Author Update 2024: Larada Horner-Miller

Retired teacher Larada Horner-Miller writes historical fiction, memoir and biography, and poetry. Her newest release, Hair on Fire: A Heartwarming & Humorous Christmas Memoir (September 2023), is an uplifting collection of poetry and prose centered around family. You’ll find Larada on her website LaradasBooks, her Etsy shop LaradasReadingLoft, and her Amazon author page. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Read more about her work in SWW’s 2017 and 2018 interviews.

Why did you write Hair on Fire? Who is the audience for the book?
I love Christmas! Originally some of the material in Hair on Fire I shared in my weekly blog, then it hit me that I could collect it, add to it and it would be a fun and heartfelt Christmas book. The audience of this book is for Christian families, women, and children who feel connected to Christmas and would enjoy a nostalgic look back.

What prompted the push to begin the project, and how did the book come together after that?
After writing several blog posts over the years for Christmas, I realized how much I loved sharing my Christmas experiences with my readers, and how much they enjoyed them—a perfect reason to collect them, add new ones and publish this book. So, I started working on it in the beginning of 2022, then I sent it off to my editor July 14, 2022. (I have such a wonderful editor who has edited my last four books!) Because I self-publish, when I received her final edit August 14, I set up the interior in Vellum. I released it September 6, 2023 while my husband and I were traveling in Germany. That was an amazing experience to keep track of the book launch long distance.

How did you organize this collection of prose and poetry?
There are thirty-one chapters with some being poetry, others prose. In some I invite the reader to go inside the Christmas story and experience with the main characters—Mary and Joseph—what happened so many years ago. Also, I sprinkled some of my favorite Scriptures throughout. I use a lot of graphics and pictures for the visual learner. (I’m a retired middle school literature, language arts, Spanish and computer teacher, so I still think about learning styles!) At the end of the book, I provide a couple of lists of my favorite Christmas readings and movies.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
I wanted to balance the poetry and prose and invite the reader into how I experienced Christmas during a time very different from today: in a small ranching community in southeastern Colorado where we cut our tree down off our ranch. Also, I had to include a sorrowful experience noting the last Christmas with my brother-in-law who showed us all the true meaning of Christmas. (I wrote that story for my sister and she cried.)

Do you have a favorite chapter, story, or poem in the book?
As an adult, I am an Episcopalian and I take the reader from Advent (liturgical season before Christmas) all the way to Epiphany (liturgical season after Christmas) in this book. January 6, 2021 was Epiphany—it was also the day insurrectionists stormed our nation’s Capital. I had to dedicate a chapter to that unbelievable day even though it made this a political statement. My favorite poem is “Christmas at the Horners’” where I share my childhood Christmas Eve experience with a multitude of cousins, and my paternal granddad takes center stage.

How did you choose the book’s title?
One of the humorous poems in the book, “My Hair on Fire,” is where the title of the book originated. It tells of my childhood memory of being in a Christmas pageant at our small community church, and the angel behind me got too close and caught my hair on fire. To this day, I chuckle at the matter-of-fact manner our Sunday School teacher handled it and the show went on!

What was your favorite part of putting this project together?
Vellum offered a new feature: adding a heading background and I jumped on it. It appears on the first page of every chapter, so I added a pine cone and branch and I loved how it dressed up the paperback copy.

Of the seven books you’ve published, which one was the most challenging and which was the easiest or most enjoyable to write?
The most challenging was Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo because I had to be sure of the accuracy of it. I had forty hours of recorded interviews I transcribed. So, I ended up with 258,000 words and had to cut it back to about 70,000. But what a privilege it was to tell this amazing man’s life story.

The easiest and most enjoyable book was the first one, This Tumbleweed Landed, because I didn’t know better—it was my introduction into the self-publishing world—and being the first made it a true delight! I have a masters in computers, so I not only enjoy the writing of the book, but the actual layout too.

What do you want to be known for as an author?
I tell authentic stories and write poetry about a life that exists no more. All of my books deal with a positivity in life even if there are trials and tribulations along the way.

What are your strengths as a writer?
I love to write and never have experienced writer’s block. In fact, I have about ten books in the queue. Being an English major, I have a strong background in the classics and I love to read. Also, I fell in love with Natalie Goldberg’s free writing and used that in my classroom and still use it today. Poetry has become my genre of choice and I feel my soul leaks out in my writing, and I discover new truths in every poem.

Why do you think people like reading memoirs and biographies?
Readers can put themselves into the stories easier than any other genres. They read about an experience, an emotion, and connect with the writer. Memoirs/biographies are truly an escape from this world into the real world of someone else who has conquered or mastered some trial or tribulation. That winning becomes the readers as they devour the page.

What is the best compliment you’ve received as an author?
“When I read your books, I feel like I’m sitting across the kitchen table from you, talking!” I love that!

Do you have writing projects you’re working on now?
I am working on book one of a three-book poetry series entitled Was It a Dream: Navigating Life’s Journey Through Poetry. The first book of this series starts with a poem written in 1986, my first poem about a trek into the jungle of Mexico to the Mayan Indian ruin of Coba. That volume ends with a poem about 9/11/2001, a day we all will never forget.

KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kat has a speculative fiction blog at and writes about memoir at

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