Welcome to Cynthia's Attic, Matt. Word has it you're working on children's books. Will you enlighten us?
I am and I have taken ahold of it like an alligator in a death roll (meaning I won't let go!). I have a couple projects in the works because that is how I operate. Right now I just finished the first draft of a MG book called The Pair of Normals: Society for Monster Hunters and Purveyors of the Strange and Unusual. I want it to be a series. I have three other books in the series mapped out already.
The other project I am working on is an MG book for my advance writer's class at ICL (Institute of Children's Literature) called School of Mayhem: The Phoenix Key. It takes place in a school of super villains and my lead doesn't want to be there. These may turn into Illustra-Novellas at some point because I love the novel-graphic novel mash-ups. And I am working on a graphic novel with an artist friend of mine called Eternal Springs. This is more of a YA creepy book, basically Lovecraft for kids. All that makes me tired just thinking about it!
Wow, you ARE busy with fascinating projects! I also happen to know that you're involved in fabulous documentary research. How has that prepared you in your writing career?
I do my best! Research has been a wonderful job to have as a writer. I have learned so many things about so many subjects that it makes my head spin. It's changed my writing in the way I incorporate facts and blend them with fiction. I love dropping a real person in the story, like Tesla, and putting a spin on the facts. I really get a kick out of doing this. And for those who love History it is a bit of wink to them.
You have an interesting career in television, movies, etc. What inspired you to write for children/young adults?
Thank you so much! I have been pretty lucky with a lot of the movies and shows that I have been able to work on. This may sound cliché but since I was a wee little one I have always wanted to tell stories. I would write short stories retelling the Star Wars story or create my own skits that my cousins and I would perform in the basement. Like our own SNL. I took that passion further when I got a Super 8 film camera (dating myself here) and we would shoot little short movies. That lead to wanting to do makeup fx for movies, which I did a lot of. Eventually I worked my way to Hollywood and started really focusing on writing. It was kid scripts. I went through a myriad of managers, agents, sold some stories, wrote more scripts and started to realize that I had no control over anything I was writing. My heart was in these children stories and I really wanted to make them my own, so I decided to take the plunge and follow my bliss about four years ago and I applied to the Institute of Children's Literature, got accepted and have been furiously writing my stories from there. I finally found my calling and what I absolutely love to do.
For all aspiring writers, will you give a brief description of your process?
I love this question because I always want to know the same thing from other writers. My process involves me getting up around 6am to write before my daughter gets up. My wife will get her ready for daycare while I type away and then we load up the car and head out. At night when they are both off to sleep I start up again and go into the witching hours. I jam through a first draft. It usually stinks the place up but I get it done. I loosely outline just to have an A to B goal. I write about 1000-2000 words a day. And I listen to movie scores or heavy metal to inspire me.
I have a love/hate relationship with writing. How about you? What do you love most and what do you dislike most about writing?
Yes, it is one of things that gets into your bloodstream and drives you mad. I love that I can create characters that make me laugh and put them in quirky situations. I love discovering story points that I didn't expect to happen. Which happened to me a lot in Pair of Normals and I was laughing at some of the moments that appeared out of thin air. Most days I am chomping at the bit to get to that keyboard to keep writing. What I hate about it is that some days it is torture to get those words out. Some days it is pure bile. And if I ever miss a day of writing, I feel really guilty and beat myself up mentally about it. Sometimes I can't let it go.
Can you tell something funny on yourself that readers might not know?
I have written and directed a couple of horror films. I get that funny look when I tell people that. How odd you would want to write kids books. I must be a weirdo! But in reality, there are so many great writers out there that do good creepy for the kids and they grew up on monster movies and books like me. Funny side note - I joined a writing critique group and one of my writer buddies knew of my first film and told me how bad he wanted to see it. I was a little stunned.
Finally, tell us how rewarding it is being my "cousin!" LOL!
There is going to be a lot of jealousy amongst your readers and followers if I tell them how fabulous it is to be your "cousin". It's great because you not only inspire me but many others! And I hope that the acorn doesn't fall too far from the literary tree that connects us!
Oh, now you're going to make me blush, Matt. Guess I should explain that we're not real cousins; only in creative spirit. But, I still consider you a most interesting relative!
Thanks, so much, for visiting Cynthia's Attic and all the best in your writing, movie-making and researching!
Read more about Matt:
Literary Asylum Blog
Mary Cunningham Books