This is my second interview with Dineen Miller–The first will be published later this month in the MBT Voices ezine—and I must say, every time I “speak” with her I just want to shout a praise to my Creator. She just exudes this in who she is. I hope you find the same as you read this interview.
God is good!!!
You know, I never know exactly how to answer that question. What if I give the wrong answer? Hee hee…
Okay, seriously. I’m first and foremost, a woman of faith. I live and breathe God. I’ve been married nearly 25 years to the most amazing guy I’ve ever met. I have two grown daughters (18 and 22) who know Jesus and are pursuing their own faith (thank you, God! You are so faithful!). Next year I will acquire a wonderful “son-in-love” who is a strong man of God (thank you again, Lord!).
I’m a graphic designer who dreamed of writing books and designing book covers as a teenager. Now I’m blessed to have done both.
I’m just an ordinary woman who God has deemed useable in His magnificent plan. And it’s been the best adventure of my life so far, and God’s not even done yet!
Though The Soul Saver is your debut fiction novel, you’re no stranger to book publishing, having co-written Winning Him Without Words with Lynn Donovan. What made you take the leap into the world of fiction?
Actually, fiction was my first pursuit. I started writing full-length fiction in 2005, then joined the Spiritually Unequal Marriageministry in 2006, never expecting a book to come out of it. I’d written short stories, poetry and reflections since I was a child and always wanted to write a book, but I soon found out my plans and God’s were not in agreement. LOL! In fact, I remember one day, praying in my kitchen out of frustration that doors kept closing on the latest novel I’d written. I heard God whisper to my heart, “That’s not My plan for you.”
I didn’t want to listen though. I even had a dream at one point that I was published in nonfiction but not fiction. I’m glad God is so patient. He finally got through my stubbornness and wowed me with an even better plan (a.k.a. dream) than I had ever imagined. Now I have the best of both worlds. It’s all Him.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
Oddly enough, I didn’t like to read when I was a child. I don’t think anyone ever gave me a book interesting enough to hold my attention. Until the seventh grade. My English teacher was determined to make a reader out of me. He handed me a copy of Johnny Tremainone day and said in a rather frustrated tone, “Here. Read this.” I went home and started reading this amazing story of a young man determined to one, prove he was capable of more than those around him thought he was, and two, to be a man and serve his country by fighting in the Civil War. I was enthralled! I remember reading into the wee hours of the night to finish the book. After that I became a voracious reader and read everything I could get my hands on. Sometimes not the best stuff. LOL!
From that point, I read and loved books like Lord of the Flies, A Separate Peace, Lust for Life (Van Gogh’s life story), Peony, The Pearl, and Mary Stewart’s books about Merlin. I think I was drawn to characters, who struggled, yet persevered in their lives. I loved stories that took me from my world and brought me into theirs.
How awesome. That’s the power of a great story. You went from a non-reader to dreaming of writing books.
I did! As a teenager, I not only dreamt of writing books but also of designing book covers, as well. I feel so blessed to have done both. I have a degree in graphic design and have worked in that field for years, but writing a book and now seeing two (soon to be three) published has been the most amazing journey. I hope I get to do more. J
Lexie Baltimore is a sculptor whose talent God calls into action to lead her to someone who needs help. She wakes in the night with an image of a place and then has to go into her studio to sculpt the face of the person God is sending her to help. Her greatest frustration though is that the face is never her husband’s, who is an atheist and somewhat antagonistic toward her faith.
That sets the stage. Lexie faces a lot of challenges in her faith and her mismatched marriage, one of which is an evil plot to destroy her marriage before she can have any influence on her husband’s eternal destination.
I wanted to tell a good story that showed some of the principles from our Winning Himbook and also the spiritual warfare that is a very real part of these kinds of marriages. The best part of all this is knowing that we’re not alone in these struggles and that God is bigger than any of it. He always wins. Go God!
There is a parallel theme running through your work, that of living in a spiritually unequal marriage. Can you tell us why this theme is important to you?
I have been married for nearly 25 years, nearly 17 of which have been spiritually mismatch. My sweet guy is like Hugh, an atheist. The day that reality presented itself meant I had to let go of my dreams for my marriage and let God rebuild it. I’m the one God changed first and is still changing. I would not have the amazing relationship with God I have now were it not for my mismatched marriage. I realized early on that if I wanted to survive the challenge of being unequally yoked, I had to know God well and the only way to do that was to study the Bible. Both are ongoing and never-ending pursuits!
My husband supports my faith pursuits and ministry, even though he doesn’t share my faith. I know that’s God at work in my marriage. And God wanted more than for me just to survive, He wanted me to thrive in my faith and in my marriage! That’s what Lynn and I live every day and what we get to share through our book and ministry. God is that good, that great and that redeeming. Nothing like living with an unbeliever to teach you how to love like Jesus does. That’s agape—sacrificial love. The most powerful and life-changing love of all.
Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
At times it seemed impossible. When I started the story I knew that Lexie and Hugh had lost their little girl to a brain tumor and that Hugh was a physics professor at Stanford. I had that backstory, a few chapters, and a one sheet to take with me for the 2008 ACFWconference. About two weeks after I returned, we found out my youngest daughter, then 14, had a malignant brain tumor. And a physics professor at Stanford would design her radiation treatments so they wouldn’t have to radiate her entire brain and eyes. That, and the miracles that brought her to a complete recovery, still give me God-bumps! So I basically wrote it during the year of my daughter’s diagnosis, surgeries and treatment. That was the first major hurdle.
