Lou Pendergrast: Congratulations on your great work the new novel The Humans. Would you say this is your most personal story we will read?
Absolutely. It came out of the worst period of my life. It came out of a nervous breakdown, and when I came to write it I was telling my other self how and why life is worth living.
You’ve mentioned in the afterward that you had a time in your life when you has to get to grips with dealing with panic attacks, tell me more about this, and what steps would you hold key important counter things to do to handle a panic attack?
Matt Haig: Anxiety tells you everything is going to get worse. Panic tells you everything is going to get worse right now. The only way to deal with it is to ignore it, which is near impossible. But if you focus on it, it builds. It feeds on itself.
How did you start as a writer?
Very gradually. I had no confidence at first. I started in PR, writing press releases, then journalism, then books.
Yes. I love the great American poets. I love the way their words feel in my brain.
What authors are your inspiration, of which you re- read?
Matt Haig: SE Hinton, Stephen King, Poe, Salinger, JG Ballard, Jeanette Winterson, Sylvia Plath, Bret Easton Ellis. I like one-off writers. Writers who don’t really fit into a school or movement. Writers who can’t be successfully imitated.
Do you think some consecutive moral philosophy in fiction can be a good thing, will feature in your future writings?
Matt Haig: Maybe. I don’t know. I like philosophy more than instructions. I think the job of fiction is to ask questions, not always give answers.
What kick do you get out of the writing process and the finished work?
Matt Haig: The kick comes when you are writing fast and your mind is moving even faster and you dissolve into the story. It’s an escape. A drug.
Do you have a story plan first, a character, ending or a scene, how do lay down the writing of a story?
Matt Haig: I don’t lay it down. I write what comes to me. Very rarely I start at the beginning and end at the end.
When seeds are planted for characters and story ideas do you note them straight away and work on them at a later date or start writing straight away?
Matt Haig: Sometimes I write down notes. Generally my focus is on the story I’m writing.
Do you have many ideas that have not be fleshes out into a final short story or novel?
Matt Haig: Yes. Far more than will ever actually happen.
What sentences fiction do you hold with high regard above others?
Matt Haig: I like Dodie Smith’s first line from I Capture the Castle: ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.’
Other than writing what else occupies your time?
Matt Haig: Spending time with my kids, reading, cinema, running, twittering.