Chaired by Russell McLean
Talk then turned to the common theme that is present in both novels, finding out who you are and finding your place in the world.
Matt said that the idea for his novel started of with an idea of looking at life from far away. In parts the book has a certain autobiographical feel to it. The Humans is written to Matt’s 24 year old self. Kevin did not deliberately set out to write a novel, he stated that he wrote it selfishly as at the time he was working as a journalist and film reviewer, writing a novel was a form of escape into a fictional world.
The other common theme both books have in common is the father and son relationship at the centre of both novels. The Humans originally started out as a family story and Matt thought it was going to be more about an alien and wife love story. However when writing it became clear that it was becoming increasingly more about the father and son relationship. Kevin described how he thinks certain subjects are red flag and he tries to avoid father and son relationships when writing. The idea is so traditional and he danced around it for so long that he couldn’t avoid it when writing.
Humour comes through in both books and it is rare to read a book that makes you laugh out loud. Matt responded to this by saying that, you write how you see life, I see life as a black comedy. Kevin added that writing takes you away from so many things in he your personal life, the least it can do is make you laugh.
Time for some audience questions
What was the soundtrack to your novel while you were writing?
Matt responded by saying that he writes in his attic, so he is always trying to block out the noise of the house below. The Beach Boys would be the soundtrack of the novel, The Humans.
Kevin response was more comic, The Strippers, which is a song that defined his teenage years and since he was writing from the prospects from a teenager it seemed like a good song to get him back into the mind-set.
You have talked about red flag subjects, that you try and avoid. Are these not the subjects that readers identify with?
Kevin responded it is more the practical aspect that makes it a red flag subject. It has been done so well in the past, it can be hard to make it seem new. It is mostly a reflex and a lazy thing, as trying to make something seem new that is so well done can be very challenging. Matt’s response was simple he finds it a lot easier to write from the prospective of a alien or a Labrador than write a straight forward father and son relationship.
How far does social media contribute to selling books?
Matt kicked off his response by saying that it is impossible to quantify how many books are sold through social media outlets. He has a very addictive personality and is addicted to twitter, he went as far as describing that twitter is the social medias crack. It can be a thin line though, people don’t know if you as the author should be directly promoting your books over these platforms. It can give the author a certain illusion of control over an aspect that is normally not within their control. It is also a way of having a direct relationship with the readers. Kevin added that he feel like the old-school style of publishing is hanging around for a good reason, cause it does work. Sometimes selling your book on twitter can verge on stalking.
How much are you aware of the market when you are writing?
You have to know what battles to choose, Matt responded. Every writer wants to be read, that is why the words exist on the page rather than stay in their head. Personally he wants to be read by as many people as possible but without taking away what he wants to say.
With that final thought an hour discussion was brought to an end.