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The Madonna of Bolton

By Matt Cain

An everyday story of love, life and Causing a Commotion

Fiction | LGBTQ+
112% funded
581 supporters

Publication date: July 2018

book cover
You made The Madonna of Bolton a reality. It's available in all good book stores now.
161 pledges


The e-book edition
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$30  + shipping
262 pledges


First edition hardback, and the e-book
Buy now

Sold out!

$45  + shipping
50 pledges

Early bird signed hardback

Signed first edition hardback, the e-book and your name in the back of the book
For the first 50 pledges received only
$60  + shipping
70 pledges


Signed first edition hardback, and the e-book
$75  + shipping
36 pledges

Dedicated hardback

A subscriber’s edition hardback, signed and personally dedicated by the author, plus the e-book and your name in the back of the book
$75  + shipping
6 pledges

Pub Crawl around the Gay Scene: Manchester or London

Join Matt on a grand return to the bars of his own youth, and not-so-youth. Dance yourself silly. Exchange Madonna anecdotes. First drink included. Plus everything at the Collector level.
Date to be confirmed
Travel and accommodation not included
$105  + shipping
13 pledges

Dedicated with handwritten Madonna lyric

A subscriber’s edition hardback, signed by the author and with a handwritten lyric of your choice (or a surprise), plus the e-book and your name in the back of the book
$150  + shipping
16 pledges

Special Friends

Your name on a list of special friends at the top of the subscribers list at the back of the book, plus everything at the Collector level.
$225  + shipping
4 pledges

Madonna karaoke night

Sing your heart out to Madonna favourites with Matt and a few close friends. Plus everything at the Collectable level
Cost of booth and first drink included.
Central London. Travel and accommodation not included.
$300  + shipping
3 pledges

Creative writing class

A morning or afternoon class with Matt, a novelist and former judge of the Costa Book Awards and the Polari First Novel Prize. Send a short piece of your own work in advance for individual feedback. Plus everything at the Collectable level
London based
Maximum of 12 people per class
$750  + shipping

Original unbound manuscript

A one-off: Matt's own manuscript, complete with his handwritten notes. Plus everything at the Collectable level
Only one available
$4,500  + shipping


Your name at the front of the book, with special thanks for making this novel happen. Plus five signed copies of the original, subscribers' edition.
Only 5 available
Free postage (UK only)

Frequently Asked Questions

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Charlie Matthews’ love story begins in a pebble-dashed house in suburban Bolton, at a time when most little boys want to grow up to be Michael Jackson, and girls want to be Princess Di. Remembering the Green Cross Code and getting out of football are the most important things in his life… until Auntie Jan - who everyone says looks like the blonde one out of Bananarama – gives him a gift that will last a lifetime: a seven-inch single called “Lucky Star”.
On his ninth birthday, Charlie discovers Madonna, and falls in love. And this obsession sees him through some tough times in life: being persecuted at school; fitting in at a posh university; a glamorous career in London; finding boyfriends; getting rid of boyfriends; growing up; and family heartbreak. Madonna’s music and videos inspire Charlie, and her fierce determination to succeed gives him the confidence to do the same. Ultimately, though, he must let go of his reliance on his idol and learn to find his own voice.
When Matt first started talking to publishers about this book, he was told that it was too working class, too Eighties, too immersed in pop culture, and too gay. But Charlie’s is a story that anyone can empathise with. It’s Billy Elliot meets Beautiful Thing wearing a conical bra - a story for anyone who ever sang their heart out, looked for love, dreamed of more, or wanted a Soda Stream more than anything else in the world…
The Madonna of Bolton will make you laugh, cry and Get Into the Groove. It’s a book to Cherish and a Ray of Light, and it even has a little Hanky Panky. Pledge now for your subscriber’s edition, and together we’ll be Causing a Commotion.

Quick select rewards

$30  + shipping
262 pledges


First edition hardback, and the e-book
Buy now
  • Matt Cain avatar

    Matt Cain

    Matt Cain was born in Bury and brought up in Bolton. He was educated at a comprehensive school and Cambridge University.

