Matthew Munson: A way with words

Using words to create debate

I like to think that I’m a passable writer; I don’t think I’ve got the talent of Stephen King or Terry Pratchett, but I hope that I can entertain with my writing to a degree – and perhaps even make some people think if I can when I can be contentious from time to time.

When my first book – Fall From Grace – was published back in 2010 – I would have been happy if I sold just five copies; given that my mum was probably going to buy four copies all by her self, I was aiming low. But even people I don’t know have brought it, which is lovely, and I heard one story about a purchase which intrigued me.

A woman brought FFG from a well-known chain of bookshops and had decided to start reading it there and then from the cafe on site. Lovely. A few minutes later, the bookseller she had brought it from felt a tap on his shoulder and, looking round, saw the women standing there, book clasped to her chest like a breast plate, and rather flushed in the cheeks.

You see, it seemed that she wanted to make a complaint about my book. It features angels and demons in it, or at least my fictional interpretations of something that I don’t personally believe in, and she felt that I was taking liberties with her religious faith.

The bookseller – who knew me, as a matter of fact – was able to assure her that, despite my lack of religious faith, I’ve never knowingly taken liberties with anything, and could tell her a little about my views on faith. She was furious, however, at my lack of apparent respect, and was absolutely determined to take this further. As she walked – flounced – out of the shop, she declared that she was “taking this to the papers!”

My friend told me this rather nervously, like I would be upset or anxious about this prospective publicity, but I wasn’t anything of the sort. I was desperately hopeful that she would go the nationals, as I could only imagine the increase in sales that it would provoke. My twitter followers would rise exponentially as well, I hoped.

But, sadly, she didn’t ever take it to the papers – or, if she did, she was laughed out the newsroom. It was, of course, a non-story; there wasn’t any offence to be had in my book, except that which people found in it themselves without me generating it.

I’ve occasionally generated debate because of something I’ve written, but it’s created a fascinating conversation between people on different sides of the fence, and I welcome that. I very rarely delete comments on my blog, and am only pushed to it when people go too far – when they feel the need to personally insult others and criticise the person, not the idea, and that always annoys me beyond belief.

So if my writing can occasionally generate strong feelings – for or against something – then that’s going to please me more than I can possibly imagine.