Studioenp: Silence or noise when writing?
Miski: Noise. I often play music when I write. The genre depends on what I am writing. When I first began writing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell I had been inspired by Seal’s A Kiss from a Rose. I sometimes stream a favourite old-school television show like M*A*S*H or Murder She Wrote in the background on my laptop with the volume turned down.
Studioenp: Cool! Do you write under your real name?
Miski: Miski Harris is my pen name. It refers to a pet name my father, grandmother and aunt had for me. I didn’t want to use it so I searched for something similar with a meaning that closely defines me as a person. Miski hits it on the head. Harris is my maiden name. The pen name is a way of paying tribute to those now deceased family members who always encouraged me to live my dreams.
Studioenp: That’s lovely! What’s your latest release?
Miski: My debut release is Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. It’s the story of two men. EJ is a young airman who is betrayed by his lover when they are faced with the possible penalties of discovery in the military. He has thirty days to choose between two paths, each of which will be a life-altering decision.
Dale is a counsellor with a heart for the plight of gay and lesbian military members trying to exist in the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell military closet. He has been betrayed by his lover as they are establishing their clinic in California. He moves to Sayville, where he is successful in building his clinic but not quite so successful in rebuilding his life.
Studioenp: Sounds fab! How did the plot come about for it?
Miski: I am prior military. I was in the Air Force during the time when it was a crime to be LGBTQ. My heart broke for my friends who couldn’t enjoy the same romantic freedoms I had taken for granted. Over the years the multiple experiences I witnessed both in and out of the military stayed in my heart until some of my favorite mentors encouraged me to write it.
Studioenp: Thank goodness times have changed. How long did it take you to write it?
Miski: As of release day it will be a year from outline to release. Amy Wasp-Winberger challenged me to participate in NaNoWriMo last year. By then I had sketched out the rough beginnings of Dale and EJ’s story and I pressed on.
Studioenp: Yay for pressing on! What’s next on your writing list?
Miski: Collateral Damage. As I was completing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Jordan Washington, a minor character began talking to me. (Yes, I talk to my characters.) He reminded me that the initial stimuli behind my story had been left behind. Hence the title Collateral Damage and Jordan’s Story.
Studioenp: Brilliant! Are you a plotter or panster?
Miski: Now that I have looked these up, I would say I’m a combination of the two. I start out with a planned sketch but I let the story write itself. I’m not fast but when I am done the story says everything I want it to say. I used this method all through college and it always worked well for me.
Studioenp: Whatever works for you is the best thing to do. What is your go-to form of procrastination?
Miski: I read. I beta read for a few authors, I ARC read to write reviews, but when I just can’t get started I pick up my NOOK and read something new or re-read something that’s a favourite.
Studioenp: Reading is the best! How many hours per week do you write?
Miski: I honestly don’t know. When I was writing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell I would write before and after work, sometimes staying up until after midnight. I carried a notebook so I could jot down something I wanted to remember if I was away from my laptop. I guess my best answer is several hours a day.
Studioenp: Lots of writing time, then. What’s one genre you’ve always wanted to write but haven’t—and will you ever write it?
Miski: I always wanted to write a romance novel and I did. I like believability in fiction. (Is that a word?) That said, I would someday like to write my biography as a novel. People who know me insist I should. Maybe one day I will.
Studioenp: Yes, do it! What’s the best book you’ve written?
Miski: When I was a child I used to write stories in marble composition books. One of them, the story of a girl who became a medical wizard and cured her ailing mother, made my mother cry when she read it. The book I write that garners that kind of response from my readers will be the best book I have ever written.
Studioenp: Aww, that’s so lovely. Thank you so much for being here with us today. Come back again soon!
Dear readers, please help yourself to the doughnuts and the wine over there in the table. Indulge—you know you want to!