I only met Matt Richell once, but it’s an encounter that I reflect on regularly.
Hachette held an author meet and greet night at their offices during the recent Sydney Writer’s Festival. As I waited to jump into a conversation, I received a tap on the shoulder. It was Matt.
He introduced himself (Matt from Hachette, no titles) and asked me how everything was at Booktopia, and more importantly what books I was reading, asking me three or four times during the conversation if I needed a drink or something to eat.
I said I was reading some Hachette titles and had even more on the TBR pile, noting how many Australian authors were now on their books.
His face lit up. “I’m so glad you noticed”, he said, standing up excitedly on his toes.
“There’s some amazing Australian talent out there. You throw it out into the market, some of it sticks, some of it doesn’t. But as publishers, it’s our duty to reward that local talent.”
He glanced around the room with a cheeky grin.
“And it’s bloody exciting to be doing it.”
And with that he threw me into a conversation with a couple of authors, introducing me with immense hyperbole and generosity, and was dragged away to another pocket of the room.
I’ll never forget how excited he was about Australian authors, and how well read he was. Nearly all the books I’d mentioned, even non-Hachette titles, he’d read and wanted to hear my thoughts on. He joked about getting in trouble for tweeting his love for so many non-Hachette authors. I wasn’t talking to a CEO, I was talking to a book lover.
We need more people like Matt Richell, not less. He will be sorely missed.
Our thoughts are with Matt’s family, friends, and everyone at Hachette.
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He learned to read on a two hour bus trip to school every day, and learned to write in lecture halls and cramped tutorial rooms. He sometimes wins things for the lecture hall stuff.
You can follow his ramblings on twitter at @andrew__cat