Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews.
My name is Fiona Mcvie. Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Matt: My name is Matt Nagin. I’m 42 years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Matt: I was born in Queens, NY. I grew up in the suburbs of NYC.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Matt: I am a creative type, a bit of an intellectual, I guess, but I like to laugh and joke around and have fun. In terms of my education, I obtained a B.A. in English Literature at Cornell University and an M.A. in Humanities and Social Thought at NYU. I also took some pedagogy courses at Long Island University, where I taught writing for many years. In terms of my family, I’m one of four brothers and I have thirteen cousins and a nephew. I also have a 99 year old grandma who turns 100 in January. We are a fairly close-knit family. That said, growing up, I always felt like a bit of an outsider–largely because I had very different priorities than my relatives. Writing filled a void. It made me feel there was somewhere I belonged. It also gave me a chance to express myself, to be more authentic, and to find my own sphere of influence.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Matt: My latest poetry book, “Feast of Sapphires,” was released on Amazon, Barnes &Nobles etc. two months ago. It has obtained strong reviews, but I’m certainly looking for more (in case your readers might be interested). It is the follow up to my first book, “Butterflies Lost Within The Crooked Moonlight,” which was a similar type of poetry collection. I also have a humor book forthcoming from an indie press in the next few months.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Matt: I began writing at age 16. I was in high school at the time, at a summer program at Penn State. I took a creative writing course, and, once I started writing poetry, I was hooked. I filled up dozens of notebooks. Writing invigorated me. It seemed an antidote to loneliness. In some sense, after those first few weeks, I’ve never stopped.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Matt: I didn’t consider myself a writer, in any way, really, until after I graduated college and moved to Los Angeles. I was doing some script coverage and working as a production assistant. Additionally, in my spare time, I’d write scripts. I also took a Screenwriting course at UCLA. My professors there seemed to like my work. This encouraged me.I began taking writing seriously, working every day, and met with some agents. I also shared my scripts with friends and associates, who enjoyed my work. Because I was working hard, and the responses were mostly positive, I started to view myself as a real writer (even though I hadn’t yet had any success). I think there was nothing wrong with this. To me, anyway, you’re a writer when you think you’re a writer. It’s like being an alcoholic. All it takes is admitting it.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Matt: I’d written a number of books before my first poetry book, “Butterflies Lost Within The Crooked Moonlight” was published. The only thing I’d published, in book format, though, before this, was a humor chapbook called “From The Fridge To The Crackerjack Box.” The other novels and screenplays I’d either left unfinished or been unable to sell/get published. One exception was “Inside Job,” a short film I wrote and directed, that played the festival circuit and won some awards. Still, for the most part, I hadn’t gotten my stuff out there to the degree I wanted. “Butterflies Lost Within The Crooked Moonlight” changed all that. The response was mostly positive. This motivated me to publish a follow-up, “Feast of Sapphires,” my latest poetry collection.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Matt: I made a list of possible titles that could work. Then I reviewed them and picked the one that sounded best. I also considered how well the title conveyed the themes of the book. Finally, I consulted with friends and family, to see if the title resonated with them.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Matt: My poetry has been compared to beat poetry. It has also been described as in the gnomic tradition. Definitely, I like somewhat non-standard poetry, poetry with unusual stanzas or spacing, really free free verse, work that defies expectations. For me, in most cases, the form of the poem should be determined by the content. By this I mean that, as a general rule, the content comes first and should be highlighted and emphasized.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Matt: Some of the poems are based in experiences that I had. Others are more imaginative/otherworldly. Still others are more akin to experiments where I play with language in unexpected ways.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Matt: I do not have to travel to craft my works–unless we mean to the library (which is a great place to work). I do need a relatively quiet place, though, as well a feeling that I am alone–or, at least, that no one is reading my work as I’m writing it–to work well. Needless to say, I can get this feeling almost anywhere–including on a NYC Subway. It’s the psychic distance I need from others–not really physical distance– although having the latter helps with the former.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Matt: Julia Noel Goldman designed them. We collaborated on possible design options and went through a number of iterations until I was happy with the final result.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Matt: It’s a poetry book. There are a number of messages in it. But I prefer the book to speak for itself.