Interview with Matt Knott

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I was seven years old, high on milk and cartoons and decided that a summer holiday story should include travel through space and time.

The only line I remember is 'I might get a slipper across the arse.' It was in reference to stealing the gizmo that controlled reality and using said gizmo actually kept my handsome, protagonist arse pristine. Though using language like that at St Mary's RC Primary School didn't go down too great.

There was no trouble from it, just a sense of amusement from the teachers and my mother I didn't quite understand. Why would anyone want to talk about my arse when there's a dinosaur in a spacesuit to fight?
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The Secret Seven taught me that smugglers are everywhere.

Read those books, they're all so wholesome but those kids grew up in the middle of a crimewave. I spent my early years convinced everyone was scheming up plans to rob the local museum and had a healthy suspicion of people in flat caps.
What is your writing process?
A bottle of whiskey and a lot of loud music in the evenings. A caramel mocha at the cafe to Skunk Anainse in the morning.

I keep thinking of scenes when I workout and then slap them on post-it notes. My bedroom wall looks like it belongs to someone with a lot of intelligent thoughts. Then you lean in and read things like 'decapitate?' or 'Watch American Gladiators'. It's confusing.

Main thing is to just keep writing and build backwards where necessary. If a great idea comes up in Part 2 then add some foreshadowing in Part 1. Constant feedback and iteration is the way forward.

I have a trio of friends, one is studious, the other emotional and the last a wrestling fan. If I can get them aligned I've hit the sweet spot.
Describe your desk
There's a two foot high statue of Conan the Barbarian fighting an Ape. No joke, it stares down at me and I bought it to bring my room together and now I pay it the 10Euro I'd normally spend on cigarettes daily.

I have a huge bookcase next to me full of series I really enjoyed. Especially David Gemmell and Robert E. Howard. Also have a lot of graphic novels by Garth Ennis and what's been released for Berserk by Miura. It's a graveyard for RPG sourcebooks I'll never use.

A big board across the room keeps me honest with goals marked. It's like a huge wooden mother.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have a lot of stories I tell myself and it was getting heavy to carry them all in my head.

I love my career in the video game industry and wanted to work at my own pace sharing those stories and making them real. Keeping your stories to yourself is like watching endless reruns. You know how it starts and how it ends. Writing them down changes the channel, it gets you looking at the next episode.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Sharing with my friends and moving those stories in my mind onto the next stage.

I love the feeling of improvement and personal accomplishment but most of all it's that shift from beginning to end and then considering where to go next. Not writing is letting your story stagnate.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My iPad. I couldn't live without the damn thing.

The first time I picked up a book on it I spent ages telling everyone how much I enjoyed it while also backing up my credentials as a child of the eighties by saying it'll never be as good as a real book. Real in that case was so edgy you could hear the italics.

The last paperback I picked up was four years ago. It's really changed how I read for the better.
Who are your favorite authors?
Years ago I picked up the Conan Chronicles. It was a collection of all Robert E. Howards stories about the worlds most famous thief, reaver and slayer. It remains the only book I've ever bought that can be attached to a drinking game.

Flip to a random page and read the paragraph your finger is on. If someone dies, something lusty is happening, Conan is monologuing or the word Crom is there take drink. Hell take a drink anyway because you're guaranteed to read something ridiculously over the top.

I'm a big fan of Joe Abercrombie and the late David Gemmell. Their characters are so well crafted and you're excited to see how they overcome the challenges they face.
What do you read for pleasure?
1840's Imperial propaganda and Youtube comments.

Anything really, I genuinely believe that reading the bad as well as the exceptional can give you a better sense of storytelling.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I was getting tired of fantasy being a formula where the reader gets very little payoff. There's a trend for subversion that I feel is hurting the genre because we like to be surprised but we also like to get what we expect.

Ser Exposition is always looking to the north and mumbling about dark tidings coming in around three to four books down the line. I love A Song of Ice and Fire but it has set a trend for misery and hopelessness. I really wanted to focus on heroes facing down the odds and struggling, failing but always inspiring hope.

It's fast paced and aspirational while also being grim and down to earth. There's a chase that begins on page one and it runs through to the last. Think of it as Gym Fantasy, when you're done you'll want to workout so you can stand up for what's right.

Or that could just be me.
What are you working on next?
The second part in the series.

No name just yet but I want to overuse the word carnage and laugh a lot at insane descriptions and dialogue that won't survive editing.
Published 2015-06-23.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.