly of sleep. But their chubby bellies and purrs more than make up for their knavery.
Q4. Your most recent book, All That’s Left Behind, was just released. The main character, Troa Travay is an ex-ranger on a mission. What can you tell us about her? Who is she, and why should we care?
A4. Troa is one of those top-of-their-class, outstanding young leaders—who absolutely f*cked up their life with a series of bad decisions born of overconfidence. Now, she’s hellbent on righting her mistakes. While she checks all the boxes for a Strong Female Character, she’s also vulnerable and nurturing—a multi-faceted woman…kinda like we are in real life, ya know?
Q5. Indeed. There’s more than one side to a person and their thoughts, feelings, and emotions play a big part in giving them substance and depth. One way of showing that is through their relationships to other characters in the story. At the same time, there are often requests for fantasy without any romance. How do you feel about this? Is there a conflict there? What’s your approach to romantic and other character relations in your stories?
A5. I’ll let you in on a little secret. For every one reader who doesn’t want romance in a story, there’s five ready to throw money at a book that delivers just that. The romance genre is a multi-billion-dollar market that dwarfs all other genre sales. I think that speaks for itself.
That said, I can totally respect someone not wanting romance in their story. Different strokes for different folks. I’m not going to judge someone for their preferences.
As to my approach to romance… In real life, I am not a romantic—at all. Mushiness makes me feel awkward, and I abhor drama and angst. But I eat that sh!t for breakfast when it comes to books. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s a way to explore a part of myself I’m not in touch with. I dunno.
In my own work, my romance plots always boil down to one-true-loves, but I try my best to showcase the human condition in my characters’ relationships, and I make my couples work through their sh!t. Really, we’re all messy people with issues, misconceptions, imperfect communication, and unfulfilled dreams. A relationship between two people is simply (or not so simply) the balancing of all that baggage. Imagine a pair of broken chairs with only two legs each. Neither can stand on their own, but if you lean them against each other, they can support each other and stay upright.
That’s how I write relationships.
Q6.One thing I noticed is that while your books deal with both violence and sexual situations, there’s nothing gratuitous about it – rather the opposite. It’s messy, dirty, and unpleasant. There’s the situation with Penji, and there’s the main character of your story in the From the Shadows anthology. Would you like to expand on that a little?
A6. Well, I do write gratuitous, “pretty” love-making scenes, but the reader has to go on the journey to get there. I think unpretty sex adds an element of authenticity to a story, but I also use it as a contrast to love-making.
In my own life, I have to be emotionally invested in someone to be sexually attracted to them. I think it’s called demisexuality and falls on the Asexual spectrum. So, for me, there’s a HUGE distinction between sex-without-emotional-investments and love-making—where feelings are cultivated. Obviously, my own experiences shade my writing.
Why put unpretty sex in a book? Sex is as common and human as eating or sleeping, and I think it’s disingenuous to represent it in only one fashion. Sometimes sex sucks. Sometimes it’s disappointing. Sometimes it’s freakin’ ah-mazing with fireworks, rose-colored glasses, and happily ever afters.
In Land of Perpetual Night, Troa has sex for the first time with Penji—a fellow ranger she has no emotional investment in. It’s a disappointing (and unexciting) experience for her, and she sleeps with him for all the wrong reasons.
In The Menagerie (From the Shadows) Divinity Day deals with erectile dysfunction. I thought it humanized him—IMO, every villain benefits from being humanized. Here we have one of the most powerful men in the world, who can destroy countless lives, manipulate state media, and craft a false narrative the entire world falls for…but he struggles to get his d!ck up for a tumble at a brothel. I genuinely felt bad for him while I wrote that scene.
In All That’s Left Behind, we start to tread into the love-making territory, but again, I make my couples work for that payoff.
Q7. And a few quick questions:
What’s your favorite…
…book, in recent times?
I’m still hung up on JD Evans’ Reign and Ruin. No fantasy book has topped that for me in the last year. Outside of the fantasy genre, Philip Drew: Administrator has definitely set up shop in my head.
…game, in recent times?
I don’t do video games—between motion sickness and loss of productivity, they just don’t appeal to me. I do, however, enjoy board games. Settlers of Catan is a perennial favorite.
Get a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style (for US writers) and the Grammar Bible, then stay the f*ck out of online writing groups that pass around awful writing advice in meme form. Finally, write the story that YOU want to read.
…advice for someone who wants to publish their own book?
Do your due diligence when outsourcing work. Not all editors, proofreaders, and designers are aboveboard. Also, Scrivener and Adobe Creative Suite are your best friends. Learn them.
…source of inspiration?
My inspiration comes from many places: art, music, people, history…sometimes even dreams. In the Empire of Ash series, I drew from Ancient Sumerian and Babylonian societies and mythology, and all my work has elements of Judaism sprinkled throughout.
…way to clear your mind when everything gets a bit much?
I take a long, hard bike ride 5-6 days a week, where I listen to a carefully curated playlist and plot my next scene. The exercise bolsters my endorphins, and getting lost in my stories calm my nerves and soothes my spirit.
Q8. Do you have any last words?
A8. “My loyalties will not be bound by national borders, or confined in time by one nation’s history, or limited in the spiritual dimension by one language and culture. I pledge my allegiance to the damned human race, and my everlasting love to the green hills of Earth, and my intimations of glory to the singing stars, to the very end of space and time.” —Edward Abbey Confessions of a Barbarian
Books by Miri C. Golden:
Reviewed by Uncharted Library:
Connect with Miri C. Golden here: