You guys had some nice responses to the posts the last few days. Thanks. In the only career test I've ever done, my number one career was Director of Religious Activities. After the last few days of preaching, can't you just see it? lol!
Today's winner of one copy of The DUFF by Kody Keplinger is:
Yay! Marsha, mail me at muchlanguage(at)gmail(dot)com and let me know if you want a hard copy or e-book.
Today, we have another special guest on POC’s Talk Back Thursdays. Please help me to welcome Mr. Matthew Quick! (AAAAAA! Crowd goes wild!) Mr. Quick, AKA Q, is the author of THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR and the soon-to-be-released BOY21.
Thank you for joining us, Matthew.
MQ: Thanks for having me.
Tell us a bit about your path to publication.
MQ: Even in my early teen years I knew I was supposed to be a fiction writer, but somehow I became a high school English teacher instead. I woke up one day and I was thirty, which terrified me because my life wasn’t anything like I’d hoped it would be. I had tenure at a great high school. My wife was working for a prestigious college. We were living comfortably, but neither of us was doing the thing we wanted to do most. Long story short, we quit our jobs, sold our house, backpacked around southern Africa, hiked the Grand Canyon, moved in with my in-laws—I wrote in their unfinished basement for three years—and then I published. My wife published her first novel two years later. There’s a lot more to the tale. The important parts were making a real commitment to writing, being willing to take risks and make sacrifices, working hard, working harder, working extremely hard, putting ourselves out there, working even harder than we had before, learning the business, acting professionally, weathering rejection, and supporting each other through creative setbacks and breakdowns. Did I mention working hard?
Your first novel, THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (upcoming movie in 2013!), stars Pat Peoples, a man struggling with mental health issues. What made you want to deal with such a sensitive subject?
MQ: In my early twenties I worked in a neural health lock-down unit, where I met people very much like the protagonist I would create ten years later. That job influenced me a great deal. Additionally, I’ve struggled with depression. Mental health issues affect my family (just like most families). When I was a teacher, I counseled many students struggling with various mental health issues and have recently worked with a local mental health provider to raise awareness. Americans don’t talk openly enough about such things and I hope my work encourages people to dialogue.
How did Pat’s story come to you?
MQ: It’s hard to say how any story comes to a writer. I suppose Pat is an amalgam—so many of my life experiences blended together fictitiously. But that wasn’t really a conscious process. One day I had this voice in my head. It was Pat’s. I wrote down what he said.
One of the most interesting things about SORTA LIKE A ROCKSTAR is Amber’s motley crew of friends. Wheel-chair bound, autistic, the only black kid in the school, old folks, and Koreans, all written in such a way that they’re not just in existence for their ‘difference factor’. What inspired this cast? (And how did you do it so well?)
MQ: Thanks for the compliment. I think most fiction writers (most artists) tend to be different. We see the world from a unique point of view, which is why we can create art, but our differences often make us loners. As a straight white relatively healthy male who has lived most of his life in suburban America, I’ve always appeared to be part of the majority, but I’ve never felt that way. When I was a kid I loved hiding in strange places and being alone. I used to write poetry in secret when I was in high school. I’ve always been quirky and kind of weird on the inside, even when I appeared normal on the outside, which has (at times) created an unintentional split personality of sorts. When I was younger I used to be embarrassed of my eccentricities. But I’ve since realized that the people I like best are usually those who are a little off, a bit odd, pixilated. It may be easier at times to be the same as everyone else, but the older I get, the more I realize that being different has its advantages. Heroes are defined by their ability to stand apart when it’s hard to do so. When I first told people I was quitting my job as a teacher to write a novel in my in-laws’ unfinished basement, many made me feel like a complete freak. I felt like a complete freak for three years, until I published. Then I didn’t care what anyone thought anymore, mostly because I realized that being different was exactly what made me an artist.
Another thing I really loved about your books is the focus on hope, even in the face of the whole world collapsing. (And Amber praying to JC is just the best!) Is there a particular point that you hope to drive home to your readers?
MQ: Hope is a powerful force, but hard to maintain. Whenever I teach creative writing I tell my students to write about what they love, not what they hate. Just doing that will separate you from most of your writing peers. We can find despair just about anywhere, but hope is often harder to secure. I often ask myself this question: what is the purpose of storytelling? We like to be entertained. We like to laugh. We like to be thrilled, amused, and even frightened. We definitely like to be surprised. My dad often says he doesn’t like watching depressing movies because his life is already stressful and he can see depressing on the news. And while I admire and enjoy many stories that don’t end so happily, I agree that often times we need fiction to help us believe in a better world. We want to be inspired. We want to be challenged. We want to believe that our friends and family will save us and that given the right set of circumstances, a hero will emerge from the most unlikely place—maybe even from within us. We want to believe that we can be more than we are and I think we can be.
Thank you again for taking time out to answer a few questions. I am eagerly looking forward to the release of BOY21.
MQ: My pleasure. Hope you will enjoy BOY21. Thanks!
Wow! I especially love his publication journey. And I think this bit bares repeating:
"The important parts were making a real commitment to writing, being willing to take risks and make sacrifices, working hard, working harder, working extremely hard, putting ourselves out there, working even harder than we had before, learning the business, acting professionally, weathering rejection, and supporting each other through creative setbacks and breakdowns. Did I mention working hard?"
I read and loved SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR so much, that I immediately bought and read THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. I've never really had that happen before.
Today, up for grabs: one copy of THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.
Only followers are eligible (but check back next week for a contest-at-large) and this contest is open internationally. To be entered, leave a comment saying what gives you hope.