Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Author Interview: Matt Peterson

I'm very excited to today to have Matt Peterson, author of the middle grade book, The Epic Tales of a Misfit Hero, on the blog today. 

Here's a quick blurb about the book: From passing the sacrament with his fly down to failing miserably at capture the flag, Andrew knows he'll never be able to fulfill his duties as a deacon. But when tragedy strikes on his Boy Scout backpacking trip, Andrew's whole troop must become stronger than they ever imagined. —Goodreads

1) Why do you write for children?

Well, probably because I still feel like a child myself. :) I love the energy, excitement, and honesty of kids. If they don't like something, or something doesn't make sense, they'll tell you. But more often than not, they just love to be entertained. They don't care about plot structure or character development (they actually do, but they don't talk about it in those terms). They just yearn for a great STORY. And I love to tell stories.

2) Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a writer.

I have always loved reading...stemming back to the carefree days of sitting in my room and reading Beverly Cleary and Matt Christopher books. In high school, I found that I was pretty good at expository writing, and decided to major in English with the end goal of attending law school. Well, law school wasn't the right choice and I started doing copywriting for a living. I had never been great at creative writing (in fact, I think I got a C in the one creative writing course I took in college), but decided to write this story that was in my head. And now I am forever a writer.

3) What was the inspiration for The Epic Tales of a Misfit Hero?

For the past 12 years I've been involved with the Boy Scout program and other youth organizations, and that alone makes for some pretty interesting fiction material. You can't make up the stuff these boys do on a daily basis. :) But I noticed that there weren't a lot of exciting books for boys that had a good moral message. I wanted to change that. I know so many boys that may not love to read yet and feel I can give them something they will love. Hopefully this is a book that both kids and their parents can get excited about. And by the way, the girls that have read the book like it just as much as the boys...who knew?

4) Tell us about your process.

Wow, I wish I had a great process! Truth is, I kinda have everything jumbled in my head at first, and it takes some effort to coax it out onto paper. Usually I start by writing down some very specific scenes that I'm imagining. Then I try to sketch out the story around those scenes. Once the rough timeline is done, I start writing from the beginning. I'm the type that doesn't like to move on until I nail the chapter or scene I'm working on, but I've been learning to keep moving on and to be okay with coming back to fix things. It's all still fairly new to me, but I love it.

5) What does a typical writing day look like?

I finish work at my "day" job, come home and take care of family responsibilities like baseball practice, kids' homework, yardwork, dinner, and school events, then try to find time to write. If I'm lucky (and I don't get distracted by Netflix), I will write for about an hour in the evening. I tend to write in spurts, too, so I'm trying to get more consistent.

6) Where is your favorite place to write?

Honestly, it's my kitchen table. I have 5 kids so there's always some commotion going on, even late at night when I usually write. Someone's always coming out to get a drink, ask a question, or otherwise stall going to sleep. I like the distractions, actually, and it helps me think of new things.

7) What did or do you find most challenging in creating the story and getting it published? What do you wish you would have known?

The hardest part, bar none, was allowing my manuscript to get out in the "wild." I was (am?) pretty self-conscious, and allowing other people to read it (and perhaps hate it) scared me to death. I only had to send 2 query letters, but the first rejection stung quite a bit. Luckily, I am surrounded by people who believe in me and convinced me to send it out again. I got an offer from the 2nd publisher and here we are. That never would have happened if I just held on to the manuscript like I wanted to.

8) What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

"Rejection always stings, but it's not permanent." I don't know that anyone put it exactly that way, but this thought was key in helping me try new things. I was conditioned to expect "A's" (well, maybe some "B's" too) on my college papers, and it was hard to move into the much more subjective world of creative writing. This quote helped me be okay with rejection, and to know that it happens to everyone. And it's true, the sting always goes away...eventually. :)

9) Are you working on a new project? Can you tell us about it?

YES! I'm writing the second book in the series, where the main character goes to junior high (arguably much more dangerous than a camping trip in the wild). I'm also plotting out a young adult-ish book with a school and time travel and quirky relationships and adventure, so we'll see where that one takes me. Should be fun!

10) What advice would you give others that write for children?

Just have fun with it! The best part of writing for children is hopping in their shoes while you write. It's so fun to live like a child again. Also, don't be afraid to write words and ideas that may seem a little above your target demographic. You'd be surprised at how much they understand if given the chance. Oh, and don't ever give up! :)

Watch for my review sometime in July!

1 comment:

  1. Hopping into their shoes while you write sounds like a great idea!


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