Chicago author Michael B. Miller’s novel, When My Season Comes II is about a young African American man and his family who experienced many problems in life. This book confronts issues of racism and sexual identity. “I hope this novel will inspire you to never give up on your dreams or anything you want in life,” said Michael Miller.
Recently PrideIndex chatted with Michael B. Miller, a Creative Writing Instructor who has worked in education for about 30 years. He shared the skinny about his writing influences, what he advises his students to do, and more.
PrideIndex (PI): Tell me about yourself and the journey that has brought you to where you are today.
Michael Miller (MM): I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. I attended John Marshall High School on the west side of Chicago. I’ve always enjoyed journalism and always wanted to be a journalist. I’ve enjoyed public speaking since high school and elementary school. In elementary school, I was the eighth-grade class president and emcee for our eighth-grade graduation. So, I knew that it would be the dream that I would focus on; something in broadcasting or the entertainment industry. I have been writing all my life. I’ve written articles for newspapers, such as North Lawndale News, The Defender, and a Malcolm X Press newspaper, which I worked with for a few years. I currently have six books published, which is my focus.
PI: Let’s talk about your first book; when and where were you first published? What was the title of that first book?
MM: I published it in 2015, and the book title is “When My Season Comes.” It is a fiction novel that centers on a young African American brother and his family and the many trials and tribulations they face. I wrote that book in church. Church had gotten to be very boring to me. So, I created a book centered around stories in the Bible that I reset in a modern setting. My book, “When My Season Comes,” is not about the changing of the seasons but is about when your time comes to be blessed and receive a change for the better in your life.
PI: So, there are themes around religion and spirituality? Because that’s what automatically comes to mind when I hear “when my season comes.”
MM: Yeah, yeah, there’s a lot of it centered around religion, not necessarily the main character, but his family.
PI: What is your latest project? What is your latest book?
MM: The latest book I’ve written is “The Skin Game.” Published in 2020. The title comes from a song by Janet Jackson, whom I’ve always loved. The song was a B-side from her 1990 single, “Come Back to Me,” from the “Rhythm Nation 1814” album. “The Skin Game,” both the song and the book, are about racism and colorism in the African American community. The book also deals with our history as African people. It’s a great read. It’s an excellent book, and I hope readers will learn much from it. It’s a history book; it speaks a lot about religion, its origins, and the truth about religion. It’s very cultural and incredibly spiritual.
PI: Any plans on publishing sometime in the near future?
MM: Yeah, but you know, it costs money. It costs quite a bit of money to publish a book. And I like to publish with reputable publishing companies. A lot of people self-publish their books. I prefer things to be very professional. Publishers supply you with marketing materials. Not only do I like things to be professional, but I also want to have a professional presentation. So, to answer your question, I am looking at writing another book set during the Coronavirus pandemic.
PI: Your influences and the themes cover a large spectrum. What themes do you prefer more, and what is your preference between fiction and nonfiction?
MM: It varies. It’s probably because I like to be truthful when I talk about them. But I also like fiction because of the freedom to be creative. So, it’s about even for me.
PI: Who are some of your artistic influences?
MM: Great question. E. Lynn Harris was my first one. Are you familiar with E. Lynn Harris?
PI: I am. Yes.
MM: “Anyway the Wind Blows” by E. Lynn Harris was one of my favorite books. What an excellent book. As I wrote “When My Season Comes II,” I was inspired by “Anyway the Wind Blows” because it has many of the same themes regarding being gay. My main character in “When My Season Comes II” is bisexual. Another of my influences is Tyler Perry for what he could do with his plays. When I first saw “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” I couldn’t believe what I was watching. I also wrote my book because I want it to become a play. Toni Morrison is also an influence of mine.
PI: You went the traditional route with publishing. Would you ever consider something nontraditional?
MM: It has to be professional. I have very high standards. It has to be quality work. It has to be the very best coming from me. The turnout was not that great when I did my first book signing. When I did my first book, I was working at Malcolm X College. The school deans came around and looked at my presentation setup, and they said they were very impressed. This was due to the professionalism of the setup. The publishing company provides postcards and poster boards and even chooses the cover art for you if you want them to. I always choose my colors and pay extra for them. Because I get a graphic designer to do the cover for me, and I supply my own cover. I don’t let the publisher choose the cover because the covers they provide tend to be too generic, and I prefer a more colorful cover.
PI: You mentioned Malcolm X College. Do you currently work in education?
MM: Yes, I do. I currently have been working in education for almost 30 years. I worked at Malcolm X College a first, second, and third time, totaling an approximation of 17 years. I left Malcolm X in 2017. I have currently been with Harold Washington College for almost six years. This is my third time with Harold Washington College. I’ve been in education for close to 30 years. I enjoy giving back, and when I become successful, I will give back as much as possible.
PI: You are a professor of the writing of…what discipline?
MM: You would call me a Professor of Creative Writing.
PI: What is the one thing you tell your Creative Writing students to do regarding writing?
MM: Write the way they feel. Write what’s in your heart. Only write what people tell you to write. Write what’s in your heart. When you’re feeling something, write that on paper. And if you put that on paper, someone will appreciate it because it’s coming from your heart. It may not necessarily be what someone wants to hear, but when you’re writing from your heart when they read it, they know who you are as a person.
PI: Tell me something about yourself that many people don’t know.
MM: Many people may not know that I dated women early in my life. And I had a child at 19. He’s now 35 years old. Not too many people know that. They first ask if he is my biological child when I tell them. They get confused because I’m gay. I told them yes; he was my biological child, and I was 19 when he was born.
PI: What are you doing on a random Saturday night when you aren’t teaching writing?
MM: Watching movies; listening to music. Those are things I enjoy. I love traveling. I love doing cardio and enjoy walking. I can walk miles and miles without stopping. I also enjoy cooking. I’m currently looking for a new place: a condominium. The first thing I need is a big kitchen. I enjoy writing because I write a lot. I also enjoy hanging out with my family.
PI: What is your ultimate goal as a writer?
MM: My ultimate goal as a writer is to become a best-selling author. Ultimately, what I want to see happen is to have my books turned into a play like Tyler Perry. I want to become very successful, even a millionaire, someday. I want to be very rich and thriving, honestly. I want to change lives. There are so many things that I want to do with my life. I have so many goals, and all of them are centered around entertainment with creative things.
PI: What is the one thing you want people to retain from your work?
MM: One thing that I would like them to retain is that I’m honest. I can sum it up by saying I’m honest.
PI: How can people find and purchase your books?
MM: My books can be found on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. You can also contact me directly to purchase my book, “When My Season Comes.” I could direct sell you my book for a much more affordable price. My email address is email@example.com. It is the same as the name on my books.