Matt Thompson is interviewed here by me, Briana Morgan. First, I should paint a picture for you: Matt is tall, funny, and fairly quiet until you get to know him—to look at him, you wouldn’t know that he had just written a novel and has been going through the publication process. In spite of having graduated from GCSU last year, Matt remains a prominent fixture in Milledgeville, where he spends his time reading, writing, and basically just becoming more awesome. I recently sat down to interview Matt just ahead of the release of his ebook (at the date of this publication, the book will have already come out). He had a lot to say.
Briana Morgan: How did you get into writing?
Matt Thompson: I have a very typical and less than exciting story about how I got into writing. I started college as a history major, but my 1101/1102 class convinced me that English is what I was supposed to study. My intro to creative writing class did the rest.
How would you describe your writing style?
I wouldn’t, but given no other choice I’d say my writing is to the point.
Which authors or works do you think have influenced your writing the most?
This is a fun question. Anyone who knows me could tell you that I read a lot, even for a person who studies writing/literature, so this is difficult. It’s impossible not to mention Hemingway, because I read him a great deal when I was younger and I think some of my techniques are definitely influenced by him, but his influence stops there, at the technical level. I wish I could write like Philip Roth—the way he weaves past and present is something I try (and hopefully at least partially succeed) to emulate. As far as subject matter goes I think Jonathan Franzen has had the biggest effect, especially on my newer work. While writing Oleanders In Alaska I actually read Freedom twice. It’s amazing to me how he’s picked up the family drama torch from his Russian predecessors and he’s even made me pick up old Russian classics that I’ve avoided in the past. So I like to write about families and relationships. Wow that was wordy, sorry.
What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment I’m reading Travels In Alaska by John Muir.
What do you think about e-books?
This is a question that I was hoping you’d ask. I’ve learned that there’s a stigma. There is a perception that there is no one out there writing serious fiction for e-books, that e-publishing is only an outlet for those who want to write their own vampire or s&m story. I’d like to change that perception. Just because a book is published as an e-book doesn’t mean that it’s glorified fan fiction. There’s good stuff out there, lots of it, and we’d like you to read us too. That isn’t to say I’m one of those people who thinks traditional publishing is dead and we should all ignore it. On the contrary, I have a few short stories that have been published…on actual paper! So I’m not necessarily against traditional avenues. Nothing as complex as this can ever be absolutely black and white. There are positives to both. Was that self promotion subtle enough?
What have you learned about the publishing industry?
What’s the best advice you can give aspiring writers?
Just write. I write every day and a lot of it sucks. Some of it ends up being pretty good. The thing is, I rarely know when I’m in the process of writing. It takes some time to know if something is any good. So write every day.