My guest today is fabulous Matt Cain who kindly agreed to answer my questions about his excellent debut, Shot Through the Heart. Matt became Channel 4 News’ first ever Culture Editor in 2010. Since then he’s reported on everything from the Man Booker Prize and the Mercury Music Prize to the opening of the Spice Girls musical and the death of Whitney Houston.
As Producer/Director of The South Bank Show, his credits include films on Ian McKellen, Sam Taylor-Wood, Will Young and Carol Ann Duffy. He’s also written for The Times, presented the series What Makes a Masterpiece? for More4, and contributes a monthly column to Attitude magazine. He’s judged the South Bank Show Awards, the Stonewall Awards and will be on the panel for next year’s Costa Book Awards. Welcome Matt!
Yes, Shot Through the Heart is a romantic comedy about a Hollywood actress whose nickname is the First Lady of Love because she’s famous for starring in a string of hit rom-coms. But in real life she’s desperately lonely and her love life’s a mess because every time she meets a nice new man the paparazzi trail them everywhere and scare him off! But then one day she comes face to face with a paparazzo who she can’t help finding herself attracted to. He takes a shot of her in a moment of weakness pigging out on junk food and says he’ll let her have the photos if she goes out on a date with him. So that was my starting point – I really wanted to explore a modern-day Romeo and Juliet scenario, where two sworn enemies meet and fall in love. And I wanted to set it in the film world as for years I made entertainment documentaries for ITV and then I was the arts correspondent for Channel 4 News – so I was lucky enough to get more than the odd glimpse behind the glamour and I wanted to share some of my experiences!
I love the title for the book; how did you choose it (are you a Bon Jovi fan?!)
Ha ha yes I am a Bon Jovi fan! I’m a sucker for all kinds of soft rock – I love listening to Magic FM and I have a CD of the best ever power ballads which is great to sing along to. But when I was choosing a title for the book I was looking for something that would play around with the idea of a paparazzo shooting an actress. I’ve never told anyone this before but when I started the book it was called Shooting Stars. But I thought that would just make people think of the TV show so I changed it to Snap. But that didn’t seem strong enough for me so eventually I settled on Shot Through the Heart. I hope you think I made the right choice!
Leading lady Mia Sinclair is famed for her rom-com roles; what are your three favourite romantic movies?
I absolutely love Titanic, even though some people are sniffy about it because it was such a big hit. But it still makes me cry even though I must have seen it about twenty times! I also love The Bodyguard and this was an inspiration to me when I was writing the book because it’s set in the same world and is about a celeb falling in love with a civilian. And then there’s Moulin Rouge which might be my favourite of all time because I first watched it at the pictures when I’d just started going out with my first boyfriend and was feeling particularly gushy and romantic!
Who would you cast as Mia, Leo and Billy in the film of the book?
It’s difficult this one. When I was writing the book people said to me I should picture in my head the actors I’d like to play my characters but the funny thing was I never managed to do it – and I’m still not really sure. Sorry, that’s a rubbish answer but maybe it’s a good thing for the book – just in case someone ever does want to make it into a film. Here’s hoping anyway!
The book is set in Los Angeles; please could you describe your ideal day in the city?
Oh it’d probably start with a trip to the gym because there are so many fit men in LA and they all have amazing bodies. Then after I’d ogled them for a bit I’d probably go down to the beach in Malibu – I’ll never forget being there once when I was filming a documentary for ITV and seeing dolphins jump through the waves. It felt like Heaven for a boy from Bolton! Once the sun went down I’d leave the beach and do some shopping, probably in the Beverly Center, which I used to go to all the time when I was on location in LA – and I even set a scene there in chapter 2 of my book. Then I’d grab something to eat in one of the brilliant delis or diners dotted around the city and then go out to Here or The Abbey, two of my favourite bars in West Hollywood. And hopefully while I’m there I’d meet my very own romantic hero!
I’d definitely choose to be a star rather than a paparazzo because I’d use it to get an introduction to Hugh Jackman. I think he’s the fittest man ever and so charming and gentlemanly I’d just love to meet him in real life – even if it was only for a few minutes!
And finally … what can we expect next from Matt Cain?
Well, I’ve just delivered the first draft of my second novel, Nothing but Trouble. It’s another romantic comedy, this time about a pop star living in London whose wild, self-destructive lifestyle lands her in a position where everything she’s worked so hard for could come crashing down around her. I’ve let my imagination run riot with this book and written a few sex scenes, which was really good fun. And I’ve totally gone to town with the thriller element and cranked up the tension. It’s not out till April 2015 but I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Thanks Matt – the new book sounds fab!
Shot Through the Heart is out now in paperback and ebook formats.
Find our more about Matt and his writing at: http://www.mattcainwriter.com/