V. Jolene Miller believes in ordinary heroes and writes for and about the misfits, the misunderstood, and the underdogs of life. She has a love/hate relationship with Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle because it hits too close to (her childhood) home. She purchases $5 cups of coffee at places like Starbucks because once upon a time, all she had was $5 in her pocket. Yet, let’s face it, when your life story holds certain details it comes with the awareness that a $5 coffee is a treat best saved for a special occasion–called pay day.

Miller hails from the backstreets of Hammond, Indiana—a mere stone’s throw from Gary—and spent the majority of her youth being too ashamed to admit it. Though public schooled she somehow managed to pay for tuition to a private Catholic college (BS 2006) and has both an MA (2008) and an MFA (2018). She started life on the ladder of upward mobility by holding tight to the rung of poverty. In no uncertain terms does she anticipate literary acclaim; instead she’s petrified that trading in her devotion to “the man” is more likely to mean devotion to “the food stamp line” than it would be devotion to the New York Times Bestseller list. In 2018 Miller was awarded the Jason Wenger Award for Excellence in Creative Writing for her collection Sons of Steel. She promptly used the monetary funds to purchase a new laptop and an expensive cup of Joe.

She spends most of her days at a fork in the road. On one side lie the poverty-stricken, lower-middle-class life goals, angst, and fear. On the other are expensive coffee, the theatre, couples’ massages, and restaurants with real tablecloths. On both sides lie heavy doses of judgment. On neither side does she truly belong. You can take the girl out of the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of the girl.

Some of Miller’s favorite books include:

The Firm (John Grisham), Under the Feet of Jesus (Helena Maria Veramontes), Still Missing (Beth Gutcheon), Wife 22 (Melanie Gideon), and The Women of Brewster Place (Gloria Naylor).

When she’s not working at her day job, Victoria lives the good life by spending time with her family, traveling, reading, going to the theater, and running with her giant puppy, Omar. Shortly after being bit by the running bug, she and Omar joined the #IR4Siblings group and log miles every week for their running buddy–a sassy, smart six-year-old who inspires them to pound the pavement (or the treadmill depending on the weather).

She’s a Hoosier born and raised, a Midwest refugee, and a resident of the last frontier. Her work has been featured in Alaska Women Speak and she’s a contributing editor for Shelf Unbound, an indie book review magazine.