What’s Next for Silver Linings Playbook Writer Matthew M. Quick
“This has probably been the most insane couple of months of my life,” says Matthew M. Quick. It’s the Tuesday before February’s Oscar ceremonies, and the 39-year-old author, an Oaklyn, New Jersey, native and graduate of La Salle, has been at the beck and call of the Weinstein Company for weeks. He’s been running a gauntlet of press interviews ever since Silver Linings Playbook—the Bradley Cooper vehicle about a suburban Philadelphia family coping with mental illness, adapted from Quick’s 2008 debut novel—was nominated for eight Academy Awards.
As I talk to Quick on the phone from his home in Holden, Massachusetts (full disclosure: he and I were college roommates in 1995), he’s got his bags packed. He and his wife, fellow novelist and La Salle alum Alicia Bessette, could be getting a call at any moment instructing them to hightail it to Los Angeles. (That call would come a mere 48 hours before the red carpet; the couple was in attendance when Jennifer Lawrence, the film’s feisty Tiffany, tripped up the steps while accepting her statuette for Best Actress.)
Despite the rush of attention, the author has maintained his humility. “I’m thrilled that all of these opportunities are coming up,” he says. “People are finding out about my work and talking about mental health issues. It’s very important to me.”
It’s all fairly surreal, given that Pat Solitano Jr., Cooper’s Silver Linings protagonist, was born of a period of intense self-doubt following Quick’s now storied decision to leave a tenured teaching gig at Haddonfield High to write in his in-laws’ basement. “I’d been writing for three and a half years without collecting a paycheck,” recalls Quick. “My self-esteem was destroyed, because in America, if you’re not making money, you feel like you’re not a man. … Pat is going through a lot of the same things. His old identity has been shattered, and he’s trying to reinvent himself, trying to put his best self forward when people don’t understand what he’s trying to do.”
Now, people get what Quick’s trying to do. His fourth book, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, will be released in August. The story of a kid who brings a gun to school, it was written before the tragedies in Aurora and Newtown, and is told from the point of view of a character he describes as “incredibly smart, incredibly pissed off, and with a right to be.” Leonard will likely shock some people, Quick figures: “For teenagers who are feeling desperate and alienated, though, hopefully it’ll give them a little bit of hope.”
He’s finishing edits on another novel, The Good Luck of Right Now, which should be out in early 2014; film rights have already been purchased by Dreamworks. With offers to write a screenplay floating about and yet another novel due in January, he’s got some tough but enviable decisions ahead.
“That’s the torture part of all of this,” says Quick. “I wake up every morning with ideas for the book. I want to sit down and just write.” Now that the Oscars vortex has subsided, he’ll get that chance. But will it be the same now that he’s famous?
“I largely feel like the same guy who was in that basement writing,” says Quick. “I still sit down at my desk and close the door. I go to the same place in my head, and draw from the same exact well.”
This post originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Philadelphia magazine.