OK readers. It is that time again, so please sit back with your favorite cup of coffee as we learn about Erica Miner. Today we will be talking about her writing and life in general.
I was lucky enough to read one of your novels entitled FourEver Friends. Why don’t you start off by telling us a little about this novel?
FourEver Friends tells the story of four young girls in a high school for gifted students who bond over their mutual love for classical music and are committed to helping each other navigate the turbulent waters of adolescence. Forbidden loves and jealousies sometimes threaten to interfere with their friendship, but they always remain loyal and true to each other.
In this story, the main story revolves around Jessica Rowe and her years at Lewis Tech and is set in Detroit in 1960. Is there a reason you picked this time frame as well as this city?
We are in a period now of renewed interest in this volatile decade. Baby Boomers are looking back with nostalgia to the era of their youth, and their children and grandchildren are showing keen curiosity about those times. With a young, energetic new president leading us through the present tumultuous times, those who lived through the 60s are reminded of a former dynamic young leader, John F. Kennedy, who symbolized the promise of hope for a new generation. For these reason, I felt that now was the best time to put forth this novel. I picked Detroit because that is the city of my birth, and the place where I experienced my formative years.
The way Lewis Tech is described as well as the teachers was an amazing depiction with tons of details. What made you use this school as the focal point within this novel?
Lewis Tech is a fictional name for the high school I attended from age 13 through 17. Being a student there was an unforgettable experience, and I wanted to share the joys of my experience with the world-at-large. With its ethnic diversity, high academic standards, and opportunities it provided for the students to specialize in their own areas of special interest, the school was unique and remains so. For example, some graduates of the Music Department were proficient enough to become members of the Detroit Symphony right out of high school – that is extraordinary. Most of all, I formed the three most important friendships of my life during those years at the school. The four of us remain the closest of friends to this day.
Usually when we read about Detroit in the 1960’s there is another kind of prejudice going on. However, I found that with Jessica, her family was prejudice against her boyfriend because he was from Germany. Was there any motive behind this set up when you wrote out the plot?
You must remember that in the early 1960s the racial riots of 1967 had not yet taken place. My recollection of growing up there, and especially going to a school that was comprised of students from every neighborhood in the city, was that friendships were formed from common bonds and not necessarily from similarity of racial or ethnic backgrounds. However, you should also keep in mind that 1960 was a mere 15 years after the end of World War II. The memory of the holocaust was very fresh in people’s minds, especially those who came from a Jewish background as I did. We were keenly aware of our own parents’ bias against anyone who reminded them of the painful experiences of that war. And we were expected to “stick to our own kind” – as the musical “West Side Story” so cogently put it.
I heard that you were able to visit the high school where the story takes place. Did you want to mention anything about what went on at this event?
I arranged to do a book-signing event for FourEver Friends on the same night as the annual spring orchestra concert at the school. One of the groups I had participated in when I was a student, the all-female Harp and Vocal Ensemble, performed several numbers in conjunction with my reading from the book, and the school’s Alumni Association organized a social gathering after the concert. It was an honor and a privilege for me to participate in an event with these remarkably talented young students, and the atmosphere of love for music and for the school was an inspiration to me.
One of the biggest strains, at least of what I saw, that Jessica had is with her hormones. With the way the economy is today I have to say reading about a girl on the brink of womanhood preaching about abstinence was very refreshing. Were you expecting Jessica to be this innocent throughout the story and yet also have the struggles she does with her body’s wants and needs?
Again, this story takes place before the sexual revolution of the later 60s and 70s. Young girls were taught to “save” themselves for marriage, partly because of the ethics of the times and partly because if they got into “trouble” there was simply no way out. But that’s only one aspect of the difficulties of adolescence and of dealing with the realities of burgeoning young adulthood. The repercussions of a young person’s becoming sexually active before he or she is mature enough are not only physical but emotional. That has always been one of the immense challenges of being a teenager. And that will never change. Jessica represents the conflict between her upbringing and the normal physical desires of a girl her age. I was hoping to show that continuous struggle as a hugely important aspect of her character. She remains “innocent” – but her actions and feelings also provoke the reader into wondering about how she reconciles her motivations and her own psychological complexities.
On your website, there is a mention of you being a native of Detroit and also attending Boston University. Is any part of FourEver Friends based on your life when you were in school?
Yes, as I mentioned above, the school and the four friends were largely based on my own experiences. But the beauty of fiction is that only the author knows for sure what is real and what is embellished. :-)
Do you have any other websites? For example, MySpace, Facebook, etc.
Yes, I am on Facebook
The way the book ended was almost a cliffhanger, or at least could be considered a life-changing event that ends before we can see what happens. Can you tell the readers whether you will be writing any more stories about these four girls? Will you have any other characters, such as Gunter or Alan in the next book?
FourEver Friends was originally intended as the first in a series of novels chronicling the coming of age and journey into adulthood of these four young girls. As of this date I have written the next four novels in the series. The girls will remain best of friends, even though they gradually find themselves becoming separated by miles. Gunter, and especially Alan, will remain integral characters in the story. The girls’ journeys will include their love lives and their professional lives. I have also written the screenplay of the first novel, which is now being marketed by my Manager in Los Angeles. My hope is to bring enough attention to FourEver Friends to be able to convince a publisher to sign on for the series. The next novel takes place in Boston, and the times will become more interesting and definitely more volatile as the story progresses!
I was noticing the different books and screenplays you have written. While some of the books do revolve around the music industry, others do not. Can you tell us if you have a favorite genre that you have written? What about a genre you will not write about?
I tend to gravitate toward stories of friendship, music, and love. To me those are the things that make the world go ‘round. That said my next novel which will be published by Twilight Times Books in May of 2010, is a murder mystery that takes place at the Metropolitan Opera. Very different, to say the least! But I love writing in all genres, as my list of screenplays will attest, with the exception of science fiction and horror.
Your bio mentions that you were a violinist until you sustained some injuries. After that is when you turned to writing. Even with your musical background, have you always wanted to be a writer?
Actually, I started writing even before I played the violin. As a grade school student in Detroit, I was placed in a special after-school program in creative writing when I was 7 years old. Someone must have recognized that spark in me. I started journaling when I was 13 and kept writing throughout my life, taking writing classes during my off seasons of the opera. So writing has always been a passion for me.
One more question I like to ask all of my interviewees. In keeping with the Coffee Time Romance theme, if you were to be described as a cup of coffee, what flavor would you be and why?
Cappuccino – it’s creamy, light and delicious!
Thank you for responding to all of my questions. I enjoyed learning all about you and the exciting life you have led. FourEver Friends is available through Nightengale Press or check out Erica’s website for more details.