Jenny and Greg Miller are the authors of Age of Atheria. They are a married couple who also wrote the book together. The book explores love, heartbreak, danger, and mystery along with the societal, political, and environmental impacts that we are currently facing. YEM was able to speak with Jenny and Greg about what it is like to write the novel together, how they hope the book can impact young readers, and how much research went into the book.
Young Entertainment Mag: How does it feel to have your debut novel Age of Atheria out?
Jenny and Greg Miller: It feels surreal! It has been eight years in the making for me (Jenny) and five years in the making for Greg! We have put our hearts and souls into this story and project, and seeing it finally receive the breath it deserves feels absolutely amazing! We have written life into these characters that readers may now meet, get to know, grow with, evolve with, and be a part of their journey as well. We are so grateful our story is finally out into the world! It’s an incredibly exciting time for us.
YEM: What was it like to write this novel together?
Jenny and Greg: It was a journey in and of itself, working together and independently. I (Jenny) spent so much time working on this world and the main characters, the early stages, and the television pitch; it took time, endurance, and determination. I would stay in and miss events or nights out with friends to work on this world. But I always knew I wouldn’t do it alone, I didn’t know who it was, but I felt deep within my heart that I would have a teammate. After Greg and I started dating, I introduced him to the world and project I had been working on for years. He understood it in a way a creator of it did, and we started working on it together. He brought so much to the creative process and broadened the world; he created new characters that I feel were meant to be and felt right as we developed them further. It was a seamless process working together. We pulled inspiration from one another, and our deep talks about the world and the possibilities felt endless. However, the timing of creative flow between two individuals differs, and getting to that place of free-flowing creativity and tapping into that together at the same time doesn’t always happen. Greg works best first thing in the morning, and I work best at night. So we had to find ways to compromise and make it the best time for both of us. It also got very interesting when we would write after our babies joined the party! The house got much louder, much busier, and much harder to keep a writing schedule. But when we get in the flow, we are able to really get deep with our creativity, and it’s magical!
YEM: How do you balance life and work since you live and work together?
Jenny and Greg: Balance is key! We are really getting great at prioritizing our schedule and creating that balance for ourselves. We have multiple planners and lists operating at all times in our house! We allocate time to work together and separately. We make our family time a priority and are able to shut off work and spend time together with each other and our sons. We love to spend time together as a family, make new memories, adventure together, and travel, and we also love just being home as a family. We love to cook, play music, and have a dance party in the kitchen!
Creating a world can be an exhausting process, so it’s important to refill your cup and do things that make you happy on your off time, so you can come back feeling inspired. We are around each other constantly, and we know each other well, so we can easily pick up on the other’s energy on what we need at that moment. And if that is time to shut off work for the day, we are good at compartmentalizing our lives, and when work is done, work is done. If we are with each other or our family, we are present with them. We make time for ourselves, our minds, and our spirituality, working out and meditating. At the end of the day, we have always found a rhythm that works for us.
YEM: Age of Atheria explores topics such as societal, political, and environmental impacts, did you know that you wanted to write about this all along?
Jenny and Greg: Yes, absolutely. As creators, we feel we have a responsibility to use our voices, to utilize a large platform that speaks to so many about very crucial elements we are facing within humanity. We wanted to fictionalize a future destruction of our present-day world based on the trajectory we feel we are currently on with each of those topics. Our story is based in a dystopian America; it’s tyrannical, and the people of the Republic are ruled with an iron fist. There are massive amounts of resource scarcity. The damage their world faces is from the firsthand results of greed, power, and pain inflicted upon one another, destroying our planet and each other.
Especially since we have children together, it’s pertinent to teach our sons that we leave the world a better place than what we came into. We all have a part and role in our choices and the impact our choices make across the world. It can feel like we are really small on this huge planet, but each and every one of us matters, so much! It all matters what we say, how we treat one another, and how we treat ourselves. It all impacts the collective. We wanted to tell a story that inspires our readers to want to be better to each other, all beings, the planet, and our home. To re-ignite their own flame and follow their passions, find that path to align with their destiny. We hope that causes a ripple effect of them inspiring others, and so on, and so on.
YEM: Did your life inspire any parts of the book?
Jenny and Greg: (Jenny) There is a lot in the book that is inspired by events and experiences from our lives. The Hawk has so much symbolism in the book, and he came to me when the story was just getting started. I was up North in Little River, California, by myself with my dog and finding the creative spark to start a new project. I was going through an immensely difficult time in my life and was trying to rebuild if you will. I was sitting along the ocean on the beach when a hawk flew over me. I watched him fly over us; it felt like he had a message for me. I returned to my cottage and looked up the meaning and symbolism of seeing the hawk in your life. Its meaning was to take flight, new beginnings, have trust in the process, and believe in yourself. A few days later, I was sitting on the ocean cliffs far away from the previous beach, and there high above – the hawk was flying again. I knew at that moment he had to be in the story. He had to have significance, and I knew at that moment how. He and Ady were the first characters born in the story. Ady has a tremendous amount of me in her, I knew I wanted to create a story about a girl who breaks down into a place in which she must rebuild, and she does so powerfully and even better than who she was before. There is a lot of Greg in Eagan, and it is interesting those characteristics of him, her true love, I created years before – and it’s as if I was writing the attributes of what I had hoped for in my person.
