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Matthew Crow was born in 1987 and raised in Newcastle. He has worked as a freelance journalist on publications including the Independent on Sunday and the Observer and has written two adult novels of which My Dearest Jonah was nominated for the Dylan Thomas Prize. His latest book is the Young Adult novel In Bloom.

Where are you now?
At home, answering this and trying to find a film I want to see on online because I resent having to walk fifty yards to Blockbusters like an actual Victorian.

Where and when do you do most of your writing?
In bed, usually. Night time. More through laziness than any sort of routine.

If you have one, what is your pre-writing ritual?
Accumulate many snacks, such as when preparing for a bad winter. Also (really bad admission) have a cigarette and a cup of tea.

Full-time or part-time?
Part-time.

Pen or keyboard?
Keyboard. I’m so bone idle if I had to write more than a Haiku longhand I’d give it up and learn a trade or something.

How do you relax when you’re writing?
I don’t. Writing is work. Relaxation is pub.

How would you pitch your latest book in up to 25 words?
A romantic comedy between a pretentious fifteen-year-old boy and a tough-talking girl set on a cancer ward in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Who do you write for?
Myself. I always think you should do it only because you love it, and treat everything that comes after as nothing more than your good luck.

Who do you share your work in progress with?
Nobody. I don’t like showing work in progress. Plus I’m always scared somebody might cheat if they get a whiff of what I’m up to. The first person to read a rough draft is Broo, my agent.

Which literary character do you wish you created?
Adrian Mole, because he is a perfect comic creation. Ignatius Reilly, for the same.

Share with us your favourite line/s of dialogue, poetry or prose.
My mind has gone blank! The last line of The Great Gatsby is about as good as it gets. I also love the simple brilliance of Donna Tartt’s description of her 12-year-old hero in The Little Friend: “Harriet, the baby, was neither pretty nor sweet. Harriet was smart.” I read Stoner recently and didn’t think the fuss was wholly founded, but I did love Williams’ meditation on death at Mrs Stoner’s funeral: “Now they were in the earth to which they had given their lives…” it was stop-you-in-your tracks stuff.

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Donna Tartt courtesy Little, Brown, Where the Wild Things Are (Bodley Head edition)

Which book do you wish you’d written?
Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow.

Which book/s have you most recently read and enjoyed?
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

What’s on your bedside table or e-reader?
The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare (whom I love), Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman. I was also kindly sent an e-version of a book I’m excited about called The Rathbones by Janice Clark, but I don’t have a Kindle so I might have to read that off-screen.

Which books do you feel you ought to have read but haven’t yet?
You read for pleasure, so I would never feel bad about not having read something. But I will admit I’ve tried – and given up – with all of David Foster Wallace’s full-length fiction. Sometimes life is just too short.

Which book/s do you treasure the most?
Probably Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow. I’ve read it pretty much once a year since I was 16. The mystery element obviously doesn’t work for me anymore. In truth I never really did care who killed Isaiah or about the Cryolite Corporation or that weird worm thing. I cared that Smilla cared, and still do.

What is the last work you read in translation?
I can’t remember. I have just ordered a book called Before I Burn by Gaute Haivoll, which I’m quite excited about though. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Which story collections would you particularly recommend?
A Capote Reader, which is cheating as technically his journalism is the best bit of that, especially his interviews and profiles, but “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is in there and it’s incredible (despite the god-awful film it spawned.) Also a book called No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July; particularly the very short story “This Person”.

What will you read next?
The Rathbones, if I can handle it. I also quite fancy the new Stephen King book, Joyland. Actually I’m going on holiday soon and always take Tracey Emin’s autobiography Strangeland with me when I go abroad. So that, too.

What are you working on next?
A Top Secret Follow Up to a book that isn’t even out yet.

Imagine you’re the host of a literary supper, who would your dinner guests be (living or dead, real or fictional)?
Best question ever! Ignatius Reilly so we could start our revolution. Sue Townsend so I could make her like me. Capote for gossip. Donna Tartt because I adore her and think she’d make a fine drinking partner. Nabokov so I could say I’d met him and he could teach me about butterflies. Iago from Othello to jazz things up a bit. Smilla Jasperson so I could thank her. Maybe Scottie and Papa, because who wouldn’t? And Bob Dylan (who counts because of Chronicles, then I could do loads of zingers about Going Electric and we’d laugh so hard). I nearly said Dorothy Parker, but I’m worried she’d be exhausting – like a really demanding Liz Lemon who kept trying to drink your bleach – so maybe just one of the monsters from Where The Wild Things Are, for hugs after the rest have all left and I throw up and pass out.

If you weren’t writing you’d be…?
Desperately unhappy.

 

In Bloom
Francis Wootton is a fifteen-year-old poet manqué whose genius is wasted on his family – and pretty much everyone else in his hometown in Tyne-and-Wear. His mum’s run off her feet, his dad’s just run off, his older brother’s permanently broke, and he’s not even sure he likes his best friend Jacob.

Lower Fifth is supposed to be his time, the start of an endless horizon towards whatever-comes-next. But when he is diagnosed with leukaemia that wide-open future abruptly narrows, and a whole new world of worry presents itself.

The he meets fierce, tough, one-of-a-kind Amber – who shows him the way to tackle the good, the bad and everything in between head on.

“Matthew Crow is an extremely funny writer and Francis Wootton is the best fictional teenager since Adrian Mole. Read In Bloom right now. It will improve your life.”
Matt Haig, author of The Humans

In Bloom is published by Much in Little, an imprint of Constable & Robinson, in hardback and eBook.

Listen to Matthew Crow’s In Bloom soundtrack on Spotify

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