We're All Damaged

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Coming Soon


People are always saying to me, "Come on, Matt Norman, put on some pants and finish your book already."

Well, fine, I did, and here's the official announcement from my new publisher, Ballantine Books. There's some industry jargon here, but, the gist of it is that I've agreed to a two-book deal. The first of those two books is called LAST COUPLE STANDING, which will be out next year. As for the second book...well, I better get writing.

Stay tuned for more info on things like release dates and cover art and tour dates and my general disposition. I know I'm being all casual about this, but I'm absolutely thrilled, and I can't wait for you all to meet my main characters Mitch and Jessica Butler. I've spent the last two and a half years with them, and I hope you'll love them as much as I do.

In the meantime, feel free to drop me a line on social media or at this email address.

thenormannation@gmail.com

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Everything is Still Awful and I Want to Die But Music Helps a Little

Hello again, friends.

What now seems like a hundred years ago, I wrote a post called Everything is Awful and I Want to Die But Here's a Joke I Heard. A few readers contacted me back then to let me know that it helped make them feel better.

Well, if you're the type of person who thinks like me, everything is still awful. More awful, in fact. But, because I'm a sucker for hope, I thought I'd share something that helped me, at least briefly, feel less shitty about everything.

The other morning, I was driving my kids to camp, and, full disclosure, I was wallowing. I had NPR on the radio, which was reporting story after story that made me want to pull the car over, roll down the window, and barf out onto the streets of northern Baltimore.

My daughters Caroline and Hazel are 8 and 6 years old, respectively, so they have about thirty-seconds worth of tolerance for news, bless their hearts.

"Daddy, can we play Ready for It?" Caroline asked from the back seat. Ready for It, by the way, is the first song on Taylor Swift's latest album, which I have listened to in the car with them no fewer than seven hundred times.

I looked up in the rear view mirror, fully prepared to tell them no and to hush so daddy could continue being horrified. But then I saw that they were smiling. Both of them. They were excited for a day of swimming and playing games with friends. They were young and happy and glowing and shiny. I mean that last part literally. I'd just put enough sunscreen on them to safely protect a herd of adolescent elephants.

So, I said, "OK, yeah. Tay-Tay it is."

I hit an icon on my dashboard that switches over to my phone via Bluetooth or science or ghosts or whatever. When I do this, for reasons I can't explain, it automatically defaults to shuffle and starts playing a random song from my music library. That particular morning, the song was Losing My Religion by R.E.M.

If you're around my age, you've heard this song so many times that you don't really hear it anymore, so I went about the cumbersome task of scrolling around to find Taylor Swift.

"What's this song called?" asked Caroline.

She's a little girl, so she's got a little girl's voice. But on the rare occasion that I have her full attention, that voice sounds more purposeful and focused.

Hazel chimed in, too. "Yeah, Daddy. What is it?"

I told them the name of the song, and then I told them the abbreviated history of R.E.M. and that Losing My Religion is, arguably, their crowning achievement. By the time I was done with all that, the song was over.

"Can you play it again?" asked Caroline.

"Really?"

Caroline and Hazel agreed, Losing My Religion is a great song. And, as I played it again, and then again, I remembered just how great. A small musical masterpiece.

I feel hopeless and sad. For the last year and a half, I've been saying vaguely optimistic things like, "We'll get through this." Maybe that's true, maybe it's not. But, when we got out of the car and walked through the parking lot, I listened to Caroline and Hazel shout in unison: "That's me in the corner! That's me in the spotlight losing my religion!" And, for a few minutes, I set all of that aside and enjoyed the moment.

Thanks for that, girls. And...good luck.

thenormannation@gmail.com 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

How I Write

Earlier this summer, I chatted with Allison Futterman from The Writer about...well, writing.

More specifically, "How I Write," which is a column that the magazine devotes to things like craft and process. A lot of writers get shy when talking about the rituals and mechanics of what they do, but I've always enjoyed it. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I went on and on about it. Allison, wisely, just printed the useful parts. Here's a link, if you're interested.

And, if anyone has a question--about process or anything else--feel free to email it to me. If I get a couple, I'll answer them here in a post. Doing so will give me a nice little break from my third novel, which is currently making me wonder why I got into this business in the first place.

thenormannation@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE: I Did NOT Write This Book

Hey, Friends & Fans. One of the downsides to having such a generic name is that there are a lot of Matthew Normans out there. There's a renowned clock-maker, an Australian actor, a controversial political columnist in the UK, and an infamous drug smuggler who is currently, as best I can tell, in prison.

There are also several other Matthew Normans on earth who write books. The nerve of these guys!

