I’m pleased to welcome Mat Moore as my author in the spotlight guest this week!
Matt Moore is a horror and science fiction writer who believes good speculative fiction can both thrill and make you think. His short story collection Touch the Sky, Embrace the Dark was released in 2013.
His columns and short fiction have appeared in print, electronic and audio markets including On Spec, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, Leading Edge, Cast Macabre, Torn Realities and the Tesseracts anthologies. He’s a multiple Aurora Award nominee, Friends of the Merrill finalist, frequent panelist and presenter, Communications Director for ChiZine Publications and Chair of the Ottawa Chiaroscuro Reading Series.
Raised in small-town New England, a place rich with legends and ghost stories, he lives in Ottawa, Ontario.
Find out more at mattmoorewrites.com.
SEVEN SPOTLIGHT QUESTIONS:
#1: What do you enjoy the most about writing?
It’s said stories were the first form of virtual reality. They transport the listener/reader into another world where they can explore others’ lives. As the storyteller, I enjoy this process of creating an immersive place with realistic people you might know in your real life. So, the escapism of it. And, I hope readers enjoy visiting these worlds as much as I do in creating them.
#2: What was your earliest writing experience?
I recall being in third grade and missing recess twice in a row so I could work on a short story I was writing about treasure-hunters as a class assignment. I was “that guy” when the teacher told the class they were to write a story and someone would ask for the minimum length, I would then ask about the maximum since I could easily go over it it. I don’t recall what I got as a grade, but I did enjoy writing a lot more than recess.
#3: Describe a day in your writing life:
I work a full-time day job, so a day in my writing life is different every time.
If I have a full day I can set aside to writing, I find I have about three or four good hours of writing in me before I fade, so if I can get that time, it’s great. But there is more to writing than just pounding out words. There’s paper line edits, revising the manuscript, marketing, submitting stories, interacting with people on social media, reading, critiquing others’ work. I need to be able to do this wherever I am and with the time I have.
So a day in my writing life is getting as much done as I can with the time I have.
#4: What authors influenced you and how?
There are so many.
Growing up, I read a lot of Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft. King, unfortunately, did not teach me restraint and so many of my stories from high school and university have massive digression and side stories that add nothing to the plot. Lovecraft was just so far out there that I learned that a plot’s resolution did not need to be wrapped up tightly in a bow. Sometimes, we have no idea what happened—that’s life.
Currently, I admire the work of David Nickle, Lydia Peever and Joel Arnold, who I think are doing great things in the horror genre. They are telling literary stories with strong themes and characters without sacrificing the toe-curling creepiness of horror.
#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?
Be humble. It doesn’t matter if you routinely sell to pro markets and are nominated for awards, never act like you’re too good for something. Be grateful to those who read your work, appreciative of conventions that invite you to attend, and professional when dealing with fellow writers be they first time published or NYT bestsellers.
Also, understand the difference between the art of writing and business of publishing. As an author and artist, you can sigh heavily, stare out the window for hours, scribble notes to yourself as if they were written by a character—that is all fine. Honestly, we all wrestle with the creative process. But once you are dealing with someone else’s time, effort or money, you are a businessperson. Be professional and understand that others have their own motive in working with your story; rarely is it your greater glory. Editors will not care that you have not turned in your story because you’re “blocked” or can’t find the resolution for a minor character’s arc. They expect you to meet your deadline. If you think a contract is unfair, go ahead and try to negotiate, but don’t negotiate every single contract just because you think you deserve better than others.
#6: Describe your writing method:
Most stories begin with a kernel: “What if when you die, your afterlife flashes before your eyes?”, “What if the zombie apocalypse is the singularity?”, “What is the most useless were-animal?”
I then try to map a character’s growth, a theme or series of events onto this idea. If I find ideas are connecting, I try to outline and hopefully a theme will solidify.
Then I’ll start to write, but ultimately by the second draft I find something is not working and I revise, re-work and revise some more. I am usually on draft six before the major plot elements and character beats have finally lined up. I then revise to clean-up the language. During all of this are bouts of insecurity, second guessing and self-doubt.
#7: Tips for aspiring writers:
I have three: one about the art of writing, one about the business, one about the lifestyle.
The Art: Work on strengthening one storytelling skill in every story you write, and make it an essential element of the story. If you have a dialogue-heavy piece with three main characters, give each a distinct voice. If you have an interesting setting, tell us about it using all five senses. Really work and hone that skill so that it comes naturally in your next story. But only work on one element per story. If you work on too many, you won’t strengthen anything.
The Business: Like I talk about above, understand the business of publishing. Who does what, what terminology is used, where does the money come from and go to? Read blogs and attend panel discussions with professionals in the industry. Publishers and editors are much more likely to take work from a good writer they can do business with than a great writer who is unreliable. Time is a publisher’s most valuable commodity. If you show you understand their world and can work with them, you will stand out.
The Lifestyle: Saying “I need to write” is not a magic ticket that excuses you from your responsibilities. Non-writers do not understand the need to write and the time that it demands. So, be open and honest with your family, partner, children and friends. Make sure your kids understand that if you are in your writing space with the door closed, they shouldn’t enter. If you are on a deadline, communicate this to your spouse that you might not have the time to do chores for the next day or two. But (and this is the main part), there has to be a balance. The time you spend writing is seen as time not spend with your significant others. If you are giving the impression that your writing is more important than they are, it will hurt your relationships. So make up for that time. If you get a writing night once per week, your husband should also get a night to do what he wants. If you hole up to do NaNoWriMo, how will you make it up to your girlfriend come December?
Check out Matt’s latest book, Touch the Sky Embrace the Dark, ten horror / scifi short stories of the terrifying, the bizarre, the all-too-near futures. These stories first appeared in leading markets such as On Spec, the Drabblecast and Leading Edge. For fans of thought-provoking horror and science fiction, it includes the Aurora Award-nominiated stories “Delta Pi” and “Touch the Sky, They Say.”
These worlds, and more, await you…
Only able to recall the memories of others, a ghost tries to solve the mystery of his death.
The zombie apocalypse is the gateway to a higher level of human consciousness.
An amusement park of the future might turn you into the attraction.
An engineer-turned-mercenary races to kill the savior of mankind.
When the sky falls, what room is there for hope?
Matt’s Book is available on any of the platforms below:
Apple iBookstore: itunes.apple.com/ca/book/touch-the-sky-embrace-the-dark/id720794872
Connect with Matt:
Fan email address: MattMooreWrites@GMail.com