Matt Dunn is the author of quite a few romantic comedy novels, including the bestselling The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook and A Day at the Office. He's also written about life, love, and relationships for various publications including The Times, Guardian, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Company, Elle, and The Sun.

Picture Credit: Matt Dunn

Picture Credit: Matt Dunn

Dunn has also written the recently released Pug Actually, which tells the story of Julie and her love life through the eyes of a pug named Doug. The book is a hilarious and charming tale of Doug’s efforts to save his owner from Luke, just as she saved him from the shelter.

The author has shared with us seven things that he would like he readers to know about him, including old jobs, and the inspiration for Pug Actually!

My twitter bio says ‘award-losing novelist’.

My books have been nominated three times for Romantic Comedy awards, though I’ve lost each time. A fact that probably deserves some kind of award itself - or so I tell myself as I cry myself to sleep.

I didn’t start writing until my mid-thirties.

I’d always known I wanted to write, but didn’t know what I wanted to write until I read Nick Hornby’s brilliant High Fidelity, which showed me there was a market for male point-of-view novels about relationships, and more importantly, that they could be funny.

I reread it for inspiration every time I start a new novel, which means I’ve read it fifteen times now. Hopefully some of his genius is rubbing off.

Pug Actually was inspired by my family dog, Patch.

Whenever my sister brought home a new boyfriend, if Patch didn’t think much of them he’d sit at their feet, growling softly to show his disapproval. He usually turned out to be a much better judge of character than she was!

They say you can tell a lot about a person from how they treat animals (and probably how animals react to them), so, I got to thinking, what if someone’s pet dog actually tried to intervene in their love life...? And Doug the Pug was born.

I once worked as a professional beach lifeguard.

In Margate, though. So, given the weather, more grey-watch than Baywatch.

I collect vintage Avon aftershave bottles.

‘Ding dong! Avon calling!’ Avon sold various aftershaves in car-shaped decanters back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Some of them are even older than me (and in better condition).

I started collecting them around three years ago and quickly became obsessed: now I have around sixty. Sixty too many, according to my wife.

I’m never happier than when I’m travelling*.

I write a book a year, and always try and ‘deliver’ it in time to take February off so I can head off somewhere in Asia. I also do regular house swaps on a home exchange website: while it’s not quite like that film The Holiday, it has enabled me to spend part of every year working in a different location – the majority of Pug Actually was written on an island in the Med, for example. I’m very grateful to have a ‘portable’ job that lets me do this.

(*when there’s not a global pandemic on)

The best writing advice I ever received?

‘Read the bestsellers in your genre and see how they achieve their page-turning quality’, from an agent who politely but constructively rejected my first novel, Best Man. It revolutionised my approach to writing and led to my first book deal, and I’ve never forgotten it - if you’re a writer, first and foremost you need to be a reader.

The worst? ‘Why don’t you get a proper job?’. From my mother-in-law. If it was reverse psychology, it worked. Fifteen novels later, I think I can say this is a proper job.

Pug Actually is available now!
Pug Actually is available now!

Dunn’s newest book, Pug Actually, is out in paperback now!

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