Matt Cain is the former editor of Attitude magazine and Justin Myers is the writer of the online dating blog The Guyliner. Both writers are present at the Aye Write Festival in Glasgow to discuss their latest novels. The event is hosted by James T. Harding from Stewed Rhubarb press and follows the traditional literature festival format of a reading from the authors and then a Q&A session.
The Madonna of Bolton is a coming of age story that follows the character of Charlie from the ages 9 through to 34. Each chapter of the book is a built on a Madonna song and Matt Cain reads from the section called ‘Who’s That Girl’ . We are taken back to 1987 where tickets for a Madonna concert in Leeds are only £15. The reading completely captures how inspiring, gripping and exciting pop music and pop stars can be. It presents the emotions that you feel when music means everything to you and fully expresses why pop stars such as Madonna are worshipped by millions. The reading gives a taser for the book which was recently published via Unbound.
After Matt reads his chapter Justin Myers tell us the audience about his latest novel The Last Romeo. The story is centred around James who is just out of a six-year relationship and attempting online dating. Justin reads a chapter from the novel in which the character is trying to compose a message to a potential date. The awkwardness, embarrassment and unease in this situation is brought to life with Justin’s reading. The writer has drawn on his own experiences which he chronicles in his blog, but has clearly heightened the drama and comedy in The Last Romeo.
During the Q&A we learn that both books had a very different journey to being published. Justin Myers was approached by his publisher who were “looking for the next gay novel”. Meanwhile Matt began writing his book in 2006 but could not find a publisher willing to release a novel with a gay protagonist. Matt states that – “A lot has changed for gay men in the last ten years” and now a book with gay lead characters can be seen as commercial. Thankfully more LGBT focused books are finding an audience and The Madonna of Bolton and The Last Romeo are both deserving of success.