Matt Rees's Blog (318)

Do you feel lucky? -- Crime writer has a blast, uncovers bloodlust

I’ve tried to do everything the characters in my books do. I’ve roamed the alleys of Bethlehem’s refugee camps. I’ve had clandestine meetings with gunrunners in Gaza. I’ve risked diabetes to eat syrupy Palestinian desserts and made them key to the plot of “The Samaritan’s Secret.” I learned piano for “Mozart’s Last Aria.” I picked up oil painting and dueled with a rapier for the forthcoming “Caravaggio’s Madonna.”

The manuscript I’m about to start will include a little gunplay. So it was… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on July 22, 2011 at 12:18am — No Comments

Sexy classical music and crime novels

When Peter Cook admitted to Dudley Moore that he was “turned on by dead Popes,” it was a satire on those among us who’re so bored by their lives as to be infinitely suggestible. Thus a dead pope lying on a catafalque in white robes looks “at peace, at rest, and ****ing fanciable.”

The joke, of course, is that no one could imagine the Pope as a sexual object, whether alive…


Added by Matt Rees on June 3, 2011 at 9:09pm — No Comments

New Crime Fiction Podcast: Arab Spring Short Story in Syria

I'm launching my new Podcast called The Man of Twists and Turns today. It'll include interviews with writers and discussions of my own creative process for my books about Palestinian detective Omar Yussef, Mozart and Caravaggio. It’s a podcast about writing for writers and for readers who love good writing. In this first podcast I read my new Omar Yussef short story set in… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on June 2, 2011 at 9:30pm — 1 Comment

Long gestation and the crime novel

Crime novelists generally write a novel a year. It’s what publishers want. Some big writers—and I mean, 25 million books sold—have told me their publishers and agents complain that if they don’t produce a book a year their readers will forget them.

In the case of such writers, some of those 25 million may have degenerative diseases and others may be plain stupid, but in all…


Added by Matt Rees on May 19, 2011 at 5:56pm — 2 Comments

Inspiration–and laughter–for the ladies: Ghada Abdel Aal’s Writing Life

When she was in her early twenties, Egyptian writer Ghada Abdel Aal began the complicated process of seeking a spouse. It involved meetings in parental living rooms over awkward glasses of tea. On one such occasion her potential groom spent his time screaming at a soccer game on tv. Another turned out to have a couple of wives already, and a would-be husband who was also a…


Added by Matt Rees on May 18, 2011 at 5:43pm — No Comments

Author's dilemma: What's next?

Damn, I’ve done it again. Finished a novel, sent it to my publisher…Oh, dear. What’s next?

If I write that this is THE authorial dilemma, I’m sure I’ll get emails from writers who just can’t finish their book, or from readers who’d like to be writers telling me that I shouldn’t be complaining about such a pleasant quandary.

So let me say that I’m not complaining. Just…


Added by Matt Rees on May 13, 2011 at 6:57pm — 1 Comment

FREE Omar Yussef short story: Damascus Trance

I've written this story as an immediate response to the murder and arrest of anti-government demonstrators all over Syria--and elsewhere in the Arab world. It’s a work of fiction based on the characters in my series of Palestinian crime novels. But real people are still being killed. 


An Omar Yussef story

By Matt Rees

The crowd started to clear the wide, covered arcade of the Souk Hammidiyye even before the first shot. Omar Yussef saw a dread…


Added by Matt Rees on May 13, 2011 at 1:02am — No Comments

Literary Review: MOZART'S LAST ARIA 'lively, well-researched, very clever'

In the current edition of London's Literary Review, Jessica Mann leads her roundup of new crime novels with this praise for MOZART'S LAST ARIA, my historical thriller about the great composer's death: "Matt Rees has drawn a lively portrait of eighteenth-century Vienna and of characters whose names now live only because of their connection with the composer. This novel is well-researched, very clever and written in clean, suitably… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on May 10, 2011 at 6:25pm — 1 Comment

The Reverse Orientalist: Kamal Abdel-Malek’s Writing Life Interview

When Kamal Abdel-Malek was a young student, he chose to study outside the Arab world, eventually becoming a professor at Brown and Princeton Universities in the US. It was the first step in the physical and intellectual journeys of this intriguing Egyptian writer. Born in Alexandria and now a teacher of Arabic…


Added by Matt Rees on May 9, 2011 at 12:39am — No Comments

Guest Blogger Wolfgang Mozart: I always said I was poisoned

At last. It took 220 years, but finally someone has told my story. I always said I was poisoned.

