Amy Mattes holds up a copy of her book, Late September.

Amy Mattes’ debut novel explores love and identity

May 21, 2024
Author: Rachel Stern

VIU Creative Writing student publishes first novel

Amy Mattes, a VIU Creative Writing student, drew inspiration from experiences of her youth to write her debut fictional novel, Late September. 

Late September tells the story of Ines, a young, grief-stricken skateboarder who is trying to leave her past behind to become someone else. She learns along the way that you can’t change who you’ve been.

“I’ve been fascinated with the idea of youth and the recklessness of that time. This sort of pilgrimage that often seems to happen,” says Amy. “There is a kind of power and fun of being anonymous and the trial and error of learning how to love yourself as a young person.”

The novel is an “intimate queer coming-of-age tale exploring the nuances of love, trauma and mental health,” according to the Nightwood synopsis. Ines leaves her sheltered hometown life and takes a bus to Montreal where she meets April, a latex-loving goth, and Max, a magnetic skateboarder.

“When I was 19, I did take a bus to Montreal by myself, and I did write a list of things I wanted to accomplish by moving there. It was to skateboard and write about skateboarding,” says Amy. “All the different things in there are pulled from different people and experiences in my life. It’s inspired by my pilgrimage but not an accurate representation of it in a memoir sense.”

Amy started writing the novel in 2012 at a writing retreat and finished it in 2018. She says it’s a “slow burn writing and publishing a book” and she has rewritten the book several times. She got her agent, Chelene Knight, in 2019 and worked with her to elaborate on themes and strengthen the book. She now works with Carolyn Forde. 

Working with Nightwood Editions allowed Amy to decolonize her writing. Amy says she’s learning certain words have historical contexts and should be removed from writing.  

“That opportunity to unlearn and decolonize even within the book made me feel like I grew as an anti-oppressive person,” she says.

Amy takes VIU Creative Writing classes online while working full-time. She wants to continue to hone her craft, be in a community and work with other creative writers. Amy is working on a second novel and is also exploring poetry.

She won second place in the Islands Short Fiction Review Contest in 2023 and her work has been published in The Globe and Mail and Portal Magazine. Amy is also a finalist in this year’s Island Short Fiction Review. 

Late September is available from Nightwood EditionsChapters and Amazon.

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