Hi, everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying this blog series as much as I am. When I put the request out there for the interviews, I had no idea how fascinating these folks would be. Initially, I just wanted to shed some light on local talent. Being a new author, I know how difficult it is to break into the market. You can work your tail off and barely scratch the surface. It’s a never-ending challenge. You have to toot your own horn so much that your cheeks end up with a permanent blush from the countless times you’ve embarrassed yourself. So, I figured I could toot a few horns for others and have been blessed in the process.
Today, I welcome Ronda Miller, author of MoonStain, a collection of poetry.
Ronda! Welcome and thank you for being willing.
R: Thank you!
So you grew up in Kansas, is that right?
R: I grew up in North Western Kansas close to The Arikaree Breaks.
But you weren’t born here?
R: No. I was born in Ft. Collins, Colorado and lived in Georgia for a short time when I was around 6 months old. I then lived in Loveland, Durango, Golden, Ft. Morgan, and Denver, Colorado. I moved to Kansas once my grandparents adopted me, and my sister, when I was 7.
I’ve been to Colorado. It’s lovely there. How old were you when your interest in writing began?
R: I knew very early on. My uncle taught me to read and spell when I went to live with him at age three following the death of my mother. He taught me a love for rhyme and lyrics via nursery rhymes and songs which served to fire my love of writing poetry and prose.
I was trying hard to not be nosy when you mentioned the many places you lived prior to being adopted by your grandparents. But now, I can’t resist. May I ask how long you lived with you uncle?
R: My uncle died a couple of years after I went to live with him and my aunt. He was in his mid 40’s when he passed quickly.
I’m sorry to hear that.
R: Thank you. I did get to tell him I loved him and to say goodbye. Those have both been extremely important to me.
So you moved after he passed away?
R: No. After his death, my sister and I continued living with my aunt for a year. Then my dad took (amber alert before there was a name for it) us to live with him for about a year while the Kansas and Colorado court systems, and my maternal grandparents, battled over our custody. At some point, my sister and brother and I were taken to foster homes in Golden, Colorado until the court system ruled my sister and I were to live with my grandparents in Kansas. They subsequently adopted us.
Where was your mom during all this?
R: I lost my mother to suicide when I was three.
Oh my goodness. Your challenges began very early on.
R: Yes. Losing my mother, subsequent trauma from being separated from my brother and father, living in a variety of homes, then the homicide of my father.
I’m certain I know the answer, but have your ever written about these events?
R: Yes, many of my poems deal with loss. I have written several poems about my mother’s suicide. My books of poetry, Going Home: Poems from My Life, and especially MoonStain, discuss my mother’s death. I had not written about my father’s death until just recently.
In what way did you write about it?
R: It’s a poem.
So poetry is your genre of preference?
R: I currently write narrative poetry as it suits my early interest in writing. It can, but doesn’t insist on, rhyme.
After what you’ve shared, I can see how you’re drawn to poetry. Have you written in any other genre?
R: Initially I wrote short stories. As my life became busier and busier, my mind automatically switched to poetry as a creative release. Narrative poetry seems the most similar to writing short stories. I still enjoy writing prose and have found I can and do incorporate poetry into it. I guess I always have combined the two. I remember writing short stories in creative writing classes while attending KU where I used short descriptive poems as a lead in to my stories.
If you don’t mind me asking… After experiencing the loss of your parents to such tragedies like suicide and homicide, did you struggle or succumb to self-harm in any form?
R: I began experiencing symptoms of extreme trauma early on. There were some common items such as age regressive behaviors. There was a time when I didn’t talk. I lived in a fantasy world (I guess I still do to an extent via writing). I remember having suicidal ideology at age 7 when I first went to live with my grandparents. I’ve experienced it since that time. But because I have lived with such impulses for such a long time, I’m aware of them but do not feel the need to act on them.
That’s good! You experienced more as a child than many do in a lifetime, but you’ve really just… handled it! What was the driving force that helped you through it all?
R: It helped a great deal to have my sister with me throughout. I don’t know how I would have survived had I gone through everything alone. I’ve felt driven most of my life, the thought of reconnecting with my mother is certainly a driving and hopeful force. Also, nature helped me heal – the beauty of the high plateau.
So your writing, your poetry is your coping mechanism?
R: Yes, life saving in fact.
Can you explain how it helps you?
R: It enables me to put many of the emotions I have into words. Over time I’ve found writing about my experiences has helped me make some sense of them. It helps me through the release that sharing of ourselves through language provides. More recently, I view my story and life experiences as evolving; changing subtly.
Wow, Ronda. Your story takes my breath away. I want to keep asking more questions, but instead, I’m going to change gears.
Are you working on something right now?
R: I am doing a rewrite and editing of a novel I wrote the month of November in 2009.
Awesome! What’s it about?
R:It’s called, The Girl Who Lives in a Glass Bowl. It’s about a blogger who lives in Fresco, Colorado. The story is told through the eyes of the blogger as well as through the eyes of a couple and their young son. So four individual viewpoints and voices are taking turns telling their perception of the main event the story revolves around. There is a creek in the novel – it also gives its perspective of the event. I’m also working toward completing my memoir: Gun Memories of the Stone-Eyed Cold Girl.
Both sound intriguing. I love the titles. Both of them incite a picture in my mind. When will it be released?
R: I’m hoping it will release early in 2016.
Who’s your favorite author?
R: I have always loved Edgar Allen Poe and Walt Whitman, but D. H. Lawrence is the author I most identity with in writing style and personality.
Whew! All heavy writers as well! Now, I’m going to ask some light questions if that’s okay.
Chocolate or vanilla?
R: I can’t stand white chocolate, but I do prefer vanilla ice cream over chocolate if it has hot fudge on top.
I can get with your reasoning, lol! Coffee or tea?
R: I enjoy both throughout the day for varied reasons. Tea can be such a mood changer with different scents and herbs.
Hot breakfast or cold?
R: My favorite breakfast these days is buttered toast with jalapeño jelly, and a fried egg cooked medium over the top.
Okay. I’ve suddenly been hearing about jalapeño jelly at work, on Facebook, and now here. I love my peppers so I’m going to have to try it!
Dessert before or after your meal?
R: Dessert after every meal is ideal. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount, but having it seems to be a mid western habit that’s tough to break!
Never was a truer statement made. It’s nearly impossible to break that habit! Thank you, Ronda, for everything!
R: Thank you!
Ways to connect with Ronda: