Alex Miller, Miles Franklin winning author of Coal Creek, talks books for Booktoberfest

by |October 28, 2013

BOOKS HAVE… made a writer of me. It doesn’t get more important than that as far as I’m concerned. Reading is the most satisfying experience of my life. I spend as much time doing it as I possibly can. Finding the right book is critical. And finding a new author whose work I can respond to is always pure magic.

I WRITE BECAUSE… I love writing. I think I became a writer in order to explore my ideas and responses to the world around me, which I often found it difficult to share with others. Also I liked my autonomy, and a writer can choose his or her own working hours – midnight to dawn or whenever. The difficulty of becoming a writer never bothered me. I knew it was going to work for me sooner or later. And if you’re a writer you don’t have to retire but can keep on doing the thing you love till you drop off the chair.

No one ever asks; Why do you read? But it’s becoming a question we might well ask these days. It’s not the books people are reading which are being discussed among customers in the local fruit shop as it once was but is now the series they’re watching. The world has changed!

IF I HAD TO OFFER FIVE BOOKS… I might offer five hundred:  And I don’t know whether everyone should read these five books, but I can honestly say they are among the books that have given me great pleasure and satisfaction. Marguerite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian; Evelyn Juer’s House of Exile: The Life and Times of Heinrich Mann and Nelly Kroeger-Mann; Daniel Arsand’s Lovers; Aharon Appelfeld’s The Immortal Bartfuss and Ray Mooney’s A Green Light, the most powerful crime fiction book I’ve ever read.

MY FAVOURITE BOOK NOOK IS… on the couch of an evening in front of the wood fire in winter in our house in the country – a kind of heaven.

Alex Miller’s Coal Creek is a Booktoberfest title. Buy this book now to go in the draw to win Booktopia’s weekly giveaway – a $250 Booktopia voucher – AND order by 31st October 2013 to go in the draw to win the fantastic publisher prize. Click here for prize details and to see the full Allen & Unwin Showcase

Coal Creek

by Alex Miller

Me and Ben had been mates since we was boys and if it come to it I knew I would have to be on his side.’

Bobby Blue is caught between loyalty to his only friend, Ben Tobin, and his boss, Daniel Collins, the new Constable at Mount Hay. ‘Ben was not a big man but he was strong and quick as a snake. He had his own breed of pony that was just like him, stocky and reliable on their feet.’ Bobby understands the people and the ways of Mount Hay; Collins studies the country as an archaeologist might, bringing his coastal values to the hinterland. Bobby says, ‘I do not think Daniel would have understood Ben in a million years.’ Increasingly bewildered and goaded to action by his wife, Constable Collins takes up his shotgun and his Webley pistol to deal with Ben. Bobby’s love for Collins’ wilful young daughter Irie is exposed, leading to tragic consequences for them all.

Miller’s exquisite depictions of the country of the Queensland highlands form the background of this simply told but deeply significant novel of friendship, love, loyalty and the tragic consequences of misunderstanding and mistrust. Coal Creek is a wonderfully satisfying novel with a gratifying resolution. It carries all the wisdom and emotional depth we have come to expect from Miller’s richly evocative novels.

Click here to buy Coal Creek from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

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About the Contributor

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

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