Dude – An Evening with Matthew Norman

As I mentioned yesterday, my book club had the privilege to speak with Domestic Violets author Matthew Norman. (Click here for a synopsis and my thoughts.)

Almost like a campfire, the ladies sat in a circle and passed the phone from one person to the next asking Matt questions.

First, we talked about why he chose to set the book in D.C. and not Baltimore (he lives in Federal Hill). He said that he was actually living abroad when he wrote the book and just pictured D.C. and New York as the perfect settings for a story set during the financial crisis.

We talked about the idea that affairs in the workplace have increased since more women started working. We talked about how many relationships begin with a friendship and then grow into attraction. We discussed the difference between how men view affairs and how women see them.

As the phone got passed, we talked about how Domestic Violets has been optioned for a movie. We discussed the actual term of what ‘optioned’ means (studios have a certain amount of time to gather a team together to make the movie before it’s ‘on the market’ again). Matt mentioned that a big name actor has already expressed interest in playing one of the main characters. He expressed is surprise that a, “kind of small, geeky book” had been optioned. He talked a bit about how it’s a relief to sell his novel off to a studio because either way, he wins. If the movie bombs he can say, “They ruined my book!” and if it does well, “Of course it did – I wrote the book on which it’s based!”

We explored a bit of his writing process. How he likes to write with a complete arc in mind. He’s working on another novel, but doesn’t have the end for it yet. As he put it, “I’m aimless. It makes for a longer road and you feel like you just have to grind it out. It’s much easier to write toward something specific.”

He then talked about the book pairing of Domestic Violets and The Violets of March as a marketing strategy – giving all the credit to Sarah Jio.

We dove into his characters – how his voice is quite similar to Tom’s, the main character. He said that Tom is a bit more outspoken than he is and that writing the dialogue was a bit like living vicariously through his character.

We finished the conversation by coming back to the topic of infidelity. How a certain scene divided the group’s opinions. Matt said that he didn’t write the book to be controversial, but this particular scene has since sparked quite a bit of conversation. He explained himself by stating that he didn’t want a typical romantic comedy scenario; he never buys it when men just blurt things out in an effort to win a woman over. Here, he provided my favorite quote of the night, “He wasn’t deciding whether or not to tell, he was deciding whether or not he wanted to be married.”

All in all, it was a great night. It was a pleasure to have him join in our gathering for the night. All nine of us liked it and urge you to try it out as well!


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