Matthew Quick knew that writing novels would be his life's work from the age of about 15.
He wrote for 20 years before his first novel got published and paid the bills by teaching high school English.
Anyway, that first novel was The Silver Linings Playbook.
Everybody knows what happened after that.
Quick, 40, is currently on a book tour to support his new novel, The Good Luck of Right Now, which concerns a gentle misfit named Bartholomew. Bartholomew has spent his adult life taking care of his mother. After her death, he struggles to make a new life for himself.
Both Bartholomew and Pat, central character in The Silver Linings Playbook, are outsiders, or what Quick calls, "People with a unique point of view."
He says, "I think I'm interested in those types of people because I largely feel I am one. I'm somebody who can blend in when I want to, but from an early age I realized that the way my mind and my emotions work are very different to other people."
The New Jersey native says he grew up in a working class town, playing sports, "And trying to be manly and blend in, but I knew there was some different stuff going on inside of me." He says he wore a mask of sorts until the publication of The Silver Linings Playbook allowed him to speak openly about his battles with depression and anxiety. "What I've learned, especially making friends in the mental health community and in the arts, is that having a different point of view is a beautiful thing. You pay a price when you leave the herd and stand outside of it, but you also gain a perspective that other people don't have."
Quick faced an uphill battle when he chose the life of a writer. His father and his grandfather were furious with him when he quit teaching to write full-time.
"Teaching is a noble profession, but I always knew I wanted to be a writer and I wasn't being true to myself. At 15, I went to the page because there was a lot of chaos in my mind and my heart, and I wanted to make order out of it."
One person who has always believed in Quick is his wife, the novelist and musician Alicia Bessette. He says she is his first and best reader.
(He also says, proudly, "She has a new album out, solo piano, called The Great Room. Give her a plug!" Done.)
All that determination and hard work paid off with the success of The Silver Linings Playbook.
"It's one one thing to dream about having a book adapted into a successful movie. It's another to wake the red carpet at the Oscars. It was surreal," he says, laughing. "But I have some guilt, too. I have mentors and friends who have been writing years longer than I have who have never had those opportunities."
So why him? In some ways, The Good Luck Of Right Now -- which concerns serendipity, coincidence, synchronicity -- "Is very much a response to all that," says Quick. "There are questions I'm always trying to answer. I consider myself a spiritual person, and part of writing this book is coming to terms with the fact that you don't necessarily always get answers."
He adds, "While I'm grateful for all that's happened, what I set out to achieve was to be a full-time novelist for the rest of my life. And there's still a lot of work to do, a lot of stories I have to tell."
Rubbing shoulders with Hollywood was great and all, he says, "But that's not what I like to do. What I like to do is write novels."
The Good Luck Of Right Now is structured around a series of letters written by Bartholomew, a man in his late 30s who has spent his adult life caring for his mother.
The letters are written to Richard Gere. Bartholomew is trying to make sense of his life after his mother dies; having found a form letter from Richard Gere about Tibet in his mother's drawer and having observed how his mother obsessed about 'Richard' at the end of her life, he takes it as a sign and decides to write to the actor.
"Maybe your are meant to help me, Richard Gere, now that mom is gone," he writes, and through the on-going letters introduces the other players in his life, a pack of charming misfits. There's the hard-drinking priest, Father McNamee, Wendy, the troubled grief counsellor, the cute girl Bartholomew sees volunteering at the library, another counsellor named Arnie and the grieving Max, whose every utterance is blue with f-bombs.
The girl from the library -- Elizabeth -- and Max turn out to be siblings. Max believes Elizabeth was abducted once by aliens. For several very important reasons (dads and cats are involved), a trip is planned that will take almost everyone to Ottawa and to Montreal.
What transpires is the formation of a family unit of sorts.
The seed of the story in The Good Luck of Right Now was planted when a form letter from Richard Gere came to author Matthew Quick some years ago.
"I knew there must be people out there who would think, 'Richard Gere really wants my support!' They could believe it was a personal connection," he says.
There will be a movie made of The Good Luck Of Right Now; the directors are Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who made Little Miss Sunshine. The movie studio, Quick can confirm, has made sure a copy of the novel is in Gere's hands, but he can't reveal much more.
"I can say Richard Gere is very much on the minds of people at Dreamworks," he says, smiling. "And he hasn't sued us yet."