Good evening everyone.
I have been lucky enough to speak with author Matt Blashill about his latest release and his approach to the art and craft of writing.
So without further ado, let’s begin.
Matt – thank you for joining me today to talk about your creative processes and what drives you specifically as a writer.
Thank you, David, for including me in your interview series. I’m always a little surprised and a lot humbled when people want to talk to me about writing.
You have recently published a collaborative novel with Michael Hansen called “The Erratic Sun.” Please fill us in as to what genre(s) your book falls into, why you called it that and what we can expect to face when we dive into it?
“The Erratic Sun” is a science fiction novel about the crew of the titular ship who find themselves in an unenviable position during an intergalactic war. That is a high level synopsis, of course, but I don’t want to dive too much deeper because there is a lot going on and I wouldn’t want to give away any spoilers. Michael and I settled on naming the book after the ship because this story, with a few exceptions, takes place within her confines. The Sun, for short, is the main setting. The story itself is full of twists and turns as the crew of the Sun get sucked into the war despite their best efforts to avoid it. There is also a fair amount of humor. Michael is very good at knowing when a story needs a comedy break and then providing it. There is space battles and espionage, injuries and heart break, mystery and drama…And, I hope you will agree once you’ve read it, there is a fair amount of beautiful writing as well. Though the plot moves along briskly, we tried to create a vivid world you could clearly see as you work through the pages.
What is the hardest thing that you find about collaborative writing? And what is the easiest in your opinion?
The hardest thing I found with collaborative writing is having to stop before I was ready. We wrote in 500 word chunks, and that often meant we would stop in the middle of a conversation or the middle of a fight, or the middle of anything really. We did give ourselves some leeway on the word count, and sometimes would go way over, but that didn’t make it easy to hand it back to the other writer every time. Interestingly enough, the easiest part of the collaborative process was being able to pass the story back to the other writer. Two heads are better than one, as they say, and that meant when we were stuck on an idea or weren’t sure where to take the story next, we could just leave it up to the coauthor. It often made the whole experience a bit exciting too, because you never knew where the other writer was going to take what you had started or what you were going to have to get the crew the Sun out of when you got the story back.
Who are some of the authors in general that inspire you?
Louis L’Amour – I’m a bit of a sucker for westerns, and the sheer volume of his work is inspiring. Stephen King and Dean Koontz – The way they can capture the darkness, draw me in, and then leave me pleased with the journey at the end is inspiring. Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman – They showed me that collaborative efforts are possible and their descriptions of dragons and magic inspired my own view of the fantastical side of things. Terry Pratchett – He has provided ample evidence that stories can be both humorous and compelling and that inspires me to follow suit.
This is not your first time stepping up to the plate when it comes to collaborative experiences, as I see you have contributed to a Short Story Collection called “Fauxpocalypse: a collection of short fiction about the end of the world that wasn’t”. Tell us more about your stories and the characters in this particular collection and the concept behind the collaboration.
“Fauxpocalypse” takes the idea that it is a known and accepted fact that the world is going to end on a certain day, around a certain time, when an asteroid collides with the planet…Except, somewhere along the line a mistake was made in an assumption or calculation and the giant rock, which turned out to be more ice than actual rock, breaks up in the atmosphere, doesn’t cause as much of an impact as anticipated, and life goes on…Each of the contributing authors provides a snapshot of what happens next. The world didn’t end? Now what? My story involves a family coming to terms with their new reality and doing what they have to do to ensure their prolonged survival in a world that has largely descended into chaos.
