Scotiabank Giller Prize Spotlight: K.D. Miller

September 7, 2019

K.D. Miller’s short stories have been nominated for the Journey Prize, published widely in Canadian magazines and broadcast by CBC. She has published four collections of stories, a collection of personal essays, and a novel. Give Me Your Answer was short-listed for the inaugural Upper Canada Brewing Company’s Writer’s Craft Award and named by Toronto Star as one of the ten best books of 1999. All Saints was short-listed for the 2014 Rogers Writers’ Trust award and named as one of the ten best books of the year by Globe and Mail. Her most recent story collection, Late Breaking, was named a Best Book of 2018 by both Toronto Star and Quill & Quire.

This is K.D.’s first time being longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

What/who inspires you to write?

I love the feeling of going to my desk in the morning in order to discover what my characters are going to get up to. Yes, it’s fiction and I’m the writer. But characters are not puppets. They have a life of their own, and you disrespect that at your peril.

Do you have a favourite passage/quote from a book?

I collect favourite first sentences. From Julian Barnes’ Nothing to be Frightened Of: “I don’t believe in God, but I miss Him.” And from Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood: “The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there.” From Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House: “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.” And of course, everybody’s favourite: “Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again.”

Where is your favourite place to write?

I can actually write anywhere. But I start every morning at my desk in my sunroom, looking out the window from 14 flights up, waiting for the words.

Is there an activity you do to help inspire your writing?

Inspiration comes from anywhere or anything: a walk, a book I’m reading, a bit of conversation overheard on the subway, a dream – anything at all.

Do you have a tradition for every time you finish a book?

Yes. I sit down and reread Edward Gorey’s tiny graphic masterpiece, The Unstrung Harp; or, Mr. Earbrass Writes a Novel.

What are you reading now?

You Must Change Your Life: the story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin by Rachel Corbett

What is your favorite CanLit book?

I have some old favourites that I treat myself to every few years: Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business; Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye and Alice Munro’s The Moons of Jupiter.

What inspired you to write your Scotiabank Giller Prize nominated book?

In 2016, I took in the Alex Colville exhibition at the AGO. As I stood surrounded by those disturbing, evocative paintings, the phrase the Colville stories went through my mind, and I knew I had my next book.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

The understanding that love, lust joie de vivre and heartbreak are not just for the young. The elder heart can do all of that too.

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