Matt Gemmell

TOLL is available now!

An action-thriller novel — book 2 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon

About Matt

personal 9 min read

The obligatory “about the author” post. More than you ever wanted to know about, well, me.

General info

Name:   Matt Gemmell (not Matthew, not Gemmel, no middle name)
Nicknames:   The Mattness, The Dude
Location:   Glasgow, Scotland (UK)
Gender:   Male
Born:   5th June 1979
Girlfriend:   Lauren Dempster
Email:   Figure it out. Or use my gmail account (matt.gemmell).
AIM/iChat:   MadMcProgrammer
MSN:   mulderuk (
Google Talk:   matt.gemmell (Gmail)

A request: if you get in touch with me via instant messaging, introduce yourself first. Say who you are, and that you got my IM handle from this site. That gives me some context, and is significantly less creepy than a sudden “Hi Matt” from persons unknown. Incidentally, I’m far more often on MSN than AIM/iChat, so try that first.

If you’re interested in past stuff I’ve written, you might also like to check out my previous blog at


Currently:   BSc Computing Science Honours student graduate at the University of Glasgow.
Previously:   GoLive SDK Product Manager at Adobe (San Jose, CA).


Generally extroverted, command type. Often accused of being egomaniacal and/or narcissistic, but it’s really mostly just for the banter. I’m an attention-seeker, no question about it, but I also have quite changeable moods. One moment I’ll be doing some ridiculous thing in front of a sizable audience of friends and innocent passers-by, and the next I’ll be withdrawn into my own thoughts. This much is certain: I have strongly-held opinions, and I’m not lacking in self-confidence.

I think I’m pretty social, but I’m much happier actually talking to people rather than the mindless kind of “going out” thing where you sit in a darkened cave with loud, garbage music playing, and can’t hear yourself think, much less have a conversation. To hell with that. I’m not a fan of clubs at all; I see the whole phenomenon as largely pointless and crass. Give me a quiet pub with decent music and interesting conversation any day.

I’ve been described as secretive, and that’s fair play. I have a public side which is drawn in broad strokes and is a caricature of a person, and I have my private side which I share with very few people. I have a large circle of friends, and I get on with pretty much everyone I meet, but I consider very few people to be true confidantes. I’d have to say that on the whole I prefer having conversations with my female friends than with the guys, since conversation with women is usually much more emotionally engaging, practical, and above all honest.


In terms of Oedipus complex, I’d be expected to go for petite brunettes, and admittedly such women do account for the majority of those I’ve dated, though just the mathematical majority rather than by an overwhelming margin.

My ideal woman would be at least enough of a geek to not be totally alienated by my interests, have a great smile, be confident about who she is as a person and of her own worth and intelligence, and be ready and able to participate in all the daft banter I indulge in each day.

Significant bonus points would be awarded to someone who loves music (and whose music collection significantly overlaps with mine), someone who can relax and see the funny side which exists in almost all situations, someone who knows the value of both spending time together and having time to yourself, someone who is independent but also able to ask for help when necessary, and most of all someone who’s had experience with relationships before, and knows the most common pitfalls and problems, to help avoid them in future.

Another important quality is knowing the value of spending time together, as distinct from the actual activity chosen for that time. I don’t have much time for women whose only idea of a good time is a formal dinner out, or going to some trendy bar followed by a club, just because that’s the done thing. All that is fine, but it’s not the entire spectrum of options. A night in with a DVD, or a drive out into the country in the afternoon, or a trip to the zoo or whatever all fall within my definition of fun things to do. It’s who’s present that counts, and it’s important to keep that in mind.

An essential quality is the ability to properly discuss the dynamics of the relationship, and to be aware of them in the first place. I’ve known a lot of women who don’t even understand how they’re feeling about issues in their lives, much less what’s going on in their relationships, and that’s both a danger sign and a turn-off. I think it’s really important for both people to take an active part in maintaining the relationship and seeking ways to improve it.

I previously had a paragraph here about how I wasn’t looking for a relationship right now, and was happy enough just being single for a while. It was noted that such an attitude is actually often a fair indication that you’ll get together with someone before long, and indeed I did. My girlfriend Lauren fulfils pretty much every one of the points above, and we’re very happy together. If you were to accuse me of writing the above description of my ideal woman with her already in mind, I guess I couldn’t truthfully deny it.


A female friend of mine mentioned she’d made a list of things she liked and disliked about me, and gave me a copy of it. Here it is, with her permission:

Good stuff

  • self confidence
  • self assuredness (kinda the same thing)
  • desire to help everyone
  • caring for everyone (kinda the same thing, again)
  • smile
  • twinkly eyes (I think you can tell so much by someone's eyes)
  • ability to laugh at things
  • sense of humour
  • desire to stay young
  • desire to stay excited at life
  • desire to make everyone else excited by life and to feel worthwhile
  • absolute belief in the important things: yourself, your standards, your friends
  • slight cockiness
  • rough and ready beardy look
  • ability to (usually) see things in perspective
  • not-really-casual-but-not-really-smart dress sense
  • play the piano
  • enthusiasm for things that are important to you (friends, music, cars, women, computers)
  • because you're honest
  • because you're trustworthy
  • your use of language
  • your intelligence
  • your awareness of others
  • because I'm not embarrassed to be "blonde" near you
  • because of your appreciation of life and each "average" day
  • because of the understanding we share
  • because I feel so comfortable with you

Bad stuff

  • SOCKS!!!!! pull them up!!! literally, not figuratively
  • not spending enough time bigging yourself up. you are WAY too tough on yourself
  • you spend a disproportionate time fretting over others, sometimes. sometimes it's good to be selfish. sometimes no matter how much you worry about something there's nothing you can do
  • getting irate about things that are outwith your control

I was also reviewed several times by female colleagues. The following comments about me were culled from assorted emails:

"This is the sort of man a girl would search the earth to find."

