Orange Q&A: Madeline Miller
24/05/2012 by Hannah Lewis
Orange Prize-nominated Madeline Miller on the novel it took her a decade to write
Was it difficult to weave your own original elements into such a well-known story as that of Achilles?
There were moments I was intimidated by the material's legacy; did I really dare to put words in Odysseus' mouth? but one of the things I love about mythology is its expansiveness; there is always room for one more version. Writing from Patroclus' relatively unexplored perspective helped give me a way to be both creative and true to Homer's original.
The Song of Achilles took ten years to write. How did you keep yourself motivated for so long?
Maybe this is a strange answer, but I felt like I owed it to Patroclus; I was determined to give him his voice. No matter how discouraged I got, it always came back to how invested I was in this story and these characters. I simply couldn't abandon them. In addition, I am always encouraging my students to pursue their passions, and not give up. How could I say that, and then give up myself?
Has becoming a published author lived up to your expectations?
Finishing the book and knowing that it was going to be published was so thrilling that I couldn't see beyond it to have any expectations. It is still delightfully surreal that I, who have spent my life buried in books, now have one of my own.
The Song of Achilles is out now, published by Bloomsbury.