There's a likeable 'never grown up' quality about Mil Millington, a man of 40 who dyes his hair red and slouches around in an old tracksuit top looking as if he's not quite sure where he is. Angular and unmuscled like a schoolboy, there's no trace of fat - or exercise - on him. As he slopes into a patisserie in London's Soho, the only wear is the slightly nauseous expression on his face, courtesy of a book launch the night before. Pulling up a seat, he orders tap water and gazes out at the street with rheumy eyes, his whole body giving every impression of being light sensitive. Having prepared myself for a pretentious, or defensive, slightly sneering media personality, I had to concede he wasn't like that at all. Over the next hour he proceeded to warn me off salt liquorice, advised me to p*** on my garden to keep cats away and revealed that he fantasises about saving Alyson Hannigan, who plays Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Millington rose to prominence in Britain a couple of years ago with an internet column, Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About. Its quirky, well-studied observations became a hit. He now has a column in Britain's Guardian newspaper, and his first book, inspired by the column, was a best-seller that's being made into a film. Living in Wolverhampton, in the English midlands, with his partner Margaret and two sons, he says he remains unaffected by his celebrity. 'Things have hugely turned around,' he says. 'But in practical terms the main thing is I can walk the kids to school in the morning. I can work from home. It has enhanced my life. 'One of the many reasons I wouldn't move to London is you can get caught in just doing stuff, which is useful for promoting - radio, TV and launches. It gets to the point where you forget what it is you actually do. You're doing stuff all the time but you're not actually writing. Which is a bit dangerous.' Millington's new novel, A Certain Chemistry, chronicles a bungling fling. Tom, a ghostwriter, cheats on his long-time girlfriend with a soap opera star whose autobiography he is writing. Unlike some novelists, Millington can weave a joke naturally into the story. His command of dialogue never seems overburdened, either. Chemistry is a far cry from Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About, which dealt with a solid relationship, full of flaws but with little real conflict. The novel's characters are powerless to resist their own combinations of pheromones and oxytocins, which fire them into each other's arms. 'I haven't had an affair and have no personal experience of it, so it was interesting to write about it,' he says. 'This book is to do with people's perception of what it is to be human. They think love is the definitive human emotion, completely random and out of the blue. But if you stand back and look at it as a sociologist would, it's perfectly understandable. 'Compared to roulette, love is massively, massively predictable. I wanted to write about love and the biomechanics of sexual attraction. Men are chancers, but women are, as well. Women have a four-year cycle - it's proven. If they have a kid, by three-and-a-half it can walk and feed itself. Then, women think they can broaden their progeny with different genes. It's still all about the evolutionary imperative. Men just have a faster cycle.' It's clear Millington favours realism wherever possible. Set in Edinburgh and the north-east of Britain, A Certain Chemistry determinedly shies away from the English capital. 'Some bits of London are OK,' he says. 'But it niggles me that it's seen as the centre of the world. It's a default in novels. 'Where are we going to set it? In London'. I'm sick of being sent books to read where the main character - normally written by a woman - is a PA for somebody glamorous in London, and every sentence is telling you a particular brand of shoes. I think if you were in that kind of London media world that would probably mean something to you, but for anyone outside that world it's effectively meaningless. There are lots and lots of miserable people in London. It's horrifically expensive and the transport's s***.' For now, though, Millington, the rebellious schoolboy grown-up, is happy bringing up his own boys, aged 10 and six. After much work, his life is comfortable. 'With my children, I tell them, 'You can do anything you want. It will probably be rubbish and you'll fail because that's what happens to most people'. 'One of Tom's [his novel's protagonist] things is his fear of failure, and criticism stops him doing what he wants to do. He's scared of failing at it. It's a very British thing, but fear of failure and the desire for fame are hugely pernicious. You see seven-year-old schoolgirls say they just want to be famous when they grow up. Not a singer or something - just famous. And when asked why, they say, 'So that people will like me'. People won't like you, they'll just know you. 'My aim was to have children when I was 30, and I got that,' he says. 'It's a long haul, but I was tremendously practical about it. I'm working out how old they will be when they leave home. There's maybe 30 years left in me. But that's how I do everything. I'm going skiing this Christmas because maybe there's five years left in my knees. I don't know. There's a point where you think everything's sorted and stable, that I've achieved enough. 'But then you think I'm here now and I'm going to have to break up what I built up. We can't go out, we have to look after the baby. Oh, well.'