ROCK stars live on a different schedule to the rest of us in the summer months. While most of us work during the week and look forward to the weekend, festival season sees bands twiddling their thumbs when everyone else is working and doing the day job when the rest of us are (hopefully) enjoying the sunshine.

In recent years, the number of music festivals across Europe has grown exponentially. For British rock band Suede, this summer sees the band taking in such festivals as Zagreb, the wonderfully named Smukfest in the Danish woods, and Bilbao BBK in the Spanish mountains. Yet despite these huge audiences, the festival that bass player Mat Osman is most nervous about is one back here in Wiltshire.

This weekend sees the second Festival of Words at Messums Wiltshire, in Tisbury. Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, the 2019 line-up offers up a fascinating selection of poets, spoken word artists, writers and rappers. Mat Osman is appearing on Saturday, showcasing his authorial side by discussing his forthcoming debut novel, The Ruins, and his musical one, by DJing at the Close Out party.

Writing a debut novel is never easy, but additionally daunting, I suspect, when you’re already successful in another field. The Ruins, though, is a rich and rewarding read – a swirling concoction of music, murder and modelling (not the fashion kind), all interweaved with a sharp line in black humour and cultural references. Put it this way: any novel that uses the ‘Theremin’ from the Beach Boys’ ‘Good Vibrations’ as a plot device is all right by me.

When I spoke to Mat last week, he described how one of the aims for the book was to try and capture the feel of making music: there are lots of novels out there, he argued, that are good on the fame side of things, but fiction has generally found creating music that bit more elusive. That creative process also had its bearing on the writing of the book itself: music isn’t supposed to be ‘realistic’, Mat suggested, but more about expression and emotions, something he has tried to bring into the prose itself. There’s an echo, too, he suggested, between the structure of an album and that of a novel: the classic novel structure has a ‘midpoint’ around which the story is shaped; a traditional album, too, has its sides one and two (The Ruins, likewise, is divided into sides).

In one of those quirks of life, Mat discovered that his younger brother, Richard (him off of Pointless), had been working on a novel at the same time. Both will be published next spring: the beginning of a pop culture literary dynasty, perhaps?