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
Not a lot, really. What I read for fun usually dictates what I’ll be writing about next. So, if I’ve been reading westerns, I’ll likely write a western. If I’ve been reading fantasy, then fantasy. Etc…Most of my stories don’t require a lot of additional research because I either borrow ideas I’ve learned through reading other books in the same genre, or what I’m writing is in a fantasy world where the rules can be whatever I want them to be. However, for my story in “Fauxpocalypse,” which was based in some semblance of the real world, I did do some geographical research to make sure the location of my town made sense, and I also did some quick searches to make sure the farming terms and ideas were correct.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
I played a lot of dungeons and dragons when I was younger. At some point I had a character that I began using consistently when I played. Sometime after that, I had this idea for a scene with my character…That was all by junior high. Then nothing happened for a long time. In 2008, I found myself in a job that gave me some free time during the day most days and needed to keep myself busy so I didn’t go stir crazy and I remembered that scene I’d so clearly imagined more than ten years before. Unsure of what would come of it, I started writing. First, I wrote that scene, then I backtracked and wrote everything that came before it. Then I wrote what followed. In the end I had about 220,000 words that I’d split into three books. I still have them… I pull them out from time to time and try to polish them up to maybe one day publish… I had so much fun writing that story, that I tried my hand at other things. I realized that I needed a lot of practice and decided to start blogging because it would a good community to get me into a routine of writing and potentially get feedback that could help me develop. From there I met the other bloggers who are part of “Fauxpocalypse” and learned about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and took part in writing challenges and just had a blast doing all of it. I write because I enjoy the blogging community. I write because I enjoy creating worlds. I write because it is fun.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
I’ve found that participating in writing challenges online are a good way to get through slumps and get over writer’s block. Having someone else provide the prompt takes the pressure away of having to think of what to write about and just leaves the fun of typing out the words. And, when I find I’m not motivated to write at all, I don’t. If I’m not having fun with it, then anything I might end up writing would be forced, and both of those seems counter to why I write in the first place. Right? I know a lot of people argue for routines and minimizing distractions and starting new projects and … And there’s nothing wrong with any of that. We all have to decide what works for us in context of why we are writing to begin with.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
Free time? What’s that? It sounds familiar…like something I used to know before becoming a parent, becoming a home owner, becoming a husband, becoming a contributing member of society and working my 9 to 5 (which is actually 5:30 to 3 in my case). Free time? It’s a myth. Though, I do find myself playing volleyball with some friends a couple times a month, I have been trying to read more books again (instead of turning on the TV), I go camping and backpacking each summer, we go to the beach as often as we can convince the Little Prince that he’ll enjoy it (which he always does but for some reason forgets as often as not), and…I’m sure there is more than that but I can’t think of any of it right now. You’ll notice that “sleep” was not mentioned. That’s important somehow but, again, I can’t think of why.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
Upcoming projects? Oh my…Okay, here we go. Michael and I are already working on the sequel to “The Erratic Sun.” Michael and I, along with a couple other authors, are working on a collection of stories related to the Sceptre of Chaos story he has shared on his blog. I was invited to provide some stories for a secret project that is a part of series coauthored by another group of bloggers. I’m about a third of a way done with a secret project of my own. And, I just started writing a new novel this week…it’s too early to say if much will come of it, but I’m excited with the initial words I’ve gotten down. My initial fantasy trilogy, the stories that started my writing ambitions, is never far from my thoughts. There is also another story I wrote for NaNoWriMo a couple years ago that I want to do some minor tweaking to and get it ready to publish…I think that’s it for now.
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
I doubt there is much I could say here that hasn’t already been said. I do fall into the camp of writers who think that carving out time for reading is as important as carving out time to write. Also, I think it’s important you have fun with the creative process. If you aren’t enjoying what you are writing, setting it aside and work on something else. These aren’t exactly ground breaking ideas, I know. I do think they are important, though.
And that’s a wrap!
I’ve always thought of myself as a very good present. That’s probably not what you meant. Still, it’s worth mentioning.
After studying psychology in college and then getting lost in the depths of corporate America for a few years, Matt realized that he had a bunch of words trapped in his head that needed to get out. His stories range from fantasy to westerns and from silly to disturbing. In between larger writing projects you can follow along with the rest of his words, wherever they may lead, on his blog: thematticuskingdom.com. He can also be found on Facebook: Matt Blashill and Twitter: @matticusdj
Michael Hansen can be found in the blogosphere at 33 Grams Of Blog.
You can buy Matt’s books here:-
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.
