A Quickie with Matthew Blakstad

Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it?

Lucky Ghost is a fast-paced thriller set in a future Britain where everyone wears a digital veil called a ‘mesh’ around their faces. Your mesh turns your world into stories, with you as the hero. People use mesh to escape the pressures of the modern world – until someone starts using mesh to manipulate them into doing bad things. Very very bad things. People should read the book because it’s full of ideas about where our obsession with screens might lead us.

If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?

To Thrill a Mocking Nerd

What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?

My first novel. Sockpuppet, contains a passing reference to a pornographic image featuring a duck. One early reader really, really wanted to know what the duck was doing. I had literally no idea, but he insisted on knowing. I had to tell him to use his imagination.

If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?

I’d love to adapt a book for TV with Vince Gilligan, creator of Breaking Bad. I think he’s the best writer working today, in any medium.

Tell me something nobody else knows about you (yet!).

I spent my 11th birthday hanging out with Patsy Kensit. She gave me a bag of sweets as my present. They were disgusting. (Explanation: I was a child actor and Patsy and I were in a BBC costume drama called Penmarric.)

Finally please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.

I just re-read two amazing books that were featured in my live show, OFF Book (www.offbook.live) – this was Sarah Lotz’s The White Road, a (literally!) chilling ghost story set on the slopes of Everest, and Jason Arnopp’s The Last Days of Jack Sparks, the only book I’ve ever read that made me both laugh out loud and shiver in terror.

I’m now reading a non-fiction book called Chaos Monkeys by Antonio Garcia Martinez, which is a riotous take-down of the culture of tech firms like Facebook. It’s hilarious but also lifts the lid on these really secretive organisations that seem to run our lives these days.

Who is Matthew Blakstad? Matthew writes pacy, character-driven fiction that explores the impact of technology on how we live and who we are. His first published story, Fallen Angel, a 100-page micro-thriller, came out in May 2016, followed by Sockpuppet, his first full-length novel. His second novel, Lucky Ghost, came out in July 2017. All three books are part of the Martingale Cycle, a series of standalone stories gravitating around a fictional computing pioneer and political radical called Elyse Martingale.

Matthew’s first career was as a professional child actor. From the age of ten, he had roles in TV dramas on the BBC and ITV, in films and at theatres including London’s Royal Court. After graduating from Oxford with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, he began a career in online communications. He now works in the public sector, helping people understand and manage money.

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