Matt Haig Karima Francis Stuart Semple

Join Matt Haig and special guests Stuart Semple, MJ Hyland, Anneleise Mackintosh for an evening of discussion and debate around creativity, mental health and his new book, Reasons to Stay Alive. With music from Karima Francis.

Reasons to Stay Alive follows Matt Haig’s journey through crisis, showing how he triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.  It is also a moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive.

Canongate Books have partnered with Mind and Time to Change to open up the discussion and celebrate the publication of this inspiring and important book.

Matt Haig is the author of five novels, including the bestselling The Last Family in England, which has been optioned by Brad Pitt’s production company, The Radleys, which was selected for Channel 4’s TV Book Club and was voted the winner of the series in 2011 and The Humans, a World Book Night 2014 title. His works have been translated into over twenty languages, and he has also written award-winning books for children.

M J Hyland is an ex-lawyer and the author of three multi-award-winning novels: How the Light Gets in (2004), Carry Me Down (2006) & This is How (2009). She is also a lecturer in Creative Writing in the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester. After being diagnosed with MS in 2008 M J Hyland has written essays on her condition which have been published internationally in both magazines and newspapers and have been read by thousands and stimulated fresh debate about diagnosis, treatment, symptoms and drug-therapies.

Karima Francis (born 1987) is a singer-songwriter from Blackpool, UK. More recently she has been based in Manchester. In 2009 she was named by The Observer as the number 1 act to watch and won rave reviews for her debut album The Author. When she became very ill with anorexia she turned to music to help her recovery.

Stuart Semple became an artist after a traumatic near death experience at the age of 19 whilst studying Fine Art at Breton Hall in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which lead to a a debilitating anxiety disorder. Since, Semple has enjoyed a successful artistic career spanning 13 years with over 15 international solo exhibitions, 40 group shows and major public art projects alongside numerous art fairs and biennials. Semple is best known for his public artwork ‘Happy Cloud’.  Stuart is an ambassador for Mind, the mental health charity where he initiated a creative therapies fund. He curated a fundraising exhibition at the Old Vic Tunnels featuring works by Tracey Emin, Matt Collishaw, Sarah Lucas and the Chapman Brothers amongst others, the exhibition launch was co-hosted by Stephen Fry and Lord Melvyn Bragg.

Anneliese Mackintosh’s debut short story collection, Any Other Mouth was published by Freight, and won The Green Carnation Prize 2014. It was also shortlisted for the Saltire Society’s First Book Award, and was a Book Of The Year in The Herald, The Scotsman, Civilian, and The List Magazine, as well as one of The Guardian Reader’s Top Ten Books of 2014. Much of Anneliese’s work focuses on fictionalising her own issues with Borderline Personality Disorder and alcoholism. She is currently working on a novel about recovering from trauma, while looking after a loved one who is still in the throes of it.

The event takes place on Thursday 9th April, 6.30pm at The Anthony Burgess Foundation, 3 Cambridge Street, Manchester M1 5BY

For tickets:

Further reading:


Stuart Semple in The Independent “Every cloud has a silver lining”

The Evening Standard, Stuart Semple: with my 53 allergies, I’m afraid to swallow