Posts tagged ‘matthewquick’

April 20th, 2010

Awesome Interview with Matthew Quick!

by Madeleine Rex

Matthew Quick, author of the wonderful Sorta Like a Rockstar, graciously agreed to let me interview him! I was thrilled to have the opportunity to correspond with him and enjoyed reading his answers to my questions immensely. (Hopefully you will, too!)

ME:  What inspired you to write something as unique as Sorta Like a Rock Star? How was your writing experience? How long did it take to complete?

Matthew: Teaching high school English and working with teenagers like Amber definitely inspired me, as did my own teenage struggles.  Hope is a hard thing to come by in the adult world, and most people learn that for the first time as teenagers…or maybe that’s when many people start to give up on hope.

Once I figured out Amber’s voice, this book rushed out onto the page.  I wrote the rough draft in three months—which is super fast for me—and Little, Brown purchased it shortly after.  Then my editor and I worked on the manuscript for another few months, which was a great experience.

ME: You’ve masterfully blended humor and seriousness into one story without obliterating one or the other. As a reader, I continuously felt the underlying solemnity as a result of the problems Amber faced throughout, and yet I laughed incessantly. How did you manage to convey such differing emotions/feelings simultaneously?

Matthew: Thanks!

Laughter and tears are the products of strong and often unexpected emotional experiences.  I believe there is a line in an old Morrissey song that goes, “And I’m laughing to stop myself crying.”

I think I was able to simultaneously convey the sadness and hilarity of Amber’s world because I truly love Amber.  Fiction writers have to place their characters in conflict, and Amber goes through a lot, but we also need to give them the tools that we all have in real life—the tools to save themselves.  Laughter is a powerful tool.

ME: Your characters were both strikingly distinctive and familiar. What was your process for “creating” them?

Matthew: I sort of believe that my characters are a mixture of me and people I know.  That’s not to say that they are non-fiction, but they are definitely inspired by people in my life, and usually people I love and admire very much.  I’m kind of a quirky guy and I admire people who do their own thing without completely turning their backs on their communities.  So my characters are usually quirky people who very much want to be a part of things—people who have to work hard to be accepted as they are.

I’m not sure I have a process for creating my characters.  They grow out of my own personality and life experiences.  I think that’s all a fiction writer can do.  Hemingway used to talk about his work being true.  What I think he meant was authentic, or without pretense.  The people who know me best, know that THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR are me to the core.  True.

ME: Who is your favorite literary character of all time? What novel most affected you or the way you wrote?

Matthew: Wow.  A hard question.  There are too many to pick just one.  But I will say that reading SLAUGHTER-HOUSE FIVE many many years ago made me want to be a novelist.  Reading Vonnegut was very freeing.  At the time I had never read anything so inventive, fun, important, and yet down-to-earth—well, nothing that people called ‘literature.’  Vonnegut is my hero.

ME: The book gave me hope regarding so many things and ultimately taught me that giving up said hope is practically synonymous with curling into a ball and shriveling up. Hope enlivens us. What one thing would you like readers to feel or learn from your book?

Matthew: Thanks!

Hope is a very powerful emotion.  Amber puts a lot of positive energy into the world, and that changes the lives of others for the best.  I really do think that positive thinking can change lives.  When I was teaching, one negative student could really poison the classroom—completely alter the attitude of thirty students and suck the life right out of the room.  So I would work hard on trying to win over those few negative people.  And when I was able to make them enjoy my class, they often became the most enthusiastic students.

I’ve found that there are some hurting people out there who will roll their eyes at the idea of championing kindness and positive thinking.  But most of these people would prefer that you be kind to them and offer them encouragement rather than scorn, and I think that is always telling.

I hope my readers learn that our actions and words have consequences, pretty much always.

ME: I know that you’ve been published before. What was your experience the first time around? How was it altered when you went through the publishing process for Sorta Like a Rock Star? Was there anything in particular that you were especially glad you knew coming into the second round?

Matthew: The leap from hopeful aspiring writer to professional novelist with a book contract is pretty wild.  I love writing and sharing my work with the world, but, with my first published novel, I don’t think I was prepared mentally or emotionally for the process.

