When you are a middle child of eight living in the country without a television, there is not much to do. For Patti Miller, the solution to her ennui was reading. Armed with a book since she was five years old, her love of reading soon flourished into a passion for writing that has led her to become a celebrated author of non-fiction, novels, and memoirs.

She was drawn to non-fiction as a medium to explore the world and the self. Using first-person, Patti believes the intensity of that point of view creates a strong bond between reader and writer where both are able to share and experience a situation.

“Draw a map of the place you want to go through: a house, a school. Then wander through it in your imagination. You’ll be surprised by how much you can remember,” Patti said.

She has penned several texts on how to successfully write non-fiction, including her latest book, Writing True Stories. In Writing True Stories, Patti provides practical advice on a vast array of writing topics, including the major pitfalls of writers beginning to write non-fiction.

“People plan out what they’re going to write, they use their analytical brain and it makes the work flat and boring. Write from memory because memory is more creative,” Patti advised.

“New writers should try to include every piece of information they can. Select what matters. Mind of a Thief [her book on the history of the Wiradjuri people] would have been horrid if all the research was included.”

Patti’s books span a range of topics, and she draws on an equally wide expanse for inspiration. The Mind of a Thief takes place in the land where she grew up, while Ransacking Paris is a memoir capturing Patti’s year in Paris.

“The country is my heart and soul and Paris is my mind and interests and ideas,” said Patti.

However, Patti’s most important advice to new writers is to not be scared. The process of tackling a full-length book can be overwhelming, so Patti recommends approaching it like a quilt: putting it together piece by piece, and sewing it all together later.

Writing True Stories by Patti Miller is available now.

Read about the USQ Bookcase here.

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