Hey there, Readers!
Yes, it’s Monday, so that means it’s time for another tasty author interview. Today we throw question after question directly into the face of author Matthew Stott.
Break the ice and tell our readers who you are and what kind of thing you write:
Hello! I’m Matthew; I’m from the far north of England, but currently pay an obscene, should-be-illegal amount for a tiny, one bedroom place in London. I write spooky fantasy; think more Neil Gaiman than Lord of The Rings.
How do you approach your stories; do you plan everything out before starting, or are you more a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of a person?
I don’t understand people who just sit down and start writing with no idea of the what, why, or how. These people are in touch with some sort of devilry and should be treated with hostile suspicion. I always plan, first. I’m impatient, so often stop fleshing out the beats before I should, so I’d like to get to a point where I plan the work out with much more depth in future. I just think it helps prevent protracted periods of painful doubt and writers block if you have some sort of plan to look at.
Tell us about your most recent release, and why the heck our readers should give it a shot:
I have a few things in the pipeline, but my most recent release at the point of writing this is The Increasingly Transparent Girl. It’s a spooky, fun tale and if you buy it all of your wildest, sexiest dreams will come true. Yes, even that one.
What’s the biggest influence on the kind of thing you write? Another writer? A TV show? Some other thing that is neither of those two things?
I’m a huge Doctor Who fan, so I can only assume a large dollop of that is in my writing somewhere. When it comes to individual writers, I’d say Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Mike Mignola; that sort of jazz.
What was your favourite book as a kid?
Not sure I had one single favourite, but I loved Roald Dahl stories, and devoured Doctor Who books.
What comes first for you with a story, concept or characters?
Concept, every time. I’m not sure how you come up with a character outside of a world or story.
What are you reading/watching/playing/hiding from right now?
I’m currently reading The Long Way Down by Craig Schaefer. So far, so good. I’m watching Better Call Saul, and a bunch of sitcoms, including Kimmy Schmidt, Brooklyn 99, The Middle, The Goldbergs: basically I kinda love American sitcoms.
What made you decide to go indie, and what do you see as the benefits of indie?
I’ve been writing sitcom scripts for a long time, and although it’s fun, it’s a process of constantly bashing your head against a brick wall; there are just so many people who have to say ‘yes’ for anything to get anywhere, and so most fall at one fence or another and that can well be it for that script. All that work, nothing to show for it. When I started to write prose, I decided I had no intention, for the time being, of playing the same game. I just wanted to get stuff out there.
That is the main benefit; you can get your work out there without having to wait for people to be nice enough to allow you the privilege.
Who is your favourite fictional character, be it from books, TV, comics, movies or games?
The Doctor, of course! There isn’t another ‘hero’ like him. Outside of Doctor Who, most of my favourite characters tend to be from sitcoms; so the likes of Alan Partridge, Rimmer, or basically anyone from Seinfeld, which is, of course, the greatest sitcom ever made. Yes it is. Oh, Hellboy is pretty nifty, too.
Tell us about a great indie book or two that you’ve read:
Well, the first indie book I read (and I imagine this is true of many people) was Wool. Despite its success, it was a self-published book, so I assumed there must be something wrong with it. What an arse I am, huh? Turns out it’s awesome, of course. Since then there have been several other great indie books I’ve read, including The Martian, the Zero Hour series, and the Karma Police series.
D’you listen to music whilst you write? The TV on in the background providing a pleasant white-noise babble? Or d’you DEMAND SILENCE WHILST YOU CREATE FROM NOTHING.
Depends. Not sure on what, though. Sometimes I have music blaring in my ears, sometimes not.
What’s you’re writing schedule like? Are you super regimented, butt-in-chair every day, tip-tapping away for hours, or an airy-fairy ‘when the muse strikes’ sort of a person?
I try to put in a few hours every evening. Truth is, I’m terrible at sticking to it and I’m easily distracted. I need to work on my focus a little (a lot) (I mean, A LOT).
What’s your number one piece of advice for anyone reading this who is considering going the indie route?
Expect not to sell many at first. The Andy Weir’s of this world are a rare thing, so concentrate on publishing book after book and building your fan base and list, that way you can get to a point where something you release has a better than good chance of shifting a few copies. I go to places like KBoards and see so much impatience and unrealistic expectations because of the success stories. ‘Oh, I’ve been publishing for four months but Ridley Scott has yet to call! What am I doing wrong?!’ Be realistic, think long-term, and remember to actually try to write well; speed isn’t everything. Oh, that’s another bugbear; a regular release schedule is really important for an indie, but don’t think you have to be able to write a book a month, otherwise you’re useless. It’s not true.