The couple’s nonconformist approach to parenting served as the catalyst for his debut novel, Swapping Purples for Yellows, to be released by metro Atlanta based publisher SFK Press this August.
“A few afternoons per week, we paid for a babysitter to give me a break, and I began the book during those two-hour stretches, sitting in the balcony-section of a nearby coffee shop,” Duffus said.
A creative writing professor, Matthew enjoys writing character-driven stories that explore the challenges and tensions of being part of a community. “I want to write stories that need to be told, meaning that they’re not factually true, but that they feel like necessary investigations into the human psyche.”
While the novel works against the tradition of the satirical campus, novel readers will find that it is funnier than the author originally intended. “Humor is a part of the story, but I also hope that you’ll feel compassion for the characters and sympathy for their plights throughout the novel.”
In Swapping Purples for Yellows, the Sutherland family must endure the bizarre homecoming rituals of wealthy alumni and reunion receptions. Rob drinks and rants. Molly rolls dice and dreams of winning her own identity. Their gifted teenage daughters push and pull at the rules in opposite directions. Over the course of the weekend, they each confront their deepest secrets and undeniable flaws.
This insightful depiction of the Sutherlands promises plenty of family drama. “Like me when my daughter was born, most of the characters are at a crossroads in their lives, and I hope that readers will want to see which direction they head in.”
Matthew Duffus‘s fiction has appeared in a variety of places, including Beloit Fiction Journal, Cimarron Review, and New Ohio Review. He is also the author of the forthcoming story collection Dunbar’s Folly and Other Stories. He lives in Shelby, North Carolina, where he directs the writing center at Gardner-Webb University.
Praise for Swapping Purples for Yellows:
“Swapping Purples for Yellows, the rich and mellifluous debut novel by Matthew Duffus, is more than an academic romp, as it takes on family, gambling, video-gaming, love young and old, and just about everything in between. A terrific read, constantly engaging.”
— Fred Leebron, author of Six Figures
“Over the course of one fateful Homecoming weekend, this unforgettable cast of characters makes us think, laugh, and cry. From a senior about to embark on his adult life, to a louche professor wondering what’s become of his; from a too-smart teenager chafing to get out of town, to a restless mother on the brink; these characters are so well-drawn you could swear you’ve been friends with them for years. This book brims with insights about families, academia, romance, expectation, desire, disappointment, and all manners of life crisis. I couldn’t put it down.”
— Amy Shearn, author of The Mermaid of Brooklyn and Unseen City
“In this deeply-engaging novel set on a small, college campus in North Carolina, Matthew Duffus dramatizes issues of contemporary life: the rapid growth of technology, the evolution of higher education, the shifting of family roles and sexual identities. Despite fierce passions and complicated emotional struggles, Duffus’ characters are remarkably humane. Shifting points of view compellingly render the four members of the Sutherland family, several students, professors, and noteworthy graduates who return for a Homecoming Weekend that turns out differently than anyone anticipated. Swapping Purples for Yellows is by turns moving and comical, and the fully-realized characters will long remain alive in readers’ minds and hearts.”
— Allen Wier, author of Tejano and Late Night, Early Morning
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