The London bus driver whose debut novel was shortlisted for two of Britain's biggest book prizes will today confront the critic who claimed that the author had invented a story about receiving a £1m advance.
Novelist Magnus Mills and Mark Lawson are today expected to clash at the opening event of the London Book Fair when the former driver of the 159 route from Brixton to Oxford Circus seeks revenge for damaging remarks made by the critic in a newspaper article two years ago.
Mr Mills says the commentator cast doubt over his "personal integrity" by accusing him of exaggerating his literary achievements. The article alleged that the tale that Mr Mills received a £1m advance for his first novel, The Restraint of Beasts, was "invented" by the author "in collusion with a journalist".
Mr Mills, who was paid about £10,000 for the manuscript – later shortlisted for the Booker and Whitbread Prizes – claims the first he heard of this fictional payment was when TV crews besieged his south London bus depot to interview him.
Now the author says he intends to ask Mr Lawson for a full retraction. "It was a slight on my integrity. I'm not going to punch him, I just want him to acknowledge it was dodgy journalism."