WHO ARE THE KINDLE ALL-STARS?
Short conversations throughout November with the stellar talent behind the revolutionary short-story anthology THE KINDLE ALL-STARS PRESENT: RESISTANCE FRONT
Today I have the pleasure of talking with Matt Posner, author of the School of the Ages series.
FS: How did you come to hear about the Kindle All-Stars project?
Matt: I believe it was on Twitter.
FS: What’s your contribution called?
Matt: I contributed a story called “Wheelchair Fight.”
FS: And without giving too much away, what’s it about?
Matt: It’s about a fight to the death between two paraplegics in an underground fight club in the Bronx.
FS: What was the main inspiration behind it?
Matt: I have always been a person who can get into dreamlike states when very tired, before or after sleep, and under these conditions, I sometimes get some freaky ideas. This story came to me in one such situation. It was a vivid image of two guys in a sand pit under hot lights, in wheelchairs, fighting with chains and bats and other such weapons.
FS: Did you write it specifically for the Kindle All-Stars, or was it written prior?
Matt: I wrote this story in 1996. The recent explosion of indie publishing has created a market for short fiction, and I can now find homes for some material I have been very high on that however wouldn’t fit in literary magazines. Those magazines are hotbeds of favor-trading and snobbery anyway.
FS: Obviously the primary goal behind this anthology is to make some money for disadvantaged and abused children. But secondary to that, it is to promote fresh, new writing talent – the punk rock of literature – and show that Indie writers are out there, dedicated and working hard to produce Class-A work.
If people take notice of what you’ve written for this anthology, what do you hope the outcome is of that attention?
Matt: I want readers to move on to my School of the Ages books. Growing up magical is hard — at America’s greatest magic school. From a business perspective, I am interested in branding, name recognition, all that stuff. However, what I desire most deeply is to know that people were moved by my stories and that they made a difference in people’s lives. For me, magic is a metaphor for problem-solving skill, for a productive attitude toward the world and the universe, and, of course, for growing up. To say “growing up magical is hard” is really just to say “growing up is hard.” Facing obstacles and growing so that you can handle them is a universal human activity, and really, if you do that, you’re a magician — you don’t need magic words or spells, although they are exciting to read about and to write about.
FS: How do you write? Are you a plotter? Do you fly by the seat of your pants? When do you write, and where? I write at night, at the dining table, when the kids are in bed and the place is finally peaceful and quiet. And I work everything out on paper before I sit down to write. What have you found works best for you?
Matt: I make broad outlines with lots of gaps, and I change a lot as I go, and incorporate inspiration freely. I write the books out of sequence, composing whatever part of whatever book in the sequence is currently obsessing me. I write mostly in notebooks, which I then type up onto computer to form a fairly solid second draft at which I can niggle. Lately I am using my iPad for word processing, which is where I’m writing this interview. I obsessively replay my books to myself using the Kindle 2 text-to-speech reader, as I find that my own writing is my favorite writing. This definitely fixes in my mind what I need to change when I’m back on the computer again, as the same passages bug the crap out of me every time I hear them, As for where — the bathtub, the bed, the subway, the car — wherever I can get a few minutes’ peace. Sadly, I don’t write full-time, so I have to grab scraps of it where I can. If I were writing full-time, I’d be cranking out material like crazy, but as it is, I can at best poke at my projects, while my teaching job absorbs most of my time during the day.
FS: How did you find the editing process with Bernard? I found it to be like a smack in the mouth and a pat on the head at the same time, saying “I like this” at one point, to a specific sentence, and then “You need to stay in Active Voice!” the next. I learned a lot, and I think I have a much stronger piece of writing now than I did when I submitted it. What was your personal experience?
Matt: He was rough on my story where he felt the need to be, but really, the changes were only in a few spots. As you note, the critique was rather blunt, with some nice remarks mixed in. Not so easy to deal with coming in exhausted from work… but I’m not arguing with a police detective, brother.
FS: Is there anyone in particular who’s contributed to the anthology that you’re excited to be included alongside?
Matt: I’m excited to be an All-Star and I appreciate the company I get to keep, digitally speaking. So I’m excited to be alongside eveyone. That said, obviously anyone who grew up reading science fiction in the 70s and 80s has to feel the presence of Harlan Ellison and Alan Dean Foster very keenly. I read a lot of Foster growing up, especially the Spellsinger books, which no doubt have had a subtle influence upon me as a fantasist. As far as Ellison is concerned, if I were to meet him and not be reduced to jelly by his savage wit, I would count myself lucky. I remember “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” as a real mind-blower when I was thirteen or fourteen.
FS: We know that there will be a KAS 2 at some point. Plans are already afoot. Is there a dream name you’d like to see involved in it the next time around? Me personally, getting published in a book that includes a story by Alan Dean Foster is one of those “Wouldn’t it be great if one day…” things that I can now tick off of the list.
Matt: I have a lot of indie writer friends I would like to get involved. As far as veteran science fiction and fantasy writers, how about Robert Asprin, Piers Anthony, Stephen Barnes, Larry Niven, S.P. Somtow, or, reaching for the moon, George R.R. Martin?
FS: So when you’re not helping to fight evil, what do you get up to in real life?
Matt: I teach special education English in a Brooklyn high school.
FS: Are you working on anything now? Anything you’d like everyone to know about?
Matt: I am still working on the School of the Ages series. I have two out, the third being prepared for beta readers (maybe I can get some KAS writers to help with that?), the fourth being drafted, the fifth germinating, If you are reading this interview, please go and sample The Ghost in the Crystal and Level Three’s Dream. I promise to provide The War Against Love (book three) next year. Readers can feel safe committing to an unfinished series — this series will definitely be finished.
FS: And to your readers – both potential and existing – is there anything you would like to say? They might be reading this months after Resistance Front has landed, wanting to know more about you. What would you like to say to them?
Matt: I am a fan-friendly writer. I like to hear from readers in any of the many outlets I have provided for them. Many readers have become friends. I like to meet people and I really like to support other writers.
FS: Thats it! Time’s up! Hopefully we’ll the chance for a much more in-depth chat at some point in the near future when KAS is out on sale!
Matt: Let’s do that. See you on the fringe, bro.
You can check out Matt’s Amazon Author page here http://www.amazon.com/Matt-Posner/e/B005HA0J0E/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_2
Synopsis of School of the Ages book 1
America’s greatest magic school is New York City’s School of the Ages. Simon is a teen from Queens, New York. When he answers an advertisement in a magazine, the South Wind shows up at his door to introduce him to a world of adventure, power, and tragedy that feels both strange and right: ghosts, elementals, time travel, magic duels, teen romance, sacrifice, and ultimate loss. The evil spirit of a bitter and scheming heretic from ancient Alexandria attacks him and forces him to risk everything in order to save his soul. Kids and adults won’t stop reading — The Ghost in the Crystal.
Keep up with news and updates about School of the Ages: schooloftheages.webs.com, facebook “School of the Ages Series” twitter @schoolofthages.