New Faces NJ: Matthew Quick

Matthew Quick finally took his own advice.

Novelist Matthew Quick.
Courtesy of PR.

The former high school teacher often told his students to follow their passions, but he was not doing that himself. He liked teaching, but what he really wanted to do was write.

So in 2004, Quick quit his teaching job at Haddonfield Memorial High School. Next, he and his wife, Alicia Bessette, sold their Haddonfield home, moved into Bessette’s parents house in Massachusetts, and Quick got to work.

“It was really a big decision for the sake of my mental health,” says Quick, 35, while sipping a chai tea at Grooveground in Collingswood. “My friends were having babies and buying bigger houses and here I was taking a huge step back.”

But the step back paid off. From that Massachusetts basement, Quick wrote The Silver Linings Playbook, his first published novel. It’s about Pat Peoples, a Collingswood man who moves back home after being involved in a violent altercation that alters his life forever. The book has already been optioned for a movie by the Weinstein Company and big-name Hollywood stars have expressed interest in playing Peoples.

“I’d written an essay about the Eagles and relationships with fathers,” says Quick, who grew up in the Camden County town of Oaklyn. “I never published it, but I wanted to write something about that and something more than a fan book.”

Quick wrote The Silver Linings Playbook as the 2006 Philadelphia Eagles’ season was unfolding, and let the results of each game nudge the novel along. At the beginning of the season, Eagles wide receiver Hank Basket came off the bench to make key plays that helped the team to early success. Quick made Peoples a Baskett fan early on, which steered the book in a different direction than Quick thought it would go.

Once published the book got into Baskett’s hands. The two men met at a book signing. “He was very polite and told me he was nervous to meet me,” says Quick. “And thanked me for putting him in the book.”

Quick’s next book, Sorta Like a Rock Star, is scheduled for publication in April 2010. It’s a young adult novel about a 17-year-old homeless girl who pretends not to be homeless.

Quick and Bessette, also a full-time writer, moved back to Collingswood in 2007 and live downtown with their rescued greyhound, Stella.  

“I really missed this area,” says Quick of his time in Massachusetts. “I was writing the book as a way to come home.”

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