As a child Alexander McPhee Miller lived in south London, the son of an Irish mother and a Scottish father, whose background he has described as 'culturally rich'. Before migrating alone to Australia when he was seventeen years old he worked on a farm in the west of England. Then, after working as itinerant stockman on cattle stations in Central Queensland and the Gulf Country and travelling around Australia, he studied History and English at the University of Melbourne, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1965. Miller completed a Diploma of Education at the Melbourne State College in 1975, and he began teaching a writing course at Brunswick Technical School the following year. He had started writing poetry when he was twenty-two. He has also worked as an art dealer, farmer and public servant.
Miller was the inaugural writer-in-residence at the Australian Nouveau Theatre, 1981, co-founder of the Anthill Theatre and a founding member of the Melbourne Writers' Theatre, 1982. He has taught the prose writing course at Holmesglen College of TAFE, Victoria, since 1986, and was Visiting Fellow at La Trobe University 1994 -1995. Miller writes full-time and lives in the Victorian country town of Castlemaine.
When asked to name influential writers on his own work, Miller replied: 'Wilde, Tournier, White. George Eliot and Proust. These are all on my shelves, along with Duras and Beckett and Artaud and Celine and so on and on. And that astonishing biography, A Life, by David Marr. All books that are better at second reading. And not all books are... But where's the influence?... I could say more confidently who hasn't influenced me than who has. Joyce and the great American writers of the twentieth century. But then I like the intimate, the lyrical, the detailed, the confiding moment; the hard-won simplicities of a modest prose, deceptive and clear and smooth, rather than the fireworks displays, the crackling blaze of glory where nothing is what it is but is forever akin to something else.'
Source of quotation: http://www.allenandunwin.com Sighted: 06/02/2007
'"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.' (Publisher's blurb)
'Autumn Laing has long outlived the legendary circle of artists she cultivated in the 1930s. Now "old and skeleton gaunt", she reflects on her tumultuous relationship with the abundantly talented Pat Donlon and the effect it had on her husband, on Pat's wife and the body of work which launched Pat's career. A brilliantly alive and insistently energetic story of love, loyalty and creativity.
Autumn Laing seduces Pat Donlon with her pearly thighs and her lust for life and art. In doing so she not only compromises the trusting love she has with her husband, Arthur, she also steals the future from Pat's young and beautiful wife, Edith, and their unborn child. Fifty-three years later, cantankerous, engaging, unrestrainable 85-year-old Autumn is shocked to find within herself a powerful need for redemption. As she begins to tell her story, she writes, "They are all dead and I am old and skeleton-gaunt. This is where it began..."
'Written with compassion and intelligence, this energetic, funny and wise novel peels back the layers of storytelling and asks what truth has to do with it. Autumn Laing is an unflinchingly intimate portrait of a woman and her time - she is unforgettable.
'Strangers did not, as a rule, find their way to Chez Dom, a small, rundown Tunisian cafe on Paris' distant fringes. Run by the widow Houria and her young niece, Sabiha, the cafe offers a home away from home for the North African immigrant workers working at the great abattoirs of Vaugiraud, who, like them, had grown used to the smell of blood in the air. But when one day a lost Australian tourist, John Patterner, seeks shelter in the cafe from a sudden Parisian rainstorm, the quiet simplicities of their lives are changed forever.
John is like no-one Sabiha has met before - his calm grey eyes promise her a future she was not yet even aware she wanted. Theirs becomes a contented but unlikely marriage - a marriage of two cultures lived in a third - and yet because they are essentially foreigners to each other, their love story sets in train an irrevocable course of tragic events.
Years later, living a small, quiet life in suburban Melbourne, what happened at Vaugiraud seems like a distant, troubling dream to Sabiha and John, who confides the story behind their seemingly ordinary lives to Ken, an ageing, melancholy writer. It is a story about home and family, human frailties and passions, raising questions of morals and purpose - questions have no simple answer.
Lovesong is a simple enough story in many ways - the story of a marriage, of people coming undone by desire, of ordinary lives and death, love and struggle - but when told with Miller's distinctive voice, which is all intelligence, clarity and compassion, it has a real gravitas, it resonates and is deeply moving. Into the wonderfully evoked contemporary settings of Paris and Melbourne, memories of Tunisian family life, culture and its music are tenderly woven.' (From the publisher's website.)