Author Spotlight no.67 – Ian Miller

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the sixty-seventh, is of science-fiction and thriller writer Ian Miller.

Ian Miller was born on the 7th August, 1942 and studied chemistry at the University of Canterbury (BSc Hons 1, PhD) followed by post-docs at Calgary, Southampton and Armidale. He then returned to New Zealand to work at Chemistry Division, DSIR, on recycling, biofuels and seaweed research. In 1986 he set up his own research company to support the private half of a joint venture to make pyromellitates, the basis of high temperature resistant plastics, which, with an associated seaweed processing venture, collapsed during the late 1980s financial crisis. In his scientific career he has written about 100 peer reviewed scientific papers and about 35 other articles and was on the Editorial Board of Botanica Marina between about 1998-2008. Early in this century he had a provisional agreement with a major publisher to write a book on how to form theories. This took a lot longer than expected, the publisher lost interest, however he completed the first part of the project and the first ebook in the series entitled “Elements of Theory” was self-published last year. The second, which is about planetary formation and the origin of life, will be self-published soon, April being the target.

During his first year at University, following an argument with some Arts students, he was challenged to write a fictional book. Following two rejections, this was abandoned, but subsequently, as he began to get some television exposure while trying to promote the pyromellitates venture, Gemina was self-published, only to find as a condition of finance that all publicity for it was forbidden. It was somewhat difficult to sell books without any promotion.

Following the collapse of the pyromellitates venture, he returned to writing fiction, using both his scientific and business experience to write “science in fiction” thrillers, a type of “future history”. This series starts with Puppeteer, set in the near future when both oil and resources are in short supply, when government debts leads to the inability of governments to govern properly and when corruption is widespread. In Puppeteer, one man threatens to detonate three nuclear bombs to get revenge of corrupt officials who have ruined his life, while two others alone can stop him. Further details can be found at

And now from the author himself:

I have joined a number of others and have embarked on self-publishing through ebooks. Horrors! Can’t make it the usual way! I suppose there is an element of truth in that, but I like to think I have a case to do it this way. Once you get to a certain age, the advice “Keep trying,” loses its appeal. I would like to see my stuff out there before I cash out. Then a quick glance at the list of successes on the website Querytracker shows that new authors tend to be taken on fad. Thus there was a period where vampires and YA fantasy were the successes. I refuse to ape someone else.

Additionally, my writing usually carries multiple threads, which leads to length. I tried about two thirds of the listed SF agents before I discovered that no agent would touch anything over 100,000 words from a newbie author. Oops. I tried editing one of my novels down and got to about 120,000 words, to which my wife pointed out, everything was far too abrupt.

I then tried a futuristic thriller, a “new genre” for me, and I got it down to 96,000 words! Still no agent! So I re-edited it (adding about 10,000 words) and self-published Puppeteer in the form of a prequel to the others, which I shall publish in due course.

“The others” comprise a saga that runs from about 2050 to the 25th century, then to the first century and back again. My primary goal is to entertain, but underneath that I hope to give the reader something to think about, and in particular, some of society’s long-term problems that I believe would benefit from a scientific approach. As an example, I set Puppeteer in Los Angeles when the price of oil reaches about a thousand dollars a car refill. Anyone who knows anything about LA can imagine some consequences.

I admit to a certain disillusionment with politicians. In the 1980s, as a professional scientist, I spent a lot of effort trying to develop biofuels (as did a lot of others) but when the oil price fell, such work ended virtually all around the world. Worse than that, now a lot of money is being wasted relearning the lessons learned then. If I can persuade any voters to think more broadly about our impending problems, I shall consider that a success.

I have one non-fiction project also: Elements of Theory, which shows how to form scientific theories. This started life with a scientific publisher, but I was too slow and they lost interest, so I have decided to self-publish anyway.

So I am really grateful for the ebook, as without it I would probably remain unpublished. Of course the major problem for the newbie remains. There are apparently millions of ebooks, some good, some bad, and some downright ugly. Getting out of this morass is a problem, but then again, what in life is not?

It’s what I’m up against too, Ian. I think you just have to find as many outlets as you can, and / or like me, start your own. 🙂 Thank you. You can find more about Ian and his writing via… his website

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with non-fiction author Judith Thomas – the three hundred and ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo. And I have a new forum at

2 thoughts on “Author Spotlight no.67 – Ian Miller

  1. Yvonne Hertzberger says:

    I. too, did not want to ‘keep trying’. I started writing age the age of 56 and don’t have 25 years for a publisher to recognize that i have something of value to offer. And I also write books of more than 110,000 words (and tell stories that are not part of the current fads). Fantasy tends to be longer. Self-publishing is the only way that makes sense at this juncture.


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