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Matt Whyman - Author

About the Author

Matt Whyman is a best selling author and agony uncle for Bliss Magazine and BBC Radio 1's The Surgery with Aled. He has written widely for adults and teenagers, across a range of subjects, including two recent comic memoirs My Life with Minipigs and Walking with Sausage Dogs. His previous YA books include Boy Kills Man, The Wild and Inside the Cage.

Matt is married with four children and lives in West Sussex.

A Q&A with the Author

What inspires your writing? Everything from comic books to videogames and real life in between. The idea for The Savages came from cutting back on the food budget last year, and feeding my children only well-planned vegetarian dishes without telling them – knowing there would be objections and an uprising. As a result, there was a surprise upswing in appreciation of my cooking, until I revealed the truth. It got me thinking about the consequences of what we eat and why, as well as food factions from vegans to, well… cannibals.

What has been the most exciting moment of your career so far? In 2004, I wrote a novel called Boy Kills Man, set in one of the most dangerous cities in Colombia. I didn’t visit the country, but a lot of people assumed I had, and that I was some kind of super brave traveller. Thanks to that book, I was invited to host creative writing workshops for the British Council across Russia and the Middle East, and visited Uganda with Action Aid as part of the Make Poverty History campaign. It was an incredible experience, hair-raising at times, but it would never have happened without that book. 

How did you first become an author? I turned to writing as a frustrated film production graduate. I was fed up with the fact that the ideas in my head never translated onto the screen very well, due to no budget and rubbish actor friends. A tutor suggested I give up telling stories that way and just keep it simple. All I needed, he said, was a sheet of paper, a pen, some time and imagination, and I could create a story with convincing characters that could cost millions to film, but without costing me a penny. As a poor graduate, that appealed to me greatly! Twenty five books later, that advice is still fresh in my mind every time I sit down to write.

What are you reading right now? I’ve just finished The Ritual by Adam Nevill – a supernatural horror set in the ancient forests of Norway. It reads as if James Herbert had written Deliverance. For years, every morning on the cusp of sunrise, I have walked my dogs in the woodland behind our house. Not any more.

What was your earliest career aspiration? Unlike my friends, I had no clear idea of what I wanted to do. As a result, I flunked out after my A-levels and got a job in a factory as a ‘wireman’ due to a misunderstanding about my surname. It was some years later before I realised that I needed to focus if I wanted to do something with my life.

What advice would you give to budding writers? Writing is a pleaure so long as you’re not dependent on it for survival (I’m an advice columnist as well as a novelist). My advice is to set your sights on another career, and do what you love in your spare time. It takes away all the pressure, and allows you to write to the best of your abilities.

What was your favourite childhood book? A relative once gave me a copy of Struwwelpeter, which I’ll never forget. To those who are unfamiliar with the book, it’s a classic German collection of cautionary fables that is TOTALLY DISTURBING and ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING. The tale about what happens to a boy who fails to cut his nails – it doesn’t end well - and the consequences for the girl who plays with matches –ditto - gave me nightmares. I loved every word.

Where is your favourite place to write? When I first started writing, I used to need complete silence and solitude to get anything done. Today, with four feisty kids to look after, I’m quite capable of pushing on happily even if they’re screaming and fighting with each other on the other side of the door. The only time I’m drawn away is to cook their tea or if one of them is bleeding from their injuries. Even then it has to life-threatening.

How do you read- print, digitally or both? I have to confess that I don’t read all the time. I much prefer to switch off watching a movie, playing a videogame or spending time with friends and family. It means the only writing I really come across is my own, which helps to focus on the book I’m working on at the time.

Who do you most admire? In the early 1990’s, living in Bristol and working part time in a call centre to fund my writing, I was on my way to my shift one dreary afternoon when I bumped into…. Mohammed Ali. This heavyweight boxing legend, and one of the world’s most famous sport stars, had arrived early at a bookstore for a signing, and was standing alone looking at some shelves in the sports section. I caught his eye, stopped dead in shock, and he beckoned me over. Unable to speak without difficulty, being in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, Ali then performed a simple coin trick for me, though I was already spellbound. It was a truly magical moment, one my shift workers failed to believe, but the bookshop staff backed me up when I returned to ask if it had really happened. Ever since then, I look back on that moment and feel like I bumped into a figurehead from history.

Are there any books you wish you had written? I believe as a writer you should only ever be in competition with yourself. So, I admire lots of books but don’t envy the authors for writing them. I just aim to do the best I can with every word I write – and will continue to tinker with a manuscript right up to the second it’s signed off. It drives my copy editors barmy!

