As an 18-year-old English undergraduate at Wadham College, Oxford, Rees self-admittedly did not know which direction to take in his life. After a yearlong sting as a journalist in London and an MA in Journalism, he started working as a professional reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Bloomberg for six years. Rees then moved to Israel where he worked for The Scotsman and then for Time Magazine.
The Israel-Palestine Conflict
Rees’ primary role at Time was to cover the Israel-Palestine conflict. He has covered this issue for more than a decade, reporting the infamous violence of the intifada. He admitted that this was indeed the main inspiration for the material of the novels he wrote. While still with Time in 2004, he wrote his first book Cain’s Field: Faith, Fratricide, and Fear in the Middle East, which was a non-fiction account of Israeli and Palestinian society. He even admitted to the fact that living in the violent conditions of the Middle East made him appreciate life more, and he started meditating to deal with the stress that accompanied the job.
The Journey from Journalist to Author
In an interview with CNN, Rees’ explains that as a journalist, he didn’t feel that he was contributing a lot to the community that he was living in. He confesses that the level of professional contentment went up by notches when he shifted from being a journalist to being a full-time author. He felt that he is doing more for the Middle Eastern conflict than he was previously. In his famous series ‘The Palestine Quartet,’ the protagonist sleuth Omar Yussef represents Rees’ perspective of what needs to improve to make the Israel-Palestine issue less violent and more diplomatic. Lately, he has even tried his hand at unrelated issues, through novels such as Mozart’s Last Aria and A Name in Blood, both noteworthy examples of his mystery novels.
Rees’ first published book after he became a full-time writer in 2007 was the first in ‘The Palestine Quartet’ – The Collaborator of Bethlehem. This novel was much celebrated and Rees won the Crime Writers’ Association ‘New Blood Dagger’ for this introductory piece on his famous sleuth Omar. Furthermore, the third novel in the same series, The Samaritan’s Secret, got grand reviews all over. Many famous authors have compared Matt’s work with the work of Graham Greene, John Le Carre, Georges Simenon and Henning Mankell.
Very active and connected to his readers
If you are a fan of Matt’s work, you can easily get in touch with him. He has his own website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter and frequently goes from one place to another for book signings. His works have been released in over 24 countries and he knows to maintain such a large fan base. He is active on all his social media and blog posts, and even gives free eBooks to his fans.
By Samrudhi Khanna