The Texas Book Festival is thrilled to announce we’ve named Matthew Patin as our new Literary Director.
Matt has nearly fifteen years of experience in books, editing, and publishing, primarily as an independent editor. Matt began his career as an author assistant, then interned at both the Austin Chronicle and aGLIFF—an Austin-based film festival—before occupying communications and editorial roles at two publishing firms. Since 2009 he has edited, collaborated with, or advised nearly 200 fiction and nonfiction authors, including award winners and bestsellers, and has contributed to Kirkus Reviews and the Austin Chronicle. He has a bachelor’s degree from the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas and is a California State University–certified ghostwriter. In addition to acting as TBF’s literary director, Matt serves on the board of directors at Austin Bat Cave—a literary and literacy-education nonprofit and TBF partner organization. Matt describes his reading diet as omnivorous, and he’s always hungry.
Here’s a brief Q&A with Matt, who will join the Festival team in February and will be responsible for programming the 2020 Festival.
Tell us a little bit about yourself & your career leading up to joining TBF.
I’ve been working in words and publishing—mostly as an independent editor and author collaborator—for 15 years, but some of my proudest moments include (a) being my high school yearbook’s editor in chief and thinking myself Chloe Sullivan in Smallville, (b) getting close to completing a 2,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, and (c) crate-digging each year at the Austin Record Convention and finding that album you can’t find anywhere else.
What’s your favorite thing about the Festival?
I wish I could say there’s a single favorite thing. One of my favorites, though, is the serendipity of it all. Lots of planning goes into the event, of course—on the parts of both TBF and the readers who come each year equipped with their own must-see lists—but there are so many conversations had and relationships made that no one can plan or predict.
Another favorite thing: the workout. If you want to set your pedometer app on fire, come to the fall Festival each year.
Share a few of your favorite memories from TBF throughout the years!
A few years ago I moderated a TBF panel with Natalia Sylvester (Everyone Knows You Go Home) and Rachel Heng (Suicide Club). The discussion veered toward hubris and dystopia, and Rachel said—and I’m paraphrasing—“You can eat all the f***ing kale you want, and you’ll still die one day.” I liked the line so much, and the audience got such a laugh, she agreed to repeat it in order to end-punctuate the conversation.
Other great memories: Literary Death Match in 2009—Amelia Gray and Owen Egerton had the audience in stitches. And in 2016, my final year as TBF Author Hospitality Committee co-chair, a gorgeous double rainbow encircled the Capitol rotunda at the end of Sunday—a wonderful bookend to the Festival.
What were your favorite books of 2019?
Too many to name, but of those published in 2019, Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer and Lot by Bryan Washington were among my favorites. Of those books not published in 2019 but that I finally got around to were Less by Andrew Sean Greer and The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov. My favorite re-read of 2019 was story collection Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender.
What are you reading right now?
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume 1 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Stoner by John Williams.
What are you most looking forward to about working for TBF?
Making it rain books.
What do you hope to accomplish at TBF this year?
I came into this with at least half a dozen ideas on how to grow programming, particularly year-round and statewide, and I hope in 2020 to make some inroads into at least a couple of them. But my number one goal in this first year is to preserve and expand upon what’s already working so well.