You don’t need psychic powers to know that September has been rough on astrologer to the stars Susan Miller: Her monthly report arrived late Friday night, nearly halfway into the month. With each passing day, Miller made allusions to the chronic illness (intestinal ulcers, injections, Humira, lowered immunity, side-effect drowsiness) slowing her normally heroic output via Facebook and Twitter. And, as usual, Miller gave all 48,000 words (the equivalent of Slaughterhouse-Five) away for free. But that wasn’t enough to appease the Susanistas — the anti-Miller faction formed last time her reports ran late, in July — from griping on Miller’s Facebook page. They are accusing the astrologer of abandoning them, lying about her illness, unprofessionalism, and generally jerking them around. The Cut talked to Miller about the brewing backlash.
Did you consider scrapping September and getting well?
My publicist Edward said I should. I had the summaries already written. But I knew the kind of letters I’d get, My birthday is in September and you didn’t do a full September. I said no, they’d be too disappointed. I never want to let them down. I think being consistent is very important in life. I didn’t know this was all going to happen to me, then that second injection really knocked me out — it lowers your immunity so two days later you feel like you’re getting the flu — and my anemia is making my writing slower. But I feel better and I think everything’s going to be fine. I feel this tremendous responsibility to be consistent. Life is hard out there. I hope I’m giving them ideas so they can help themselves. I really believe in being thorough. Remember, I’ve been doing this for 18 and a half years. If you do your homework and trust the math — and there are times where I’m like, I hope I’m right — the math forms the underpinning. The whole universe is based on cycles. For some reason, I was supposed to be privy to this.
It seems like some of the backlash is a testament to how dependent your readers are on you.
I never wanted them to be dependent. People go through stages. Libra, Scorpio, Taurus are very beat-up right now. I remember in 2009, I saw stress coming for me. I broke my leg on that hill at Equinox on 63rd Street (sneakers, wet marble, no signs). I went flying. I broke my thigh bone. Then, later in the year, I had trouble with my eyes. But I knew that year was going to be bad, and I wondered if I would live through it. So I want them to know in advance so they won’t be blindsided. It’s just this year. We have an eclipse on April 4, 2015, but each eclipse is tied with the eclipse prior. Last eclipse I got sick, so maybe this one I could get rid of the steroids.
I don’t think they’re that dependent on me, but it’s just like when your favorite TV show gets canceled. It’s like, Ugh. I loved Lie to Me, they canceled that. It’s become part of their me time. I also think people don’t live near their families anymore. Normally, you’re having a really bad day, you’d go to your mom. I believe my readers are intelligent. I think I’ve become a part of their day and their routine, and I’m very honored. I take all this seriously and with a tremendous sense of responsibility.
But part of the reason you’re part of their routine is because you’re so thorough and specific.
You know the old adage in New York? Good, fast, or cheap — pick two. Look, I could be faster if I just cut it. But after you’ve done all the research … It’s like if you have a beautiful length of silk. You want to use all of it as well as you can! Somebody’s getting asked to leave by their landlord, somebody else broke up with his girlfriend, somebody else needs a new job. I’m trying to include everything I can. For the first-time visitors, you don’t want to make someone feel like they’re just walking into a conversation they’re not a part of, like there’s a clique. And I never know how long each sign is going to take to write. It’s like being in the labor room. Sometimes Taurus or Virgo will take a day and a half, and I don’t have a day and a half!
Do you read the comments about you online?
We have a theory that the reader’s never crazy. I investigate everything, take everything seriously until it’s proven wrong. My readers are very educated. 77 percent have either college or graduate degrees. The crazies you see on Twitter and occasionally on Facebook really are the minority. But there was also [a] study from Harvard the other day explaining why we all get so upset when even one person says something negative. They say you shouldn’t read any of your press. I know Emma Roberts, she says she doesn’t read anything. I don’t know how somebody like Hillary Clinton puts up with it.
I was very wounded. It does hurt when the readers are upset with me.
It is odd to see people accuse you of being “late” for something they don't pay for.
I don’t know why they think I should be working for free. I guess because I’ve been giving it to them for free for ten years. What they don’t know is that that was because Apple didn’t allow subscriptions. Now they do. I think the readers know this is the direction it’s going in, and they’re upset. Apple sent a text message saying I had to resubscribe. My eye is twitching just talking about it.
People see it as money-grubbing or taking advantage. But the free part costs me so much in editing. If I can’t make my money back on the app, I would have to charge for AstrologyZone.com. And it’s always in my mind that somebody is suffering and they can’t really afford it, so I want to give AstrologyZone away for free. The app is just me really trying to be sensible. Running the site is expensive. I’m not trying to be a multimillionaire. I’m not trying to be Oprah. I’m just trying to make enough to surprise them with new little things. When they’re buying my app, they’re buying it from Apple or Google, who take 30 percent, what’s left I share with the app developer Phunware, then the government takes half of that!
It occurred to me that one of the occupation hazards of astrology is that it’s so time-sensitive, so it’s never a good time to take a vacation.
No. I’ve never had a vacation. Even when my mother died, oh, no, they were so mad at me because we buried her on October 1. I’m going to put up a remembrance of my mother next month, two years later. But I’m not good on vacations. Writing for me is calming. So when I go to Los Angeles and I’m sitting outside under a tree, it’s heaven.
You’ve had health issues since you were bedridden as a young girl. What about this particular illness has interfered with your writing process?
Only that I seem to need to take little naps in between signs. Usually I’m working really hard and I never need more than five hours of sleep. But with the medication I’m on, you reach a certain point where Mother Nature takes over and says, you’re going to sleep now. There were points where I couldn’t even tweet, I was so weak. I had lots of helpers coming in and out, my assistant George Courtney was running to CVS, doing all kinds of jobs that aren’t on his list. But he’s such a Capricorn, they never complain. So good to have around. All the early-morning anchors — Matt Lauer, Katie Couric, Gayle King, Charlie Rose, Diane Sawyer — are all Capricorns.
But you have shared some details about your treatment, to explain the lateness.
We don’t want to talk too much about it because medical data brokers are going to have at it. (I’m terrified after that 60 Minutes report.) Ulcers are all over my family. They used to think they were caused by stress, but now they don’t know why some people get them. It’s not serious, like cancer. We have to tell them that because they think I’m going to die. And I will be fine. Every month, I’m getting better and better. But with anything, you have a few setbacks. At one point I had a relapse, so I wrote that on Twitter. My daughter Chrissie called me and said, "Mommy, they think you’re in rehab because the word relapse means drugs."
You don't want us to reveal your own sign because you're afraid of being accused of favoritism. Can you disclose anything about what’s going on with you, astrologically speaking, to explain your illness?
Saturn is doing a number on me, and I didn’t think it would. You never want to believe it. I saw a lot of expenses. What I didn’t realize was that I’d be giving back all the money the readers sent for the book I wasn’t able to finish, and for appearances, and all the airline tickets you couldn’t return. We had to cancel everything in May. My doctor was so happy that this new, expensive drug is going well. (It cost $7,500; Blue Cross covered most of it, but I still had to put $1,200 on my AmEx.) I’m trying so hard. I’m getting well. My diet has never been better. I’ve cut out all junk. No sugar. The bacteria goes nuts for sugar, it’s like giving guns to the Taliban. I’ve had some really heavy aspects this year. Just look on the news, it’s been heavy. I know people who have stopped watching. (I don’t.) But September 25 is going to be a spectactular day, we haven’t had anything this sweet since 2011. This is something that gives you hope, a fresh start, a thunderbolt of good luck. This month I’m really going to try to be early because I’m going to an astrology convention in Arizona.