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Q & A With Jax Miller

3 January 2017

Freedom's Child is New York native Jax Miller's debut novel.

Shortlisted for the Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year, it tells the tale of Freedom, a woman who had lived 18 years under witness protection. When she hears that her daughter has gone missing she must give up her new life to find her, and face the consequences of her past life. Jax Miller now lives in Ireland and is working on her second book. Freedom's Child was published in large print this month and to celebrate we asked Jax a few questions.

You were originally born in New York but now live in Ireland, what have you learned on your travels?
I've learned that my heart was right. Since I was a little girl, I always wanted to see Ireland; I was just drawn to it. The second I stepped off the plane, I knew I was home; it was something I could feel in the air. My two week trip turned into five years and counting. I learned that sometimes it takes some searching until you find what home is and where you belong.

Where's your favourite place to be?
There's this place in Killarney, Co. Kerry called The Lake Hotel that I just love. It's not extravagant, but I fell in love with the views a few years back and it's since been a tradition. I try to make it out there a couple times a year, I even get the same room every time. I find great inspiration there so when the writers block hits, I get in the car and go south. It's where I go when I need to get away.

What is your definition of freedom?
Freedom is pursuing your passion without caring what others will think of it, but I realize it's hard. I think everybody has the ability to do it, it's just that sometimes it comes with a cost. But if you can just chase what you love and do so without the influence or fear of other people, then you can know Freedom.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Not at all. I figured it was for the academics, the well-to-dos (of which I was neither). Writing was something I stumbled upon while I was going through some dark and stormy days in life, in times where everything seemed impossible. Someone saw potential in me and encouraged me to write. I thought it sounded ridiculous, but I tried it anyway. It was love at first write. I surprised myself in seeing it helped me purge certain parts of my soul I didn€„¢t need, I found it to be a coping mechanism. This was in my early/mid twenties and I haven't stopped since.

Did you plan out the plot of Freedom's Child before writing it or did you just start and see where it took you?
Freedom's Child was written blindly, but it completely correlated with whatever mood I was in at the moment I wrote it. If I had a crappy day, Freedom had a crappy day. If I cried, Freedom cried. If I felt empowered, Freedom felt empowered. I'm a moody writer, I think, the extreme emotion has to be there in order for me to get a story out. The great thing about this was that when the reader was surprised, I was just as surprised in writing it. The ideas come as I go, they're not plotted, so sometimes it's like "Oh my God, she did not just do that!" And then the other half of my brain snaps its fingers and says, "Oh yes she did."

Are any of the characters in Freedom's Child based on yourself or people you know?
While our circumstances are different, Freedom and I shared emotions. It was through this fictional character that I was able to deal with certain things in life, things that felt out of my control. This book was where I found my control, I was essentially playing God. We were both tattooed, redheaded bartenders going through different grieving processes, but we went through them together. Something I think was lost after several drafts was the symbolism tied to Freedom Oliver. Her daughter represented her lost innocence, her son represented her logic, and her former in-laws represented the past she hated herself for. So in some weird way, there's definitely a little bit of me in each of my characters.

What can readers expect from Freedom Child?
Grit. I've heard a lot of people say, maybe because it was a woman who wrote it, that they expect a girly book. And it's not. At all. Nope.

It's real in-your-face, aggressive and hard-hitting. But if you keep with it, like in real life, you'll find the tender and softer side to life despite the more tumultuous stuff. Oh, and if you're offended by bad language, then this isn't the book for you. I try for areal visual story, as I'm more inspired by film than books (is that blasphemous in my field?). I try to get as close to a movie-going experience as I can get through writing.

What's the best piece of advice you've received?
It depends, are we talking book-related or non book-related advice? If book-related, than my advice is not to take advice. I'm dead serious. I think it's so important not to emulate others or aspire to be a generic form of the greats. In this field, I believe the key is originality, dancing to the beat of your own drum. Don't read other authors, it just takes up legroom.

But if we're talking about non book-related advice, it's this: Un-forgiveness is like drinking poison on a regular basis and expecting the other person to die.

Freedom's Child is now available to order in large print, you can do so here.