Books by Patti Miller
Writing True Stories
The complete guide to writing autobiography, memoir, personal essay, biography, travel and creative nonfiction.
Writing True Stories is the essential book for anyone who has ever wanted to write a memoir or explore the wider territory of creative nonfiction. It provides practical guidance and inspiration on a vast array of writing topics, including how to access memories, find a narrative voice, build a vivid world on the page, create structure, use research-and face the difficulties of truth-telling.
This book introduces and develops key writing skills, and then challenges more experienced writers to extend their knowledge and practice of the genre into literary nonfiction, true crime, biography, the personal essay, and travel and sojourn writing. Whether you want to write your own autobiography, investigate a wide-ranging political issue or bring to life an intriguing history, this book will be your guide.
Writing True Stories is practical and easy to use as well as an encouraging and insightful companion on the writing journey. Written in a warm, clear and engaging style, it will get you started on the story you want to write-and keep you going until you reach the end.
'A rich, practical and accessible source of wisdom ... the complete tool kit.' Caroline Baum
Allen and Unwin 2017
To buy: UQP | Booktopia
An exquisite memoir of a year spent daydreaming in Paris by award-winner Patti Miller
It must mean something, a dream that can propel you to the other side of the world. Couldn’t it be the heart wanting something it needs, this longing for elsewhere? After all, we are all strangers wandering around this planet, apparently lost most of the time, looking for something or someone – or some place.
What does it mean to fulfil a dream long after it seems possible? When Patti Miller arrives to write in Paris for a year, the world glows ‘as if the light that comes after the sun has gone down has spilled gold on everything’.
But wasn’t that just romantic illusion? Miller grew up on Wiradjuri land in country Australia where her heart and soul belonged. Mother of grown-up boys with lives of their own, what did she think she would find in Paris that she couldn’t find at home?
She turns to French writers, Montaigne, Rousseau, de Beauvoir and other memoirists, each one intent on knowing the self through gazing into the ‘looking glass’ of the great world. They accompany her as she wanders the streets of Paris – they even have coffee together – and they talk about love, suffering, desire, motherhood, truth-telling, memory, the writing journey, how to know who we are in the family and in the cultures that shape us.
This story, of a year spent writing and reading in Paris, explores truth and illusion, self-knowledge and identity – and evokes the beauty, the contradictions and the daily life of contemporary Paris.
The Mind of a Thief
To buy: UQP | Booktopia
‘The whole Wiradjuri nation was born in the Valley. Baiame came out of the sea in the east on his emu feet, a giant of a man, with his two wives, and he strode up through the Valley and he created it. It’s the most important place. It’s where the stories come from. That’s why I won’t let it go.’
When writer Patti Miller discovers that the first post-Mabo Native Title claim was made by the Wiradjuri in the Wellington Valley where she grew up, she begins to wonder where she belongs in the story of the town. It leads her to the question at the heart of Australian identity – who are we in relation to our cherished stolen country?
Feeling compelled to return to the valley, Miller uncovers a chronicle of idealism, destruction and hope in its history of convicts, zealous missionaries, farmers and gold seekers who all took the land from the original inhabitants. But it’s not until she talks to the local Wiradjuri that she realises there’s another set of stories about her town, even about her own family. As one
Wiradjuri elder remarks, ‘The whitefellas and blackfellas have two different stories about who’s related to who in this town’.
Black and white politics, family mythologies and the power of place are interwoven as Miller tells a story that is both an individual search for connection and identity and a universal exploration of country and belonging.
Long-listed for the
Stella Prize and the Nita Kibble Prize, Short-listed for the WA Premier’s Prize
for Non-Fiction, Winner of the NSW Premier’s Prize for History 2013. It has
also been put on the syllabus for English for the VCE in Victoria.
The Mind of a Thief
UQP May 2012
Winner 2013 NSW Premier's Prize for History, VCE English syllabus listed.
‘Thoughtfully and perceptively relayed, this is a story all about identity, connection to place and how we gain a sense of self through stories of the generations.’ Courier-Mail
‘If this book does not resolve all the contradictions of its material that is a tribute to Miller's integrity. It is an appropriately complex and illuminating response to the Mabo judgment.’ Sydney Morning Herald
‘This exploration of identity and belonging is brilliantly crafted, brave and full of love.’ Hobart Mercury
‘A seamless narrative. [Miller’s] powers of observation give her stories a colourful cohesion. She has produced a remarkably fluid, virtuoso piece of writing.’
