Tuesday, July 8, 2014

TEKLA DENNISON MILLER- Twelve Question Tuesday

Today I am pleased to welcome former warden Tekla Dennison Miller to Twelve Question Tuesday.
1.  Please tell me the three most important things people should know about you.
1. I am married for nearly 39 years to wonderful man who recently has had a double leg amputation but he still has a sense of humor has remained optimistic.
2. I have 3 stepsons, one daughter-in-law and 3 remarkable grandchildren.
3. I was the warden of a men’s maximum and a women’s multi-level prisons outside Detroit, MI.
2.  Are you a dog person or a cat person?
Although I love all animals my husband and I have rescued dogs for all the years we have been married. At the moment we have 2 mutts (Rez Dogs) rescued from the Apache reservation.
3.  Tea or coffee?
Absolutely coffee—the stronger the better. But I must admit that I have slight addiction to Chai Latte.
4.  Boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, or commando? (Either what you prefer or what you prefer on others.)
Sexy boxer-briefs.
5.  What was the first thing you ever wrote?
In fifth grade I wrote a story about my brother and baseball. I still remember the title—“Baseball in his Blood”.
6.  When did you finally decide to call yourself a writer?
It never occurred to me that I would write or one-day be a published author. When I retired early my friends urged me to write about my twenty-year career with the Michigan Department of Corrections. “You should write a book. You have so many fascinating stories to tell,” they said.
I brushed them off. After all the most exciting material I had written all those years were my monthly reports and annual budgets. Trust me, these don’t make best-seller material. So I decided to do what so many of my predecessors had done–I became a consultant. 
Within a month of that decision I got my first job. I was hired to be a keynote speaker at the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association conference on the female offender. I was flown to Boston, put up in a nice hotel, chauffeured around and paid $500 for a thirty-minute speech. I was delighted and knew I had made the correct choice. I couldn’t make that much money for a half hour of writing, especially when I didn’t have the skills. I left Boston flying high on my success. 
When I got home I promptly deposited my $500 check and made plans on how to spend it. Shortly after, the bank notified me that the check bounced. “How can this be?” I asked the teller. “It’s written on the Sheriffs’ Association’s account?” Little did I know that by the time I had contacted the association about this, the executive director was under investigation for mismanagement of funds. 
When I discovered this, I told myself, “Perhaps consulting isn’t meant for me. I should try writing. What did I have to lose? I couldn’t have a worse experience.”
Many years later I was a party I was approached by two women who asked, “Are you Tekla Miller, the author?” It took me a moment to ponder the question because I had only been known as “The Warden.” After a quick review of my achievements over the past years, I proudly answered, “Yes, I am.”
7.  Which of your works are you most proud to have written?
I would have to say my first book THE WARDEN WORE PINK because it was the beginning of my wonderful life.
8.  What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?
An employee at the women’s prison threatened my life. Her psychologist informed me and the police that he believed she would carry out the threat. I had to have a body guard.
9.  How did you end up getting published?
Although I actually had an agent she gave up on me. So I researched independent presses and Julie Zimmerman of Biddle Publishing took a chance on me and published THE WARDEN WORE PINK in 1996. It is still in print and is used in both criminal justice and women’s studies at several colleges and universities and has been quoted in many nonfiction books.
10.  Would you be food or fighter if the zombie apocalypse were to happen?
Definitely a fighter. I’ve been a fighter all my life. I had to be. I became an orphan when I was 13 years old.
11.  What is the most daring thing you have ever done?
Being the first person—man or woman—in the U.S.to be the warden of 2 high security prisons simultaneously.
12.  Would you rather be rich or famous--and you could only have one-- and why?  The fame would be based on something good, not something like being the best serial killer or anything like that.
Famous. I’d rather have the reward of helping others than money. I have already helped and would continue to help the wrongfully convicted.
My most recent book is about to be released by Oak Tree Press. MOTHER RABBIT is the true story of my sister, Alyce Bonura who was a single mother that became the Bunny Mother of the Chicago Playboy Club in the mid 1960s.
Although my web site is being updated you can view it at TeklaMiller.com - Tekla Dennison Miller's Web Site  


Diane Vallere said...

Tekla, I knew nothing of your background and now am fascinated. I need to read your books!

Jackie Taylor Zortman said...

What an interesting interview and interviewee. I enjoyed every word. The book sounds really interesting, as well, and as soon as I get through July, I intend to enjoy reading it.

Nancy LiPetri said...

First, the author photo surprised me because that isn't what I thought a warden should look like :) Then so much of the interview WOWed me. #8 and #11 had me saying OMG out loud. Now to go put her books on my to-read list.