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An Interview with Miriam Ilgenfritz, Author of Letters to Emily

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Miriam Ilgenfritz is the mother of sixteen children. She has written several books: The Ties that Bind, a humorous look at life in a large family, and Letters to Emily, an unconventional historical romance, both of which have won awards, and now Emily’s Story, the sequel to Letters to Emily, and has run one half marathon.

She earned degrees in cross-cultural communication and elementary education and lives on a small farm in central Pennsylvania with her husband, her unmarried children, and various farm friends including a small pack of basset hounds.

Miriam is excited about writing good clean fiction for entertainment and encouraging women who wonder if reaching the 60s means life is over, that it is definitely not.

When she is not running, reading, or writing, she is usually ankle-deep in laundry. And because she is a woman who writes, she has a cat to supervise her work.

You can buy Miriam’s books and learn more here.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I wanted to write ever since I can remember. When I was nine I wrote my first book—on tigers. Served nothing else except to make my family chuckle but once my kids started to grow up, I resurrected that vision and began taking classes and writing.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have been an office manager for an electrical contractor, and I have been a breeder of basset hounds and golden retrievers but my favorite accomplishment is giving birth and raising (almost done) sixteen children.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

My first fiction (Letters to Emily) was not that easy. It had several titles while I was writing it. But by the end of the rough draft, it seemed pretty obvious.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

It felt pretty amazing. But the two that came after felt equally amazing.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

My favorite writing music is Nickle Creek. Most songs from any of their albums would be on a soundtrack. Can’t explain that one, it just is.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I love history and I would hope my readers take away a sense of how the world was in 1798.

If they read The Ties That Bind, I would hope they get a picture of the fun side of life with sixteen kids.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

Seeing it in print, holding it in my hands when it was hot off the press—but mostly having folks call and ask “When are you writing another?”

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I’m currently taking a class in writing cozy mysteries because I like to experiment with new genres. I am also in the middle of a piece of memoir about growing up the child of medical missionaries in the Congo (in the 60s) and I have a children’s picture book in the works in collaboration with my artist daughter. There are always new things to learn and try in the writing world.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below.