New author sends ‘write’ message to young readers

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Taynuilt author Matthew Hall is celebrating his coming of age with the publication of his first book.

The 21-year-old, who is also an Oban youth worker, has always loved a good story and credits bedtime tales and shared storytelling on family holidays for his passion for spinning a storyline of his own.

His children’s book, Just Like Daddy, is due to be published on January 31.

The story follows Sarah who is playing ‘house’ with her friends Toby and Laura. She wants to be daddy but Toby says she has to do what a girl does. You can find out what Sarah does next by reading the book.

‘There is a happy ending but in essence it’s an early message to children that if there’s something you really want to do then don’t let anyone stand in your way. Don’t be pigeon-holed. The book is about being an individual and doing what makes you happy. I really hope that message gets through,’ said Matthew.

If the opportunity comes up, Matthew hopes to visit local schools to read from the book.

Former Oban High School pupil, Matthew also spent time on work experience with The Oban Times.

He said: ‘Funny enough one of my first jobs was to interview an author out at Connel whose publisher was Austin Macauley – the same company that has signed me up for my book. You couldn’t write it could you? It’s such a co-incidence.’

Austin Macauley is an independent publisher with offices in London, New York and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.

There are plans in the pipeline for a second book targeting a slightly older audience, but Matthew is keeping tight-lipped about the plot while he ‘mulls’ it over.

‘I will always keep writing. Whether it becomes a full-time career, I don’t know. It’s still very much a hobby for me and a way to relax. I’ve always wanted to write a book since I was a child. I used to write short stories for fun for my teachers when I was about six but I’m not sure if any were ever read! I had books full of them, I wish I still had them now. Whenever I wasn’t with friends, I was always writing.

‘I’m lucky to be doing what I’m doing now. My writing and youth work is massively important to me. It’s rare to do two things that you care so passionately about, especially at my age.’

Matthew was just 18 when a letter first arrived from the publisher with two contracts inside.

‘I was blown away by it. It was such a surprise to hear back from them. I’d sent it out to a few [publishers]. It’s been an interesting and quite lengthy process from then until now but we’re almost on the shelves now.

‘I’ve had input about the illustrations for it and got to proof the cover. I feel very blessed at this age to have already achieved something I wanted to do as a child.’