I’d like to introduce you to the seventh interviewee in my Meet the Author series. He is Jason Matthews.
Question: Hi, Jason! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?
Answer: Hi and thanks, Susan. After college in the early 90’s I had an idea for a story that was too good not to write, but I saw it visually and learned to write it as a screenplay. I even landed an agent for awhile but nothing ever happened with it. After eight years passed, I decided to write it as a novel even though I didn’t consider myself a “writer.” It took awhile since I was still painting houses for a living, but once it was finished people liked it, including perfect strangers, which felt like a good sign. I continued and wrote a sequel about one of the characters.
Question: Please tell us about your spiritual novel series. The first book is ‘The Little Universe’ and the second is ‘Jim’s Life’. What inspired you to write them?
Answer: I often thought about our place in the universe. How big is it? Are we alone? What might other worlds and people be like? But the universe feels too large to truly venture about and discover those things. So my thoughts morphed into an idea for a “man-made” universe that was possible to navigate about and search within for other planets and people. Imagine finding other worlds with societies, even highly advanced societies much smarter than us. It quickly became a discovery machine with unlimited potential. Right from the start concepts of science, God, evolution, what it means to be human and more entered the picture and made it really fun.
Question: I haven’t read your books, yet, but I’m intrigued by the descriptions. They sound part spiritual, part real science, and part science fiction. How do you balance the science and religion in the series?
Answer: One of the characters asks, “If humans can create a universe that acts much like our own, what does that say about God?” Refraining from preachy-ness, the story touches on concepts of science and religion (spirituality), almost searching for a middle ground without knowing it. There is a dance of ideologies, and I believe it’s done creatively with room for everyone to have their say.
Question: You also write guides, such as: How to Make, Market, and Sell Ebooks AND How to Make Your Own Free Website and Your Free Blog, Too. Please tell us about them. Do you plan to write more guides?
Answer: There are actually three guides out now, the ones you mentioned and another title, Get On Google Front Page. I never planned on writing the first one; it was a spontaneous result after attending a writing conference and having the proverbial light bulb go off in my head. I came home and wrote How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks in one month after the conference, which has been my best-selling book to date. Perhaps I’m better at writing guides than novels but I prefer reading my novels. And it is true that I’m currently writing another guide and another novel, though the guides are much faster to write so you’ll probably see that first.
Question: Where do you get your book covers? Do you design them yourself?
Answer: I’ve done it both ways; I’ve hired out and created them myself. Here’s my opinion on this: content ultimately is far more important than presentation. My best-selling book has a cover made by me. Because the book teaches how to do everything for free, by example I also do everything for free for that book. Hence the home-made cover. The chapter on cover design explains how the cover was made and even admits it’s pretty bad, and yet the book sells thousands of copies. I made an even worse cover when it first came out, a truly pathetic cover, and it still sold copies because people loved the content within it.
For my beloved novels, I’ve hired three different cover designers as well as made my own. In each case, whether the cover art was terrific or pretty good or plain awful, the sales remained consistently under par. I’m hoping that will change of course, but again I believe some influential readers will discover they like the content and that’s what the buzz will be about.
Question: You studied television and film at the University of North Carolina. Do you see yourself ever turning your books into a television series or into films?
Answer: Seeing my novels as motion pictures always was and still is the goal. They are so visual and fun, in my opinion. It will happen; I believe it will happen for both of them and hopefully the one I’m writing now.
Question: At some point or another, all writers come across the “rules” of contemporary writing: no adverbs, no dialogue tags, show don’t tell, etc. In your opinion, how important are they to writing? Are there any that you particularly adhere to?
Answer: I break a lot of “rules” but try to be aware of them and make decisions on the timing. I regularly break the “no adverbs” rule as I just did in this sentence. I limit my dialog tags, primarily to said and asked. There are times when you go so far out of your way to “show not tell” that it becomes long-winded. I don’t like reading that, so I don’t write it when “telling” simply works better with some scenes. The biggest one for me is writing believable dialog. I prefer it choppy or even fragments as it often is in real life:
“Hey,” I said, seeing my daughter return home from school.
“Hey.” She walked straight to the kitchen, opened the fridge and stared blankly.
“Duh. When’s dinner?”
“About an hour.”
“Fish tonight. Salmon, broccoli, potatoes.”
“Nice.” She shut the fridge and left for the TV room with a hint of smile.
For me, a scene like that sounds real and says a lot about the relationships and characters without many words.
Question: What is your favorite or least favorite part of writing?
Answer: I’m a terrible typist compared to most writers. When the moment gets flowing and I tune into the words, characters and scenes, it seems like my typing speeds up and feels natural. Warm fuzzy feelings accompany those moments.
Also there are times when I’m in editing mode and discover something in the words that I didn’t intend, like a very subtle double-meaning that I find quite enjoyable. Those “surprise” moments are a favorite.
Question: Do you have a writing routine, a special place where you go to do your writing, or a certain time of day? Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind of music?
Answer: No routine unless I set a goal. Routines typically don’t work for me with writing, although they do with dieting and exercise, which is odd. Writing is usually a spur of the moment thing when there’s time or when ideas pop up. I don’t listen to music generally, but I do sometimes as long as it’s not distracting. Enya is good. I subscribe to Pandora and listen to it on my PC and in my car.
Question: Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your book. Thanks!
Thank you, Susan!