Judith Miller: The Consequences of Lies and Deceipt
Award-winning author Judith Miller has a passion for history that is reflected
in her bestselling novels. Inspired by the fascinating history of the company town Pullman, Illinois,
on Chicago’s South side, where the elegant Pullman Palace sleeper cars were manufactured in the
1880s and 90s,Miller’s newest series follows the story of Olivia Mott, an English immigrant who
becomes a chef in Pullman’s famed Hotel Florence.
Q: The POSTCARDS FROM PULLMAN series is set in the town of Pullman, Illinois.Without giving too
much away, can you tell us a little about the series and why you chose this particular setting?
During the time I was researching FREEDOM’S PATH, I happened to review some information regarding
the railroad porters who worked for George Pullman. Intrigued, I soon discovered that the town he built
for his workers twelve miles south of Chicago still existed. Once I visited the town, I was certain I’d
discovered an exciting setting for a new series.
This series begins in 1892, an exciting time in the United States.Many wealthy capitalists had settled in
Chicago, and George Pullman was among them. However, with high land prices in the city, he decided
to build his town south of Chicago, where he laid out a beautiful, self-contained city. The series follows
two young ladies who flee England together. One is the daughter of nobility and the other is a scullery
maid who worked in the family’s kitchen. Both come to Pullman for entirely different reasons. Both are
faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges and the many lies they have told. They face the
consequences of their behavior in very different ways. The theme of lies and deceit continues
throughout the series as the reader follows the lives of the two women.
Q: How do you develop your characters? Are they based on real people?
Sometimes I mentally envision the physical attributes of people I know, but generally my characters’
personalities blossom as the storyline develops. I do fill out a basic character sheet, but the characters
change and develop as they are faced with crises and circumstances in their lives, just as you and I are
affected by our environment and circumstances.
Q: Tell us a little bit about a favorite character of yours in this series. Do you have one?
Well, I always like my protagonists, but I usually have at least one secondary character who rises to the
top—kind of like cream—and becomes a favorite.Most times it’s the ones I can have fun with—older
feisty women who speak their mind, but still tug at your heartstrings. However, in the first book of this
new series it was a man who provided me with that joy. Chef René of the Hotel Florence is a favorite. I
hope the readers will enjoy him as much as I do.
Q: How do you do your research?
Since I write historical fiction, I research what was going in the story’s setting as well as throughout the
United States, and also take a look at world events during the time period. I like to visit the
setting and get a feel for the area. As I walk the town or surrounding countryside, I try to put myself
back into that time and place and consider what folks must have been sensing and thinking.What life
felt like for them, what hardships they faced, and how they met those daily challenges. Then I begin to
brainstorm events that could have happened to impact the lives of the characters in my story.
Q: What sparks your interest and creativity to develop different writing projects?
That’s a great question. Reading or visiting a place I didn’t know about, or seeing something in the
newspaper that deals with a time and place or event, will send me off searching for information and an
idea will form from that.With the Lowell series, I found a book in a used bookstore that had been
written by the girls working in the textile mills. That book sparked an interest that eventually led to the
BELLS OF LOWELL and LIGHTS OF LOWELL series co-authored with Tracie Peterson.With FREEDOM’S PATH, it
was a newspaper article that captivated me and eventually led me to writing this series.
Q: What message would you like your readers to take away from this series?
The series deals with lies and deceit, from those little white lies to major cover-ups that are in the
newspaper and in our own lives all the time. How do we deal with them? Is it ever okay to tell a lie? If it
doesn’t hurt anyone, is it all right? What do we teach our children about telling the truth? What are the
consequences of lies? My characters face these same difficult issues at the turn of the century. They don’t
have all the answers, but they must struggle with these issues and suffer the consequences of the
decisions they make. I hope the series will cause readers to evaluate their own attitudes about
Q: What aspects of writing do you most enjoy?
I like it all, but I truly enjoy the research the most. I could continue researching and never get around to
writing the book.
Q: What are your goals as a Christian writer?
To use the gift of story to plant seeds of faith.My hope is that my books will touch hearts and lives that
might not otherwise be reached that my books can be used as a vehicle to both Christians and
non-Christians to discuss faith issues. Jesus told parables, and I believe people can learn a great deal
through fiction that is based in truth.We can point others to Christ where we couldn’t otherwise. I
could put a fiction book in somebody’s hand and they’ll sit down and read it and come away with God’s
truth, but they probably wouldn’t take a Bible from me. Directing people to Jesus—that’s my hope, that’s