Maryann Miller is an award-winning author of numerous books, screenplays and stage plays. She is also a freelance editor and script doctor, and is the Theatre Director at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts. Her short story collection, The Wisdom of Ages, is available as an e-book and paperback. In addition, she has written several other books: Play It Again, Sam, a woman’s novel; Open Season, the first book in a new mystery series that features two women homicide detectives in Dallas; a suspense novel, One Small Victory; and a young adult novel, Friends Forever. All are available as e-books and in paper.
Where does your passion for writing come from?
My passion for writing has always been stirred by things that happen in society that bother me, such as prejudice and injustice or the horribly unfair things that happen to people. Even before I thought about creating stories, I always worked through issues by writing about them.
If your passion for writing was a color, what color would it be and why?
The color of my passion would probably be red. People joke about seeing red when they are angry about something, and I think that applies to me. The social issues I am prodded to write about usually do make me angry; a woman being dumped by her husband, a gay man who isn’t accepted by his father, the unfair use of deadly force by police officers, and any other form of discrimination.
How do you keep the passion burning in your relationship with storytelling?
I don’t have to do much to keep the passion burning, I just need to make myself sit and write when the fire is hot, so to speak. Like so many others, I write because I can’t NOT write, so there is always something inside me prodding, “Get to the keyboard, get to the keyboard.”
Excerpt from The Wisdom of Ages
AUTHOR’S NOTE: this story was inspired when my husband and I were on a road trip, and I saw an old black man sitting under a tree watching the cars go by. The story was one of those rare gifts from my muse, and came to me in one great rush that needed little rewrite or editing. The story placed third in the Page Edward’s Short Fiction contest in 2004.
Samson sat in the meager shade of the small Mimosa tree that graced his front yard, watching the traffic on old highway 79. Granted, there wasn’t much, but every now and then a shiny new car would pass, heading toward the resort Samson knew was somewhere down the road. Or a car full of teenagers would zoom by, the boys laughing and tossing their empties out the window. And as many afternoons as he’d spent out here, it never failed to surprise Samson how much things had changed. On a good day he could count up to a hundred cars going by. Times used to be when one donkey cart coming down the road was cause for celebration.
Those had been the good years. The years Samson had worked for Mr. Watson until he’d given Samson this little piece of land for his own. Some folks thought Watson had lost his mind, giving away his land like that, especially to a black man. But Watson had never treated Samson like most white folks did, the ‘good ol’ boy’ routine that never quite covered the slight hesitation as white flesh met black in a handshake. Watson never hesitated as a man or a friend, and the memory creased Samson’s weathered face in a smile.
But the smile wasn’t just for Watson. It was for Molly and those six youngsters who had been so much a part of the goodness of those years. He wished he could have filled their bellies as easily as they’d filled his heart, but they’d never seemed to mind. They’d always laughed the place up, and any occasion, large or small turned into an opportunity for fun. When the peddler came down the road, the pots and pans clanking in time to the clip clop of his horse’s hooves on the dirt road, the children ran out clutching their dimes, eager to see what new toy or sweet the old man had. You’d’ve thought a carnival had come to their front door.
Then all too soon those good years had passed. One by one the youngsters got up and left. Then Molly had, too. Not of her own choice of course. A body has no choice when it comes to dying, so Samson had been alone these past twenty years. Wasn’t too bad though. Once he got used to listening to the radio instead of Molly and learned how to make passable biscuits. But acceptance didn’t dispel the loneliness that crept up on a man in the dark of night, and Samson wondered if he was destined to carry that loneliness to the grave.