It’s Sunday, and Sunday on Paws 4 Thought means Sins of the Past. Today we introduce the second author in the book, Matt Lovell. Tell us a little bit about yourself Matt.
I’m an insomniac writer, actor, director, puzzle-maker, computer geek, music and TV aficionado, cat-lover, night owl, and internet addict.
Who are your favorite authors?
I’d have to say Douglas Adams and Ray Bradbury are at the top of the list. This list changes of course. But really anyone that is very clever with words. Both of those authors were amazing wordsmiths in different ways. Adams was a master at taking words and overanalyzing them from a satirical point of view until you forgot what his main point was. That’s pure comedy gold. I’ve seen authors try to write comedy before in genre fiction(fantasy, sci-fi, etc). And they end up just falling flat. They made likable characters but their comedy just wasn’t funny. That takes a special gift really I think. I don’t really think you can teach someone to write comedy. It’s something you have…and absorb from other comedians (whether authors or actors or comics, etc). Anyway he’s a huge influence on fusing comedy into stories, even serious ones. As his stories are usually ABOUT something serious, which makes the comedy work even more.
(Totally agree about Adams and comedy writing. He’s up there in my top writers list too, DMK)
Bradbury on the other hand…every time I read a Bradbury book or short story I feel like I’m reading a free verse poem. Look at things like The Halloween Tree. There is more imagery in one page of that than a whole book of poetry. And even though he is “sci-fi”, most of his stories really are incredibly grounded in reality. No aliens or star wars stuff. A lot of “what if” future sci-fi. And really he melds sci-fi and horror quite seamlessly as many of his stories do NOT have a happy ending. Another thing I learned from him is not to over-explain things. He simply acts as if everything in his little world is common knowledge until suddenly while you reading, it IS! He doesn’t write down to people but assumes they are intelligent. I really like writers like that.
Tell me a little about your story Sic Semper Susurrus.
The first thing that came to my head for a historical time period was Julius Caesar with vampires. Sic Semper Susurrus is what came out of that. It’s about a bored Roman senator who suddenly gets in the middle of a treacherous conspiracy. But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean something’s not out to get you. For research of course I watched Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part I’. Treasure Bath!
What inspires you to write?
Everything. Absolutely everything. However it’s a matter of whether I’m actually aware and ambitious enough to catch hold of that story idea that comes floating into my life and lasso it to the page. Usually I just absentmindedly let it float by in my laziness and go back to humming tunes stuck in my head. There are a couple of things I do that help me develop ideas. One is taking a shower and the other is going for a walk. In both cases there is just me. I am isolated. There are no distractions. No internet, no computer, no TV. Just me and my thoughts. And I just force myself to think about my story issues and suddenly other ideas join together until I have a solution.
Let’s talk puzzles – tell us a little bit about the interactive stories and puzzles you’ve created?
Oh wow. I’ve been doing puzzles for several years now. I got involved in helping with various puzzle events at Microsoft. Seattle has quite a thriving puzzle community. Think crossword and word search puzzles on acid. The types of crazy things you found in Games Magazine (or today Games World of Puzzles). That magazine started my love of them. So I started making puzzles for these events. Usually relatively simple puzzles, but they’d always have a twist. My favorite is doing weird things with word searches. I created a word search that was crossed with a cryptogram that got all its clues from music files once. I love music and like to inject my music favorites onto other people whenever possible. Some of my puzzles have actually been huge undertakings and were very interactive. I made a 4-part adventure puzzle which forced competitors to run to different parts of the Microsoft campus while having to solve four different puzzles based on Rush songs.
What do you like to do to relax?
I watch TV. Yeah, yeah I know. Lots of people say “OMG TV is so bad for you! I never watch TV!” I love TV. Wonderful stories are told on television. In fact it’s probably the number one source of comedy there is. I don’t take TV seriously. In fact I try to learn from it. I often come across a series that does things with a story in ways I never expected. It is great finding a great original new show. Of course if it’s that good of an idea it will probably be cancelled. Ha! I also like listening to music. Again for the same reasons. My favorite is 70s progressive rock. Lots of wonderful musical stories they are.
I’m a big fan of TV sitcoms too – do you have an all-time favorite?
Whoa, that will require a list for sure. Most of my all-time favorites were not exactly standard sitcoms. Topping that list I think is Futurama. The satire and stories are just brilliant. Sometimes really scifirific, sometimes very poignent, sometimes very biting, and usually hilarious. (Great choice, DMK.)
Others on the all-time list are M*A*S*H, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Red Dwarf, Blackadder (yes the British do comedy better). For more standard sitcom fair, I always really liked NewsRadio, Frasier, The Office (the Brit version is brilliant but the American version, once it found its own voice, was flat out uberbrilliant and hysterical to boot), Night Court, Seinfeld, and the original Bob Newhart Show…and how could I forget Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. So most of my favorites are odd in their own way. I think you need that unusual setting or style in order to be really funny.
So music, what are your favorite bands and artists?
