Mom by Design - Interview with Amanda Miller – LUX BLOX
Bridging the gap between imagination and results

Mom by Design with Amanda Miller

Posted on .

Focus on Amanda Miller:
The Muse for the character Maggie in
Mars is for Misfits 

Written by Lux Blox Staff 

 Lux Blox inventor and co-founder, Mike Acerra, has been working with author, Allen Crowely, to produce the serialised novel, Mars is for Misfits. Part of the Lux Force Chronicles. 

They have imagined a future in the mid 21st century that has been greatly influenced by generations of children playing with Lux Blox. This influence of so many young children being exposed to four dimensional thinking ushers in a new world of amazing design, unprecedented innovation, and terrifying danger.

One part of Crowley and Acerra’s  creative process has been to recruit volunteers as their model/muses; real people that they use for inspiration in helping to create the characters that populate this world. They had been looking for the model for the character Maggie Tenderly, the wife of an algae and brine shrimp farmer on Mars.  

Says Mike Acerra, “The character Maggie is an incredible woman. She got a second chance in life and wants to leave her past back on Earth and raise her two children in peace in a very flat and boring part of Mars. But her past catches up to her with a vengeance. So we needed someone special to fill those spaceboots.  I proposed to Allen using the actress, Amanda Miller. Her background of having attended the Air Force Academy, and her personality and look really fit the bill for an amazing character like Maggie. When Amanda agreed, writing for Maggie became like ten times easier.” 

We caught up with Amanda Miller last week and learned for ourselves what all the fuss was about.  Here is part of our conversation with Amanda Miller, the muse for Maggie Tenderly. 

  Amanda, you are the model/muse for the character of Maggie in Mars is for Misfits. From what the author, Allen Crowley tells us, she is one of the major characters in the novel. 

Do you see yourself in Maggie?

I actually do! Here is a woman who is multifaceted, a mother who adores her children, and doesn't shy away from a challenge and she isn't perfect. Although, she managed to do what I wanted when I was young - to be on a manned mission to Mars. 

 I used to say I wanted to be a doctor on the first manned mission to Mars but with ships that were solid a la Battlestar Galactica or Star Wars. 

  How did you get involved with this project?

  I was invited by Mike. An example of sharing myself opened a door. We've been facebook friends for a bit and there was a resonance of "oh, there's another of my people". 

  Do you think it is weird that an educational toy company is producing a science fiction novel?

  I think it's great! G.I. Joe had a cartoon based off of toys. Legos has movies and books. Barbie even has a song in addition to cartoons and such. I love the conjunction of play, education, and that magic touch of sci fi. Science fiction IS about what is possible so it makes complete sense to me. And if there wasn't a LITTLE weird in sci fi, would it even be sci fi? ;-) 


You’ve had many diverse interests, from flying airplanes to modeling and acting.  You are now a mom with a college graduate. What advice do you have for young  women who are thinking about what they want to do with their life?

  This advice is for everyone - learn your human design (can be found at and use it to really lean into trusting yourself. 

Bottom line, follow what you know is correct for YOU no matter how it looks or what others say.


Make connections with people and share what you are up to.

Cool things happen when you share yourself.

Above all, trust yourself. You know what is good for you better than anyone else. 

  Do you like science fiction?

  Do I like science fiction? That's like asking if I like being alive! Sci fi is my first love. My first movie was Star Wars - with no sound. I checked out all the sci fi books from the libraries growing up and that's the first place I go for movie night. It is my view that science fiction looks at what it is to be human in all its glory and failings in ways that no other genre has. 


Princess Leia, Wilma Deering, Ellen Ripley, are just a few of the women who were powerful, capable, and embraced their own sense of femininity. Coherence. There is a coherent humanity in sci fi. Plus, there are spaceships and blasters! Who doesn't love THAT?

  What is your favorite sci-fi in books - tv- or movies? 

  I'm not someone to be locked into a single favorite as so many held different parts of my heart. 

Star Wars was such a foundation for me. It is a story of how you can move beyond what you see is possible.

Dune. Oh my. Again, massive growth and such intricate and beautiful, fully fleshed characters. What is it to be human?

Battlestar Galactica. I'm one who actually loves the old version as well as the new. That's a beautiful story of the indomitable human spirit. 

Buck Rogers. That is a lesson in how much we can grow and how much humans are the same throughout time. 

Firefly. Oh my goodness, freedom, love, what it is to hold onto what you know to be true, even at great cost to yourself. Firefly and Serenity are way up there in favorites. 

  Do you have any other books you would recommend for young readers?

  Books were my anchor growing up. They allowed me to experience triumph, loss, honor, love, loyalty, courage, sacrifice, and commitment. I could recommend so many. 

Here are some I grew from, that my boys loved, and some I loved. Just read - there are whole worlds to discover in books and stories!!! 

Where the Red Fern Grows
The Artemis Fowl series
The Ranger's Apprentice series
Hank the Cowdog series
Nancy Drew
Animal Farm
Brave New World
Lord of the Flies
Ender's Game
Anything by Ray Bradbury
A Wrinkle in Time


  You met the man you would marry while at the Air Force Academy. That’s pretty romantic!  Is the romance still alive? And if it is, how do you guys make your life work as well as it seems?  

