Matthew Tobin Anderson
As a child
“As a kid, I loved Handel’s music,” M. T. Anderson notes. “From the ages of ten to eighteen, as I hurtled from soprano down to bass, I ended up singing all four voice parts of the Messiah.” An avid fan of classical music, the author feels that Handel’s story is one that kids can relate to. “We all know the terrible feeling when something we’ve worked hard on has fallen flat,” he says. “Handel did, too. These are things kids want to hear about, and it helps to know that adults also have these experiences.” And what does he hope that kids will take away from reading his witty biography, Handel, Who Knew What He Liked? “The desire to smuggle a clavichord up to their rooms,” M. T. suggests. “It would be interesting if people reintroduced the clavichord, but maybe in a thrash or speedcore setting.”
As an adult
M. T. studied English literature at Harvard and Cambridge universities and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. Currently on the faculty of Vermont College’s MFA in Writing for Children Program, he lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
As an artist
In preparation for writing his acclaimed satirical novel Feed, M. T. admits to conducting his fair share of field research. “I read a huge number of American teen magazines like Seventeen and Stuff,” he confesses. “I listened to cell phone conversations in malls. Where else could you get lines like ‘Dude, I think the truffle is totally undervalued’?” Feed had its beginnings as a short story for a collection about literacy, but soon grew “too big” for that project. “My original idea was to write a story about a future time in which we had become so connected to a fast-paced world of media images that no one could read any more,” the author explains. “I wanted to depict how soul-destroying it is to be part of this media world that appears to be very inviting, but which in fact tends to strip away the eccentricities of personality and encourage people to become a market, rather than a human.”