"I am smitten with this chap."

"For those of you who are interested, here is my description of Matt after spending a few days in his constant company: Gracious, witty, eloquent, poised, smart, soft-spoken, affable. Cute butt."

Needless to say, many thanks to the authors of the above.


I currently drive a 5-door silver Peugeot 206 LX Quiksilver, with a slew of optional extras installed, and manual transmission (of course). I love driving, which is good given the amount of it I have to do during the course of the week, and I see my car as one of the most important things in my life. It’s reliable and offers me the freedom to just go wherever my mood takes me at any hour of the day or night. I like taking long drives in the evening, and enjoying an almost-empty M8 during the night.

My driving could perhaps be described as “sporty”, but I never drink-drive and I’m always careful when I have passengers. I consider myself a good driver, and indeed also a stylish driver. It’s my feeling that if you’re still alive, and you’ve harmed no-one, then you’re patently driving within your capabilities.


I’m extremely passionate about music. I spend almost every waking moment with music of some kind playing. I constantly drum along to songs, play air guitar, sing, and just generally annoy other people around me with my obsession.

I write songs, mostly melodic rock stuff with strong keyboard parts, and I collect rare recordings and related memorabilia of the artists I most enjoy.

Instruments played:   Piano/keyboards (ABRSM to Grade 6 when I was about 13, and playing ever since), rhythm guitar (a bit, but not recently), double-bass (yes, really)
Favourite artists:   Mark Knopfler / Dire Straits, Thin Lizzy, James, Van Halen, Europe, Mozart, Danny Elfman
Musical tastes:   Hard rock, medium melodic/prog rock, classical/scores, 80s, eclectic


I’m a fan of action movies, particularly wire-fu stuff, just as much as the next guy. However, I also freely admit to liking romantic comedies and other “chick flicks”, and I’ll happily go to the cinema to see such films. When Harry Met Sally remains one of my favourite movies, ranking right up there with Airplane!, Clue, High Fidelity, Citizen Kane, Falling Down, Bullitt and The Big Lebowski.


I’ve always been a Nintendo buyer, and currently have a Gamecube in active service, as well as just about every other N console in various stages of retirement. I also have a Dreamcast, for Soul Calibur, Shenmue, and a few other titles. Favourite games at time of writing would include Soul Calibur II, Ikaruga, Burnout 2, Serious Sam: Next Encounter, and of course F-Zero GX.


I’m a programmer, and I don’t just mean by profession; I am a programmer. I’ve always loved writing code to solve problems, and I particularly like creating an elegant and intuitive user experience for a given application.

The languages I code in most commonly are Objective-C and ANSI C, using the Cocoa frameworks on Mac OS X. I also naturally do a lot of coding in Java, and I’m forever tweaking various websites built with PHP and MySQL. For whatever it’s worth, I’ve also had a fair bit of experience with Ada 95. These are just the most common languages I’ve worked with; an exhaustive list would be considerably longer.

I’ve released various pieces of software and source code over the past few years; feel free to have a browse through some of it.


I’m a Computing Scientist, so let’s get things in perspective. That said, I do work out regularly, by which I mean lifting weights, doing some ab crunches, and getting some cardiovascular exercise by going for regular long walks. My diet could do with some improvement, but isn’t tragic. I’m in pretty good shape, with no additional weight hanging around.

Sports in my past include rugby for several years, badminton and long-jumping competitively, swimming training with the British Olympic swimming coach of the time, karate, and a bit of basketball. Sports in my life right now include occasional swimming, dancing, constant air-guitar aerobics, racing swivel-chairs around the lab, trying to learn how to wall-run like in The Matrix, and taking the stairs whenever I have to go to a lower floor of a building.

I don’t have any medical conditions other than mild asthma, which rarely troubles me. No allergies or diseases, so far as I know, and my only serious injury to date was breaking my wrist when I was about 6. I also wear corrective contact lenses.


I’m not a particularly picky eater, with the notable exception that I’m not fond of anything with a lot of cheese, I can’t stand tuna, and I don’t like butter on sandwiches and such. Other than that, I’ll eat pretty much anything. I love Chinese and Thai food.

My cooking skills extend to usual breakfast and lunch things, assorted stir fry dishes, fajita kits, and anything with intructions on the back.


Hanging out with friends, listening to music, playing music, programming, writing songs, driving, reading, going for long walks, lifting weights, swimming occasionally, drawing occasionally, your suggestion here.


I’m not a fan of organised religion in general.


The usual suspects are present and correct: Trek, Tolkien, Stephen King, H. P. Lovecraft, X-Files, and so on.

Unusual skills

I can imitate various lead singers pretty well. I can translate Latin text. I can get away with saying just about anything to people, and women in particular. I pretty much always know what time it is. I’m good at reading how a person is feeling. I occasionally see events before they happen. I seem to be very resistant to illness and injury. I can move objects with my mind (no really, it did move a little when you weren’t looking).


Did I leave something out? Post a comment and ask. And quit following me home at night.