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Author Spotlight: Grant Edward Miller

Grant Edward Miller

Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.

Today: Grant has authored many unpublished short stories and plays since he was a young boy, when he first realized he was different from those around him. The realization of his gay identity, experiences of alienation and bullying led him to immerse himself in his writing and science fiction in all its forms. Later in his adult life, Grant became aware of the lack of representation for gay men in science fiction resulting in his writing a short story in 2009 about a gay man hiding on a spaceship. This short story sat untouched until 2017 when it blossomed into Life-Line: Origins. Grant hopes his book will reach LGBTQ+ readers keen to see themselves reflected in the literary world of science fiction. He is hard at work on the next two entries in the Life-Line series.

Grant lives in the small community of Fox Point, Nova Scotia, in “Otter Cottage” — named for the river animal with which he strongly identifies. A French immersion teacher by trade, he also loves to camp, hike, garden, cook, watch sci-fi, and spend time with his canine friend, Finn the Border Collie. 

Thanks so much, Grant, for joining me!

J. Scott Coatsworth: Do you ever base your characters on real people? If so, what are the pitfalls you’ve run into doing so? 

Grant Edward Miller: This is a great question because the two main characters are partial images of me. Tam, the main protagonist, has many of my feelings and emotions. Fear of the unknown, not recognizing his capabilities and being the reluctant hero are things that I’ve had to face most of my life. He worries and internalizes a lot.

Tam also is rather naive at times as well. Tam’s Life-Line, Brogan, has all the characteristics that I’ve always thought I lacked: out-going, fun-loving and sure of himself. As both characters grow during the novel, they both come to understand who they are. It has allowed me to see that in my 61 years of existence that I’ve found a balance between the Tam and Brogan within me.

JSC: Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured in Life Lines: Origins? If so, discuss them. 

GEM: Very definitely! For most of my life, I’ve occasionally stumbled on science fiction shows, movies and books that contain gay characters. This includes A Different Light by Elizabeth A. Lynn – my first book that I read that had gay/bisexual characters. I was absolutely elated. Since then, I’ve discovered more.

What really drove me to write my novel was in 2005 when I saw Captain Jack Harkness on the Dr. Who reboot. It made me think that I would love to see more characters from my community – so, I decided to write a short story. It was about a man who stowed away on a spaceship in hopes of rescuing his gay partner from certain death in a prison for sexual deviants – i.e. gay men.

The story sat on my computer untouched due to life circumstances. It stayed there until 2017 when I reread my story and realized that there was so much more to tell. It blossomed into Life-Line: Origins, a 64 chapter novel which I self-published in February 2023. Life-Line: Origins is a gay science fiction romance. 

JSC: Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing? 

GEM: I’ve been a school teacher for the past 30 years. It has been a feat to juggle the two. It takes me a long time to write a novel so I’ve had to be somewhat disciplined in balancing my time between the teaching and writing. I also have other activities such as weightlifting and gardening that occupy me.

So when I sit down to write, I have to mentally prepare myself to switch gears. Since I have very busy days, starting to write can be difficult, so I use exercises from The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron. A stream of consciousness mind dump is the best way to describe it. Once I get all the day’s events cleared from my head I can begin the creative process. 

JSC: How did you choose the topic for this book? 

GEM: I’ve always been obsessed with science fiction and fantasy. It started with The Hobbit in grade 4 and The Lord of the Rings in grade 5. As a child of 5 years old, I knew that I was different from the other children but didn’t really have the vocabulary around homosexuality. Society’s message to me was clear – that I was an abomination and would go to hell.

As a result, I buried myself in science fiction and fantasy books. I also watched sci fi television shows as well. It was safer to hid myself in books and television, lessening the potential of people finding out about my sexuality. It was so easy to envision myself in future worlds, space travel or Middle Earth. 

In high school, word got out somehow about me and I spent most of my high school life being harassed, teased and sometimes even physical abuse. In that time, I went even deeper into my science fiction books and shows. Life was easier that way for me. When school finished, I ran away to be gay as my parents didn’t understand. 

The whole aspect of hiding in fantasy allowed me to take a simple thought and turn it into  a novel. Gay men in my story can mind read and are telekinetic. They were genetically altered in the distant past and no-one knows why. This concept came from what gay men in my generation called “gaydar.”