Featured books by Matt Whyman

Other books by Matt Whyman

Pig in the Middle

Pig in the Middle

Author: Matt Whyman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/11/2018

What happens when a man wonders aloud if a pig would make a good pet? A great deal - once his wife discovers a kind the size of a handbag. Matt Whyman is a writer and house husband. He enjoys the quiet life. His career wife, Emma, prefers the chaos a big brood can bring. On top of four challenging children, one freaked-out feline, a wolf-like dog and a wild bunch of ex-battery chickens, she brings minipigs Butch and Roxi into the fold. But can the new arrivals really cuddle up on the sofa, or will their growing presence spark a battle of hearts, snouts and minds? Funny, touching and entertaining, Pig in the Middle charts the trials and errors of one man and his menagerie. With help and advice from a seasoned local smallholder, Matt sets out to master the art of managing minipigs - inside the house and out. Then someone suggests breeding minipiglets, and Matt's understanding of marriage is tested in the most unexpected ways... Previously published as Oink! My Life With Minipigs by Hodder & Stoughton.

The Unexpected Genius of Pigs

The Unexpected Genius of Pigs

Author: Matt Whyman Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/10/2018

We often consider dogs to be our enduring sidekicks but the truth is domestic pigs have played a role in our lives for nearly as long. Pigs are highly social and smart. They like to play. They're inventive, crafty and belligerent - and incredibly singleminded. Ultimately, we have far more in common with these creatures than we like to admit. Here is a charming ode to one of the most common, yet surprisingly intelligent, animals populating our landscapes. In this gentle and illuminating study, Matt Whyman embarks on a journey to uncover the heart and soul of an animal brimming with more energy, intelligence and playfulness than he could ever have imagined. In his bid to understand what makes a pig tick, having climbed a steep learning curve as a keeper himself, Whyman meets a veterinary professor and expert in pig emotion, as well as a spirited hill farmer whose world revolves around hogs and sows. Packed with fascinating research and delightful anecdotes, this entertaining and informative celebration of all things porcine covers everything from evolution, behaviour and communication to friendship, loyalty and broken hearts - uncovering a surprising notion of family along the way.

Bad Apple

Bad Apple

Author: Matt Whyman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/04/2016

A riotous dark comedy teeming with delightfully unacceptable behaviour. Like all good law-abiding citizens, sixteen-year-old Maurice no longer considers going off the rails as just a teenage phase. It can only mean the mark of a troll . . . But these trolls aren't confined to causing trouble online: now they're in our homes, on our streets and have ruined life as we know it. As a rule Maurice tries to avoid trouble - until the day he crosses paths with Wretch, a very bad apple indeed. And with tensions rising, can these two teens put their differences aside in order to survive?

Boy Kills Man

Boy Kills Man

Author: Matt Whyman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/07/2014

Nothing is more unsettling in this world than a kid with a gun . . . On the streets of Medellin, Colombia, actions speak louder than words, and the rule of the bandidos is the only law worth listening to. Like most kids of their age, Shorty and Alberto work for their local cartel. They run cigarettes, offer protection . . . and occasionally assassinate someone. The work is tough, and dangerous, but the boys are commanding respect like they've never known, and the money's pretty good too. But then one day Alberto disappears. And Shorty realises that he is never coming back. A gangster's life is cheap, and when revenge can be bought for only a few pesos, everyone has their price . . .

Walking with Sausage Dogs

Walking with Sausage Dogs

Author: Matt Whyman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 04/07/2013

Keeping pets is a lovely idea. When building a family, they complement the kids. But what happens when things get out of hand? For writer and house husband, Matt Whyman, it's a case of catastrophe management in coping with four children and all the ill-advised animals amassed by his career wife, Emma. Just as Matt gets to grips with managing her two maxed out minipigs, she falls for a miniature Dachshund - the kind of dog he wouldn't be seen dead with. Hercules isn't big or clever, but Emma is determined. She'll do everything, she promises... From the author of Pig in the Middle

SO BELOW: THE TRILOGY

SO BELOW: THE TRILOGY

Author: Matt Whyman Format: eBook Release Date: 21/02/2013

Book 1: Key to the CityIn a bid to escape from a mysterious pursuer, Yoshi takes refuge below the streets of London - and finds a world away from our own. Here, he discovers his own vital part in a mission to tap into ancient forces underpinning the capital... Book 2: Siege Under the CityIt's 1666, and the city is ablaze. Below ground, desperate citizens seek refuge from The Great Fire, only to be buried alive when the buildings collapse into the tunnels. Now, centuries later, it is said that their descendants still exist in the very bowels of the city. Blind from a life without sunshine, but with senses as sharp as their teeth, this savage tribe are to be avoided at all costs. Which isn't so easy when Julius concludes the final waypoint in the Faerie Ring is located in their lair Book 3: Freedom of the CityA breakout at the zoo transforms London into the ultimate urban jungle. Lions are on the loose, rhino, tigers and trouble-making monkeys, too. The smart move would be to hide out for a while, but underground trouble is brewing on a scale never seen before. Can Yoshi and his gifted friends turn their hand to saving the capital from a dark uprising...

Street Runners

Street Runners

Author: Matt Whyman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/09/2005

In a bid to escape from a mysterious pursuer, Yoshi takes refuge below the streets of London - and finds a world away from our own. Here, in this sprawling, multi-layered network of tunnels, panic rooms, vaults, catacombs and lost waterways, he discovers his own vital part in a mission to tap into ancient forces underpinning the capital.

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