3 Questions with Creative/Critical PhD Student Thaïs Miller

Thais Miller

Thaïs (pronounced tie-ees) Miller is the author of the novel Our Machinery (Brown Paper Publishing 2008) and the short story collection The Subconscious Mutiny and Other Stories (Brown Paper Publishing 2009). She is a PhD Candidate in Literature, pursuing a Creative/Critical Writing Concentration, at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She received her MA in Creative Writing for Social Activism from New York University in 2011 and her BA magna cum laude with Honors in Literature and a minor in Music Performance from American University in 2009. She has taught literature and creative writing at UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, UC Berkeley Extension, the Gotham Writers Workshop, and the Bryant Park Reading Room. She has volunteered as an editorial reader for the Center for Fiction, Francis Ford Coppola’s literary magazine Zoetrope: All-Story, and the nonprofit literary magazine One Story. She has completed artist residencies at the Stonehouse Residency for the Contemporary Arts, the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers, the Hôtel Sainte Valière, and the Land of Medicine Buddha Retreat Center. To learn more, visit: https://thaismiller.wordpress.com/ 

Thaïs developed a love for learning Yiddish at UC Santa Cruz, where she began taking Yiddish courses in the winter of 2019. This past summer, she was awarded a Summer Research Fellowship from the Humanities Institute as well as a Scholarship from YIVO to complete the YIVO-Bard Uriel Weinreich Program in Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture. For the past three years, she has also been awarded the Stephanie G. Hoffman Scholarship from the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco.


3 Questions:

How would you describe your work in three words or phrases? 

 "historiographic," "speculative," and "meshuggeneh mishpokhe balagan (crazy family chaos)."


What is your favorite line from your work? 

"My whole life has been Hollywood adjacent."


 Tell us 1) the most fragrant location (the fragrance can be lovely or putrid, of course) that you’ve ever had the chance to write in, 2) the noisiest site you’ve ever written in, and 3) the softest place you’ve ever written in (can be metaphorical or literal).

The most "fragrant" location I've ever written in was probably when I was taking notes for my novel around the La Brea Tar Pits, which smell like a mixture of gas, asphalt, smoke, and Vaseline. The noisiest place I've ever written in has to be either the New York City Subway, especially on the L on a Saturday night, or my last apartment in San Francisco's Chinatown, across the street from the construction of the new Muni station for the T-line. The softest (and by that I guess I mean the most supportive and coziest) place I've ever written was at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland. I completed a writing residency there in the fall of 2013, and I felt completely pampered. All of our lunches (mostly soups and sandwiches) were delivered in cute little picnic baskets to our rooms. I was surrounded by numerous libraries with every issue of The Paris Review and The London Review of Books. Outside were scenic views of streams, leaves changing color, moose, and white herons. I also faintly remember being surrounded by old-fashioned duvets.