Critically acclaimed novelist and short story writer James Miller opens up about his influences, interests, and affection for the short story. Described by Beryl Bainbridge as a ‘formidable writer’ and Time Outs’ ‘rising star 2008’, James has written two highly praised novels; Lost Boys and Sunshine State, along with numerous short stories which have been widely published, most recently in the short story collection; Still.
Which writers influenced you the most?
Blake, Shelley, Milton, William S. Burroughs, William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, TS Eliot, Brett Easton Ellis, Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, James Baldwin, Philip Roth, JG Ballard, Naomi Klein, Virginia Woolf, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Michael Moorcock, HP Lovecraft, Richard Wright, EL Doctorow, Frantz Fanon, Jean Paul Sartre, Charles Baudelaire, Henri Lefebvre, Noam Chomsky, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Freud.
What is your favourite short story?
Probably one of the stories in Flannery O’Connor ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find.’
What is your favourite short story collection?
Flannery O’Connor ‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find.’
Lost Boys is an apocalyptic fable and gripping geopolitical thriller, evoking a society on the brink of disintegration, dangerously paranoid and utterly recognisable.
Which current UK writers are exciting you?
Tom Bullough, Lee Rourke, Courttia Newland, Lars Iyer, Francis Spufford, Nicholas Royle, Eimear McBride… but I’ve got a big pile of recentish novels I need to read.
What are you working on at the minute?
I’m rewriting my third novel.
Describe your own writing habits?
Get up early, meditate, drink coffee, try to write, work in cafes, work in the British Library, go for walks, lift weights, smoke weed, meditate, listen to lots and lots of music, waste time on social media, angst and despair, fear and loathing, angst and more angst, print work out and read it elsewhere, go for another walk, watch shit TV etc etc.
Which of your short stories are you most proud of, and if possible, where might our followers read it?
‘What is left to see’ in ‘Beacons: Stories for our not so distant future’ easily available on amazon.
Sunshine State is an exhilarating literary thriller and an astonishing vision of the near future.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Forget about it. Do the sensible thing and get a job in finance. Sure, you’ll hate yourself but you’ll hate yourself anyway. At least this way you can hate yourself and have money. Or else just write. If you want to write you’ll write. If you don’t want to you won’t.
Best advice you have ever received?
I got a lot of good advice, indirectly, from my supervisor Professor Clive Bush, when I was taking my PhD at Kings College London. He really made me look critically at my writing and learn the discipline of rewriting and learnt not to be scared to scrap huge amounts of work and start again. Nothing is ever really lost or wasted and thinking again about how you are using material – whether we’re talking about academic or imaginative – can transform the work and the idea. Keep going, in other words and be prepared to rewrite it as many times as it takes to get it right.
Top tip for writing a story?
Don’t be ridiculous.
Top tip for editing a story?
Cut the first and last line of every paragraph.
Top tip for submitting a story?
Research your market – don’t send a story to a magazine you haven’t read.
For more information on James Millers’ writing endeavors and upcoming readings:
To purchase LOST BOYS or SUNSHINE STATE, follow the links below:
For more information on STILL and BEACONS: