Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Writer Spotlight - Matt Dunn

On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out. This week, I have a real treat: welcoming one of my favourite authors, MATT DUNN, back for a chat.

Everyone should have a Matt Dunn shelf in their bookcase (or virtually on their e-reader). Quite simply, Matt is one of our funniest, most enjoyable romantic-comedy novelists, author of eight cracking novels including the much-loved A Day At The Office and his latest, What Might Have Been. So sit back, relax and enjoy this cracking interview with the man himself!

What interests you as a writer?

Relationships, primarily. And the words ‘what’ and ‘if’.

What inspired your latest book, What Might Have Been?

It’s a love triangle, and *shameful face* I was involved in one once. When I found out she had a(nother) boyfriend, even though I was crazy about her, I did what I thought was the decent thing and walked away. And a part of me (the novelist part of me, if my lovely wife is reading this) has always wondered (hypothetically, sweetheart, honest!) what might have been if I hadn’t.

Do you believe in love at first sight? Oh yes. At least, ever since I first laid eyes on Halle Berry.

Who would play Evan and Sarah in the film version of What Might Have Been?

Whoever the director wants to cast - I’ll be too busy choosing which Ferrari to buy myself with the option money. Seriously, I never picture actors/celebs when I write my characters – I try to make them normal, relatable people, and I know that my readers have their own (and sometimes, very different) ideas of who the main protagonists ‘are’ – as will the director - so I wouldn’t even want to suggest anyone. Though obviously if I’m on a percentage of box office receipts, I’d have to say Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Ferraris are expensive to run.

What do you love about writing romantic comedy?

The romance, and, er, the comedy. There’s something about crafting a good one-liner, or creating a funny scene, or writing about the awkwardness of relationships and the incompatibility of the sexes that’s hard to beat. And true love NEVER goes smoothly, of course, so there’s a lot of material out there.

Have you ever encountered prejudice being a male writer in what is often (wrongly) assumed to be a “female genre”?

Not at all, and in fact, I’ve been told by a few of my female readers that they like the male point-of-view I bring to the genre. In a crowded industry where it’s hard to stand out whatever you’re writing, I think it’s actually an advantage to be in the minority. Besides, there are a lot of male writers (Mike Gayle, David Nicholls, Jon Rance, Neal Doran, Nick Spalding, Graeme Simsion etc.) writing romantic comedy nowadays, so we’re not such a minority anymore!

Which part of the writing and publishing process do you like best?

When the royalties come in! Apart from that, I actually quite like the editing. For me, that’s where a book really comes together – especially when you can rework a scene and make it funnier, or give it some extra poignancy. Though there’s a downside to that too – there’s an old maxim that says something like ‘you never actually finish writing a book, you just decide to stop working on it’ – and usually that’s not our decision, but down to publishing deadlines (or to put it another way, our editors shouting ‘where’s the book?’ at us). If we didn’t have them, I’d still probably be tinkering with my first novel, not writing my ninth!

And which is the worst?

Sitting alone in front of your laptop, trembling softly, staring desperately at the ominously terrifying desolation of the blank page in front of you, while trying to ignore the deadline looming ominously into view...

If the X-Factor voiceover guy was to announce you, what would he say?

I don’t watch the X-Factor, but my twitter bio (I’m @mattdunnwrites) says something along the lines of ‘award-losing rom-com novelist’. That’ll probably still be the case when they’re writing my obituary, so I’ll go with that.

What are you working on now - and what would your dream writing project be?

I’m working on two things at the moment: One (which is my dream writing project) is the screenplay for my second novel, The Ex-Boyfriend’s Handbook, which I’m collaborating on with a real director (i.e. he’s already made several proper films which have been shown in cinemas and everything, and with the likes of Keira Nightly (sorry – Freudian slip – I meant Knightley) in them). I’m also writing my ninth novel - it’s called Home, and it’s about someone returning home to the jaded seaside town he spent the first eighteen years of his life desperate to escape from.

Thanks so much to Matt for popping back to Coffee and Roses! For a limited time, Matt's brilliant book, A Day At The Office, is only £1 on Kindle. You can read his guest post for Coffee and Roses about the book HERE.

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