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Literary Fiction Must Go

I hate literary fiction.

Don’t get me wrong, I read a lot of books that would be considered literary fiction. And I often enjoy these books. I have nothing against serious books, or intelligent books, or realistic books, or books about educated middle class people cracking up. (I’ve written one or two of them myself.)

No.

What I am against is the idea of literary fiction. The idea that it is – or should be – a category. A genre, something separate to, say, books about werewolves or books set in space or books revolving around love stories. And as the publishing world becomes ever more paranoid about its future there seems to be a renewed attempt to turn it into a genre of its own. This is wrong. This is dangerously wrong.

I’ll tell you why:

- Books should not be gated communities. (more…)

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The Humans – book trailer

Hello!

 

My novel The Humans is out next month. I have never been so excited about a book coming out before, and am honoured that it already has nicely glowing endorsements from the likes of Jeanette Winterson, SJ Watson, Mark Billingham, Val McDermid, Amanda Craig, Patrick Ness and Joanne Harris. The film rights have also been sold.

Anyway, to mark the launch I thought I’d do something a bit special. So, the book promo for The Humans is going to feature actual living humans – YOU – reading a line from a chapter in the novel. The chapter is called ‘Advice to a Human’ and it is a list of, well, advice to a human. It comes near the most dramatic part of the book.

Listed below is the lines in the chapter (more…)

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A Love Letter to Books

Dear books,

I love you. I really love you.

You have not only changed my life but have also saved it. You understand me better than anyone else in the world. And you are always there for me, to give me comfort or wisdom or just to have a laugh. We’ve had such good times, me and you. All those holidays together, all those sleepless nights. Truly, you have made my life complete. You are my shelter in the storm of life. I owe you everything.

I love you so much. I love the way you feel, I love the way you smell, I love the way you look. But recently I have seen you start to change. You look worried. And I don’t like it when my closest ally in this world is worried. You wonder what the future holds for you. You have started wearing new outfits – Kindles or something? – and you seem to be hanging around celebrities to show you are still important. Sometimes you present the worst and most brash side of yourself to stay being popular, and you might risk losing respect. You worry that TV and cinema and the internet are getting more attention than you and you are trying to copy them. But listen, don’t worry. You are perfect. You are absolutely pure. Every TV show or film starts as words on a page. Words are the essence of culture, and you are pure essence.

Just be proud to be yourself.

I love you whatever. It is unconditional, this love I have for you. And I am here to say it is all right. You were here long before me, and you will be here long after me. Every story needs a home and you are the best home I can think of. You will be fine.

Don’t go changing.

Stay golden.

Love,

Matt

x

Booktrust

What being published has taught me


In last week’s blog I pretty much reduced everything that happened to me in my formative years to an 800 word blog.

This week is a kind of sequel. And one in which I talk about my other life, my life since 2003, the year I got a publishing deal, and everything I have learnt since. Okay, deep breath, look straight ahead, here goes.
- Choose battles wisely.
- Choose agents even more wisely.
- Literary fiction is a genre that pretends it is not a genre.
- Editors are essential.
- If an editor is talking about culling their list in the first meeting, this is a bad sign. (more…)

Blog / Booktrust

How writing saved my life

Apparently, more anti-depressants are prescribed in January than any other month. So I thought I’d write a little bit about words and mental health. In September 1999, in my early twenties, I suffered a breakdown.

After a few years of seriously heavy living, and various other life stresses, I became very ill indeed. I descended into a permanent state of dark anxiety and was diagnosed with panic disorder.

The only way I know how to describe panic disorder is as a kind of high speed depression. I would close my eyes and see literal demons. I could hardly leave the house without my girlfriend standing by my side. I was overwhelmed by something I did not understand – my own brain. For about three years my mind never came to a comma let alone a full stop. (more…)