Sahar Mourad


5 minutes with author Patti Miller

5 minutes with author Patti Miller

In the Over60 “5 Minutes With” series, we ask book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next up is Patti Miller, who is debuting her novel True Friends - out now!

Patti Miller is an Australian writer and holds a Bachelor in Communications and a Masters in Writing from the University of Technology. She is the author of 10 books and numerous articles and essays that have been published in national newspapers and literary magazines.

In True Friends, a memoir, Patti reflects on the making (and unmaking) of some of her most treasured friendships, the importance of this relationship in our lives, how we choose our friends and how they shape our lives.

Over60 spoke to Patti and asked about where her love of writing came from, and how her experiences helped shape her book True Friends.

1. How did you come up with the idea for True Friends?

To be truthful, it came more from a feeling than an idea. I was boarding a flight in Paris and suddenly saw someone ahead of me on the air-bridge who looked like a friend who had recently ended her friendship with me. It wasn’t her, but I noted the turmoil it caused in me and once I was on the plane I started taking notes about it. I realised that while the endings of romantic relationships were often the subject of novels, memoirs, poems, song and films, the hurt of a friendship ending was rarely written about. By the time I arrived back in Sydney, I knew I had a book to write.

2. What do you look for when making friends?

I think I am drawn to someone’s energy – their engagement with the world, their attention to it. I value self-awareness, openness, thoughtfulness, kindness, interest in and connection to the world. And then if I find out they like books and reading – well that’s a big plus!

3. If you're comfortable sharing, what was the greatest friendship loss that happened to you?

There’s two kinds of losses in friendship – a break-up, and death. A friend has recently died and I have felt that loss deeply as she was formative for me. She shaped my thinking and my life to a certain extent. But I have also lost a friendship due to break up, which was bewildering and which became a central thread in True Friends.

4. What is your advice for your readers who are looking to make new friends?

It’s so different for everyone that I don’t think I can give advice. Generally though, it’s a matter of being open to others. Listening to them, asking questions, rather than talking about yourself too much. That way, you can start connecting to them.

5. What is the importance in knowing oneself and one's friends?

I’m going to quote from True Friends to answer this one: “Friends also share similar versions of the world... Together you and I not only acknowledge the reality of each other, but of our world. It is really there, that stand of gum trees, that mad leader, that childhood we told each other about, it all exists. Because we agree that it does.”

That is, in knowing yourself and others, you re-affirm each other’s version of existence.

6. What book(s) do you think people should read?

Well, clearly “True Friends”!! But also the wonderful set of novels by Elena Ferrante, starting with “My Brilliant Friend”. They are the best novels about a long friendship that I’ve come across. My book is nonfiction, drawing on my own experience, but I suspect Ferrante’s novels also draw on her own experience of friendship.

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