We fiction writers tend to be a sensitive lot, and I’m no different.  When you publish a book, no matter how talented you are, you are going to get all sorts of responses.  (Check out the one-star Goodreads reviews of your absolute favorite books, or even the best novels of all time.)

When you publish, you take something very special and important to you and you offer it up to the world.  There are nice people in the world and there are people who are hurting.  And, of course, people have different tastes.  You can never write a book that will please everyone, including your friends and family.

When I published THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, I wasn’t prepared for some of the strange (and sometimes mean) responses I received.  To be honest, I wasn’t prepared for all of the fantastic and kind responses I received either.

The second time around, I know what to expect and have more experience dealing with all the different responses.  I think I’ve gained confidence too.

ME: What’s next? Are you simply fiddling with ideas, or are you already writing another book?

Matthew: My next YA novel has been purchased by Little, Brown & Company.  It’s called BOY21 and is about friendship, basketball, kindness, outer space, growing up, love, and so much more.  I’m really excited about BOY21.  I’m also working on a new novel about a fourteen-year-old boy who thinks he has a very unusual power, but I’m thinking that one might be an adult book, rather than a YA novel.   We shall see.

ME: What do you wish to accomplish as a writer, and what do you believe is the most rewarding aspect of a writer’s life?

Matthew: Back when I was teaching, front and center in my classroom was a picture of my hero, Kurt Vonnegut, holding a baby.  Underneath was a quote by Vonnegut that read, “Why are we teaching people to write books when presidents and senators do not read them, and generals do not read them. And it’s been the university experience that taught me that there is a very good reason, that you catch people before they become generals and presidents and so forth and you poison their minds with … humanity, and however you want to poison their minds, it’s presumably to encourage them to make a better world.”  I believe Vonnegut did this, and I’m trying.

The most rewarding aspect of the writing life is when a reader completely understands what I’m trying to do and celebrates it.  When this happens I feel less alone in the world.

ME: Do you have a book trailer, and, if so, may I post it on my blog?

Matthew:  I do have a book trailer!  Thanks for asking!  We had so much fun making it.  I worked with a film company called Emerald Productions.  They specialize in horror films, but they love and get my work, even though I don’t write horror.  They cast Amber.  I cast BBB (Amber’s dog).  And I think both our actress and doggie star were perfect!  Here is the trailer in HD:


Thanks for interviewing me!  Thanks for reading.  Please visit me @

He’s pretty cool, huh?

And his book honestly is outstanding. Read my review and then enter the giveaway! Little, Brown has given me FIVE copies!

April 16th, 2010

What's in it for Me?

by Madeleine Rex

We may tell ourselves that we’re selfless or incredibly charitable. I personally don’t know anyone who would, however, for a clear reason.

No one is.

As human beings, we are persistently on the look-out for ways to profit from what we do. I don’t mean to imply that we’re entirely selfish. We’re a muddy mix of weaknesses and strengths. Still, I believe we can all agree that very few of us make a habit of employing ourselves for hours on end, working toward a certain goal, without expecting some kind of return. Our survival instincts ensure that we don’t exert ourselves for too long before replenishing our sources, before gaining.

This rule applies to writing as well. Every one of us wants to accomplish something.

You might want to make it onto the NYT bestsellers list, become wealthy, travel abroad on tours, write for a prestigious magazine, work with famous authors, change someone’s life, or simply see your name in print. Heck, you might be searching for enlightenment or a way of releasing stress.

Undoubtedly, our horizons will broaden. We’ll reach the minor goals and larger ones will take form. As it stands, I want to see my name in print. Eventually, I’d like to make a decent profit from writing and write as my career. I’d also like to edit. Those are my goals. I wouldn’t feel too terrible if I saw my name on the NYT bestsellers list. It all sounds pretty spiffy, but I’d just like my Goodreads profile to read Goodreads Author.

Some of our hopes are more reasonable than others, some are borderline, and some are particularly unlikely. That’s the thing about hope, though; it’s not clearly defined. It doesn’t even have to be physically possible. Some little tyke’s might hope they’ll learn to fly someday. For the moment, the hope’s enough. They can get a little taste of it just from the dream. Luckily for us writers, most of our writing goals are achievable.

What are your short-term and long-term aspirations? What do you want to get out of this ideally lifelong experience?

