I am delighted to be part of the blog tour for Six Stories for several reasons:
- The book is fantastic and original (and a little bit scary!)
- I had the privilege of meeting Matt last month and listening to him talk about the book
- It’s published by the fabulous Orenda Books
The Book – What I thought:
Deliciously original! I do love it when I come across a book with a format that hasn’t been used before. Hats off, and then some!
Told through the medium of podcasts, the book is split into the stories of 6 people who were around at the time of the death of a 15-year-old boy, Tom Jeffries, in 1997 on Scarclaw Fell in the middle of nowhere. It is hosted by a mysterious podcaster who wears a mask in the hope that his subjects will open up to him more due to the anonymity. The podcasts grow rapidly in numbers of listeners as each story is aired, and there becomes somewhat of a frenzy around them as we work up to the final one.
But, hang on…. Six Stories isn’t just any thriller. It’s a damn scary one at times! Nanna Wrack terrified me so much that I daren’t stay up reading it on my own. I can’t remember the last time a book had that effect on me (in fact, I’m not normally a fan of horror or spooky but this was really well done).
A great book: original, engaging and written by an author that is one to watch. Highly, highly recommended!
I am really thrilled to have had the opportunity to ask Matt some questions for the blog tour.
TBW – Six Stories had quite a few “hide-behind-the-sofa” moments. Did you intend to make the book a bit scary or did it just turn out that way?
Matt – Coming from a horror background, I think the horror just wound its way naturally into the story. I didn’t plan it; it just sort of happened that way. I was supposed to be writing my first crime novel after all…I honestly didn’t expect the response to the scary parts…it’s terribly humbling! Scaring people is something I’ve always strived to do in my writing.
TBW – Nanna Wrack! Explain yourself!
Matt – Nanna Wrack is a sort of amalgamation of cautionary folktales from across the world. Cross-culturally, there are many bogeymen (and women) that haunt wild places, from Africa to the Arctic. Folk tales, mythology and cryptozoology are great passions of mine and I felt like Nanna Wrack is a bit like me putting my stamp on a crime story. I also like to entertain the idea that Nanna Wrack is nature perhaps fighting back at a world that is shifting away from nature…
TBW – Crime by podcast: how did you come up with this idea?
Matt – I was a latecomer to Serial and binged it in a few sittings. I loved this fresh new format and the way it left you with more questions than answers. I figured if no one else had written a book in this style, I would do it first, then when a better writer than me did it, at least I could say it was my idea. I didn’t even know if it work work this way, but I had to try.
TBW – Which podcasts do you listen to and can you recommend any for crime fiction fans?
Matt – I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts rather than fictional ones. for me, truth is always scarier; my favourites at the minute are My Favourite Murder, Last Podcast on the Left, True Crime Brewery, Case File and They Walk Among Us. For fictional ones, I quite enjoyed The Black Tapes and Tanis.
TBW – Did you alway want to be a published author? How did you get to where you are today with your debut novel just being released?
Matt – I’ve wanted to be an author, ever since about year 8. I’ve had many jobs in my time but they’ve always felt secondary to writing. I got here by perseverance; I didn’t stop writing, I went to every workshop, every event, everything that would help improve my craft. I joined a writing society at university. I wrote plays, poetry, short stories, sent stuff out , got rejected again and again and again. Maybe being stubborn is a better term for me…that’s the advice I’d give to any aspiring writer; be stubborn, never let that dream die.
TBW – If you weren’t a writer what would be your dream job?
Matt – If I wasn’t a writer, my dream job would be working with animals, maybe in a sanctuary for abused and rescued farm animals, up on a hill, near a forest, far from civilisation. Or reindeer herding in the Arctic circle.
TBW – Are you working on another book? If so, can you give us any sneak previews?
Matt – I’ve just finished another one which, I’ll let you know, is not as original in terms of format as Six Stories. The intention of writing something stylistically original was just how Six Stories happened, it was just what fell out of my brain. I will say the next one has less of a horror element and is more of a crime ‘procedural’ but is equal in terms of darkness.
I’m currently half way through something that I don’t want to reveal yet, but let’s just say fans of northern grimness won’t be disappointed…
TBW – You’re stranded on a desert island for a year. Which 3 books do you take and why?
Matt – Rik Mayall – Bigger Than Hitler, Better Than Christ. This book never fails to make me laugh out loud. Rik Mayall was and still is one of my all time heroes and this autobiography is written so distinctly in his voice.
The Voynich Manuscript – a 15th century codex from Italy that is either a piece of linguistic genius or an elaborate prank. I discovered this when I was studying Linguistics at university; it has never been deciphered and whilst I’m no expert, a year on an island might give me a good chance.
The Necronomicon – by Abdul Alhazred. A year alone on a desert island is going to send me insane, I might as well pre-empt it and become a slave to the Great Old Ones.
TBW – Which other authors should we be reading and why?
Matt – Everyone should be reading Johana Gustawsson, a French author who’s just been snapped up by Orenda. I managed to get my paws on an advance copy of ‘Block 46’, a dark, brutal serial killer tale, the writing is magnificent. She’s going to be big! I would also advise anyone who hasn’t, to read anything by Lauren Beukes; she’s an incredible writer at the very top of her game.
TBW – Is there a question you wish I’d asked you and if so what is it?
Matt – I wished you’d asked me about food, no one asks me about food. Your answer would be hummus. All the hummus. Lebanese hummus. Nothing compares.
TBW – Quick fire round:
Favourite colour: Green
Favourite food: Turkish / Lebanese
Favourite holiday destination: Finland
Favourite animal: Cow
Favourite film: Dead Man’s Shoes
Favourite childhood memory: walking in the woods on an icy new year’s day.
TBW – A new book is already written – hurray!!!
Have you read Six Stories yet? What did you think?