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An Interview with Rebecca Miller, Author of Touch

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Rebecca Miller is a twenty-five-time award-winning author known for her sweeping debut novel Touch, a story about a fragile young relationship between two teens that boldly addresses a critical issue in society while also reminding us of the goodness that remains in the world.

Rebecca began her journey with these characters as a teen herself with a broad interest in psychology. She started penning their story later in life when their voices became too loud to keep quiet.

Rebecca’s path to becoming an author is unique, having been shaped by an early education setback that deprived her of the ability to read for a significant portion of her childhood. This challenge subsequently diminished any initial inclination she may have had toward writing. However, when the characters from Touch unexpectedly invaded her head one day with their compelling message, she recognized that failure was not an option. Allowing their story to unfold in her mind for over a decade, she finally put pen to paper in November 2005, despite lacking any prior writing experience. After a journey marked by learning curves, challenges, rejections, and an unwavering commitment to the belief that hard work, patience, and persistence would ultimately lead to success, she finally published Touch independently in April of 2021.

The entire process, from conception to publication, spanned a twenty-nine-year period, culminating in international recognition and widespread critical acclaim.

You can buy Touch here.

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

The characters in Touch were the sole catalysts for my desire to write. Despite the significant challenges and frustrations I faced while refining my craft to tell their story, it’s impossible for me to envision my life without their presence. Writing has since become an integral part of my existence, and I am grateful for the transformative impact these characters have had on all aspects of my life.

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

While many authors highlight their significant higher education degrees, my academic journey peaked with an associate’s degree in social work, a qualification I did not extensively pursue. My professional path has taken diverse turns, encompassing roles as a behavioral specialist, direct care worker in various group home settings, daycare director, photographer, realtor, and even a house cleaner.

A fascinating detail about me, which I hope isn’t apparent to my readers, is that I was born without a sense of smell. Throughout my entire life, I have never experienced the sensation of smelling anything. Considering the pivotal role smell plays in crafting a rich story, I hope to have effectively concealed my complete lack of this sensory perception.

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

Crafting the title proved to be one of the most challenging pieces of the book’s puzzle and was one of the last to fall into place. I experimented with various working titles over the years, but none quite captured the essence of my message. Ultimately, I settled on “Touch” due to its dual significance, symbolizing both the best and worst of human nature.

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

The idea for the cover also came to me late in the process. After determining that I wanted an actual chalk drawing, I had to search for an artist capable of bringing my vision to life. Having already taken so many leaps of faith throughout the journey, I took another and opted for someone with only two years of drawing experience. To my amazement, the finished piece turned out to be exactly what I had envisioned. The actual 18″ x 24″ artwork sits on an easel in my home.

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

Along with my inability to read growing up, I also had an aversion to music. Fortunately, that changed as I got older, but it was still well into my writing journey that I uncovered the profound impact of music and its ability to enhance creativity. My relationship with music continues to evolve, and my playlist is now filled with songs many will find familiar.

Here are some tracks from my writing playlist:

Most of Pearl Jam’s “Ten” album

Several songs by Adam Lambert, including “Whataya Want From Me” and “Underneath…”

“Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails

“Wildflowers” by Tom Petty

“The Climb” by Miley Cyrus

“Arms” by Christina Perri (I’ve searched forever for the perfect male cover of this song)

Several songs by David Cook

“See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth

“Demons” by Imagine Dragons

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

“I’ll Stand By You” by the Pretenders

“Take Me With You” by Trading Voices

“I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty

“Make You Feel My Love” (the Adele version)

“A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri

“I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain

And the list goes on…

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

My goal is not only to raise awareness about a little-known but widespread issue affecting youth males but also to inspire people to believe in their own abilities and recognize that we all have a purpose.

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

The most rewarding part of publishing my book is, without a doubt, receiving messages from survivors expressing the positive impact the story had on them. Following closely is hearing from individuals who describe a noticeable shift within themselves after finishing it.

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

While I’m uncertain if a sequel to Touch is the right decision, I have several drafts in the works. I wish I could say I write more than I do, but marketing Touch consumes so much of my energy that it has been somewhat on the back burner.

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.