   I did! Having that background has allowed us to have a common foundation, which is helpful. 

Amanda and her husband met while cadets at the United States Air Force  Academy.

We are continually discovering how to create romance and respect after almost 28 years. Therapy, the Landmark Forum, learning my human design, lots of listening, lots of fighting through miscommunications all are tools and methods we've employed to continue to choose to love one another and create an adventure to go on together. 

It's WORK but it's the good kind. Both parties have to work at it - being authentic with one's self so you can be authentic with your partner opens access to something special.

We both have given our word to keep discovering one another and to do the work.  

Just like any other relationship, we have our ups and downs, our good days and our days we'd rather not revisit. That said, we have created something so that now, with our sons grown and on their own, we get to play all over again. He's my person and I'm his.


  What do you think our role as citizens ought to be? What can one person do in a world that sometimes seems so crazy? 

  That is a really good question. As a citizen, I see myself as a free owner in my nation. So what does an owner in a business do? They check in, they make sure there is accountability, they roll up their sleeves when more help is needed. What they don't do is yell, blame others, or turn their back - for if they do, they lose their business. 

To bring that into realistic measures as a US citizen, it starts with knowing how our nation is set up. Reading proposed bills, mandates, etc. Calling and writing and even showing up in person to speak with our legislators. Doing the research necessary to know who is up for election and demanding transparency when there isn't enough. Voting. Learning to speak civilly on matters that affect us all. Stop relying on the government to fix things - we are powerful together so if something isn't working, create a way to fix it. 

Most of all, protect our freedoms and root out anything that would oppress them. 

Many, many men, women, AND children gave their blood and their lives for the freedoms we have left. I've yet to read anywhere in history where freedoms haven't been claimed by the spilling of blood. If that doesn't make each freedom beyond precious, I'm not sure what would. 

Ultimately, be involved. A citizen shows up and demands their nation is run well. A serf complies with what they are told. 

One person can do what they can do. Each of us creates ripples every day. Some are small, some make waves. If each person intentionally creates a little ripple in their corner, the tsunami of effect could alter our world. 

 What is your number one advice for young people who don't know what they want to do with their lives? 

  First, give yourself grace and compassion. You don't actually have to DO anything to be worthy. 

Secondly, play with life. Try new things. Take small actions but take action. 

Get away from the screen and go LIVE life. Get messy. Fail. Try things just because they sound interesting. Travel. Spend time in nature. 

Try enjoying life and creating connections and being open to what comes along - your purpose might just land in your lap. And if you stay stuck, get a coach. There are so many whose purpose in life is to support those looking for theirs. 

  What is your number one parenting tip?

  I'll give my top few. 

First, remember your child is not yours - they are their own person and you are here to guide them to be who they are.

Guide them into someone you'd be honored to meet at a party or on the street. They will spend most of their life, if lucky, away from you than with you so be as present as you can. 

Love them without condition.

Treat them with respect. 

Create safe structures. 

Try to remember what it was like being little yourself. 

Your first priority is their safety and education, NOT being their friend.  If you incorporate love, respect, and honesty, odds are the friendship will be there when they are grown. 

Consider you can learn FROM them. 

Oh and learn their human design - trust me, it will help if you know how they are wired. 

Above all, love them big. And give yourself lots of grace - there is no such thing as a perfect parent. 

  Here is an excerpt from Chapter four of Mars in for Misfits: Dangerous Things.  

Maggie felt as if she were caving. She was not special. She was a farmer's wife living in the shadows of nowhere. This can’t be really happening, again. She knew that this was no time to cave. 
Feeling the effects of the ethanol making her face and arms heavy Maggie laughed.  She looked out at the hexagon and pentagon panels with recessed LED lights and orange Halloween Christmas tree lights around the great central room of their bungalow. There was no other way to put it. She lived in a turtle. 
Sitting across from her at the heavy ceramic tiled table Dean had picked up in Little Venezuela were her husband and brother.  They had been waiting for her to say something. Maybe an answer to a question they’d asked. But she didn't remember the last time she was paying attention to them.
Dean and Jessup both knew that this maggot thing was linked uniquely to her. They knew that only trouble followed from anything to do with V’rom Allison and the shenanigans of bioengineered terraforming bug creatures from hell. And they knew that Maggie dated Dr. Frankenstein himself.
Maggie spoke, still staring at the ceramic tiles all in the shapes of little mysterious fruits and vegetables grown in Central America. “Did you guys ever feel like you’re a character in someone else’s horror novel”.
Children Community Interviews Parenting

← Older Post Newer Post →


  • What a stunning model for your protagonist. Excellent.

    Gavin Hazleton on
  • Amanda is beautiful. Good model for Maggie!

    Terrie Allen on
  • I loved this. We have been reading the novel and we think it is so cool to read about the “muse” that inspired Maggie’s character. So interesting. Thanks Allen Crowley and Lux Blox!

    Gayle K. on
  • I can certainly see what you see in her. Great article. I will share it with my librarian friends. Good reading lists! Thanks

    Allen Boyle on
  • You guys find the most beautiful and fun people to inspire your novel! Love it!!

    Yolanda T. on

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published