Bolton author Matt Cain chats about his book being turned into Hollywood film despite initially being rejected by publishers

  • MMU student Dane Harrison met the Boltonian author
  • The author gave tips on how to make it as a writer
  • The Madonna of Bolton will be made into a Hollywood film

AFTER 12 years and more than 30 rejections from publishers, author Matt Cain had almost given up on getting his novel The Madonna of Bolton into print.

Dismissed as ‘too gay’ for a mainstream audience, the book was finally published thanks to one of the most successful crowd funding campaigns ever, and Boltonian Matt has even signed a deal to turn the novel into a Hollywood movie, with pop icon Madonna’s blessing.

To celebrate the paperback publication of the novel he shared the secrets of his success with an audience at Bolton Library last week, including final year MMU Multimedia Journalism student Dane Harrison.

Matt – the former editor in chief of Attitude magazine –  met with Dane before the event started, and shared some of his tips on how to break into the industry.

Dane, 21, said: “I loved reading the novel and it was amazing to meet Matt. We chatted about what kind of publications and outlets are looking to hire young journalists and where to pitch to as a freelance writer.

“Matt even took away one of the features I had written for my final year journalism portfolio. It was a fantastic experience.”

The Madonna of Bolton charts the life story of the main character Charlie Matthews, a teenager growing up gay in Bolton in the 1980s. Desperate to escape his home town and the homophobic bullying at school Charlie turns to the songs of his idol Madonna, and it’s Madonna who influences him throughout his life.

The story is based loosely on Matt’s own life – like his central character he too left Bolton for Cambridge University aged 18. Matt then went on to become Channel 4’s first culture editor before taking the helm at Attitude.

Matt’s parents, family members and partner were in the audience last week, and the Q+A was hosted by James Edgington, the founder of Bolton Pride.

Matt said: “Growing up in the 1980s, it was the worst thing you could do to be gay. I grew up thinking that being gay was the worst thing I could be.

“This was before mobile phones, before the internet and I felt so cut off from the world in Bolton. I didn’t realise that so much of the rest of the world was the same. Or that still today, in over 60 countries, it’s illegal to be gay.

“When Bolton pride was set up I joined in the first parade and I never would have imagined I would be walking through the streets of Bolton parading my gayness.

“Gay men can now get married and have kids, it’s something I never would have imagined would happen.”

The event was held as part of Bolton Museum’s Desire Love Identity exhibition, a touring exhibition from the British Museum, which also explores LGBTQ histories in Bolton. The free exhibition also included actors who will be portraying five LGBT pioneers from Bolton – including Matt Cain – through monologues in the museum’s galleries until Sunday 26 May.