Local teacher and mystery novel writer Steven Miller, writing under the alias Steven J. Kolbe, is debuting his first novel, How Everything Turns Away, published by The Wild Rose Press.
Miller, an English teacher at Holcomb High School in Holcomb, Kansas, earned his graduate and undergraduate degrees at Kansas State University’s Department of English.
The whodunnit tale centers around a disgraced FBI agent-turned school security officer, an up-and-coming police detective, and a school pastor, all of whom must help solve a heinous crime committed at a posh Catholic school in suburban Chicago – before the culprit returns to finish off a defenseless student-teacher.
While the novel’s characters, including its central protagonist, Ezra James, are pure fiction, Miller drew inspiration from his first year of teaching.
“I love creating characters and figuring out what makes them tick,” he said. “I think the mystery in my novel comes as much from getting to the bottom of who the characters are as from who committed the crime.”
The fast-paced mystery will have readers guessing until the very end and is filled with richly developed characters, multiple suspects along the trail, intriguing motives, and much more.
As both a teacher and writer, Miller draws on his personal interests in diverse cultures and own experiences to weave complex issues into the story and its characters, including matters of mental health, Catholicism, private-school education, and more.
“There are definitely some Catholic issues the book addresses, and I touch on the stigma of mental illness, too,” Miller said. “Overall, I hope people find the book enjoyable and are better able to see through the eyes of others after reading it.”
Miller is currently working on his second novel in his “Ezra James” murder mystery series and hopes through promotion of his novel to share his love for writing and reading not only with his students, but with others interested in pursuing writing.
In addition to hosting free public readings in the western Kansas area (or by video teleconferencing anywhere), Miller is available for discussion groups or mystery writing workshops geared toward aspiring writers, young and old. Sessions are free and can be scheduled upon request for interested bookstores, libraries, or school groups by contacting the author directly.
“Teaching is a fantastic way to help the next generation,” he said. “We all talk about making the world a better place – teaching is the best way I’ve found of doing just that.”
Miller resides in Garden City, KS with his wife and three children. Previous essays and stories have appeared in The Manhattan Mercury, K-State Collegian, Cavalier Literary Couture, The Hype Weekly, and Catholic Answers Magazine.
About the Novel
Ezra James used to be a big deal: Harvard graduate, FBI agent, beautiful wife. After being accused of fabricating evidence in a serial killer trial, he finds himself suspended, on the verge of a divorce, and working security at a posh Catholic school in Chicago. Then something out-of-the-ordinary happens: a young student-teacher is attacked during a Christmas pageant and left for dead in the snow. She has a noose around her neck, an electrical burn, and she’s pregnant. Ezra, along with up-and-coming police detective, Lucia Vargas, and school pastor, Fr. Remy Mbombo, must work fast before the culprit returns to finish the job.