Want more? Well Matt’s novel is called The Erratic Sun and erratic can also mean unpredictable. The Daily Post also has a prompt of ‘Unpredictable’ too – can you see where I’m going with this 😉 For more blog posts from my fellow colleagues on the unpredictable theme, check out the links below:-
1. Unpredictable – Sushant Srivastava
2. A Thought in My Diary – LIFE – SO UNPREDICTABLE….
3. sweetness unpredictable – mySestina
4. Craziness of Life – Meg’s Magical Musings
5. A Momma’s View – Blue Pill Or Red Pill?
6. A Texan’s View of Upstate New York – Laptop on the Fritz
7. Theresa Barker – Lab Notes – In Homage to Billy Collins’s Poem
8. Clover no Kuni no Alice: Cheshire Cat to Waltz Review – Intense Mode
9. artifiswords – UNPREDICTABLE?
10. “Unpredictable” – A Pre-Published Indie Author
11. the end of the game – Love it Now
12. Predictably Opposite – In a Perfectly Imperfect World
13. babble2015 – Unpredictable Life musings
14. That which you are is Unknown (on planning) – Prasant Radhakrishnan
15. lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Unpredictable
16. Mainline_Matter – Unpredictable Parade
17. ativ schuberg – Paper soldiers
18. Giggles & Tales – Unpredictable – The Daily Prompt!
19. What do you expect of Expectation? – I Rhyme Without Reason
20. Unpredictable – blackcattwriting
21. Unpredictability brought me luck… – maybeiamsure
22. Sacrificial Chain Breaker – UNPREDICTABLE
23. Say What? – The Dadgum Blog
24. As I See Things – Just in Time / All of a Sudden
25. Purposive Writer – Unpredictable
26. Siena Writes Things – Unpredictable
27. Unpredictable – Allison’s Written Words
28. A Writer’s Mind – Feeling Ecstatic
29. The Daily Post – Progressing into Solitude – Unpredictable Drive
30. a dog’s life (dronexit#7) – a nerd’s confession: when-iam-68
31. Unpredictable – speaking up for myself
32. Eden of Knowledge – Savings
33. Perambulations Of A Meticulous Planner – 17-07-2016
34. The Unpredictable – Pappy’s space
35. The Syllabub Sea – Unpredictable
36. Travel Much? – Admire Western Norway
37. Resting – silvergargoyle
38. LIFE IN A UNPREDICTABLE WAY…. BOON OR A BANE? – likhitha998
39. Control Freak – Who Narrated This?
40. Timeandreflections – Unpredictable
41. Cup of coffee #3 … – clumsyandsilly
42. Let’s Fall in love… Together! – exploradors!!
43. olivia in la la land – expression
44. Marbiya With Faith – Let go of control
45. Joes-Fotowelten – Ein unerwartetes Loch hat sich auf / An unpredictable hole
46. Unpredictable – The Corporate Fawn
47. An Unpredictable Morning – Angel or Devil?
48. Unpredictable – calliemm
49. Dreams within me. – Unpredictable
50. U NEED A BREAK – #I_love_her_just_the_same
51. What Rhymes with Stanza? – Confused Yet?
52. A Realization and A Revelation – atrangizindagieksafar
53. another quiet muse – Unpredictable Miss
54. Magic in the house – Writing Beyond Ordinary
55. Who I Was – Inspiration Vs. Motivation
56. Leanne Murphy – Ten words #10
57. My Life is Unpredictable…but in a Good Way (Most of the Time) – Open Window in a Closed Space
58. Daily Prompt – Unpredictable – Short Story – Brandon’s Rambling Writing
59. Unpredictable – My Garden Bio-Diversity
60. Mass in Mandarin – My Crazy Graced Life
61. Tom-Spy – Unpredictable Predictions
62. inspiration in progress – #SoCS – Unpredictable
63. Read and Write Here – Out of the Blue
64. “Unpredictable” – YOLOcruz
65. INSPIRING MAX – Unpredictable
66. Fighting Predictability – Thoughts from the Night Watch
67. websaladbar – The Daily Post Prompt: Unpredictable
68. Writing with Spirit – Predictably Unpredictable America
69. Unpredictable, that’s what you are… – Shelby’s Starlit Crossing
70. Unpredictable – wordsareallihavesite
