Kimberley-based writer Kevin Miller recently released his third children’s book, Unlimited, which is part two of a series of novels for children ages eight to 12.
“Unlimited is about four friends who figure out how to hijack the radio signal being broadcast from the local waterfowl marsh and use it to launch their own pirate radio station. The action soon descends into a game of cat and mouse as the authorities seek to shut them down,” said Miller.
“I had a lot of fun writing this book,” Miller said. “I even named the ‘villain’, who isn’t so villainous, after a girl who knocked me out cold in grade one by slamming my head into a brick wall.”
“The plot for this novel was inspired by the marsh that’s near Foam Lake, Saskatchewan. Many similar marshes in the prairies broadcast a canned information message about the marsh over FM radio,” explained Miller. “It was while driving past one of those marshes that I got the idea of someone hijacking the signal. That’s the fun part about writing these books; pulling in all sorts of little things I’ve seen and experienced over the years.”
Miller was born and raised on a farm just outside of Foam Lake and moved to Kimberley with his family in 2013.
“We love it here. You can’t help but spend a lot of time outdoors year round,” he said.
Miller got his start as a writer 21 years go as a reporter for a newspaper in Meadow Lake, SK. He then moved on to book publishing and to the film industry as a writer, director, producer and editor.
“These days, I keep one foot in both worlds, film and publishing, but I’m definitely spending more time in publishing as a writer and editor,” Miller explained.
Miller first released his first book, Moody Bee, in May. It is inspired by the local company that is owned by Randy and Krista Moody.
“They’re friends of ours, and while my wife was helping them set up their store last fall, I was inspired to write a book about a moody bee named Rudy. From there, I started to see how many words I could rhyme with ‘moody’ and tell a coherent story. It was a lot of fun; something I had never tried before. We launched the book in the store back in May, and it’s done really well. I have plans to do some other children’s picture books as well,” said Miller.
After writing Moody Bee, Miller wrote Up the Creek and followed it by Unlimited.
Up the Creek is about the same main characters in Unlimited, but in Miller’s first novel, the boys set out to canoe a creek during spring run-off season for an epic adventure across the prairies.
The illustrations for the two novels were done by Vancouver artist, Kierston Vande Kraats.
“I’m also collaborating with her on a graphic novel about an immortal pig, the first instalment of which I plan to release in the next few months,” said Miller.
When the Bulletin asked Miller what his inspiration was behind writing children’s books he responded, “even though I’m in my mid-forties, I guess I still look at the world through a kid’s eyes, so I find it easy to relate to this age group. I’ve spent a lot of my career working on films and books that deal with deep, serious topics, so it’s fun to have the opportunity to write some books that take a lighter approach to life.
“I enjoy writing for this audience, because it allows me to create characters who are silly and who take things to extremes. That’s a good recipe for humour and adventure, which is what readers in my target age group [eight to 12] really enjoy. I also have four kids, ages nine to 17, so I wanted to get some of these books out while they were still young.”
In terms of infusing a moral lesson into his stories, Miller prefers for that to happen organically.
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“Even though I believe every great story revolves around a powerful moral lesson; a difficult dilemma that the central character must solve, I make it a rule never to set out to teach anything in what I write,” Miller said.
“I’d rather discover the lesson of the story alongside the characters. That always makes for a better story, and my characters are usually smarter than me anyway. If I stand back and analyze the central lessons of the Milligan Creek books and the Moody Bee, it’s probably to get out there and take advantage of the opportunities around you. Don’t wait for things to happen; make them happen.”
For more information on Miller or to purchase his books, visit his website at http://www.kevinmillerxi.com/. All three books are available at Moody Bee in Kimberley or Coles and Lotus Books in Cranbrook.