This week’s instalment of ‘Our People’ is actually the author of the previous nine instalments, and one of the driving forces behind the girth of literature written and published throughout the Taumarunui district recently. Meet Antony Millen.
Name: Antony Millen
Creative fields: Novelist, Blogger, Essayist, Publisher, Teacher
Location: Formerly of Nova Scotia, Canada; Two decades now in Taumarunui
Best known for: Author of three novels (Redeeming Brother Murrihy, Te Kauhanga, and The Chain); Winner of the 2014 Heartland short story competition; panellist at the 2016 Ruapehu Writers Festival; Published writer in various New Zealand and international magazines and journals; Head of English at Taumarunui High School.
My connection: Writers and readers are recognisable sorts. Typically they have defining characteristics such as a callus on their middle finger, a stoop in their shoulders, or a forehead which looks as though it’s been hammered and sculpted from the inside by a cacophony of words and thoughts. Antony is a recognisable literary type—bookish, bespectacled, articulate and sharp as champagne. I was impressed from the start, and, after many years and several literary adventures together, continue to be impressed. It was probably no coincidence that we both ended up as teachers of English at THS. As I said, we’re recognisable sorts.
Inspiration for this writer: It is hard to say what makes a writer tick, but with Antony a love of language, its power, uses and meanings, is one of the inspiring aspects behind his writing. That and sheer hard work. It is not easy to knock out a novel, let alone three, and Antony should be commended for the sacrifices and sufferance he has endured in the making of his books. Up at 5am to write, or around the clock sessions while finishing a third or fourth draft, is familiar ground for this literary Sisyphus. Antony’s books are also well researched, grounded in local histories and mythologies which evoke a deeper, richer narrative of our past. His stories show a genuine gift for storytelling mixed with the polish and refinement of a craftsman. His books are artefacts of skill and slog as much as they are works of art, much like a marble statue is. His re-release of Te Kauhanga epitomises this vision.
Why you should check him out and share with others: Anyone who already knows Antony will be aware he is that Canadian guy who writes books. If you haven’t read one of his books yet, get one from him or Paper Plus, and begin today. If you have read one of his books then I urge you to read the others. Each novel is a unique journey, each has compelling characters who seem both familiar and yet heroic in small ways, each has a cleverly constructed, driving plot which makes them hard to put down. If nothing else check out Antony’s blog and other literary projects he’s in the midst of at antonymillen.com
The Weekend Name Drop was a weekly feature on this blog, promoting people I have encountered who are doing creative things.