MOZART’S LAST ARIA came out this week in the UK. It’s a historical thriller by the British writer Matt Rees. I don’t mind that the Mozart of the title is my sister Nannerl – I always thought she deserved more…


Added by Matt Rees on May 5, 2011 at 4:44pm — No Comments

The Music Behind my Mozart Novel

The best reason I have for writing a novel about Mozart must surely be that I love his music. Other elements contribute, including my fascination with his neglected sister and the growing historical research which I believe points toward his murder. But the music must be at the center of the novel itself.

I’ve played music all my life. But after my initial music lessons I…


Added by Matt Rees on May 4, 2011 at 5:16pm — No Comments

Mozart Scene of the Crime

Historical novelists recreate the emotions and events of distant times. It helps if they can use real places that still exist. In the case of MOZART’S LAST ARIA, I was able to set much of the action in streets and buildings where Mozart lived and worked – and where you can still visit.

In my historical…


Added by Matt Rees on May 3, 2011 at 5:38pm — No Comments

Amadeus, Murder and the real Mozart

The long wait for a successor to Amadeus is over. In fact, my new novel MOZART’S LAST ARIA answers questions about the great composer’s death that are far more deeply rooted in historical research than Peter Shaffer’s nonetheless terrific play.

Shaffer, whose play was first performed in 1979 and filmed by Milos Forman in 1984, proposed court composer Salieri as the man who…


Added by Matt Rees on May 2, 2011 at 6:22pm — No Comments


For today's release of my new historical crime novel MOZART'S LAST ARIA in the UK, take a look at this two-minute videointroducing the book. It features my son dressed as Little Mozart, because I'm even more proud of him than I am of the book... Watch more videos about… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on May 1, 2011 at 6:30pm — 1 Comment

My Mozart novel and the intifada

If there had never been a Palestinian intifada, I might never have written my novel about the death of Mozart, MOZART’S LAST ARIA, which is published today in the UK by Corvus.

Of course, 4,000 people would also be alive who are now dead. In the course of writing about that destruction between 2000 and 2006, I saw some terrible things, experienced some frightful emotions, and internalized shocking facts about the world around me. It would’ve been easy to become depressed or to descend…


Added by Matt Rees on May 1, 2011 at 6:27pm — No Comments

The Prestigious Matt Rees International Literary Prizes

I have observed in this space before that author bios tend to be short on interesting detail and overfull of prize lists. Philip Roth, for example, doesn’t seem to exist, according to his bio. He doesn’t live anywhere, nor was he born. He simply receives prizes. This week I’m reading a very good historical novel by a writer who shall remain nameless. Perhaps it’s best that she…


Added by Matt Rees on April 29, 2011 at 3:47am — 4 Comments

Doctor knows life and death: Abraham Verghese’s Writing Life interview

If you were a book editor who wanted to create the perfect writer for a best-selling epic novel of an African-born doctor forced to take refuge in the U.S., you might pick someone from Ethiopia. Make him of Christian Indian parentage. Educate him in medicine and send him to the Iowa Writing Program. Make him work in top medical jobs with HIV patients who’d force him to examine…


Added by Matt Rees on April 22, 2011 at 11:40pm — No Comments

Book publicity: the full set

In the Royal Navy, there’s only one kind of facial hair allowed. British Tars are either clean shaven or they sport a beard, known in the service as a “full set.” The antipathy to the mustache is no doubt because of its predominance among the rival landlubber officer class (although it could’ve later been its association with a different kind of “sailor.”)

Book authors now…


Added by Matt Rees on April 21, 2011 at 10:20pm — 1 Comment

From Romance to Corpses: Tess Gerritsen’s Writing Life

Tess Gerritsen started with romance, but soon realized that dead bodies were where it’s at. At least, dead bodies handled deftly by the two most compelling female series characters in thriller fiction, Detective Jane Rizzoli and Dr. Maura Isles. Her first books were romance novels, but after writing eight of them she switched to medical thrillers. The 25 million books she has…


Added by Matt Rees on April 17, 2011 at 11:42pm — No Comments

Taking Refuge

Some people are always expecting or hoping for a war. They’re even working towards that end. When you live in the Middle East, you come to such a realization eventually.

Most people are like me, however. The wars sneak up on them. They notice the signs, then they bury them because they think they’re being unduly negative. Or they’re simply afraid to see what’s in front of…


Added by Matt Rees on April 16, 2011 at 4:42pm — No Comments

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