One of these non-me Matthew Normans recently published the book pictured above, Death of Sol. Some of my readers have gotten emails from Amazon reporting that I wrote this. A glitch in the Matrix. And, based on some search and purchase data I've seen, some people, quite reasonably, are getting confused.

Let me set the record straight: I DID NOT WRITE THIS BOOK.

I wish the other Matthew Norman the best of luck with Death of Sol, but please know that I had nothing to do with it. I'm currently hard at work on the second draft of my next novel. When it's ready to go, I'll let you know.

Side note: I mostly blame my parents for this.

thenormannation@gmail.com

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The World of Pax Americana: An Interview with Kurt Baumeister

Earlier this summer, I had the chance to interview novelist Kurt Baumeister about his fantastic debut novel Pax Americana. Part lit fiction, part thriller, part revisionist history, it's one of the most unique books I've read in a very long time. Here's a transcript of our chat, which appeared on JMWW.

If Pax Americana sounds like something you'd be into, get it here, and let me know what you think.

thenormannation@gmail.com



Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Domestic Violets Writing Q&A

Happy New Year, everyone. This week, I answered some very interesting writing-related questions about my first novel over at the blog Great Writers Steal.

It was a lot of fun. Between We're All Damaged and the new novel I'm currently obsessing over, I haven't had a chance to think about Domestic Violets in a very long time. Here's a link to the Q&A, which covers everything from the mechanics of dialogue to the many pitfalls of writing about writers. Hope you like it.

thenormannation@gmail.com

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Everything is Awful and I Want to Die But Here's a Joke I Heard

Like about half the country, I'm hurting badly right now. It's an overwhelming feeling, complete with nausea, hopelessness, and sudden bouts of startlingly raw emotion.

I've done my best over the past 24 hours to avoid lashing out. It'd probably feel good to point fingers and chastise those who disagree with me, but, I know that I'd ultimately regret it, and I'd just find myself with something else to feel shitty about.

I don't know why the election turned out the way that it did. I don't know if there's anything, reasonably, that anyone could have done to make things go differently. But, what I do know is that I can't work on my novel-in-progress in this emotional condition. A novel is a delicate thing--particularly a first draft--and me showing up at my keyboard on the verge of tears would almost certainly send things off the rails. I am, after all, a comedic novelist.

So, while I take a day or two off to wallow and eat mint chocolate chip ice cream in Costco-size portions, I thought I'd share a joke I recently heard that really made me laugh. My hope is that it makes you laugh, too, and maybe feel at least a little better.

I was in Oxford, MS last week with a friend to see a college football game. It was late Saturday night. I didn't particularly care about the outcome of the game, but, my friend did, and his team had lost, so we decided to get drunk at some college bars.

When it came time to go back to the house where we were staying, I discovered that the Uber situation in Oxford is delicate, and there isn't really a "traditional" taxi company in operation. Instead, the locals share random gypsy cabs to get around when they've been drinking. These cabs could be vans, sedans, SUVs, or, in our case, a stretch limousine from the 1980s with a big dent in the fender.

"Flag that guy down," my friend said. "See if he's got openings."

"What?" I said.  "You mean that limo?"

The driver--a small man with an exotic Russian accent--told us to hop in. When we did, along with a great deal of neon lighting, we found two large African-American men. One was tipped over on the plush seat with his eyes closed; the other smiled and said hello.

We exchanged pleasantries. The sleeping guy briefly woke up to say hi. After a chat about the football game, we collectively ran out of things to say, which led to a few minutes of silence.

"Well, this is awkward," said the awake guy. He had a big, booming voice. "How about I tell you guys a joke?"

Technically, I wasn't in the mood to hear a joke, but I liked that the guy was talking. Silence freaks me out, especially in small, neon-lit spaces, so I encouraged him to continue. This is what he said.

"So, an Asian guy, a Mexican guy, a white guy, and a black guy all climb Mt. Kilimanjaro together.  When they get to the top, they're all very excited, and they discovered that each of them is the first member of his race to make it to the top."

Side note: I really liked where this joke was heading. He went on.

"Out of nowhere, the Asian guy turns to his new friends and says, 'I'm doing this for my people,' and then he throws himself off the side of the mountain. Everyone was like, holy shit. But then, inspired by this act of selfless valor, the Mexican guy does the same thing. 'I'm doing this for my people!' and then he throws himself off the mountain, too. The white guy and the black guy just stand there and process what they've witnessed. I mean, they can't believe it. Then, suddenly, the black guy shouts, 'I'm doing this for my people!'...and then he throws the white guy off the mountain."

Stay strong, America. We'll get through this.

thenormannation@gmail.com