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A Novel Achievement

“When I was four years old, I told my parents, ‘I want to be a writer,’” says Thaïs Miller, BA literature ’09. “When I was 13 years old, I decided to start writing novels.”

It’s little wonder, then, that the 20-year-old junior published her first novel last spring. Our Machinery, released by Brown Paper Publishing in April, is a darkly comic work that, like all good science fiction, is, at its heart, a social commentary. She’s in the process of revising her next book, tentatively titled Plasticity.

Below, Miller shares some thoughts on writing and marketing a novel as an undergraduate:

How did you get started?
“My freshman year, Professor [Randon] Noble encouraged me to take advantage of National Novel Writing Month, an event that happens each November, to flesh out a series of ideas that I had begun to explore in her creative writing class. So I wrote 2000 words a day for 28 days—and at the end of the month, I had created a typo-ridden, very rough first draft.”

What happened next?
“The next eight months were spent revising and editing with the help of my AU professors. I got to meet with them, not only one on one, but often at least once a week, to discuss things my characters were going through. I think the most important resources to writers are other writers. Writing is a learning process, and the best way to engage in that process is to talk to writers you respect.”

Any advice for students looking to get published?
“Start with independent, small presses. They’re the best way to get past the catch-22 of publishing: You can’t get published unless you have an agent, and you can’t get an agent unless you’ve been published. Make sure you aren’t paying to have your work produced, and that you retain the rights to it. And don’t hide the fact that you’ve produced a manuscript at such a young age. Younger writers with insight to our human condition are necessary in this time of need.”