Matthew Munson: The world of books and writers

Matthew and Bryan

Changing routines can always be complex – I’m currently in the process of working out mine and Bryan’s daily routine for the new school year; there’s work, school, dancing (my son, not me), and university to consider. I like to be organised, and I wish I could have everything already done – but when you’re waiting on other people, then it takes time. I have to learn patience, and I’m not always very good at that.

Change can be nerve-wracking; it makes me anxious, especially when I don’t have all the answers immediately to hand. I admire people who cope with change almost without effort – but, as I said to Bryan just this week, change can sometimes be good. If we never embraced change, we’ve never get anywhere new or different in our lives; I wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for a succession of people taking chances in their lives (my grandparents moving from Medway so that my granddad could get a promotion in the police force here in Ramsgate being just one example), so I’m willing to embrace a few nerves if it means I can better myself in some small way.

With all this talk of university and being given the chance to study writing and words and books in all their glory (you can’t ask for much more than that, surely?), I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my favourite books and writers. I’ve been gradually introducing Bryan to more writers, and he encounters more at school – I think that’s great, as it broadens his mind. When a book captures his interest, I go with the flow; I love seeing him learning new ideas and concepts.

Recently, we came across a book called Shadow Chaser by Simon Tudhope. Bryan had bought a copy for his sister as a present but ended up finding it so fascinating that he wanted to buy a second copy just for himself. It’s one of those books where you choose the next stage of the adventure; do this and turn to page 294, or do that and turn to page 3, something like that. Similar books were around when I was a child, thirty-odd years ago, and when he came with me to my university open day in June, the course director introduced him to a story one of his students had written. Bryan was engrossed, and we had endless hours reading it together; he also shared it with his nan and granddad as well, so I knew it was a purchase well made.

I remember coming across Terry Pratchett for the first time. He wrote fantasy novels about Discworld, which was a planet the shape of a disc and imbued with magic. It was in turns comic, witty, dark, and beyond brilliant. I discovered one of his books in Michael’s Bookshop in Ramsgate when I was 11 or 12, and obsessively collected each of his books until he died in 2015. I remember being genuinely upset at his death; I’d never met the man, and was never likely to either, but it still felt like I knew him through his work and the interviews I’d heard him give. I’m hoping to get Bryan interested in those books one day – we’ll see.

My own publishing journey has been rewarding; I’ve had three books published with a small press and, while I’ll be looking for a new publisher when I finish the manuscript I’m currently working on, I’m glad I’ve had the experience of being published in that way. To have the publisher hand over a copy of my first book, and to feel it in my hand, is a memory I’ll always have; it was a privilege to experience that more than once.

Whether I get to do that or not in the future, I love telling stories and reading fiction of all sorts; a good, gripping story (with a twist at the end would be nice – I gasped when I got to the last page of Sarah Pinborough’s book Behind Her Eyes) is captivating, and to share good stories with my son is even better.


  1. My youngest was buying and reading the newspapers while she was at primary school. Her tutor said she could not teach her any more at the age of 11 as she knew more than she did. She is just off to university to do science and engineering..

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