Wow! You can really see God working you through that book.
The second was finding the right house and I began to wonder if we ever would. Lots of rejections. At one point I thought we (my agent and I) had found a home for Lexie’s story. But then the rejection came—a rejection that pretty much gutted the whole theme to my story. I was ready to give up. Instead I gave the book to God, asked Him to remove my desire to write fiction if I wasn’t meant to be published. I’d stick to nonfiction, thank you very much. (grin)
So glad you didn’t give up!
Then He went and opened a door in what I thought would be the least likely of places. I’m so grateful to Barbour because they not only wanted The Soul Saver, they understood the connection to my ministry to the spiritually mismatched and supported it, just like Winning Him’s amazing publisher, Regal Books.
I see your work is a part of a novella collection coming out in August, entitled Central Park Rendezvous, along with such authors as MaryLu Tyndall, Ronie Kendig, and Kim Vogel Sawyer. How did this project come about?
Ronie gets all the credit for that. She wanted to do a project together and brought the rest of us in. She handled the legwork and organized us into a great team. I loved working on that project, because it was a challenge to coordinate our stories since mine, MaryLu’s and Kim’s stories all interweave through Ronie’s. So there is a unique movement and flow to the book. Plus my story pushed me to write a little differently. No supernatural or high stakes stuff. I had to keep all the conflict between the hero and heroine. That was more challenging than I thought it would be.
My novella, A Love Meant To Be, is set partly in the Vietnam era (in tribute to my father) and shifts to modern day. I have greater respect for historical writers, because I had to do research to make sure I referenced things that existed in 1973. At one point in the story I had my main characters going to a play and used Annie. I’m so glad I checked because it turned out Annie didn’t come out on Broadway until a few years after the war. LOL! I had to find a different play.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a story right now about a woman who wakes up in an alley without a clue as to where or even who she is. Turns out the only guy who can help her is the very same one who destroyed her life. How’s that for redemptive stories? Can’t wait to see how this one turns out. I hope it finds a publishing home too because it’s a story about how God brings purpose out of our pain, about how all we go through is not wasted. God is the most efficient being I know. He wastes nothing and redeems everything.
So true. I love that!
Tell us how your faith affects your writing.
Completely! It’s who I am. I find that I know the spiritual themes of my stories first. That’s what drives every word, defines every character, and defines the foundation of my stories. I don’t just pull this out of a hat either. God is very specific with me about what the story is to be about spiritually. I just love that. I trust His purposes much more than my own.
Which is why your stories resonate.
Is there any scene in your book that came from a real-life happening?
Yes, there is one scene where Lexie is just crushed by something her husband has said against her faith and she goes into her closet, shuts the door, goes to her knees and cries out to God. I have been in that place. The circumstances were slightly different in the sense that my husband isn’t antagonistic toward my faith but the hurt was the same. God is our greatest comforter. And just like He met Lexie in the story and eased her pain, God did the same for me.
If you could interview any character in one of your books what might that character say? Why?
I actually did an interview with Lexie, which is now part of my e-book, “The Making of The Soul Saver.” There were some things I wanted her to share with my readers to answer some unfinished business I could see leaving some questions, like what did she do with her feelings toward a man who was not her husband.
But this was my favorite Q&A with her:
Me: What suggestions do you have for those times when things just seem so hopeless? Being mismatched can cause a marriage to be a roller coaster emotionally and spiritually. How do you combat those low times?
Lexie: I stay close to God. Always. Even if I don’t feel like it. I find that a heavy heart is always uplifted by those precious words in the Bible. There’s so much in there, so many who have struggled before us and God put their stories and struggles right there for us to read and learn from.
Plus, it’s really hard to lose hope when God puts it on your heart to help someone who needs help or prayer. That helps me keep things in perspective. And the small group I’m part of is such a blessing in my life. These ladies are mismatched too. We pray for each other and hold each other up though it all.
The worst thing to do is to isolate yourself. I used to do that too. That’s where the enemy gains power and control in your life. We need other Christians to stay strong, I understand that now. Especially in a mismatched marriage.
But I’m noticing that the roller coaster is becoming more like a boat ride now. We have smooth waters most of the time, choppy waters occasionally. As long as I keep my eyes on Jesus, things smooth out and we sail along.
Thank you so much for that picture, Dineen. It reminds me of when Jesus calms the seas (Matthew 8: 23-27). He can calm ours too.
If you’d like to see more about Dineen, check out the “What’s Your Story” column of the MBT ezine coming out later this month. We find out why she calls her dogs “angels in disguise” and she elaborates on her love of my favorite Christian rock band, Third Day. Just love that!
Other posts you might like:
In addition to writing for Spiritually Unequal Marriage, Dineen Miller has won several prestigious awards for her fiction. She’s also a C.L.A.S.S. Communicator and has been featured on the Moody Radio Network, Family Life and Focus on the Family Radio.
Married for 24 years to a guy who keeps her young, she lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two adult daughters, who surprise her daily with their own creativity.
Personal Blog: http://authordineenmiller.com/journal/
GoodReads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/dineenmiller
The Soul Saver Booktrailer: