Welcome, Matt Posner.
How would you describe your writing style in only three words?
Matt: Dialogue-driven, efficient, ironic.
If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?
Matt: Most of my characters are teenagers, and I am not, so there’s an obvious mismatch. But assuming ages could be equalized (I to hers, or she to mine) I would like to be with Simon’s fiancée in book 3 – Ana Vorkina, the Czech wizard. She is passionate and radiates a powerful life-force, and those things are a good contrast with my natural introversion.
If you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?
Matt: I would absolutely like to live inside School of the Ages for a week. In fact, since the dean of the school looks exactly like me, maybe I DO live there. I am always the hero or the villain of my own story, but realistically I’m too timid to do more than watch the story unfold from the sidelines.
T.S. Eliot has stated my identity pretty precisely in “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”: No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous…
Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?
Matt: Colin Wilson, who recently died, is a man I bitterly regret never having met; I wish I had tried to write to him before he passed, but I was too timid. I would invite him first. Not that they would like each other, but I’d like to meet J.R.R. Tolkien and Ezra Pound, two writers who have blown me away with their style. And of course, I have many living writer friends I have never met in person with whom I would dearly love to break bread, beginning with a kind gentleman who has advised me well in the past: Andre Jute.
If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?
Matt: I hope that someday I will write thrillers. Not soon – I don’t have enough great ideas for them yet – but I think this is a genre in which I can connect to a larger readership than with my YA or my nonfiction.
What do you dislike the most about being an author?
Matt: I don’t like the commercial aspect of it. Though being self-published is preferable to being screwed by a publisher (which has also happened to me), I see the big disconnect between the trends in popular taste that control success, and the impulse to follow my own sense of what I would like to read and must therefore write. I don’t like seeing low-quality authors, like E.L. James, make massive sales because they have hit the trend jackpot. If I try to write what’s trendy, I’ll be insincere and the work will suck. If I write what my instincts tell me, I have the psychological torture of monitoring limp sales figures.
Matt: I am digging lately the expression from Hamlet, “miching mallecho.” It means “sneaky evil-doing,” where “mallecho” is Shakespeare’s version of Spanish “mal hecho”. Sample sentence:
“James Patterson’s new ‘learn how to write’ online course is one more example of miching mallecho from the ex-marketing exec.”
Matt Posner was in the chair: Author of the YA series – School of the Ages and several non-fiction titles.