Posted: 7 October, 2015

A new chapter for Putney High School

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Published author Matt Greene is our new Writer in Residence, working alongside Junior and Senior staff, some of whom are themselves published authors. As we launch the innovative scheme to further promote creativity, we find out more about Matt’s own story:

Born in Watford in 1985, Matt studied English Language (BA) at the University of Sussex, where he edited The Badger newspaper and first became interested in writing for the stage. He has co-written four plays for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, including the sell-out farce The Straight Man.

Ostrich, his first novel, was published in 2013 and won a Betty Trask Award. He is currently working on his second book, scheduled for release in 2017 and also published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

Tell us about Ostrich:

Ostrich is the story of Alex Graham, a twelve year-old epilepsy sufferer recovering from surgery to remove a tumour from his temporal lobe, the part of the brain that processes time. Like many sufferers of TLE, Alex experiences frequent déjà vu, leading him to suspect that he’s living his life in the very recent past. As well as a coming-of-age story, the book is a meditation on destiny versus free will. The idea came to me after I underwent some (thankfully relatively minor) surgery of my own and experienced a general anaesthetic for the first time. I should also say as this sounds terribly serious that’s it full of painfully bad puns!

And your second novel?

In many ways writing a second book is a completely unique challenge. Before I started work on it, I used to think it took me one year to write my first, but now I’m forced to conclude that it really took me 27! Still, hopefully I’ll hit my January deadline (or I won’t miss it by too long) and it’ll be out sooner rather than later.

What attracted you to our Writer in Residence role?

Becoming a writer was something I never expected, mostly because I’d never had any encouragement in that direction. The fact that Putney High School is doing so much to promote creative writing really excites me and when I saw the post I knew I had to apply.

How will you make a difference for our girls? What do you hope to achieve with them?

The beauty of creative writing is that unlike Physics or Mandarin it’s something everyone sort of knows how to do to begin with, but it’s also something that’s easy to dismiss as not being for you. As well as working closely with those who’ve already demonstrated their interest in and commitment to writing, I’m hoping to remind those girls who maybe find it more of a chore that creative writing is both within their abilities and an extremely rewarding discipline to pursue. My aim is to help every pupil produce a piece of writing that they’re proud of and want to share.

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Do you have any tips/advice to inspire our budding writers?

Notice everything. And write it down. And take up yoga; writing is murder on your lower back. Also, be wary of writers with lots of advice; an artist’s theory of art is almost always predicated on their shortcomings as an artist!

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