Staying in with John Winn Miller
I adore history and as a result, am delighted that I get to stay in with John Win Miller today to find out all about his debut novel which I think sounds amazing. Let’s dive right in (and I say dive deliberately!) and find out what he told me:
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag John and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
Thanks for inviting me in.
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I’ve brought The Hunt for the Peggy C, my debut novel because it is my dream project—literally. Years ago, I had been watching a terrible movie with my daughter Allison (who now plays Maggie on ABC’s A Million Little Things), and I kept telling her, “I know I can write a better script than this.” That night I had a dream. When I awoke the next day, I knew the first scene, the last scene, and the name of the ship. Nothing else.
Crikey! That’s a bit spooky, tell me more.
I had a regular job as a newspaper editor, so I could only work on the screenplay intermittently. When I retired the first time (a.k.a. took a buyout as publisher), I was determined to write the story. I took a video course, read books on writing scripts, and submitted various drafts to coverage companies and contests. I got some meetings in Hollywood, but no sale. So, I put the script aside, worked on other screenplays and a TV pilot, and produced four indie movies.
You weren’t idle during that time then!
When Covid hit, and my wife Margo and I were stuck at home with our cat and two standard poodles, I decided to turn the screenplay into a novel. After all, I had become a journalist because I wanted to write the great American novel. But I didn’t know how to write, and I had no exciting experiences to write about. Being an investigative reporter and foreign correspondent checked those boxes. Writing a novel, however, is completely different from writing a news story or a screenplay, which I think is more like haiku with short descriptions and little dialogue.