|Alex Miller is in Europe promoting his latest novel Autumn Laing. When he was in Ireland he spoke to Arminta Wallace for "The Irish Times":|
"One of the pleasures of writing fiction," he says, "is that if you get the setting right, and if you get the story right - the situation blowing up like a beautiful big storm cloud - characters arrive fully formed. And you think, Yes, I'll have that one, and that one; thanks, mate. It's a wonder. And a great delight to see them. They come in out of the mists of nothing, with gestures already developed."
Miller is forthright and opinionated, with the confidence that comes from a lifetime of work in his field - he's 76 - and a plethora of prizes, including two Miles Franklin Literary Awards, a Commonwealth Writer's Prize, even a Chinese Annual Foreign Novels 21st Century Award.
What interests him most in fiction, he says, is the complexity of human relationships. That, he says, is what novels should be about - and what keeps them interesting to us. He achieves this in spades in Autumn Laing, whose gossipy, fully rounded central characters weave an ensemble dance as compelling as any soap opera. He says he wrote the book in five months. "And it's the biggest book I've ever written. But it's all of a piece. All of a mood."