Thursday, February 7, 2013

A NIGHT ON MOON HILL by Tanya Parker Mills--Book Review & Interview

A NIGHT ON MOON HILL by Tanya Parker Mills. I really enjoyed this read. I went in with certain expectations and found myself lost in the story. By the end of the book, I couldn't even remember what my expectations were. I was taught about Asperger's syndrome in a way that I didn't realize I was being taught. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. Stay tuned for a giveaway coming soon. (Cover photo, back cover blurb, and author photo taken from author's website.)

:) :) :) :) :)

Swimming is Daphne’s one refuge–
until the night she finds a dead body in her pool.
University professor and renowned author Daphne Lessing has never felt at ease in society. But a disturbance in her once calm and controlled existence suddenly unearths events from her past and thrusts an unusual child into her life.
Without wanting to, Daphne soon finds herself attached to Eric, a ten-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome who is obsessed with fishing and angels. Daphne is faced with a choice: Does she leave him and return to her solitary, ordered life, trusting others to do right by him, or does she allow this bright child to draw her into the world she’s tried to shun?
And what about the man that entered her life with Eric? Will she be able to shut him out as well?

What made you decide to become a writer? I really didn't decide to become a writer until I'd finished a complete first draft of my first book, THE RECKONING, and seen that I could actually write a novel. While I'd always felt very comfortable with the written word all throughout school, and had tinkered with poetry and lyric writing in high school and college, my dream of one day writing a play or a novel (and I REALLY thought it would be a play before a novel) always seemed just that--a dream. A college Creative Writing class with Richard Cracroft had discouraged me (short stories are NOT my thing), so I figured I'd use my talent with words in journalism. But then I sat in on my father's writing group back in January, 2003 and tried my hand at one of their writing prompts. What I wrote that day gave me my opening to the story I'd been slow cooking in the back of my brain for the past decade or two--the one that became THE RECKONING.

Who inspires you? I could say Barbara Kingsolver, because I'd love to be able to write like her some day, but I could also say that about a number of other authors. I think, however, that my father inspires me the most because he is so very dedicated, despite his failing health. Like me, he started late. He didn't begin writing until he was around 50, and he couldn't do it in earnest until he'd retired. This year he'll turn 90, and he still gets up every morning and sits in front of his computer (after a quick breakfast and workout on the exercise bike) to write. He's self-published every one of his seven novels, and while they're not the quality they should be (I've finally convinced him to submit his finished manuscripts to a professional editor), he never gives up trying.

What would you like your readers to get out of your writing? I always want them to learn something new, gain a better understanding or appreciation of people or cultures they didn't have before, and see the truth of some aspect of the human condition. I suppose I want them to feel informed and edified.

Where did this idea come from? It came from an observation I made while on my daily walk in my old neighborhood back in Riverside, California--an observation I thought would make for a good short story (I was determined at that time to prove to myself that I could write a decent short story…still haven't done it.)
There were a lot of backyard pools on my street, and some of the gates to these pools were partly open. I got to thinking that it would be fairly easy for some guy without a pool to keep a watch of the different homes and figure out which were unoccupied during the day because both the husband and wife worked. My imagination kicked in then and I could see this guy taking free morning swims in one pool after another until something finally cures him of the habit: a dead body in one of the pools. That was just the beginning. Once I decided I didn't want to write this as a short story, I got to thinking more and more about what it might be like for a pool owner to discover a dead body in their pool one day. And what if the deceased were someone with whom they were acquainted, but there's a lot more to the story? Also, I wanted to have a character with Asperger's like my son, who was then 10…so I had to figure out how to weave him into the story. It really grew organically as I began writing.

Who was your favorite character to develop? Eric was the easiest to write and the most fun. In some ways, he's like my son, but in other ways he's very different. His obsessions--angels and fishing--are entirely fictitious. I also really enjoyed giving voice to Daphne's agent.

Any advice for aspiring authors? Don't wait like I did. Don't wait until he kids are in school, or grown, or out of the house. Don't wait until your life slows down. If you have the knack for writing, start as soon as you can because it's going to take you at least 10 years to get good enough to be published. And don't compare yourself to other writers. Each writer, whether they're creating literary fiction, non-fiction, or genre fiction, has his/her own unique voice or perspective. So it's useless to compare. Some will rise meteorically in the publishing world, others will take decades, but as long as you keep at it, your chances increase every year.

What can we expect next from you? Something entirely different and probably under a pen name. I've almost completed the first story in a middle grade fantasy series about a boy with a sense of smell so acute that he can literally sniff out old souls--both good and bad--along with a few other things. When his mother and grandmother are killed, he's whisked away to the Academy of the Ancients and sent on a mission only he can fulfill.

Whether this series works out or not, I'll still be writing under my own name and I'm thinking of a story that mirrors the great divide in our country right now. I hate division and I'd like to put some fiction out there that (hopefully) helps bridge the divide.

Where can we purchase your book?  LDS Bookstores, Desert Book, Amazon, Kindle, and Barnes & Noble

Thanks for the interview, Tanya!


  1. Fun interview. I love to hear how others develop their stories. Good luck at the Whitneys, Tanya.

    1. Thanks so much, Donna. Hope to see you in Mesa.