So, after teasing it in my last blog, I can finally welcome my first guest blogger of 2020, Mat Osman. Describing himself as the “shorter, more niche appeal Osman brother” (Younger brother Richard is co-host of BBC’s Pointless and House of Games), Mat is most widely known as bassist for and a founder member of Suede. Until now that is. Having ventured down the dark path that is Crime Fiction Writing, his first novel, “The Ruins” is available now for pre-order and is scheduled to be released next month.
About the book: Described as, “a magnificent modern noir tale of music, memory and myth” The Ruins tells the story of estranged twins, Adam and Brandon. After Brandon is killed, Adam, the more bookish in nature of the two, finds himself having to negotiate his way through the murky underworld once inhabited by his brother, finding himself increasingly drawn into it and putting him dangerously at peril of losing himself and those he holds dear in the process.
Needless to say, as a Suede fan of 25+ years, a Crime Fiction Writer and Crime Book Junkie, I’m more than a little excited to have reserved my copy. Anyway, enough from me, let’s hear from Mat.
Hi Mat, thanks so much for being my guest and apologies for the word play on “Introducing The Band” as my title. I’ll try not to fanboy too much as we chat, I promise.
So, I’ve been reading some of the reviews already, which are amazing, how are you feeling now that the book is out there in the world?
It’s an odd mixture of pride, because I’ve never really released a piece of work that was all mine before, and terror, for much the same reason. I’d never realised what a psychic shield having a band around you is; any criticism is watered down until it’s tolerable. It’s hard not to take criticism of the book much more personally than I would Suede’s music.
But mostly it’s just relief. It’s a long old process writing a book, and even once it’s finished there’s the finding an agent and publishers, the proofs, the cover design, the copy-edits and the like. At the moment I can’t wait for it finally to be out there in the real world.
Can you tell us a little bit about how the book came about?
I’d been writing short stories for a while and I realised that many of them inhabited the same space. So I started fitting them together and I devised a story to link them all together. Actually, most of the stuff I started with got dropped once I realised the pleasure of writing something more complex, but I probably would never have started without those short stories. Once I had a structure I found myself actually enjoying the writing. I didn’t think too hard about what it all meant and I just let it flow.
So, as well as the launch, you have some book related events lined up. How have you been preparing for that? I mean, I know you’re used to appearing in front of huge crowds etc but will your preparation for this differ much from preparing for a Suede gig?
It’s infinitely more nerve-wracking than playing with Suede. Give me 50,000 people at a festival and I’m unfazed - it’s just a day at work for me. But give me ten readers and a microphone and I’m a bag of worry. I know by now I should be used to it - we’ve done big Q&As for the Suede documentary - but it’s still a bit special to me at the moment. At least I don’t have to do all the stretches that I need before a Suede gig nowadays!
I should have added to my last question, that you have nothing lined up for Northern Ireland yet, though we at The Northern Ireland Festival of Writing are doing what we can to change that. So how is your diary for May lol?
I’m really looking forward to coming back to Northern Ireland. It’s always been a special place for Suede, right from the start of our career, and there’s a sense that art - music, books, films - really count for something there. May is hard though because I’m juggling Suede shows, festivals, recording and writing all at the same time. I definitely want to check out No Alibis - when I was first looking at book events I asked on Twitter about the best places for authors to do readings and No Alibis got mentioned hundreds of times.
As a writer myself, I’m always interested to know about other people’s writing processes and how they fit their writing into often already busy lives, can you give us a bit of an insight into a day in your life as a writer?
I’ve come to the unhappy realisation that I can’t write at home, which is a shame because I have a lovely home studio with cats and a great old stereo and views out over London, but it’s just too distracting. Instead I take myself off to the British Library, with a laptop with busted wi-fi, and try to do 2000 words before I go home. There’s a program called Cold Turkey Writer which I love; it doesn’t allow you to access anything but a blank writing page until you’ve written your target.
Tell us something about you that might shock us.
Oh god, I don’t think there’s much. I can’t whistle, that always seems to surprise people. Or click my fingers.
Finally, what’s next for you, project wise? I’m hoping to hear that there’s another book in the pipeline as well as a new Suede record and tour (with particular emphasis on Belfast & Dublin dates of course).
There’s a new book which I’m about 60,000 words into but it’s still revealing itself so it’ll probably shrink and grow and mutate before it’s in any sense readable. It’s about a troupe of Elizabethan boy actors called The Blackfriars Boys. There’s a new Suede record just percolating: ‘nasty, brutish and short’ Brett described it as. There are Suede shows both massive and tiny in the works. And I’m off to talk about The Ruins in England, Scotland and The States in the spring.
To find out more about Mat, or to pre-order The Ruins you can visit: