Author of The Indestructibles, part-time actor, and occasional filmmaker. Matthew is currently on the lam in Salem with his trusty hound, Watson.
I was wondering where you get your story ideas?
A little bit of everywhere, really. Because “The Indestructibles” is an homage, a lot of ideas come from the sort of stories I wanted to tell growing up reading comics. But the best part about writing comic book-style stories is that your sources of inspiration can be anything—where else can you tinker with magic, time travel, aliens, and monsters while simultaneously tackling concepts like family and responsibility? Almost every day I come across something that makes me think: I’ve got to weave that into my story somehow.
What is the usual process for your fiction writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A little bit of both. I’m a pantser by nature. I’m not big on planning in my day to day life. But with “The Indestructibles” I had to be more of a plotter, because there were so many moving parts I needed to work with and resolve by story’s end. I didn’t do a traditional outline, but rather used Post-Its on a piece of poster board with different chapters and plot points written on them, so I could move them around depending on if I had to alter where or when something happens in the story. I’d pull the Post-It down as I finished each chapter, which felt like I was accomplishing something… except I always found a reason to add a new note to replace the one I just took down.
Once you have an idea that sparks your imagination do you research your idea or do any world-building exercises, or do you just begin to write and see where the Muse takes you?
You almost have to do world-building in this genre—it’s helpful to have a consistent idea how science and magic works in these stories. But to tell you the truth I had to curb my tendency toward world-building this time, because I knew world-building would cause me to get obsessive and bogged down and I wanted a very streamlined, fast-paced story. The characters are young, so that allowed me to build the world through their eyes.
What is your daily writing time like?
As a journalist I’m always writing, but writing “The Indestructibles” took it to another level for me. I would sit down in the evening, around six o’clock or so, and write until I couldn’t see straight. I was working at an extreme pace, several thousand words a day, and I really did just cut myself off from the world for an undetermined set of hours. I’d often end the writing session and really want to talk to someone, anyone, about what I’d been working on, and I’d find it was 2 a.m. and I was the only one awake!
Are you a full time writer? If so when did you make the decision and what factors led to the decision? If you are not a full time writer…Is your plan to one day being a full time writer?
I’m not (yet) a full time fiction writer. I do write for a living in other areas as a journalist, which I’m very proud of, but I certainly wouldn’t complain if I could give that all up and just write books the rest of my life! I’m hoping with “The Indestructibles” and its potential sequels I can transition away from other writing to focus on fiction. It’s been a life’s goal. I wouldn’t give up all writing, though—I’ve had several screenplays produced over the years and find scriptwriting a wonderful variation on novel-writing. The two are amazingly different art forms.
Can you tell us about your experience working with your current publisher? (Any other publishers?) (Or your self-publishing experiences?)
My publisher is PFP Publishing/AJAR Contemporaries, a small but really impressive independent publisher based north of Boston. I’ve worked in the textbook publishing world previously and so I thought I knew a lot about book publishing, but fiction and textbooks are very different animals, even if they share a lot of the same DNA. I thought about self-publishing or trying to catch the attention of a bigger publisher, but I have to say, going with a small, independent publisher was the best thing I could have done. PFP was experienced navigating the nitty-gritty parts of publishing a rookie self-publishing author might struggle with, but they are attentive and invested in the success of my book and treat their authors incredibly fairly. I’m really glad they took a chance on me, and I took a chance with them as well.
What is your current release and (without spoilers) tell us about the new book or series.
“The Indestructibles” just published in the spring, but we’ve heard from so many readers about a sequel that we’ve already got plans to get Book 2 out and in the hands of readers soon. I’m already working on the second book, which I’d had plotted out even before the first book was finished. The release date is still TBD as we want to make sure we put out the best possible story for the readers and not rush things.
Can you tell us about some of your other writing (fiction or nonfiction) and any appearances or signings that you have planned?
Before writing “The Indestructibles,” my biggest project was the feature film “Certainly Never,” a romantic comedy-drama about infidelity and the stupid things people do to try to find their happiness. I pulled triple duty on that as writer, director, and actor. I jokingly called myself a “triple threat” when that happened and a good friend said something I’ll never forget: “being called a threat isn’t a good thing!” Writing a novel was amazingly solitary project after such a big communal effort of directing a film.
I’ve worked for different healthcare publishing companies as a writer and editor and a gaggle of local newspapers as well. In the old days I wrote for a couple of now-defunct comic book industry online magazines, so getting back into the superhero business has been a really fun return to form.
I will have tables at the upcoming Boston ComicCon in August, Granite State ComicCon in Manchester, NH, in September and Rhode Island ComicCon as well in November. I’m hoping to book some additional appearances during the convention season as well both in New England and beyond.
As an author what inspiration or advice would you give to a writer who is working to make the transition to Author?
Don’t wait for someone to tell you to write. If you have a story, dive in and tell it. Everything else comes later. I often have people ask me if I think an idea is worth writing. There’s really no right way to do it. Dig in, find your voice, and don’t lock it away. And write what interests you. Your first audience member is yourself. If you love what you’re working on, you’ll be that much more successful in making sure you stick with it. And if you’re entertaining yourself, hopefully that means you’re writing something that will entertain others as well!
Who is your favorite author, and can you recommend a book by that author?
Wow. So many writers to mention. It’d be criminal for me not to say Robert B. Parker. I basically learned how to read and write by getting hooked on Parker’s Spenser series, which begins with “The Godwulf Manuscript.” I still want to be Spenser when I grow up. But if I can be selfish and mention someone else more recent, Joe Abercrombie is a heck of a fantasy writer. His novels take all the basic themes of fantasy and turn them brutally on their head in ways that are violent, surprising, and often uproariously funny. “The Blade Itself” is the first in that series and I’d recommend starting there since while his stripped-down storytelling doesn’t require you to read all of the books in order, there are some fantastic in-jokes that continue throughout each book if you jump in at the start. He’s brilliant.