Back in my younger years, gaydar was like a second sense to know if another man were gay. Being outwardly gay was not always safe in the 1970’s or 1980’s for me. So, gaydar was a tool for me to make a connection with another gay men. In my novel, I took that idea of gaydar a lot further and developed the idea of genetic alteration of gay men that could read minds.

JSC: What was the hardest part of writing it? 

GEM: Writing science fiction has been an extension of my experiences. Characters often take on some of my issues such as insecurities, reactions to homophobia, navigating relationships and past trauma. Thankfully, more positive aspects also spring up in the form of hope for the future, self-discovery and self-acceptance for who I am as a person.

A great example was letting go of internalized homophobia that I experienced during the edit of my novel. I had written two sex scenes that were critical to the storyline. During the final edit, I asked my editor if I should tone the sex down for any straight readers. She said, “ABSOLUTELY NO!” I did some soul-searching and let go of the old images of gay sex being dirty or disgusting. It has really freed me to accept myself even further.

JSC: Who has been your favorite character to write, and why? 

GEM: Anghelloise stands out for me. She is a female siren, always comes across as totally confident, has a great sense of humour and definitely a sense of fashion. I modelled her after a few drag queens that I knew in the past. She loves her dresses, can be a little catty and outspoken.

I envisioned her with an impish smile, flirty eyes and sharp wit. When I first wrote about her, she was simply a waitress in a café assigned to watch out for Tam and Brogan. She helped Tam make a decision about joining with Brogan. Anghelloise kept popping into my head as I wrote so I decided to develop her more. She became a crucial part of the story and is pivotal to helping Tam and Brogan do what they need to do.

JSC: What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names? Pictures? 

GEM: I live with Finn the Border Collie and Karma the rescue kitty. Finn is named after the dog in Life-Line: Origins. Brogan gifts a puppy to Tam at a kennel. Tam picks up each of the puppies and mentally reads them. He chooses the small male puppy because it came over to him and licked him on the face when Tam picked him up. Tam names him Finn.

Last year, I decided I wanted a puppy so I went to a breeder here in Nova Scotia. A small male border collie puppy came up to me as I sat in the kennel with the litter. I picked him up and he licked me on the face. In that instant, I knew that he was my fur friend so I named him Finn.

Karma, the cat is a rescue kitty who has a tough beginning in life. She now loves to sit beside me while I write, sometimes walking over the keyboard while I’m trying to write and making funny additions to my manuscript while I am away from my computer. I always know she’s been sitting on my keyboard when I see several letters repeated in long successions!

JSC: What qualities do you and your characters share? How much are you like them, or how different are they from you? 

GEM: I love this question because the two main characters are partial images of me. Tam, the main protagonist, has many of my feelings and emotions. Fear of the unknown, not recognizing his capabilities and being the reluctant hero are things that I’ve had to face most of my life. He worries and internalizes a lot like I used to. He’s also rather naive at times as well.

Tam’s Life-Line, Brogan, has all the characteristics that I’ve  always lacked: out-going, fun-loving and sure of himself. As both characters grow during the novel, they both come to understand who they are. It has allowed me to see that in my 61 years of existence that I’ve found a balance between the Tam and Brogan within me.

JSC: If you could choose three authors to invite for a dinner party, who would they be, and why?

GEM: I would invite Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clark and David Brin for dinner. Asimov’s “Foundation” series was a vision that really made a big impression on me. I’d love to discuss his world building and his vision of what humanity would become. To some extent, his writing helped me create my own universe in my Life-Line series.

Clark wrote so many fantastic novels and short stories. He also had gay characters in some of his work. His imagination was immense and I wish I could have him share his thought processes. Another aspect of his writing that I appreciate is that there wasn’t always a massive catastrophe in his storylines. Instead he focused on the human condition. I really enjoyed The Songs of Distant Earth.

David Brin is a master of developing the climax. He has an amazing way of building the excitement in his novels that builds and builds until an amazing end. A memorable example is The Practice Effect. It’s about a world where things that are made become more efficient the more they are used. One could make a crude tool that became totally efficient the more you used it.

Finally, it would be amazing to sit and converse with all three authors at the same time to hear their interaction and commentary.

JSC: What are you working on now, and what’s coming out next? Tell us about it!

GEM: I am currently going through the developmental edit of my second novel in the Life-Line Series. It’s tentatively called Life-Line: Diversions. The main characters from the first novel are thrown into a war between three regimes fighting over an ancient spaceship said to contain immense power – enough to conquer the other regimes.