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Matt: A friend of mine, David Stein, wrote a book called “The Can-Man: My Five Cents Worth.” I’m impressed with it. It is excellent social satire and is humorous. I would not say I have a favorite writer. There are many that have inspired me though: Charles Bukowski, John Fante, Daniel Defoe, James Baldwin, Jonathan Swift, Emily Dickinson, Voltaire, Woody Allen. I could fill up pages with my influences, but the above is a good starting place.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Matt: I have had several long-term girlfriends that supported my desires to become a published author. I also have a number of writer, actor, and comedian friends who’ve been encouraging. Finally, I had a number of teachers, at various points, who lauded my work and made me think it wasn’t totally insane for me to consider pursuing writing.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Matt: I do see it as a career. It may never earn me enough money to live on. But there is nothing I am more passionate about. So, yes, to me it is a career–and more than that probably. It is basically a way of being-in-the-world, a choice of lifestyles, and, in a certain sense, an opportunity to grow spiritually.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Matt: There is nothing I would change in my latest book. Sure, I think my newer poems are better, but this is always the case. We continually grow. We advance beyond our prior works and often can’t see how they might be meaningful to others. That said, I’ve learned to let go; to let the work speak for itself and move on; and, going back, and editing it further now would keep me from moving on to work that will be hopefully be even more fruitful.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Matt: Yes. I developed a better sense of my own voice. I also learned how to write with more depth and finish work more efficiently.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Matt: Sure. I’m an actor. What actor doesn’t want to play the lead? That said, not many films are being made from poetry books. Lol!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Matt: Make a schedule for your writing and keep to it. Another thing that helped me, at least in the first draft, was using a timer when writing. The fact that I had to stop at a certain point, compelled me to work more quickly and get my thoughts out onto the page in uncensored fashion. It also made everything seem more vital and hence made creating dramatic resonance a bit easier.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Matt: If you buy a paper copy of my book, and DM me with a picture of yourself and the physical book, I’ll write you a personalized poem on any subject and/or answer any question you have about writing.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Matt: I’m reading David Stein’s book “The Can-Man: My Five Cents Worth.” He is an associate of mine, a comedian, and the book is a social satire.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Matt: I believe the first real book I read (outside of Dr. Seuss and stuff like that) was a volume in The Hardy Boys series.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Matt: Weird occurrences and dark thoughts make me laugh. Anything twisted is definitely up my alley. As per crying, it really depends. I remember when Steve Jobs died. I definitely wasn’t his biggest fan or anything, as, in all honesty, I’m a bit of a Luddite. Anyway, I walked by the Apple Store that day. There were candles out front. Post-it notes were all over the windows of The Apple Store on 14th Street in Manhattan with messages from customers thanking Steve for all he had done for them. This, to my surprise, made me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Matt: Stanley Kubrick. I still rewatch his movies every year and constantly learn from them. I’d give anything for the opportunity to learn from a masterful artist like Kubrick who achieved such high levels of technical and aesthetic excellence.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Matt: I like to doodle. I enjoy watching classic films. Before I got injured, from getting hit by a car, I also liked to surf, ski, and play basketball.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Matt: I love movies like The Color Of Money, The Gambler, Barry Lyndon, Being There, Dr. Strangelove. I don’t watch as many TV shows, but classic shows like Breaking Bad and The Sopranos I always enjoyed. I also liked Sasha Baron Cohen’s newest character-based show, “Who Is America?” very much and found parts really hilarious.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Matt: Favorite food is probably spaghetti with white clam sauce. Favoritecolor is black–since I like things dark and brooding. I like classic rock and rap music. LynyrdSkynyrd is one of my favorite bands.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Matt: Make films. Act. Perform standup comedy. Or, if not any of that, travel a great deal. I also might have become a lawyer, as my communication skills could be applied to the legal field.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Matt: Reading and writing, most likely. With some reflection time at a beach or some gambling or maybe cuddling with my girlfriend thrown in for good measure.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Matt: Here lies an artist who strove to create excellence and was willing to do whatever it took to achieve his vision.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Matt: My website is mattnagin.com. You can find some of my former blog articles, now, up at Medium. Here is the linkhttps://medium.com/@mattnagin The best way to purchase my books, though, is to go to my Amazon Writer’s Page USA https://www.amazon.com/Matt-Nagin/e/B01M6ZZV3J
Where you can see all my published books listed in one place. I really appreciate any and all support and hope readers contact me as I appreciate the interaction very much. Thanks again for this interview!