One by one, ten men and Holly Buchanan had risen to tell us their names and a little about themselves. Now it was time for the distinguished, older gentleman in the back row to stand and do the same.
“My name is Keith Miller and after listening to each of you tell a little about yourself the only thing I can say is that I’ve never in my life been surrounded by such an interesting group of misfits, mavericks, renegades and oddball geniuses. It’s as though the Wizard sent out the mating call of the albino monkey and we’re the strange folks who answered. It’s truly an honor to be counted here among you.” Thunderous applause and high-spirited revelry ensued as the patrician gentleman sat down.
It didn’t occur to them that Mr. Miller never quite got around to telling us who he was. My publisher, Ray Bard, laughed like a banshee when I told him the story, then asked, “Who was the old gentleman, really?” As sober as a judge I whispered, “Ray, it really was Keith Miller.”
J.D. Salinger wrote Catcher in the Rye in 1951 and soon thereafter went into hiding. Likewise, the dazzling Tom Robbins quietly tucked himself away in a fishing village somewhere to the north of Seattle. Journalists have been looking for Thomas Pynchon since 1969. If you’ve never watched “Finding Forrester,” go out and rent it today. It’s essentially the story of Salinger, Robbins, Pynchon and Miller.
Keith Miller’s first book, The Taste of New Wine, sold more than 3 million copies in 1965. Then, Habitation of Dragons, The Secret Life of the Soul and other books to follow sold additional millions as well. But one day Keith chose to quietly withdraw from the prying eyes of an adoring public. So when he introduced himself to the other students at the inaugural Free the Beagle Writers Conference no one suspected that he might actually be THE Keith Miller.
Keith was there because his wife, Andrea Wells Miller, had graduated from Wizard Academy a number of months earlier and so had received an advance manuscript of my upcoming book, Free the Beagle. Keith read the manuscript, fell in love with the beagle and decided to lend her his strength. When I later asked him if he would consider becoming an adjunct faculty member at Wizard Academy, he said, “Roy, I’ve not told many people this, but I use a secret technique for getting books out of my brain and onto paper. The whole process takes only about half a day and the books that flow from it are usually finished in just a few weeks. Over the years, I’ve guided 13 other people through this process and 7 of their books became bestsellers. If you’d like, I’d be happy to guide friends of the beagle.” Is a good, non-fiction book hiding somewhere inside you? If so, Keith Miller will get it out of you on the morning of Friday, June 7. During the afternoon, multiple award-winning publisher Ray Bard will instruct you in the complex process of publishing and distribution. There will be plenty of time for questions and answers. Then, at the end of the day, I’ll give you details about Wizard Academy Press, a new publishing company that will be open exclusively to authors who are graduates of the Academy.
I’m definitely going to be there. Are you?
Roy H. Williams