Juli Cragg Hilliard

Donald Miller: To Own a Dragon

When Donald Miller was a toddler, his father abandoned him. Now 34, the author of the bestselling "Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality" (Nelson, 2003), describes his struggle in his fourth book, "To Own a Dragon: Reflections on Growing Up Without a Father" (NavPress, Feb.). Miller co-wrote it with nature photographer John MacMurray, whose family Miller lived with for four years.

RBL: Where did you get the title of the book?

Miller: Itís from a metaphor used in the first chapter. Basically the idea of having a father is as foreign to me as owning a dragon. Itís a mythical creature that you read about.

RBL: In your other books you wrote at least some about growing up without a father. Why did you devote this one exclusively to the topic?

Miller: I wanted to write a book that people growing up without dads could identify with and also find hope in. Some publishers told me it was a bad move now because it was too specific a market.

RBL: How has being fatherless shaped you and your faith?

Miller: I grew up assuming that I wasnít really wanted by society, that authority was badóauthority was a negativeóor a force that was against me. I also wondered for many years whether I was a man, not gender-wise but in a poetic sense. Guys that grew up without a dad have no authority figure in their lives that loves them. You learn to hate authority. And I assumed that God didnít want me, that God loving me was an incredible burden for me.

RBL: Where are you now?

Miller: Getting into writing the book, I realized the issue is still very much alive and very painful. Writing it was a healing experience. I donít think Iím over it, but Iíve come a long way.

RBL: What does your mother think about the book?

Miller: She enjoyed reading it, and I think she was probably pretty proud. She was spoken well of in the book.

RBL: What is your vision for fatherless men becoming ďwounded healersĒ?

Miller: I got that quote from Bishop Tutu when he addressed the people of South Africa about the issue of apartheid. He said because you have been a victim, you have authority. I was beginning to play the arrogant victim card, and when I read that quote, I felt I should become a wounded healer rather than an arrogant victim. The lesson is to learn, come out of that, grow and then turn around and teach others because now you have experience.

RBL: What book projects do you have in the works?

Miller: Iím working on a book called A Map of Eden, which is a biography of a performance artist who, with his art, brings to life social justice issues and calls people to action. Thomas Nelson will publish that

Selected Works

Sarasota Herald-Tribune May 6, 2008
Religion BookLine April 9, 2008
Publishers Weekly Oct. 15, 2007
Publishers Weekly, May 21, 2007
Religion BookLine, May 2, 2007
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Feb. 16, 2007
Religion BookLine, Dec. 13, 2006
Manatee magazine, Winter 2006
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sept. 14, 2006
Style magazine, Sept. 10, 2006
Religion BookLine, Aug. 30, 2006
Manatee magazine, Aug. 7, 2006
Manatee magazine, Aug. 7, 2006
Manatee magazine, Aug. 7, 2006
Religion BookLine, July 19, 2006
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 15, 2006
Religion BookLine, June 7, 2006
Publishers Weekly, May 22, 2006
Manatee magazine, April 24, 2006
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, April 22, 2006
PW Religion Bookline, March 29, 2006
Publishers Weekly, March 27, 2006
PW Religion BookLine, March 22, 2006
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Feb. 3, 2006
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Dec. 9, 2005
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Dec. 9, 2005
Publishers Weekly, Aug. 29, 2005
Beliefnet, Nov. 28, 2005
PW Religion Bookline, Aug. 3, 2005
Gulfcoast Healthy Living, July 2005
Publishers Weekly, July 25, 2005
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 22, 2005
Publishers Weekly, May 23, 2005
Publishers Weekly May 23, 2005
Gulfcoast Healthy Living, May 2005
Publishers Weekly March 28, 2005
Publishers Weekly Nov. 15, 2004
Publishers Weekly, Aug. 23, 2004
Publishers Weekly, May 24, 2004
Religion News Service, April 16, 2003
Publishers Weekly, March 24, 2003
Publishers Weekly, Oct. 10, 2003
Publishers Weekly, February 10, 2003
Religion News Service, Nov. 25, 2002
Religion News Service, March 27, 2002
Religion News Service, Jan. 3, 2002