(Greg) Being human itself, there is a struggle between light and dark in everyone’s lives, whether extreme or not. I personally have been through very dark times, and when Jenny was first explaining this story to me, the Light vs. Dark as the central theme – I understood it as though I had lived it. When she spoke of the Erlick Federation, I felt like I had conquered those same demons in my own life, and because of that, I knew how to write about it. I think I was the counterpart Jenny sought to bring that side into the story with firsthand experience of dealing with that type of energy. It was as if I truly knew it. And I was able to aid in the grittier scenes, while Jenny flourishes in the more whimsical side. But I love that side too and can see Atheria as if I have been there. It is the place we would all aspire home to be.
YEM: What do your two boys think about your book?
Jenny and Greg: They are so excited about our book; every time our oldest sees it, he points to it and says, “Mama, Dada book!” He knows it is ours, but he is only three, and our youngest is about to be two! So they don’t know the ins and outs of our story yet – BUT – we think they will be proud of us once they are old enough to understand the story, the process, how long it took us, and we hope that it inspires them to follow their dreams and the calling in their hearts. We are hopeful that by the way we are raising them, they will understand why what we are writing about is so important; to us, to our family, to the world.
YEM: How do you hope that your book can impact the young readers?
Jenny and Greg: We hope that our young readers feel inspired, to go out and conquer their world by living a life filled with passion and aligning with their destiny. That they feel hope, hope for the world, for each other, and themselves. But with that, they understand that their actions have consequences, whether good or bad. And we hope that they do the right thing, even when no one is looking. To re-ignite their internal fire if it may have dimmed, to know that it is okay to feel as though you have hit the bottom, and to read a story that helps them feel that they can rise again and rise higher than before. To read a story outlining many characters’ journeys of how they continue to prevail by continuing to rebuild. To keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep going. To know how much they matter. That we are all connected, and unity should be so easily attainable, and we share a story on how to do that – by compassion, understanding, empathy, learning, listening, trusting, and love. We hope that our young readers seek knowledge, that they put the book down and ask questions. That they put the book down and research. That they seek and shall find.
YEM: You two met as actors, what made you get into writing?
Jenny and Greg: I (Jenny) have always loved writing from a very young age. I have always been a big conceptualizer as well, and I love ideation. So when I had the chance to write in the entertainment field, it was the best of both worlds. I was working on TV series pitches, concepts, and screenplays. I also personally wanted to create work for myself in hopes I could act in the stories I was creating. Now, the most important goal of mine is to get the story and message out there.
(Greg) I have a background in professional sports and have played all my life. I was drafted out of college and played for the Milwaukee Brewers as a pitcher. After getting hurt and injuring my elbow, I was later released as my velocity was never the same. I needed to re-identify myself and decided to try my hand in entertainment, so I moved to California. Along the way, I started writing to release and formulate my thoughts onto paper. I started a motivational book that I felt would help others in their process of re-identifying or finding their way. I started writing about my own personal story and journey in hopes to inspire others to help them make a shift or change in their own lives. When I met Jenny, I had no idea that my journey would lead me to writing this story, and I am so glad that it did. It’s an immense message and I am so humbled to be a part of it.
YEM: Do you plan to continue to write for a young adult audience?
Jenny and Greg: We do! Age of Atheria is book one of the series, and we are anticipating four books in total to complete the series. We are currently writing book two and are hopeful for a 2023 release! We also have some other projects on deck that are for a young adult audience. We love the pacing of young adult fiction, and we write cinematically, so we keep the pages moving, and it’s a pace that feels right for us in the writing space.
YEM: How much research had to go into learning about climate change for this book?
Jenny and Greg: A ton of research. We are always researching about many topics – for the book, for ourselves, we love to seek knowledge and learn as much as can along the way. It is important as authors to uphold our sense of responsibility for the message we are trying to convey to our audience, to have a solid grasp on what we are trying to say, and for us it is essential to write with a message in mind. This one just happens to be for all of humanity. We want to be as factual as possible in a fictional world.
We spend a lot of time in our process in what we like to call the “soul work,” and that is where we have deep and open discussions with each other; we are reading, we are journaling, we are asking questions, and we are researching. It is important to have a well-versed mind in what you are speaking about, and that also drives the passion you have for a specific topic. When you care about something, it shows. We care deeply for the planet and all who inhabit it, so we researched many ways we are harming it, and that became a part of the book to exhibit these factors as possible outcomes if we keep going down this road and it continues to worsen. We tried to place elements as unbiasedly as possible, with the twists of fiction and magical realism.
YEM: What are you the most proud of in regard to this book?
Jenny and Greg: Staying true to ourselves and the message behind the book, the why to our story. Utilizing our story to parallel the truths of our world and hoping to alter the path and current trajectory that humanity is on, for the better. We are proud that we did this together. We are so proud that we completed the first part of the mission, book one of the four book series, that we have followed through on what we set out to do and never gave up on ourselves. We are proud we said yes to ourselves, to our dreams, and listened to that calling inside that kept leading us in this direction, and that we were of action to achieve completing the first part of our story. We are so proud we just kept going because by putting one foot in front of the other, the journey continues, and we are just getting started.
YEM: What was the best part of working together?
Jenny and Greg: We are grateful for the whole process. We have always said that creativity is a huge part of our relationship. It fuels us, fills our cup, and it is very intimate for us to go to a vulnerable place and dig deep within our hearts and minds to share our ideas and formulate them into a story together. We are so proud we have come this far! We had a mission to complete it, and we did. We feel like this story was placed in our hearts for a reason, and it feels almost like a duty to tell it. So it has been such an honor to tell it together. We loved creating this story during the years we had our children. They evoke so much inspiration for us, and we are so thankful for our little boys. And for each other. Having your best friend by your side makes it even more special when you can celebrate the exciting things in life that you both have worked so hard for.