Iowa Writers’ Workshop alumni holds online lecture on latest novel



Photo courtesy of Mattson.

Residents of Iowa will have the chance to chat online this week with an author who is nationally acclaimed for his latest novel, which crosses multiple genres and topics, from racism to capitalism.

James Han Mattson, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, describes his book “Reprieve,” which the New York Times put on its list of “20 new works of fiction to read this season.” “This is a murder that takes place in a full contact haunted attraction, and if you don’t understand what the full contact haunted attraction means, it means the actors can actually touch you,” says Mattson. . “The book basically traces the lives of the characters who were there the night of the murder, so it goes back quite a while and it culminates in the murder.”

Mattson says he was originally writing a book about racial fetishism that was set in Thailand when he became “obsessed” with the idea of ​​full-contact haunted attractions, especially while watching YouTube. “And so I started writing another book about full contact lairs and somewhere along the line I realized that the two books I was writing fit so well together thematically, so I just realized it was a book, “says Mattson,” so I weaved the narratives and came up with what is now “Reprieve.”

Many writers go to great lengths not to be categorized into just one type of literature, whether it’s thrillers, horror, or mystery murders, but Mattson isn’t too worried about that happening to him.

James Han Mattson. (photo provided.)

“Literary horror, literary speculative fiction, literary fantasy, I think this is all very real and I don’t think I’ll be cataloged, but who knows? Mattson said. “A lot of people call it pure horror, which it isn’t, and some call it pure literary fiction, which it isn’t. He mixes genres.

Born in Korea and raised in North Dakota where he still resides, Mattson participated in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa from 2006 to 2008, and he gives the program a lot of credit for its success. “Oh absolutely. They were two of the best years of my adult life, being in the workshop, ”says Mattson. “I attribute a lot to that time. I loved it there. I made my best friends there. I learned so much about being a writer while in Iowa.

Two central Iowa bookstores are hosting the Mattson event Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. Sign up for free at the websites of Beaverdale Books in Des Moines or the Pageturners Bookstore in Indianola, or here:


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