71. Writing Web – Nature’s Heralds
72. Smart and Happy – Life Is Like That
73. Like Clockwork – Eagle’s Wing Ministries
74. Eden of Knowledge – Unpredictable
75. simplywithin – Unpredictable
76. Predictability – camryn’s today
77. I Wish You’d See Me Like You’re Blind – The Beautiful Rebellion
78. Something Stupid – Sascha Darlington’s Microcosm Explored
79. Magic is a strange word – Painted in words
80. Never on track – ideas and culture
81. multiplemyelomaandme – This intricate floor
82. leaning. – lemonadeletter
83. Unpredictable – z a y n e e a . n e t
84. Improbably Probable – A lot from Lydia
85. Just a Wee Lass – Me, Myself, and I
86. Don’t Hug Me I’m ScaredÂ – Mac’s World
87. “You Must Read This!” – The Sentimental Guy
88. Unpredictable – StrangeLander2015
89. hairdo – images of heaven
90. C.A. SANTIAGO – Who are you?
91. LINES of SHADEAU – How to Stand in Unpredictable Life
92. July 4, 2016 – Live Younique
93. Trying To Breathe – How Long Ago?
94. COW PASTURE CHRONICLES – Predictable? Maybe
95. pennyforyourthotsblog – Unpredictable
96. Hobgoblin – Where’s the Windmill?
97. Water of Rain – Imperfect Puzzle
98. She’s 50, “watch out” – My Second Act, Scene One
99. The Unpredictability of a Tetris Game – marthasdailywriting
100. Era of Destruction – Vivid Dreamer
101. Daily Post Prompt: Unpredictable – The Happy Wordcrafter
102. Unpredictable – thewanderingtortoise
103. Striving To Connect – Ms. Tina Types!
104. Mission Failed – Unebelle’s Musings
105. Daily Post One Word Prompt – Upredictable – A Writer’s Life
106. Trump’s Genius or Dangerous Unpredictability? – Fantasy Raconteur
107. Upside-down Economics – The Mono-Economy of the New Millennium
108. Cancer Healed by Jesus. Angela McCauley – Irish Summer Weather is Unpredictable
109. An Uncertain Future – Culture Eighteen.
110. 83 Unsung Heroes – Why Forrest Gump Was Wrong
111. Life – Spilled Ink
112. Living Out Loud – UNPREDICTABLE
113. thelonerose – HOPE
114. A Short Hike – Vacation From The Unpredictable
115. Unpredictable – Inner Whispers
116. Prompt for the Day: “Unpredictable” – saintpblogging BlogJob site
117. Sonder Stories – Inside a Sporadic Mind
118. Prompt for the Day: “Unpredictable” – Saint P. Blogging
119. Power of prompts: unpredictable – powerofmovies
120. What clicks? – pins & ashes
121. Unpredictable – Pink Blossom
122. Unpredictable Book Endings – firelight
123. Essence of Chennai by Soundharya Muthukrishnan – Get Lost
124. Insach – Die!
125. The normalcy of life – Geek Ergo Sum
126. Life is Unpredictable – She Who Hears
127. Unpredictable – The Truth About Huntington’s Disease: Its Not As Bad As You Think
128. MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO – Unpredictable
129. The zodiac wellness pill. – sheetalbravon
130. Lettuce hair and pop star eyes-Daily Post – variouslemon
131. Flowers and Breezes – Unpredictable
132. To Wear A Rainbow – don’t be unpredictable
133. Zombie Flamingos – A kind of unavoidance…
134. ATG Successful Living – Binary Share Trading: Legit or A Scam? (How Trevor Noah Made His Millions)
135. How could I predict? – Awordseeker
136. SERENDIPITY – UNEXPECTED WEATHER?
137. Mommy Et cetera – I took a writing class and stopped writing, totally unpredictable.
138. Jaded Psychodelicide – Erratic Attraction
139. The Perfectly Predictable Love of God – Lance Price Blog 2016
140. Unpredictable- Absolutely Acceptable – rupalislale
141. Peaceful Journey – Unpredictability is Instability
142. Viper Pit Memoirs – Vipers-Predictably UnpredictableÂ
143. Nice (France), Turkey…Unpredictable World – Chronicles of an Orange-Haired Woman!
144. The Sleeping Reading Beauty – Up On the Ancient (Leaning) Tower
