Newtown Literary contributor: Matt Thomas
Writer Matt Thomas’s work was featured in issue #9 of Newtown Literary. We interviewed him about his writing, and his answers are below. For more of Matt's work, check out his blog at 48fourteen.com, or follow him on Facebook.
What is your relationship to Queens?
I was born in Queens, and my mother worked throughout the borough during the early part of my life. Lots of developmental anecdotes from Queens.
After leaving the metro area for about six years to take a job, or series of jobs, in upstate New York, I came back and settled in Bayside for about a decade, which was one of the happiest times of my life. It's a weird mix of a Long Island suburb and a traditional Queens neighborhood. Great restaurants, interesting people. I loved it there.
What is your favorite memory of Queens?
Too many to count, but I have fond memories of Astoria. Many of my closest friends lived there, and I spent many nights in those hangouts laughing, talking, thinking... Just enjoying life. Astoria is Queens's answer to Brooklyn's cultural explosion, and it's a good one!
How would you describe the writing you do?
Character oriented science-fiction and fantasy. I tried my hand at pure literary fiction, and I'd like to again at some point, but I like having more engaging plot elements that drive the narrative.
As an avid reader, I've become a bit frustrated with some literary pieces that seem to divorce themselves from more creative plots. There can be a balance.
How did you come to writing?
I always enjoyed making up stories. I read constantly as a young boy, and I wanted to craft tales that people were genuinely interested in.
I didn't actually start seriously writing, however, until I was 22. In my college years I drifted from creative pieces to journalism and essays. After taking a fiction writing workshop that year, I decided to shift my focus.
What inspires you?
I am most inspired by my wife and daughter. My wife is the most creative and resilient person I've ever met. She always bounced back, and gives so much to those around her. My daughter is a little sparkplug of life and laughter. Seeing her is pure happiness.
What does it mean to be a writer in Queens?
Gritty, supportive, kind.
Queens writers bring very different worldviews and a specific style that hasn't been fully embraced by mainstream publications, but I think and hope that will change
What writing project(s) are you currently working on?
I'm working in my third novel, which is a sci-fi piece about this governmental force called the Grid trying to wipe out the country's last nature preserve. Three former Grid agents turned colonists have to infiltrate the Grid's capital city in a last ditch effort to save their families and themselves.
I'm also working on two short stories and a short memoir.
And, finally, my favorite question: What should I be asking you that I didn't?
That's a good one. A question I always used to ask other writers was about their process. How did they know they had a piece worth submitting?
Over the years, the most consistent thing I've heard, and I've noticed personally, is that you become aware of the moment when your work goes from amateur to professional, and so do those who have been workshopping with you. That doesn't mean you're going to get signed by a major publisher, but maybe you can start realistically competing.