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.
JENN NORTHINGTON: Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me feels more like a memoir than a fantasy novel, although it does contain fantastical elements. How much of the main character is you? What about the “autobiographical novel” format do you find most interesting/stimulating?
MARTIN MILLAR: It is very autobiographical in one way – I did go to that Led Zeppelin gig in Glasgow – however I did think of it as a novel rather than an autobiography, because I added events, moved events around in time, added and merged characters and so on, to make it a better story. Writing it in the first person seemed the best way to describe the events because it was difficult for me to imagine anyone else except myself being so excited about that gig.I’ve never dealt with any aspects of my own childhood/teenage years before, and I felt like having a look at that time in my life.
JN: Milk, Sulphate, and Alby Starvation, which I often characterize as the love child of Trainspotting and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (enjoyably seedy and offhandedly hilarious), takes place in your former place of residence, Brixton, as do several of your other novels. What about Brixton lends itself as a setting to your work?
MM: When I first I moved there at the end of the 70s, Brixton would have been known for two things. Firstly, it was one of the parts of London that had a large black population, and secondly it was poor. Really, in these days it was a place you ended up if you were poor. However, it always seemed like a very creative place as well, and many musicians would end up there, playing in bands, and artists and so on. It was the sort of place where people were free to get on with their own projects and ideas, as long as they could get on with them without having much money. My novels reflected that. Later, Brixton became a bit more up-market, after some urban re-development, as happened to a lot of inner city areas.
JN: Your next novel, Lux the Poet, comes out in May of this year. Is there anything you’d like to tell us about it ahead of time?
I’m tempted just to answer ‘I can write better these days.’ Which I can. However, Lux the Poet has an interesting background, being set among the riots that happened in Brixton in the 80s. Lux himself in a funny character, I always liked him. I admire his confidence, cheerfulness, and good looks. He’s sort of the opposite of Alby Starvation.