My protagonists need to gain access to the ship as well in order to get to their destination, otherwise they are trapped. They have to do all of this while trying to stay out of the clutches of some nasty characters. It’s not a “Phew!” “Phew!” war though – more like “The Expanse.” The key to everything may have to achieved by five very different cultures working together.

I am really excited about the new characters I created. I used four of my friends to fashion characters – which was a fun process. I also created an amazon-like lesbian soldier and a male siren with an ego the size of a galaxy. I’m enjoying toying with various characters that may or may not be good or bad as well. It’s my hope to publish at the end of 2024 or early 2025.


And now for Grant’s latest book: Life Line: Origins:

Over a million years in the future, a desperate stowaway lies concealed in a space freighter’s cargo hold. Tam Amergan is bound for the prison world Corustloth, where his partner Brogan has been abducted. Ever since the Senate took over the planetary system decades earlier, gay men like Tam and Brogan—degens, as they are labeled under Senate rule—have been forced to live in secrecy. But Brogan is Tam’s life-line, bound to his soul in a ritual performed by a secret sisterhood of women with ancient, unknown designs. Tam has no choice but to follow Brogan wherever he goes. What Brogan sees, Tam sees; what Tam feels, Brogan feels. Neither can live without the other.

Thousands of lightyears away, an ancient brotherhood of mentalists works at uncovering the mystery of humanity’s long-forgotten origins. Their leader, Father, enlists the help of Bennett, who is able to connect with the mind of a space freighter stowaway on the other side of the galaxy. Is Bennett the key to humanity’s origins? Could Tam’s quest to find Brogan have a wider purpose?

Both a soaring love story and sweeping sci-fi epic, Life-Line: Origins is a thrilling gay romance and science fiction novel. Ambitious, gripping, and full of heart, it is a must-read for anyone hungry for adventure and intrigue.

Publisher | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Indigo | Kobo


Chapter 1 Trash Is What Trash Does

Tam wiped his forehead with his arm, looking across the garbage piles lying in the ditches between the rows of ramshackle huts that lined the streets of the internment camp. He placed his chin on top of his arms, which were crossed overtop the handle of his shovel, and with a sigh, surveyed his surroundings. Two similarly-clothed workers further down the alleyway were picking up trash and tossing it into almost-full carts. His cart was still half-empty.

Back to work, I suppose. He sighed again and bent over, continuing to shovel his trash pile into his cart. The sodbent he sensed earlier would have to wait. Right now would not be a good play time—he could not be caught doing something so degenerate. Focus on the job. No point losing your life over something so basic. Sex would have to wait, even though his loins told him otherwise. He curled the shovel a little to the left, deftly lifting a layer of garbage off the ground and into the cart.

The garbage stank. Tam’s sense of smell was nearly as powerful as his sense of sodbent-searching. Balancing his shovel against one arm, he reached into his satchel with the other and pulled out a small, round container. The oil was used to dampen out the smell. He applied a generous amount to his large concave nostrils and wrinkled his nose. It stung a bit—sometimes, to the point that his brown skin would lighten at the edge of his nose.

Majoris poked its light through the clouds above. As they cleared some more, Minoris added its weaker, reddish light to the mix. The binary stars never really competed much for his attention but when he felt the light streaming down, his mood changed somewhat. He paused again. Tam noticed his willpower start to waver and began searching anew for the man who had appeared in his mind earlier. He looked up and to the left. But he wasn’t really looking at anything; he was searching beyond his sight. He must be somewhere nearby; I can sense his thoughts and can see that his sodbent is strong. It was the same sodbent as before! The man’s actual desire was to be pushed over a bench and be penetrated from behind—anonymously, so as to not attract the police. Goddesses, if anyone were ever to discover this degenerate event, the police would haul both of us to prison. Death penalty, obviously. Was it worth it?

A stirring in Tam’s trousers distracted him from his worry about being discovered. He tossed his hesitation aside as instinct took over. Garbage can wait. There is always more to pick up. Tam looked up and down the row of huts and saw no supervisor in sight. He dropped his shovel mindlessly and it clattered noisily against a random piece of metal. He walked to his cart and reached for his clothes satchel, from which he pulled a bar of soap, a towel, and a change of clothing. Feeling a little nervous but rather aroused, Tam headed for the public baths to clean up. One cant have sodbent with dirty hands or smelly privates! It was almost the end of his shift anyway; no one would notice his absence. He walked down the alley, turned the corner onto the dusty main street, and approached the baths. 

