Interview with Matthew Simon Alexander

How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Discovering them is the easy part, the difficulty is stopping myself from downloading too many. I tend to go off the look of a book's cover, not very selective but that's the hook for me. A book could be great but if the cover doesn't interest me, I won't look further at it.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, it was what eventually became my novella, The Way of the World. It was my first foray into serious writing and it was written at a deeply metafictional level - and so was extremely unreadable.
What is your writing process?
Bouts of thinking and planning followed by bursts of writing and then long spells of editing. I cannot write without having pictured the events in my mind, and I prefer to write it out even if it's full of mistakes and inconsistencies. When I've exhausted the writing, I'll sit for days reading and re-reading to correct it.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember Biblical stories interesting me as a young child, but not one particular story. The general impact that reading has had on me is connected with escapism and the protection a book gives from whatever is being experienced in everyday life.
How do you approach cover design?
The same way I approach reading a book - if an image grabs me, I work with it until I'm happy. I don't need the cover to tell me anything about the contents of the book, just that thought and effort has gone into it's design. I suppose it's an aesthetics thing.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Bell Jar, Victoria Lucas (Sylvia Plath) - A book I will never tire of reading because of the depth of Plath's writing. It is a sad depiction of the state of 50s U.S. gender politics and is an important precursor to feminist debate.

Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf - The greatest Modernist writer in my opinion and a book that perfectly captures the madness of the early 20th Century.

Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy - A wonderfully clever tale that exposes the hypocrisy of the class system, and terribly sad and affecting for it.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy, J. R. R. Tolkien - A most beautiful tale of friendship. Samwise Gamgee's character is delightfully altruistic.

Brooklyn, Colm Toibin - In a similar manner to that of The Bell Jar, Brooklyn exposes the limitations experienced by women in the mid 20th Century. The whole book aches with sadness.
What do you read for pleasure?
Most things. High brow, low brow, internet reviews, I can't discriminate. My tastes are varied and change with my moods.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
iPad. I can read all the eBooks I want but can also annotate journals and articles via the neu.annotate app - a great free tool.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Hard to say as an indie author. I do the usual Facebook and Twitter stuff, but I am loathed to try too hard as the whole of the internet seems full to bursting with authors flogging copious amounts of eBooks. I take the naive approach of 'if it's good, people will seek it out - and if they don't then it obviously isn't.' Not very inspiring, I know, but I hold strong views on how I should handle my work and I am not motivated enough by money to sacrifice what little integrity I possess.
Describe your desk
Non-existent. I sit in a chair with a laptop on my knee. Desks irritate me.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
In a poor, working-class town in the north west of England at what felt like the height of the 'Cold War' with terrifying propaganda about nuclear attacks - it was also the period leading up to the Miner's Strikes, an awful example of political (even criminal) mishandling of a situation. I have been greatly influenced by the social inequality I see all around me and this feeds into my writing more than any other influence. Much of what I write should jolt the reader in one way or another, whether that jolt comes from disgust, anger, outrage, humour, affection, tenderness, I really don't care. The biggest disappointment for me would be to leave the reader feeling ambivalent towards my work. Love it or hate it, that's fine, just not the stuff in between.
When did you first start writing?
Approaching the end of my first degree, having read many great works, I wanted to experience what it might be like to lay one's self bare by pouring out the content of my mind. It is as uncomfortable and embarrassing as anything I've ever done, yet equally compelling and liberating.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Short version: Lone Star State is concerned with where humankind is heading and the choices that are necessary, but not always easy to make, in order to live a humane life. It is funny, sad, tender, disturbing and very much of the moment. I suppose it is a book for those, like myself, who feel they just don't 'fit' into today's society.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The freedom to do what I want, whether it is 'good' or not. What I serve up to readers is exactly how I want it to be. If only one person reads it and feels something then that's success in my eyes. I cannot bring myself to write for an audience. I operate in the naive and hard to market realm of 'hard to describe' writing.
Published 2013-12-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Lone Star State: Welcome to the Pleasuredome
Price: Free! Words: 9,780. Language: English. Published: December 28, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
Mia and Alan Pleasure, sadistic, psychotic and highly dangerous drugs barons who operate out of Manchester, UK., happen upon a highly addictive new drug that looks set to make them a fortune as contemporary Western society’s obsessive relationship with consumption and the pursuit of pleasure and ‘happiness’ reaches dangerous, and disturbing, new levels.
Elshender: A Tale of a Poor Man
Price: $10.99 USD. Words: 101,750. Language: English (Scottish dialect). Published: April 30, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Biographical, Nonfiction » History » Modern / 19th Century
How convenient was it to have access to an almost endless supply of labour, free labour – slaves by any other name? How just was it to put a man to trial, when that man had no right to speak in defence of himself in court? Just how many of the countless ‘convicts’ sent to the ‘new world’ by the British legal system were actually guilty of the crimes they were accused of?
The Way of the World: A Novella
Price: Free! Words: 10,610. Language: English. Published: February 26, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Urban
(3.50 from 2 reviews)
An anonymous narrator... An anonymous boy... An anonymous girl... None extraordinary... None connected... Does anyone even care? The Way of the World: A Novella is an experimental work dealing with the complications of narrative voice.