Martin Millar is the author of several novels, including The Good Fairies of New York, Lonely Werewolf Girl, Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation, Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me and his newest, Lux the Poet, available May 2009. While Millar’s fiction displays a wide range in style, from fantasy to gritty realism, funny to funereal, all his works hold up a fun-house mirror to society with fascinating results.
This is Installment 1 of 3 of our exclusive interview with Martin Millar.
JENN NORTHINGTON: Your novels defy simple genre classification. I’ve been known to refer to them (particularly Lonely Werewolf Girl and Good Fairies of New York) as “punk fantasy,” although I’m pretty sure that category only exists in my mind. Others have called your work urban fantasy, magical realism, or pulp noir, and some are clearly semi-autobiographical. How would you classify them?
MARTIN MILLAR: If I was classifying them, I’d probably say they belonged to different genres. I started off writing about my own circumstances, and the people around me, in post-punk times in Brixton, South London. The novels then weren’t really meant to be fantasy, though there were some fantastic elements. They were more meant to reflect my own circumstances, particularly in the large squatting community that existed in Sough London at that time. I’d written a few things before, which hadn’t come out right, and it was only when I started writing about things I really knew about that I wrote anything that was any good.
That changed with The Good Fairies of New York, which introduced a stronger fantasy element as a main element, though I kept on setting the story among the sort of people I knew.
I suppose The Good Fairies of New York shares this fantasy element with the much later Lonely Werewolf Girl, but I think of the two books as very different in tone. Lonely Werewolf Girl is more of a genre novel than anything else I’ve written.
It strikes me that in Canada and the USA, people might look at my work a little differently, because The Good Fairies of New York was the first book to be published, followed by Lonely Werewolf Girl. So the fantasy novels came first, followed by books which don’t contain such strong elements of fantasy. But really, that’s my career backwards. I started of writing in a more realistic vein, and the fantasy element grew stronger as I continued.