Thursday, July 29, 2010

Matthew Quick Interview

 How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I’ve completed eight novels, abandoned dozens, and have sold three thus far. Hard to pick a favorite. Each novel is special to me for different reasons. I imagine it’s like trying to pick your favorite child or student. If you do have a favorite, you probably shouldn’t admit it.


Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?
Write a lot. Read even more. Know who you are and write accordingly. Listen when people give you writing rules, but ultimately you will have to make your own rules. A lot of young writers will try to write what they think others want them to write or in imitation of the novelists they admire. You can learn a lot from other writers and we all have influences, but you have to find your own voice. I’ve been telling young people to write about what they love. Don’t be afraid to be emotionally vulnerable. Be human. Be you.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I receive reader e-mails from all sorts of people who have enjoyed my work. I’m always delighted and honored. I haven’t received any hate mail yet. (Knock on wood.) Writing is challenging and so it’s always nice to get some encouragement. If you like a book—especially a book written by an author whose e-mail address is listed—PLEASE take the time to let the author know. They may not be able to e-mail you a personal response, but your encouragement will always mean a lot to them. Trust me. It’s important to keep people writing.

Do you like to create books for adults?
Yes, very much. I write for teens and adults, and I don’t change my approach all that much. A good story is a good story.

What do you think makes a good story?
Depends on the story you are trying to tell. There are many different types of stories. With SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR I tried to offer the reader a powerful emotional experience. My favorite stories always stir up all sorts of emotions and make me feel intensely human. There are many ways to accomplish this.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I thought I might play in the NBA, but then I stopped growing, was benched at the beginning of my sophomore year, and never started another game. I wanted to be a writer back then too, but I became a high school English teacher instead. When I turned thirty, I quit teaching and started writing full-time.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Believing that there really would be appreciative readers. It takes a lot of faith to write a novel and see it through the acquisition and editorial process. Your faith gets tested many times along the way. You have to believe in the story you are trying to tell or no one else will. Sometimes it’s hard to believe.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR is fiction, but real-life events and people I admire tremendously inspired the creation of many characters and scenes. Like I said above, write what you love. Allow yourself to be emotionally vulnerable. Be human. Be you.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to other writers. Encourage other people and surround yourself with people who will keep you going during the tough periods. My wife is also a novelist, so she understands the ups and downs of the writing life. She is also my best friend and fiercest supporter. She believes in me more than I do. So when it’s time to make a romantic commitment, make sure you yoke yourself to the right person. Essential advice for the writing life. Wrong life partner and you are sunk. Same goes for best friends and confidants. If they aren’t encouraging you, you are in trouble.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading my work, all you kind and beautiful people!

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