Q) When did you start writing? What keeps you going?
A) I had a typewriter when I was in elementary school and I wrote regularly for fun, not perceiving at the time that it would be a future career choice. I made a decision to commit to writing as an activity in seventh grade when I began to write a “novel” that came out more like novella-length. It was a somewhat Star Wars-like scenario, with enemy space fleets and tyranny, but followed the human story of a young man who was a cyborg and needed special surgery. Recently rediscovering the typescript, I found that even at age twelve, some elements of my present style were already present.
What keeps me going? I just can’t imagine not writing. I have stories in me that need to be told, characters in me who need to have experiences. At my lowest points, I have frozen when it was time to let out these stories and these people, but overall, I don’t think I could get so low that I wouldn’t feel them there anymore.
Q) What was your most encouraging moment as an author?
A) I get them more frequently now that I am self-published, though not as often as I long for. J A reader of The Ghost in the Crystal told me privately that a sequence in the book had made her cry. This sequence has controversial content, and I have often worried about its impact, so the reader’s remark made me feel something like, “Thank God. Maybe I got it right after all.”
Q) What was your most discouraging moment as an author?
A) 1991-2002.I was savaged in graduate school, learned in 1993 that a manuscript being shopped by an agent in New York was not going anywhere, got savaged in graduate school some more, and just lost confidence for a lot of years. In 2002 I began The Ghost in the Crystal and was able gradually to recover myself, although it still took some years for me to feel whole.
Q) What’s your antidote to writer’s block?
A) Writer’s block comes from several sources. One is insufficient preparation. Solve this one by doing some outlining or research or hard thinking, doodling, free-writing. A second source is low self-confidence, which needs to be handled with confidence-building activities such as taking baby steps with the work and rewarding yourself for each step you complete. Yet another source is the need to make some decisions your brain hasn’t worked its way up to yet. Possible solutions to this one are:
1) Skip to a different part of the work-in-progress
2) Switch to a different writing project
3) Tell your subconscious to solve the problem, and then do something else and wait for the solution.
Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way is a powerful book on the subject of encouraging creative flow and is the one I will recommend until I write a similar book myself.
Q) Describe the typical writing day:
A) On the typical day, I get up at 5 am, answer a few writing-related emails if any, possibly put a promotional message on social media, and go to work. During my lunch break at my job I may do some writing-related correspondence, or write an interview like this one. Sometimes I am too busy because I take my duties seriously at my public school job. I squeeze in a little fiction in the break between jobs, or if I have no afternoon job that day, I do a little when I get home. I probably actually write only two or three days out of the week. If I am home for the day and can work more, then I will do an hour to an hour and a half at a stretch with breaks in-between. I write on Scrivener or in Word, depending upon the length of the project. My writing at home is usually interrupted by social media and email. It is also broken up by my adjusting the music I play on YouTube or iTunes to help my mood and energy. Because I am so distractible, I have always written best in the bathtub or on the subway, where these distractions do not appear.
Q) From where do you draw your inspiration?
A) I am influenced by memories, daily experience, world culture, and an active program of reading magazines and listening to podcasts. For years I didn’t read fiction very often; now, however, I read novels by my friends in the business. Now I’m hoping you’ll write one, Kimberly!
Q) Tell us about your latest book:
A) The School of the Ages series is about a magic school in New York City and follows the adventures of a multicultural cast headed by protagonist Simon, who is an emotionally intense young man who suffers romantic reverses and is determined to be brave in the face of some pretty daunting opposition. The magic system is mostly mental, based on meditation and visualization. Jewish and Hindu themes are prevalent. Ghosts, friendly and unfriendly, are incorporated into every book in the series, as are elemental spirits. World travel, sometimes combined with time travel, is also a recurrent plot element. Most reviewers start out by saying this series is not Harry Potter, and it isn’t; it’s more subtle, less whimsical, more real-world, more dark, more spiritual, more cosmopolitan while also being thoroughly American. Kids like it though and would like to see it made into movies. If that happens, I’ll play the Dean. Readers should start with The Ghost in the Crystal, featuring time travel to ancient Egypt, and tragedy; then Level Three’s Dream, featuring autism and Alice in Wonderland characters; then The War Against Love, which has a sweeping romance combined with a James Bond-style hunt for the bad guys. This July 2013, I hope, will come Simon Myth, in which my protagonist visits the India of the epic Mahabharata as well as facing a mythological menace in his own time.
With Jess C. Scott as an equal co-author, I wrote Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships, my most successful book in paperback. It features Jess and me providing our separate opinions on a list of questions about love, friendship, and sexuality, questions teens and even some adults want to know more about. There are two voices, one male and one female, one young and one mature, for kids to pick from as they seek ideas to form their strategies and their understanding of the issues.
Q) What author have you been most influenced by?
A) I have been influenced by many, many authors. I usually start with Tolkien, and then go to Jane Austen. Then I unfold a huge list, in somewhat random order: Shakespeare, Colin Wilson, Lewis Carroll, Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, Kurt Busiek, Evan S. Connell, Norton Juster, Ezra Pound, and many, many, many others.
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Matt Posner is a writer and teacher from New York City. Originally from Florida, he has been married to Julie since 1999.