145. Viper Pit Memoirs – Vipers-Predictably Unpredictable
146. LIVE THE UNPREDICTABLE – thepunkpenblog
147. Musings of a Random Mind – Love Is Like The Wind
148. Relax – The Little(r and littler) Woman
149. Unpredictable – scratchinginthemud
150. Humanity – elbowsandtongue
151. Unpredictable – Destiny – You light up my night like the rising moon
152. Unpredictable – A Dark World Inside
153. Writing is Gardening – Savory, Spicy, Sweet
154. Another human notion – Oh, border!
155. this is cruserbladezz – WTF???
156. coldhandswarmheartsblog – This unpredictable life.
157. An Upturned Soul – Tales from Narcville: his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind
158. 8duffels2mutts – Unpredictable: Waiting for Earthquake Aid
159. Predictable – Look, Dahling…
160. The happy Quitter! – Untamed to the end?
161. Complex – Introverted n’ Proud
162. HarlemATL Inner City Blues – That Unpredictable Feeling
163. Firework – The Inkwell
164. The Change Agent – Life – E. Denise Billups
165. Unpredictable – Our Hundred Acre Wood
166. Michael J. Fite – Is Being Unpredictable Good Or Bad?
167. O TEMPO QUE TEMOS (The Time We Have) – Fenix Verde
168. like it or not – Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful…
169. The New Me… – The Mistful Mind
170. The unpredictable shade – floatingstories
171. My Funky Girl – Thoughts of a chocolate
172. #weekendcoffeeshare 7/16/16 – Writings from the Heart
173. kStan(ly) kSays – the word is unpredictable
174. For My Friend Who Chose the Rio Grande – thealcoholicpoet
175. You Never Know… – Eloraquence
176. I Have Pretty Strong Convictions, I Guess – Neither Foreseen Nor Foretold
177. A Love Story – Some More Fiction
178. Unpredictable – Emotional Spaces
179. PlanB.email.robotics.dog.dronexit#6 – a nerd’s confession: when-iam-68
180. Narcissus III – thepoeticturk
181. Voyage Freelance Writing – Unpredictable?
182. Mr Unpredictable – zorazebic
183. Daily Prompt; Unpredictable – tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
184. kristinakoti – (Don’t) Try that Hard
185. Simply unpredictable ⋆ Obsolete Childhood
186. Unpredictable Connections – Ripples N Reflections
187. Unpredictable but not despicable – lucarna
188. Lovers not Haters – mokita dreams
189. HarlemATL Inner City Blues – Soaking Wet
190. LOVE WHAT YOU DO – Unpredictable
191. Jacki Kellum Juxtapositions: Read My Mind – Writing is Like the Bellows that Fans a Flame – We Must Empty Our Minds to Find Fresh Thoughts
192. rhymeagination – SO PREDICTABLY UNPREDICTABLE
193. SazzPost – Unpredictable – The Future
194. Lost Property Repository – Unpredictable
195. devildollmusings – Please Forgive Me
196. domestic diva – One for hope
197. Discoveries on a rainy day – Hi India
198. kStan(ly) kSays – time to find a new abode
199. Remembering terror in Chattanooga – xtracheeseplease
200. Your Sweetness – Unpredictable – mySestina
201. Magnanimous Word – Hallucinating Humans
202. Frank Prem – evidence to the Bushfire Commission of Enquiry #8: all in the ark for awhile
203. The Best Laid Plans; an Unpredictable Haiku – Daniel Amatiello
204. Travel Much? – Rock the Red! Love the D.C.
205. Vexing Point – Unpredictable
206. Frank Prem – meteorology – a love story of melbourne
207. ….on pets and prisoners….. – daily prompt: unpredictable
208. Le Drake Noir – Unpredictable
209. A Vibrant Palette – Unpredictable Siblings
210. Designer Sophisticate – I prefer to be more reliable than that.
211. B_ up to date – The unpredictable me
212. Passion through Poetry – Unpredictable
213. Wherever the Wind Blows – Just Writing!
214. Unpredictable – WysJoyFul Company
215. Lantern Words – A Sure Guide