I so adore the stories and music landscapes of progressive 70s rock. Rush is my favorite. From 2112 and Hemispheres Grace Under Pressure, science fiction worlds are explored, philosophies pondered, and musical masterpiece achieved. You would really think Bradbury were writing the lyrics to so many of these gems. Also in that list are Genesis and Yes.
Genesis told more fantasy and dark stories with both humor and pathos. More briliant playing and tons of atmosphere. Steve Hackett’s swirling acoustic guitar really takes you on a journey. Yes, is like a bite of poetry that you taste that lifts you up and lets you float away on it. It is a bumpy ride, but at their best there was magic in their sound.
Pink Floyd – another seminal group. Everyone knows them, sure. I think their early middle period was best The Meddle/Dark SIde Stuff. Of course Wish You Were Here is also brilliant. (My favorite, DMK) These are groups really that every time I listen to their songs, there is an entire story playing out in my head to match, and oftentimes a different one than the last time I heard it. Can’t forget Beatles and Bowie of course….but there are tons of others I like. Too many. I must go listen to them all now.
Oh and one more thing . I got a stereo for Christmas when I was young. I had it into adulthood. It was a very cheap and nothing stereo, but it had a turntable on top. One day I was listening to “Welcome to the Machine” by Pink Floyd, you know the song that starts with this robotic motor sound winding up and has this thump all through it…well at the end, once it is through (listen to it on youtube to hear what I mean), at the end, the song literally winds down. The wind up from the beginning is reversed, the synthesizer pitches up like an alarm sound and then winds all the way down to a low note and a last thump…when it got to that part….my stereo….stopped beating forever…and died. Was the most wondrous and sad music moment ever.
So the question I’m asking everyone in these interviews. If you could travel to any time and place in the past where and when would you go?
Probably wherever Doctor Who is so I can stow away and become the next companion. Then find a way to go back to the period where Tom Baker and Jon Pertwee were the Doctor. I liked them. I’d steal the scarf for sure. Somewhere in Europe would be nice though. Middle Ages maybe. I’d make sure I was aristocracy of course so I could wear all the cool clothes and not be gawked at and called a mere cosplayer. Live in a castle or manor house. Of course I’d get all the vaccinations I could first…and bring my computer. Do you think castles had wifi?
(Love it – I want to be Tom Baker’s companion too, DMK)
So what’s next from Matt Lovell. What are you currently working on?
Working on a few word puzzle projects right now. Unfortunately the letters don’t always cooperate and I have to keep yelling at the screen to get them to line up properly. As for writing I am going back through a number of short stories which I’m compiling into a YA horror anthology book. I probably have a couple more to write to get it complete. Maybe something about zombie fish or wereflamingoes. The world needs more of them. No wait. Wereunicorns! I hear they are fabulously scary!
(I’d go with the wereflamingoes – definitely – actually I kind of had one of those in Argentum, hmmm … DMK)
How can readers connect with you?
They can pick up the nearest object and throw it at me. Once I turn and shout things at them, we can then have what’s called a conversation. Of course, the days of throwing rocks at each other is a bit passé. I suppose most folks are on Facebook. Here’s a link that I THINK works, although they just YET AGAIN changed how Facebook is displayed so who knows?
Want to read a sample of Matt’s story? Sure you do:
I paid little attention to the orations today.
“And let us send this to another vote shall we, Senators? But first…discussion.”
Same dull lot blathering on. Persuvius….Glomus….Horatius… Dullus, dullus, dullus. They may as well ALL be called Dullus. What are they saying? I don’t know and I don’t care.
“And the temple gates need replacing…”
The hard stonework of the benches did little to improve my mood. Oh, my gluteus maximus.
“There is an ink shortage. Perhaps we can send an expedition to capture a creature called an octopus…”
Oh good, Carius Litus, he of the flashy purple toga. That’s all I need.
“The toga weaver requires yet more cloth and dye to make our new togas…”
I think I moaned.
I could use some mulled wine about now. Maybe I could chat up that fellow Homer and see if he has a new play to boost my spirits. The one about that captain that sailed away and lost most of his crew fighting monsters was a good one. That was exciting. He should write another of those. Things with monsters.
Everyone is looking at me. Why is that?
“Uh…what?” I replied.
“Galus, is something wrong? It is your turn to speak.”
“Monsters?” I said.
The onlookers and gawkers chuckled at me.
“Galus, are you feeling all right? You look…”
“How do I look?”
“Sad,” I replied sitting back down, “I look sad. Sad hail Caesar.”
I stared at my sandals. Grey. Like my heart. I didn’t need to look up again to know they were still staring at me. Leaning into one another, covering their mouths with the sides of their hands. As if that hid their gossip from me. Their words were of a poison proportional to the number of teeth they showed. Thankfully, it didn’t last long. They quickly went back to business, i.e. talking at length about themselves to make themselves look good. I left before they finished. I really needed to get out of there.
To read more pick up a copy of Sins of the Past today!