Again folks: You could win one of five copies of Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick. Really, please enter! It’ll be good for you.

April 14th, 2010

Getting to Know: Mark + Creating Characters

by Madeleine Rex

I immensely enjoyed my “Getting to Know: Allison” post, so I’ve interview my male MC (Mark) as well. I had to omit certain facts and act as though I were interviewing him before the end of the book for various reasons, but what you find below is all him.

  • How old are you? 19
  • If the house burned down, what one thing would you want to take with you? Probably my grandfather’s journal.
  • Describe your hands. They’re large. I have long fingers.
  • Describe your nightstand, dresser, or bathroom counter. What’s on top of it? In it? Currently, I don’t have any of those things. If I did, there would probably be a few books on top of the dresser and bottles scattered about the room. Things I was trying to hide would be in my nightstand and bathroom cabinets.
  • What is your favorite food? Homemade mac & cheese. I haven’t had it for at least four years.
  • Describe your economic/political status. Economically, I’m doing pretty poorly. I don’t have a job because only a dim-witted person would hire me due to certain circumstances. I’ve been too distracted to focus an ounce of my attention on politics.
  • Where do you have a scar or birthmark? Describe circumstances surrounding your scars. I don’t have any scars, but I have a huge mole on my nose and a Matrix tattoo on my arm.
  • What is the last book you read? What did you think of it? Great Expectations by Dickens. I enjoyed it, though the beginning was slow.
  • Do you have an embarrassing habit? Drinking… But I guess that’s more shameful than embarrassing.
  • Give one vivid memory of a parent or parental figure. The memory of a stranger’s arm around my mother’s shoulder.
  • What is a dream (in sleep) you often have? Allison bringing me Starbucks for breakfast and us eating together, talking about the recent developments. I have it over and over.
  • Do you have a lifelong dream or aspiration? Joining the Navy.
  • How do you go to sleep, and how do you wake up? (i.e. position in bed, etc.) I sleep on hardwood floors, nearly choking on the humidity in the air.
  • What is the last thing you wrote? I can’t remember.
  • What grosses you out?  Alcohol, ironically.
  • Who is the person you like the least? Why? It should be my brother, but it’s not. I’d have to go with the irritating librarian at the Junior High.
  • What is something you feel guilty about?  Myriad things. Innumerable things. I can’t count.
  • Describe what you do when you look in a mirror. I try to wash my face with the paper towels and mucky water that dribbles from the rusty faucet. Or simply wipe grease from my face.
  • Describe yourself sitting in your favorite spot. If I’m alone, I’m sitting on the cap of a hill, leaning against a bristly bush that feels soft, now, because it’s so familiar. When I have Allison’s company, it’s sitting across from her, on the other side of the train tracks.
  • Tell me about a very treasured item. My grandfather’s war journal. He fought in Vietnam.
  • Do you have a nervous tic or habit? I haven’t noticed one, but Allison or Sean might have.
  • Tell me about your siblings…if you have them. I have a sister named Amy. She lives in California with her family, and I haven’t seen her for years. Since my parents divorced, I suppose. My older brother, Sean, he… I’m sorry, but I’d rather not delve into Sean. I’ve realized that I don’t understand him.
  • What is your favorite sound? The sound the shed door makes when there’s a breeze as it shivers in its door frame. It speaks of home.
  • What is your favorite smell? Soap.

Really, folks, this is a blast. I recommend taking a whack at interviewing your characters in such a way, and I’d certainly love to read those interviews if you chose to post them.

I don’t create my characters through this process, though (obviously, because I’m done with the first draft). The interviewing is simply 1) fun and 2) helpful in getting to know your characters better. Not creating them. I create my characters through Character Analyses. I wrote analyses for almost every character that had a name and appeared in the book. Some of them didn’t even make it in, yet they’re real to me. I discovered the Character Analyses system through Elizabeth George’s Write Away. Actually, I used every bit of the plotting process that George wrote about. I read the book last year, just after having dropped Forbidden. I knew that I was in dire need of a substantial plotting process and was thrilled to find that George and I were incredibly similar. Her process was percisely what I needed, though the next time around, I’m switching things up a bit.

So, what’s your process for creating characters? Or plotting in general? Is it similar to one you read about or that of a friend?