Native title is a complex and vexing issue. This thoughtful, well-researched and beautifully written personal story helps us to understand why it is so important to indigenous people.
Herald Sun ‘Great Read’.
‘The Mind of a Thief deals with the big issues… the book unfolds into one of the best descriptions I've seen of the native title mediation process. This is complex stuff but Miller sets it all out calmly and clearly, using the craft of storytelling.’
‘Thoughtfully and perceptively relayed, this is a story all about identity, connection to place and how we gain a sense of self through stories of the generations.’
Listen to actress, Claudia Karvan reading from The Mind of a Thief, accompanied by artist, Gria Shead’s images, Graphic Festival, Opera House 2013.
Writing Your Life
Now superseded by Writing True Stories
If you have dreamed by childhood creeks, played in a dusty schoolyard,watched the sun rise after a partner has died, or lived through any of
life’s twists and turns, then you have a life story to write. Writing
Your Life shows you how.
This book is also about the psychological and spiritual journey
of the writing of the self. The journey is one of discovery and this book
is a map of the terrain. Writing Your Life
gives you the skills you will need to undertake that journey. In writing
your life you reveal and create its meaning.
This best-selling edition of Writing Your
Life provides techniques for getting started, finding your writing
voice, accessing memory and discovering the structure of your story. It
also explores the wider area of life writing: sojourn and travel writing,
‘recovery’ writing and memoir. It discusses issues such as selective memory,
emotional pain and growth, objections from family members, how to communicate
your philosophic and spiritual truths without cliche and the challenges
of sorting through the raw material of your own life.
Corrie and Michael's twenty-year-old son, Tom, goes to Asia after dropping
out of university - no-one hears from him and he does not return on the
due date. His parents are left to contemplate the nightmarish possibilities.
Corrie, haunted by her own unremembered past, waits, while Michael travels
through Asia looking for their son.
A beautiful novel about family secrets and loss and our
deepest hopes and fears.
Child, Allen and Unwin
The Last One Who Remembers
Creating stories from her own experience, Patti Miller tells real and
fictional narratives about her great-aunts, weaving imaginary tales about
actual lives, and exploring the possibilities in the silence under the
stream of stories.
The Last One Who Remembers traverses
the boundaries of fiction, personal history and essay. Miller explores
the stories which shape our lives shifting from the overhead murmurings
of family, through tales of childhood landscape and religion, to fantasies
of sex and the illusory certainties of intellectual knowledge. She looks
at how these stories create our sense of self and form our picture of the
The Last One Who Remembers, Allen
Out of print. Available only online.
Whatever the Gods Do
After spending the past seven years being the " second mother" of ten-year-old Theo, life-writing teacher Patti Miller is devastated when he and his father move away. Desperately missing Theo and needing to distract herself, she decides to take
singing lessons, something she has always longed to do, despite misgivings about her voice. But, if anything, the lessons make her feel worse - she can't even get the notes out, let alone sing them in tune.
While recounting the saga of her singing lessons, Patti - who for many years has helped other people write their experiences - also tells the story of her life with Theo: her friendship with his parents, Kit and Dina: the fateful day Dina's life changed irretrievably: and the agonising months that followed. In charting this instantaneous transformation of Dina's life, as well as
the slow unfolding of her own connection to Theo, the subterranean shifts of her body's rhythms, and her painstaking efforts to sing, Patti reveals the trials and ultimate triumph in discovering how one's own voice can transcend the everyday.
Resonating throughout with hope and love of life, Whatever the Gods Do is a passionate and lyrical account of friendship and loss, of singing and storytelling, and of the universal quest to express one's own experience of being.
Whatever the Gods Do, Random House
The Memoir Book
Now superseded by Writing True Stories
Memoir - writing about an aspect of a life rather than a wholelife - expresses and shapes these stories within us so that the writing becomes
more than a record, it becomes a creative journey.
Drawing on Patti's extensive teaching and writing experience,
and using examples and exercises, The Memoir Book provides invaluable insight
on how to find your topic, develop narrative voice, find a balance between
factual truth and vivid story-telling, explore creative ways of structuring
memories, and helps identify the best form for your writing – whether it be
literary memoir, narrative non-fiction, sojourn and travel writing, or even the
Written in Patti's warm, clear and conversational style, this
book is an essential guide for anyone who wants to write memoir or extend the
possibilities of autobiography and non-fiction. The Memoir Book, a companion
volume to her highly successful guide Writing Your Life, provides inspiration
and practical advice for both new and experienced writers exploring the popular
genre of memoir.
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