Dubai: Why does British actor, director, comedian and author Ben Miller attribute a large part of his writing success to the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai?
“I came to the Festival with a science book called ‘It’s not rocket science’. I bumped into my now literary agent right here at the Festival years ago. The rest is history as they say. We talked about the idea for writing children’s stories. So I changed my genre of writing to focus on children’s fiction. It was quite a turn from writing factuals after a considerable research to writing non-fiction stories. The journey has been rather amazing,” he said.
Miller is perhaps best known for his role as ‘Bough’ in the Johnny English movies alongside Rowan Atkinson, BBC’s The Armstrong and Miller Show with Alexander Armstrong and BBC’s Death in Paradise. He has also appeared opposite Ben Whishaw and Hugh Bonneville in Studio Canal’s Paddington 2 and What We Did On Our Holiday with Rosamund Pike and Billy Connolly.
This year at the Festival, Miller brings his book ‘The Night We Got Stuck In A Story’.
About the book
Miller created a world where brother and sister Harrison and Lana find themselves saving the realm of the fairytale in The Day I Fell into a Fairytale. The second book in the series is The Night We Got Stuck in a Story where the brother-sister duo are climbing a magical thread to a land of storybooks where they must face danger and restore balance to the land.
So, what makes a good children’s book fiction writer?
“Every writer needs to find their own voice,” said Miller. “My stories have a magic element. I also like to weave in folk stories and fairy tales. Here the older the better they are.”
Miller said he loves to add a dose of humour. “I bring science, but the main ingredient for me is magic,” he added.
In an interview to Gulf News, Miller said: “There has to be some enchantment - a magical world for children to be able to fire their imagination.”
He added that there has to be a moral to every story he writes. “There has to be something that children learn while reading a story.”
Creating a balance
Miller said he alternates between the characters. “If my first character is a boy the second will be the voice of a girl. I have a daughter at home so it is not difficult to get into her shoes and write a book from the voice of a girl,” he said.
- Emirates Airline Festival of Literature: Openness to other faiths enriches Muslim identity, says UAE diplomat
- Dubai is a city that puts its people first, UAE minister says at Emirates LitFest 2023
- Latifa bint Mohammed attends opening of 15th edition of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
- Meet British couple on a ‘literary pilgrimage’ to Dubai
- ‘Ask Ali’ anything about UAE culture at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai
Taking inspiration from his children
Miller, a father of three children aged 16, 10 and 7, said he is sufficiently inspired to write children’s fiction thanks to his children. “I have them all covered,” he said adding that he is delivering his next book to the publisher later this week.
Message to budding young authors
“Never give up. Keep the faith,” said Miller.
He said success comes eventually. “Just stay in the game, stay with your passion for writing. Let your creativity keep flowing and set a plan on how to get your book seen.”
Miller said: “One of the fiction writers, I am a big fan of is Ted Chiang. He is an award winning fiction writer who has a full time job writing computer manuals. When he is not, he is churning out amazing fiction stories.”
“So my advise to budding authors, have a full time job that pays your bills and just write on the side.”