Random Chitchats

Shop Talk with Sarah Miller

Today we have Sarah Miller joining us in the beauty shop! Sarah is the author of the recently released MISS SPITFIRE: REACHING HELEN KELLER, a historical novel about Annie Sullivan.

“This moving story – for all ages – is about how Anne an underprivileged young woman awoke to life and learning the most famous woman of her time. Miss Spitfire is high drama about how language unlocks the world.”–Richard Peck, Newbery-winning author of A YEAR DOWN YONDER


Welcome, Sarah! Grab some coffee, get comfy in the beautician’s chair, and let’s get down to the gossip.

When’s the last time you’ve treated yourself to a manicure?

A real live, official manicure I paid actual money for? That would be September of 2000, just before I stood up in my best friend’s wedding. But I do my own nails just about every week. I get together with my grandma most Mondays to watch Shirley Temple, Judy Garland, and I Love Lucy DVDs while I do the whole manicure/pedicure routine on both of us.

What’s the most regrettable hairstyle you’ve ever had? Any mullets? Rat tails? Come on, we promise not to laugh!

You’d better not laugh! I’ve had a teeny-tiny braid (‘rat tail’ gives me the willies) running down my back since the end of 6th grade. It’s 28 inches long now. What’s really amazing about the little bugger is how few people actually don’t notice it, especially since the rest of my hair doesn’t reach much past my earlobes.

Cool, and I think I found proof in your jacket cover photo. Very cute! Okay, how long have you been with your current stylist and what are your appointment conversations like—chatty and personal, or quiet and professional?

Heh. When did this turn into Beauty Shop Truth or Dare? Ok, I’ll ‘fess up to another little beauty secret: my mother has been cutting my hair since forever, and now I mostly do it myself. Which makes me either brave, crazy, or both.

Time for your Hypothetical Questions of the Week:

HQ #1: For one day, time travel is a reality and you have the opportunity to visit any famous deceased author you want. Who do you pick?

J.M. Barrie. (That was harder than I thought – apparently the vast majority of my literary heroes are still alive!)

HQ #2: If you could hit the rewind button, which book published by another author do you wish you could have written? Which movie screenplay?

Book: The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Screenplay: Shirley Valentine

HQ #3: You magically find a $100.00 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it?

On books, of course! For starters, I’d pick up a copy of Gary Schmidt’s Wednesday Wars, then I’d pre-pay for Aurora County All-Stars, by Deborah Wiles, Robin Brande’s Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature, and Lottery, by Patricia Wood so I can snap them up as soon as they hit the shelves at the book shop where I work. The rest I’d save for impulse book-buys.

HQ #4: TV execs are offering you a spot on a new reality show for writers. Do you say yes? If so, how would you be portrayed? (i.e. the boss, whiner, bore, paranoid-wreck, etc.?)

Heck no! I get all creeped out and squirmy if anyone’s even in the same room while I’m working. *shivers*

HQ #5: You’ve been locked in a bank vault with that guy from The Twilight Zone, so you finally have time to read! What’s the first book you crack open? (And don’t worry—no one stepped on your glasses.)

Oh gosh. I’d probably start with one of three big fat books I’ve had in my to-be-read pile for ages. There’s really very little hope of me getting them read, otherwise:
Walt Disney, by Neal Gabler
Mary, by Janis Cooke Newman
A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson

The Lightening Round—no more than two words per answer!

Do you . . .
Outline or wing it?
Free-style, mostly
Talk about works-in-progress, or keep your trap shut? Lips sealed
Sell by proposal or completed draft? Completed draft
Love to edit or cringe at the thought? Best part!
Prefer writing a new book or marketing the old? Tough call
Write better at home or in a coffee shop? At home
Read your released book or no thanks, I’ve read it enough? Never enough!

And finally, what’s your favorite . . .
Time to write?
Morning. Not because I’m an early riser, though. I just hate having that you-haven’t-done-your-homework feeling nagging at me all day long.
Movie? I can’t settle on a current choice, so how about one from way back when? The whole year I was three, I watched nothing but Annie, with Albert Finney and Carol Burnett. I watched it so much, my dad can still sing all the songs.
Book? Again, a blast from the past to avoid choosing just one current favorite: Harriet the Spy. I read that book over and over, and had my own spy notebook for a couple years.
Author? Donna Jo Napoli
Song? I’m an opera girl with a big old soft spot for Bellini’s Ma Rendi pur Contento, especially when Cecilia Bartoli sings it.
Pair of shoes? My silver ‘Greek goddess’ sandals. They’re utterly useless if you actually want to walk anywhere, but very pretty, and only cost me $10.
Guiltiest pleasure? Jeeze, I really can’t think of one. I guess I’m not very decadent. Either that or I don’t know when to feel guilty. Does being snide count? I do enjoy that more than I ought to.
Line from a movie? “Two things: Shut. Up.” ~Shrek

Thanks so much, Sarah, and I absolutely love how you get together for mani/pedis with your grandmother every Monday. That’s so wonderful! I wish you the very best of luck with the release of MISS SPITFIRE: REACHING HELEN KELLER!

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