Matt Haig's writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The
Independent, and The Sydney Morning
Herald. The Dead Fathers Club was
his American debut but his second
published novel following The Last
Family in England (2004), a
reworking of Henry IV, Part I from the
point of view of a black Labrador named
Shadow Forest, his first book for children, was published in the UK in May 2007; and in the USA as Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest in June 2007 His next book for adults was The Possession of Mr Cave in May 2008, followed by The Radleys.
He now lives in Leeds but grew up in Newark-on-Trent, where he went to a school much like Philip's in The Dead Fathers Club.
Matt Haig's website
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A Conversation with Matt Haig
In The Dead Fathers Club, you have chosen to reimagine not merely a classic but arguably the classic work of English literature. Where does one get the daring to wrestle with a giant, and how did you go about making Shakespeares story into your own?
Well, I didnt begin with a conscious desire to rewrite Hamlet. I began with the desire to tell a story about grief from a childs perspective and I found myself gravitating increasingly toward these grand Shakespearean themes. And yes, its a massive risk, and Im not the one to judge if Ive pulled it off. But I think all writers feel the ghosts of literature breathing down their neck, so I figured it might as well be Shakespeare looking over my shoulder as anyone else.
In your opinion, how important is it to your readers enjoyment that they have read or reread Hamlet recently?
My intention was to write a story that connects with people emotionally and hopefully that connection works the same with or without an in-depth knowledge of Hamlet. After all, Shakespeare himself was the king of rewrites, and Hamlet itself echoes earlier vengeance stories.
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