Meredith Miller


Meredith Miller was born and raised on Long Island, New York. Before moving to the UK in 1997, she lived in Oregon and New Orleans. She has published two previous novels, Little Wrecks (2017) and How We Learned to Lie  (2018). She lives in mid Wales in a tiny house with a chapel attached. A Welsh learner, Meredith is currently restoring the chapel as a literary and cultural space for the Welsh language.

Her third novel, Fall River, is a dark, psychological mystery set against the backdrop of the strange pull of the River Tamar, published by Honno Press.

When fierce, young Alice disappears, shock waves ripple through the riverside town of Saltash. As her cousin Khadija returns on the night train, the rest of the town is still asleep. They’ll wake up that morning to find that everything, and nothing, has changed.


Cover of Fall River

In this small-town drama, past and present relationships collide, weaving multiple narratives packed with intrigue. The author skilfully crafts an unfolding story with a fresh perspective on contemporary society and shedding light on the overlooked corners of Britain. A must read for book clubs, this exciting new literary mystery will appeal to fans of Kate Atkinson and readers of mysteries, crime and Cornish fiction.

Congratulations Meredith on the publication of Fall River! Tell us a little about your background – upbringing, education… 

I was born and raised in the U.S., in the suburbs of Long Island. Both of my parents were teachers and lovers of books, so reading and writing were always a big part of my life. I came to the UK for a postgraduate degree and ended up settling. I’ve now lived nearly half my life on this island. The first time I ever felt truly happy anywhere was when I first moved to Cymru.  

What influences and memories stand out from your childhood? 

There are comfortable and uncomfortable answers to this question. My childhood was difficult in many ways. On the other hand, my parents encouraged me to be a thinking person, to wonder about things. I learned from them that questioning and debating things was fun.  

I grew up on an island, and the sea has always been a part of my emotional and creative life.  

My dad bought me a complete Shakespeare and also a really amazing illustration collection of E.A. Poe’s poems and stories. He made an effort to nurture my love of reading. I was obsessed with that Poe book for quite some time. 

As a young person, who or what influenced you?

Apart from books – music, music, music. I grew up around a lot of jazz musicians and writers. Music, any kind of creative work really, was really valued in the world around me.  

My fourteenth year occurred in a window where Jimi Hendrix had been dead for some time and most Americans didn’t yet know who Bob Marley was. I was introduced to them both at the same time and it changed everything! I’ve realised, talking to young people in my classes, that people now have a very limited idea of what Bob Marley did. The understanding that he was a global voice for anti-racism and common empowerment seems to have been lost. His words and music had a tremendous amount of power. Even on me, a white, lower middle-class kid in the American suburbs, his work had a profound effect. Is there a voice like that in the music industry today?  

Bob Marley by Ueli Frey.

Another thing that absolutely changed my world around that same time was my mother introducing me to Anaïs Nin’s novels. (Not the diaries, the novels.) Her voice, the life she described, became a model of what I wanted to be and do.  

My early friendships had a huge and lasting effect on me. I still tend to depict close friendships more than romantic relationships in my novels.  


What are your influences now? 

For some reason, this is the toughest question! As a writer, I’m a huge fan of Henry James and George Eliot. I like to write contemporary fiction, obviously, but for pleasure I’d rather read things written in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan is a remarkable writer I recently started reading.  

My mother and all of the creative people in my family remain huge influences.  

When did you become aware of wanting to write, did any particular factors play a part? 

My first piece of creative writing was a poem I wrote when I was four years old. I couldn’t actually write then, but I dictated it to my sister Peggy who kindly wrote it down for me. I folded it up and put it in a little toy post box I had. My parents came home and behaved as if I’d done something really clever and special. This reinforcement means that from my earliest memories, writing has been something I feel good about. 

Tell us a little about Fall River where did the inspiration come from, and what do you hope readers will take from the story… 

A few years ago, living in the Plymouth dockyards and teaching at a university, I felt that I was caught between two very different versions of the UK. I wanted to write a novel about the social divisions on this island and especially about the relationship between London and the rest of the UK.  

I lived very near the landscape where the novel is set. Physically, it’s incredibly evocative in so many ways. It’s sublime but also industrial; military, polluted and also full of natural wonder. On the Hamoaze, one side of the Tamar River is entirely grey, full of navy yards and tower blocks. The other side is an entirely bucolic landscape of green rolling hills and field boundaries. That landscape shaped the novel.  

What are your favourite reading genres, and what books are you reading at the moment? 

I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, which was brilliant. I love Amitav Ghosh’s novels, especially the Ibis trilogy. I’m always interested in any fiction written before 1950, whatever audience it’s aimed at. I love popular science books and historical non-fiction. Richard Holmes’s The Age of Wonder is tremendous. I’m currently reading Beryl Bainbridge’s According to Queeney and Caryl Lewis’s Y Gemydd (I’m slower in Cymraeg!) and listening to Sudhir Hazareesingh biography of Toussaint Louverture, Black Spartacus. The latter is available as an audiobook through our wonderful Powys Libraries audiobook service.  



What experiences of libraries have influenced you during your lifetime? 

I grew up near a very special library. We had an original and unique set of recorded interviews with Jack Kerouac, whose mother had lived nearby. I went to this library often with my mother. It was there that I borrowed all of Anaïs Nin’s novels.  

What suggestions do you have to encourage children and young people to read more for pleasure? 

Read to your children! Make it a calm, comforting time of day or evening. I loved being read to as a child, and sharing book experiences as a family that way. My daughter went through a long period where she didn’t read much, but always said how much she loved being read to when she was small. Lately, she’s gone back to reading for comfort and pleasure. Family reading should always be a pleasure and never a chore. Books are the most exciting and also the most restful place in which to get lost, so much more immersive and restful than bright screens. How often do your children see you relaxing with a book? Role modelling as a reader is important, I think.  

 Give us a quote that is at the heart of your life… 

‘I don’t have to get in the boat!’ It’s a long story, but that is what I say to remind myself that some situations are a set-up with no good outcome; I don’t have to engage with them. 

Fall River was published 21 March by Honno Press.

Read our Get to Know the Author flyer and take a look at our previous Authors of the Month writing in English.

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