This month, K. M. Lockwood interviews Emma Finlayson-Palmer about one of her literary heroes for Inspirations from the Bookshelf - can you guess who?

I realise picking one favourite author is almost impossible – so who would you pick off the shelf today?

It is near impossible to pick only one as so many authors are amazing and inspiring! But I would like to choose Matt Haig. I am in awe of how he crosses such a wide range of genres and age groups with his books. There is something for everyone from small children upwards, and both fiction and non-fiction.

When did you first come across Matt Haig – and how?

I first discovered Matt Haig via Andrea Semple, who is a published writer and also married to Matt Haig. I had been a subscriber of her writing tips newsletter for a while when she announced that Matt’s first book, The Last Family in England, was being released in 2004 and as a fan of Andrea I decided to give Matt’s book a try and was hooked from there on in!

What attracted you then?

Matt’s writing was fresh and different to anything I’d read at the time. His first book was also told from the point of view of the family dog. It was a dark and quirky observation of family life, which is often the core of many of his books.

How has that initial reaction changed over time?

Over time Matt has released many different types of books covering a multitude of topics, from Christmas and elves, through vampires, aliens, humans, and his own battle with depression. With each book his writing has evolved and so have I as a reader, and find that his ability to cross genres and age groups in his writing is both exciting and inspiring. Something that Neil Gaiman also does (and yes, sorry, I snuck in a second favourite!).

Please share how Matt has influenced you – as a person and as a writer.

Matt Haig’s writing has touched and inspired me on many levels. As a person I feel I’ve learnt a lot about myself, especially through his non-fiction. As a writer it’s challenged me to think about approaching stories from different perspectives and exploring themes and ideas in greater depth and not shy away from subjects that might be difficult or painful to write. His writing excites me and makes me feel it is possible to also write for different age groups and genres, and that it can be done well and you don’t have to be boxed into one specific area of writing.

If someone hasn’t come across Matt Haig before, where should they start?

You could start with his first book, or his most recent, or close your eyes and pick one at random! There are so many to choose from it’s hard to say just one, but perhaps one that appeals to many is The Humans, for its humour and touching observations on what it is to be human. Told from the point of view of an alien in human form appreciating all the little things in life that we may take for granted.

Thank you, Emma, for sharing a more contemporary inspiration from your bookshelf who will probably appeal to a wide range of our readers.

Featured image: A selection of Emma's Matt Haig books taken by herself  

Emma Finlayson-Palmer has won numerous short story competitions, and is a Mslexia Children’s Novel Award Longlistee - 2019 for her MG Thriller inspired by The Birds, Ornithophobia. She's been featured in magazines such as Anorak magazine for children, has written six children’s novels, started many more, as well as being mother to a multitude of children, cats and chickens. Host of #ukteenchat, Twitter chat for writers of children’s fiction. Mentor for #WriteMentor, runs her own editing and mentoring service with Wonder Writers. A SCBWI member since 2014 and Girl Thursday for the SCBWI Twitter account, based in the West Midlands, and currently working on a chapter book about cheerleading witches!


  1. Compelling reasons to pick up a Matt Haig book. It's wonderful when you discover a writer and follow their writing journey from that 1st book. Thank you I really enjoyed the article.

  2. Thank you, glad it was helpful 😊

  3. I was scraping the barrel for some new author I might enjoy Thanks for the heads up about this one I'm off to the library now

    1. So many Matt Haig books to choose from too, yoully be spoilt for choice 🙂


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