Q. Matt, what do you think makes a writer great?
MJ. I’m not sure I can answer this question. Great at what? Pulp, drama, sci-fi, literature, westerns, journaling, ad copy? What age group? For what audience… to what end? I think writing can be a marketable skill that an individual sells in many different types of marketplaces or it can be an intensely personal undertaking. A passionate act that doesn’t need a reader, aside from the originator, to have value. I think, maybe, if someone has a desire to write, and they do, that’s great.
Q. What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?
MJ. First, an intense flurry of writing. Immersion in the developing story. Long daily sessions of virtually unedited writing. Until I hit a wall. Not a barrier or an obstacle. A wall. There’s this sense that the ending is near. Then I mothball it for a while. Do other stuff.
A week or six months later I will print it out, do a full read, and edit what I have. This reacquaints me with the story. Ideas about how to finish start to percolate and I begin looking for a cover artist. I look for someone whose creative strength is visual art. Someone willing to read the manuscript and go with it. I love the collaboration, the surprise, seeing what they pick out from the story for cover art.
I typically hand off a revised draft to my wife at this point for additional editing and then hunker down, finishing it up and polishing the final draft. It helps if I’ve booked a show or festival or other event and have time pressure at this point.
My wife and I will iterate through the story several times, trying to tweak it and catch stuff we missed while the cover artist is finishing up the artwork. Then I just upload everything to Createspace, clear any errors, and, if time permits, I’ll order a hard copy proof before finalizing everything. Then it’s off to the next show with the latest book.
Q. How has your life experience influenced your writing/stories?
MJ. If I hadn’t found such solace in books as a teenager and young man I doubt I’d have written much. I have such gratitude for the authors who helped me cope, or hide, or escape. Big thick books to get lost in… short stories to snack on… fascinating infographics to puzzle over. Books have always been a haven a sorts, a safe place for me. A lair.
If I could provide, for a few dozen or a few hundred pages, that solace to someone else… I’d call that success.
Q. Have you? Or do you want to write in another genre?
MJ. From this point in time, I feel like I always want my writing to be intense, each story or novella more like a ride at an amusement park than acres of prose. I think this would work in several different genres. I do naturally gravitate to horror and sci-fi because these have been my biggest influences over the years. I wouldn’t hesitate to let a story take me into a different genre if that’s what was called for… I like to let the story drive. I want to be as surprised as the reader.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
MJ. As a highly creative risk taker it’s been so hard to realize that some people just aren’t. And many of those people are okay with that. I think in order to keep going in my creative pursuits I’ve had to wrestle off urgings from others to “conform” – get a job, be an adult, visit a therapist, etc. This may have a sparked a defensiveness… an us/them dichotomy in me that just isn’t necessary. Realizing this has opened me up to a much greater love of humanity in all its diverse shapes and forms that’s capable of transcending petty misunderstandings… most of the time.
To read the rest of the Interview with Matt, click here
DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with best-selling AUTHORS! Julia London and M.J. Moores. Coming in December! My review of a new release by Dean Koontz, Ashley Bell.
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