American Writer Debuts in China with Novel “Boomtown”

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Author Irving Miller Uses Oddball Strategy to Hook First Million Readers

San Francisco native Irving Miller has published his first novel, Boomtown (Hei Jin Zhen in Mandarin), this month through Jiuzhou Press in Beijing. Boomtown depicts the rough-and-tumble life of a young, educated Chinese American half-blood, Wujun, working in the western Wyoming oil fields as a frac hand.

Explaining his decision to publish first in China, Miller quipped, “I decided to start in a market where my words don’t get in the way and my talents can be more easily amplified or conveniently obscured. Plus, I figured if I’m able to pull a fast one, I’ll reach my goal of a million readers here sooner than in the US or elsewhere.”

Miller, who attended public Japanese middle school and has lived several years in Tokyo and Beijing, wrote Boomtown in English, Chinese and Japanese. He may well be the first former Morton Salt factory fork lift operator to write a novel in three languages. Completing the book took two years, but the preparation in writing it — learning Chinese and Japanese — spanned a period of over 20 years. Still, Miller claimed, “After recognizing the great skill of US publishers in spewing out rejection letters, I realized it might be faster for me to go the foreign language route.”

As a new author, getting book reviews can be difficult. Miller joked, “The other night I dreamed I got Mark Twain to do a review. He told me, ‘Well, you know, Boomtown could possibly be the best book I ain’t never read, or it could be the worst. No idea. Now, you see, I’m just plain lazy, so what I did is get my other buddies up here to critique the book on my behalf, and pay me for the pleasure. Ernest said the bar scenes were a hoot, and Fyodor found the nectar chapter with the children and adults jockeying over breast milk deeply disturbing. So it may just be that you’re on to somethin.’”

Boomtown will be available at bookstores in China and in Chinese online stores in mid-October.


Hei Jin Zhen: 32 Yuan, 200 pages, 870mm x 1280mm, paperback, ISBN: 978-7-5108-4654-0



Irving Miller began his professional life stacking 80-pound bags at the Morton Salt factory on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, and operating heavy equipment in the oil fields of Wyoming.

Switching gears, he then taught English at Saga National Medical School in Japan and at Zhejiang University, a top science and engineering university in China.

After his return to the US a few years later, Miller finagled his way into the computer science PhD program at the University of Utah. While there he co-founded and ran a software company out of his basement that eventually grew to several hundred employees with offices worldwide. It was valued at three billion dollars by Deutsche Bank during the bubble days of Silicon Valley.

Miller explores new forms of nebulosity in his novels, which he writes in English, Japanese and Chinese. He is founder and chairman of TrueLake Audio, Inc., a producer and distributor of audiobooks targeting the Chinese and Japanese markets.

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