Editor's note: Tanya Parker Mills wrote about the challenges of Asperger's syndrome and the power of relationships in her book, "A Night on Moon Hill." She talked about the book and other subjects in an interview on "The Good Word" podcast.
Mormon author Tanya Parker Mills grew up in the Middle East and currently resides in Washington state with her husband, son and two cats. She is the author of "A Night on Moon Hill," a 2013 Whitney Award finalist.
Q: You grew up in the Middle East. Where did you live and for how long?
Mills: My dad was attached to the military. We lived in Greece at the time. But I was born in Tripoli, Libya. We also lived in Turkey and in Baghdad, Iraq, for five years. That is where I got my ideas for (my book) "The Reckoning."
Q: In what ways did that time impact your writing?
Mills: I grew up around violence. You are blissfully unaware of all that when you are 7 years old. But, just being around all the smells and sights, we got very used to the Middle Eastern culture. That came through in "The Reckoning." It made me feel like I was a citizen of the world.
Q: Your next book, "A Night on Moon Hill" (Walnut Springs Press, $17.99), is quite a powerful read in many ways. The story has many layers, and deals with several social issues. Can you give a brief summary of that book?
Mills: It's about a professor who is a reclusive writer. She has a set routine to her life and it's upset this one evening when she makes a discovery in her pool. The discovery she makes leads her to meeting a young boy with Asperger's syndrome. She is out in a position where she has a choice to make as to whether she is going to make herself a part of this boy's life, or walk away from it. The book is more about the relationship of a mother and a son.
Q: One reviewer wrote the following about this new book: "I felt as though I learned a lot, specifically how someone with Asperger's might feel and think about the world. Definitely a great read, one that has opened my understanding a great deal." Is that what you had hoped people would say?
Mills: That was perfect. One of the things I have always wanted to do (with the reader) is I want to open their understanding about something. I have a son with Asperger's. You have to wonder how many people are walking around that have this and they need some understanding too.
Q: Asperger's isn't the only issue you address. You tackle a lot of different issues, ranging from physical abuse to people with terminal illness, suicide (and) even to some extent the behaviors that surface as a result of stress associated with extreme debt. Why tackle so many different issues in one volume?
Mills: It didn't set out that way. I didn't want to write just a mystery. I want to show how a woman who made a choice once can have a second chance, and make a different choice, and how that would change her life. That involved some of those (themes) you referred to.
Q: Other than your son (with Asperger's), how much of yourself did you put in "A Night on Moon Hill?"
Mills: Other than a couple things, (the main character) Daphne, is not like me.
Q: Is it hard to write yourself into the story because it is that "window to the soul" you have to be honest with yourself and who you are?
Mills: Yeah. Maybe I'll do that when I am 88 and about to die (laughs).
"A Night on Moon Hills" is available through LDS retailers. The full interview can be heard on "The Good Word" podcast, hosted by Nick Galieti.
Nick Galieti is a writer, documentarian, freelance record producer and sound engineer. He is the host of a bi-weekly podcast for LDS writers, The Good Word.