    He spent ten years making arts and entertainment programmes for ITV, before stepping in front of the camera in 2010 to become Channel 4 News’ first ever Culture Editor, covering the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Mercury Music Prize and the Turner Prize, interviewing Grayson Perry, the Spice Girls, Pedro Almodóvar and Emeli Sandé, and looking inside Lucian Freud's studio following the artist's death. In 2012 he presented the series What Makes a Masterpiece? for More4.

    Matt is the author of two novels: Shot Through the Heart (2014) and Nothing But Trouble (July 2015). He's currently employed as Editor-in-Chief of Attitude, the UK's biggest-selling magazine for gay men, and its sister publication, Winq.

    Matt is the Diversity Media Awards Journalist of the Year 2017, has been nominated for Stonewall's Writer of the Year award, and written articles for The Times, The Independent, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, The Sun, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Daily Telegraph and The People. He was a judge for the 2013 Costa Book Awards and the Polari First Novel Prize 2014 and continues to judge the South Bank Show Awards.

    He lives in London.

  • I put the phone down and sit up straight, staring into the darkness. By the side of my bed the alarm clock flashes 02.45.

    People always say that when the phone rings in the middle of the night you know it’s going to be bad news. But the funny thing is, when I was woken up by the sound of my mobile, the first thing I thought was that a friend was out drinking and wanted to know if I was in town – either that or they wanted to share a drunken ‘I love you’ experience. God knows I’ve put my friends through enough of those myself.

    ‘You know what,’ I’ll slur to whoever I’m with at the end of a night out, ‘I think you’re brilliant. I really really love you.’

    But I shake the words out of my head. No, this time it isn’t that. It isn’t that at all. Although right now I wish more than anything else that it was.

    I stand up and pull on my dressing gown. If I quickly pack my things and leave London now I can be back in Bolton by the start of the day.

    I pad into the kitchen and fill the kettle. As I take out a mug and drop in a teaspoon of instant coffee, I suddenly feel a twist of frustration. It’s been months and months since I was last home; there are so many unhappy memories there and so many relationships I’m finding it difficult to deal with. But yesterday, as if from nowhere, I finally found myself wanting to go back. I suddenly felt homesick and wanted to reconnect with my family. I wanted see the very people I’ve been running away from.

    Then this happened, one of the things I’ve been dreading most for my whole life. And now I’m being called home for a completely different reason, a reason that makes me feel sick with fear – fear that, after all this time staying away, I might just have left it too late to go back.

  • Matt Cain has written 3 private updates. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    8th October 2017 Don't Tell Me

    'Don't tell me to stop,' sang Madonna. So I took a leaf out of her book and ignored all those publishers who said my book was too gay or just wouldn't sell. And now, thanks to all you guys, it's over 80% crowdfunded and on course to be Unbound's fastest-funded novel ever! So thanks so much and if there's anything you can do to give us that one last push - maybe telling friends or helping spread the…

    4th October 2017 Halfway there!

    Hi everyone, I'm so happy to report we're now halfway towards our funding target after a little over two days! Thanks so much once again for your support - and if you can bear to keep talking about the book and sharing the news and telling your friends, that would be so brilliant as we still have a long way to go! But people have started to report on us in the news. Check out this piece in today's…

    3rd October 2017 Causing a Commotion

    Hi everyone. We've got off to a cracking start! After just 24hours we're already a third funded, which is the fastest start ever for a novel on Unbound. So thanks so much for supporting the project and making my dream come true. If you can bear to keep sharing the link on social media or keep telling your friends it'll hopefully get us to two-thirds funded by the end of today. And the message about…

  • These people are helping to fund The Madonna of Bolton.

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    Chris Hulbert

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  • Joseph Pace
    Joseph Pace asked:

    I would foundrise you as been a big Madonna fan but cannot communicate with you on FB . Messenger is blocked from your side .

    Matt Cain
    Matt Cain replied:

    Oh hello! Let me try and find you then...