Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller

By Janie Reinart

Ummmm. Doughnuts! I used to work at a bakery when I was in high school. The going rate was eighty-five cents an hour, and all the doughnuts I could eat! I never once thought to ask,"Who invented the doughnut?"

Lucky for us, the lovely and talented Pat Miller answered that question and her new book, The Hole Story of the Doughnut is debuting on May 3, 2016.

Pat how did you get the idea for the book?

When my husband and I were taking a harbor tour of Boston, I heard the guide say, “And over there is where they buried the guy who invented the doughnut.” 

We know who that is?! I quickly wrote the fact in my author’s notebook, which is a part of my wallet, and then forgot about it. 

The next year, I was attending a Highlights nonfiction workshop, and we were required to bring a nonfiction manuscript. Yikes! What would I write about? I scavenged my writer’s notebook and rediscovered this fact. That was the beginning.  

How long did it take you to write the story?

The research took a heady six months. I LOVED being a detective and finding facts that have been hidden from history. 

Making myself stop searching and start writing was difficult. It took me another six months and numerous rewrites to finish the text. 

Do you have an agent?

For my first 25 books, I had no agent. Stephen Fraser of Jennifer De Chiara Agency saw my most recent story through Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 and asked to represent it. 

He placed The Hole Story of the Doughnut with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Steve saw it in January of 2013, Kate O’Sullivan of HMH bought it in July. Then it sat for a year while its turn in the editorial cycle came up. It debuts on May 3, 2016. 

What inspires you to write?

Sitting down to my desk in my lovely little office inspires me. I write until something comes to me. 

I also get so many ideas in the shower that I had to buy a waterproof tablet! 

What is your writing routine?

I prefer to be up and writing by about 6:30 am, five days a week. I use a timer app that rings after 25 minutes of work. 

I make myself take a 5 minute break and then get back to it. I find that this really helps me stay focused. If a distraction comes along, I jot it down for later. 

I go to water aerobics at 10:00 am three times a week, and all that oxygen really gives me some good ideas. 

So I get back to the desk till about one o’clock and lunch. By then my brain/imagination are palms up, saying, “That’s all I got!” 

I try to stick with this, arranging commitments and fun things in the afternoons as best I can.

What is your favorite craft book about writing?

My favorite craft book for nonfiction, the one that truly inspired and taught me, is one I received at the Highlights nonfiction workshop: The Anatomy of Nonfiction: Writing True Stories for Children by Margery Facklam and her daughter Peggy Thomas. 

My favorite writing book in general is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on several workshops that I will present at my NF 4 NF Writing Conference for Children’s Nonfiction Writers. 

Candace Fleming, Peggy Thomas, Melissa Stewart, Nancy I. Sanders, and Kelly Milner Halls will be joining me and three dozen participants for four days in Rosenberg, September 22-26. 

I can’t wait to learn more from them! As for manuscripts, I’m working on the story of an amazing woman who actually bested Sam Houston.

What are your words of advice?

Don’t listen to yourself. By that I mean it’s not unusual for your inner self to be critical, hopeless, daunted, and downright catty. 

Instead, write down your goals, your hopes, your targets and post them next to your computer or writing spot. THAT’S your reality. 

Surround those printed goals with affirmations and believe those. When your whiny self (“I can’t do this...”) tugs on your sleeve, give her/him a tiny pity party with chocolate, reread your goals and affirmations, and KEEP ON! 

Thank you Pat for an inspiring interview. Best wishes on your book launch. And as my dad used to say, "See you around like a doughnut!"


  1. Wonderful interview! Can't wait to read your book, Pat! I enjoyed learning how you came up with the idea.

  2. Pat, I am excited for your debut. We GROGgers all applaud you. I really enjoyed learning about your daily writing schedule. It sounds like one I might adapt. Who doesn't like donuts???

    1. Kathy, Pat is awesome. You are an energizer bunny too!

    2. Right! If chocolate doesn't motivate your writing habit, maybe doughnuts will?

  3. Inspiration comes from your origin tale for this one Pat!

    1. Darlene it is such a cool story. Who doesn't love doughnuts!

    2. So true. Thank goodness I wrote the idea, or in the midst of our New England vacation, it would have been lost.

  4. So fun to peek into your author's life, Pat. . .thanks for the tour! ;-)

  5. Angie, so glad you liked it!

  6. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into Pat's writing life and a great interview.

  7. Therese, you are welcome. Pat's office looks so much neater than mine.

  8. So excited this book is out in the world, Pat! Congratulations! And now, for a box of donuts to celebrate...

    1. Agreed! And I think Captain Gregory would be pleased to hoist one with us. :-)

    2. Pass those doughnuts please!

  9. Love this interview and so happy for you, Pat. I can't wait to read it. Your idea of keeping some writing material handy at all times is a good idea for all of us.

  10. Sherri, Pat is just filled with good ideas .

  11. Terrific interview! Thank you Pat and Janie :) I'm attending Pat's conference and can't wait for September to get here. I look forward to reading THE HOLE STORY OF THE DOUGHNUT.

    1. Your are welcome! The conference with be great!

  12. Janie & Pat,
    A fabulous collaborative interview.
    My fave part is the tucking the catalyst away & how signing up to attend
    a Highlights workshop, prompted the finding/memory of it. Very organic.

    Also it's helpful to share from the "inside" how even after a manuscript is
    bought, it's normal for it to be in a queue, a long queue..

    I look forward to meeting Capt. Gregory. And learning how Boston fits into his tale.
    I know your launch is HOley Fun!

    1. Thanks Jan. It does seem to take a long time for the birth of a book.

  13. Thank you for interviewing Pat and sharing information about her latest book title, Janie.

    The importance of reseraching for nuggets of hidden history provides a writer with necessary facts for a nonfiction book. Thank you, Pat, for sharing the importance of doing so. Your writing desk looks like a special place to write.
    ~Suzy Leopold

    1. You are welcome, Suzy. Pat's desk looks so neat too!