Here to discuss his latest book, Notes on a Nervous Planet, Matt Haig admits to being quite nervous about talking to everyone here today. He concedes, however, that this is a much nicer atmosphere than his recent theatre tour which he says he “stupidly” agreed to doing solo. Today it is more of a conversation with Lennie Goodings who opens the event by asking Haig to read four of his recent tweets.
Social media use forms much of Notes on a Nervous Planet and so it is a touch ironic that on one hand he is encouraging his readers to step away from the computer screen and on the other connecting so eloquently with his followers, his causes and his trolls through the medium. Even his tweets get a round of applause today.
Haig has written a host of fiction and children’s books but it was his first non-fiction book, Reasons to Stay Alive, that really propelled him into the public eye. Having suffered from depression and anxiety for a number of years he decided to write down his experiences in the hope that other sufferers could hold onto the idea that they were not alone. It has sold over a million copies and been translated into 45 languages showing the global need for a little chink of hope. His latest book has been lauded by the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, much to Haig’s bemusement and he laughs as he explains he was on holiday at the time she published his ‘Note From the Beach’ in her Vogue issue. He thus, unintentionally, ignored her call.
Like many writers getting his words onto paper is something of a therapeutic process for Haig although he is careful to point out that the arts and poor mental health are not inextricably linked as often portrayed in the media. He is in a good place just now and with the support of his wife Andrea continues to keep the proverbial black dog at bay and push himself to do things even when they scare him – like today.
Today’s event has been a triumph for Haig, both personally and professionally, and fans of his work can look forward to a stage play version of Reasons to Stay Alive and an exciting film adaptation of A Boy Called Christmas in the near future.