Thankfully, they were mostly empty. As he entered the main door for males, which was open, he saw three collectors like himself casually pouring water over themselves and lathering themselves with soap. Tam understood the constant battle against the grime and horrid stench that enveloped each worker. The goal was to be almost free from the smell of trash when done.

Tam gathered two buckets of lukewarm water from the dispensing troughs by the door and approached an empty basin two down from the three men who were bathing. There was a silence that was only broken by the sound of water being poured by one of the men or an occasional cough. He stripped off his satchel and then his uniform, which he tossed on the floor, then untied his braided hair. Tam clambered into the basin and reached for the first bucket. He raised it over his head and allowed some of the water to trickle off it. The water streamed across his broad shoulders, down the front of his chest, through the clumps of coarse curly chest hairs. 

Tam picked up the soap and began applying it to his arms. Reaching downward, he lathered up his genitals, then reached around to clean his ass and down his legs. He then stood up and applied the soap to his long, black hair, which trailed down over his shoulders. With his body fully lathered up, he reached for the first bucket and poured the remaining water over his head, allowing it to rinse the soap away down the drain of the basin. He watched the soap circle the drain, around and around, until it disappeared to Goddesses know where. Life seemed to go down the drain the same way sometimes. He sighed, picked up the second bucket, and completed the job at hand as the rest of the soap drained away.

Suddenly, a sodbent image spun into his head. The thought took shape and he rotated it to see it from several sides to best understand what the man’s intentions were. He wanted to receive sodbent! The signs were unmistakable. One of three men was definitely sodbent. The man must also have known that Tam was there.

Tam searched the minds of the two men closest to him. The one beside him, in the basin two spaces over, was empty. He was not sodbent. The one next to him, though, was the one. Tam felt a rush of adrenaline. The man knew that Tam desired sodbent, too. Tam gave him a quick glance and he flashed his interest—not only in his mind, but in a very discreet, physical look.

[There is a cleaning closet at the rows end. No one goes there during the day. I will meet you there,] the man projected as he toweled his pale skin and rubbed his genitals and backside with a sense of urgency. He then stepped out of his basin. He moved toward the closet, casting a quick look at Tam as he went.

Tam sniffled as he dried himself off and began to step out of his basin when, suddenly, noises came from the entrance of the bathhouse. He started, feeling the hair on his arms stand up and a knot develop in his stomach as he turned and looked through the humid, misty air. Two police in red tunics and yellow sashes appeared and began approaching Tam, who started and then stopped himself from foolishly fleeing. He urgently tried to access their minds to see what their intentions were. One thought popped into his mind, spinning furiously with intent: A degenerate is here. Arrest him!

Tam swallowed nervously as he closed his eyes, praying. He began to pull on his clean pale blue tunic and brown sash. Surely, just thinking about sodbent couldn’t get him caught. He gathered his things and waited for the inevitable as he heard the men approach from behind him. Tam’s knees felt weak, and he shivered despite the warm temperature of the room.

The men pushed into him, almost knocking Tam into the basin, as they carried on. He wasn’t the target! It was the man who had sent the message. The police continued down the aisle to the cleaning room and opened the door.

Tam didn’t wait to hear or see what transpired. His dirty uniform and socks would have to stay near the basin where he had forgotten them. He dashed out the door and headed back to his waiting cart, uncharacteristically out of breath. Adrenalin pumped in his veins and his flight response was almost impossible to ignore. He had escaped a situation that was becoming all too common in the mining communities and internment camps on Zemitis. In fact, it now felt more like a prison than Corustloth did. The world had become a dangerous place for men like Tam. 

He felt perspiration dripping down his armpits and the middle of his back. His escape was a close one. He would have to be careful, or he would end up in a Senate prison, like the man being dragged out of the bathhouse at that very moment probably would. Worse, he could be shipped to Corustloth, the dreaded prison world. Was it all worth it for a few moments of sexual pleasure with another man?

Tam let out a breath to try to calm his nerves. With a bit of resolve, he decided to proceed to the processing plant on the other side of the internment camp. Once his cart was delivered, he would receive his meagre pay and be free to go home. Mother would be waiting by the door, tapping her foot and rolling her eyes.

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