Tell us about yourself!
Hello! I’m Millie Florence, and I’ve been obsessed with storytelling for literally as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is of laying under the covers at night, whispering stories to myself when I was supposed to be asleep.
Tell us about your books.
My goal in every book I write is to create an excellent story with timeless themes and without any sort of agenda.
I am a devote Christian, but none of my books are explicitly Christian. I write about truth, beauty, and goodness in the hope of bringing a little more of it into the world. We need more good art for the sake of good art!
Honey Butter is a contemporary, sweet summer story about friendship and family, aimed at ages seven through twelve.
Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen is a fantasy novel told in the style of a traditional fairy tale, aimed at ages nine through fourteen.
The Balter of Ashton Harper, coming out later this year, is historical fantasy set in the Regency era. So, imagine the elegance of Jane Austen plus magic and adventure. It’s aimed at ages nine through fourteen.
No Snow Yet, my debut picture book, is coming out this winter! While waiting and wishing for snow, a young girl discovers that even without it, the winter world is beautiful. No Snow Yet is aimed at ages five through nine.
What kind of child are you trying to reach with your books?
The ideal setting I like to think of my books being read in is a family read-aloud with a range of ages. My books contain fantasy, adventure, and humor that will delight the younger children, but also deep themes and big questions to spark discussion among parents and older children.
Honey Butter is generally aimed more toward girls than boys, simply because the main characters are female. It contains themes of finding joy in everyday moments, the beauty of reading and art, friendship, and the importance of sibling relationships.
Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen, although I never say it explicitly in the book, is about childhood depression with a message of hope. My hope is to reach kids who have experienced depression, but also those who have just been through difficult things. Growing up is hard, no matter who you are. My ideal reader is a child, boy or girl, who loves magic, fairy tales, and needs a little encouragement in their life.
The Balter of Ashton Harper is a book for kids who have big dreams and struggle to deal with the uncertainty of life. Specifically, I think it would appeal to kids who are into dance, acting, sports, or anything to do with competition or entertainment. The main character is a twelve-year-old boy who does ballroom dancing with his sister and is trying to turn it into a career, because I’ve found few books about boys who are entertainers outside of sports. There are also strong themes of brotherhood and what it means to be a protector, a peacemaker, and a good older sibling.
Give us a little flavor of some great characters or the setting.
I would describe my writing as quirky and classic. Think The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton, or Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.
My favorite quote about writing is from William Makepeace Thackeray: “The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar, and familiar things new.”
I strive to do this in all my books. Thus, my characters have strong personalities and live in vibrant and sometimes strange worlds.
My characters are always at the heart of my stories. They are challenged, and never find an easy way out, but through wit and will they prevail and discover the love and hope that is most important in life.
What inspired you to write your debut novel, Honey Butter?
Around the age of twelve, my parents were painting part of our house, and my siblings and I were dragged along on errands to the paint store a lot. While my parents discussed paint and brushes, my four siblings and I were confined to the paint card section—a corner filled with tiny cards bearing the sample color of different paints for sale.
Somewhat bored, I began reading the names of the paint cards. Vivid jungle, cherry soda, bubble bath. I was amazed how, with only two or three words, the titles painted a picture in my mind (pun intended). I began to take the cards home with me until I had a small collection sitting on the edge of my bookshelf.
Looking through my paint cards one morning, I had a lightbulb moment. The hobby was quirky and a bit strange, but paint cards were undoubtedly cool.
“What if I wrote about a person who was obsessed with collecting paint cards?”
From this question, the character of Jamie Johnson began to take shape, and the story of Honey Butter slowly formed around her.
How did you know you wanted to be an author?
I’m not sure! For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that I wanted to be an author and tell stories.
Before I could type on my own, I told my stories aloud, to my siblings, to my stuffed animals, to the recorder I got for Christmas. I collected spiral-bound notebooks (usually yellow) and turned them into stick figure comic books. When my parents had the time, they typed down my stories for me, doing their best to spell all my made-up words.
When you’re little, people often ask you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” That question always annoyed me. I wasn’t going to wait until I grew up. I was going to be an author right now!
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
I have a lot of advice for aspiring authors, and if you would like to go more in-depth, you should check out my YouTube channel, Millie Florence.
My main tip would be “quantity over quality.” When you’re just starting out, often you’ll outgrow your current project, skill-wise, before you have time to finish it. Write lots of short stories, poems, freewrites, and writing exercises.
There’s nothing wrong with attempting that novel you’ve been dreaming of, but I noticed a major improvement in my own writing when I started incorporating more short writing “challenges” into my day-to-day routine, which helped me a lot with those longer projects.
Tell a story in five words, write a page describing your garage using all five senses, create a poem where every line must begin with the letter C. Just like athletes have warm-up exercises to make their physical muscles stronger, as writers, we should give our creative muscles (our brain) some warm-ups too.
What formats are your books available in?
Find them here.
The Balter of Ashton Harper will release with Bandersnatch Books this fall, and No Snow Yet will release this winter! There’s no set schedule for future books, but I always have something in the works.
How can parents find you?
You can read Honey Butter for free, both ebook and audiobook, when you sign up for my email newsletter: millieflorence.com/free.
If you’re in the market for middle grade books, I’d love to share my series with you!
Power Pup is a Christian superhero adventure series for readers ages 9-13.
Calvin Quinn is a long way from the corn fields of Nebraska.
The rookie canine reporter dreams of bringing criminals to justice with his front page headlines, while working alongside famous investigative journalist team Mittens Meow and Alex Digger.
But Calvin has a secret:
He’s also a rookie superhero!
After months of training, Calvin Quinn is ready to hit the streets and defend the innocent as . . . Power Pup!