Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed, Matthew!
Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a writer from New Zealand, currently juggling — like so many of us — writing with work and a young family. I am a stranger to sleep 🙂
Leigh: Which writers inspire you?
So many! In the past, I found myself inspired by great literary writers — Lydia Davis, Michael Ondaatje, Thomas Pynchon, Joan Didion, to name a few. These days, I’ve found myself much more inspired by those indie writers who have been doing the hard work of writing independently, year after year, without the prestige or support of a big-five publishing house. That sort of persistence is pretty remarkable.
In terms of YA writers, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about the Australian writer John Marsden’s series Tomorrow, When the War Began. That was a seminal series for me when I was a kid. It kind of has that perfect YA mix of excitement, depth and teen-drama. So the fact that someone could pull that off was inspiring, for sure.
Leigh: What’s your writing “Kryptonite”?
My life is full of distractions, from self-inflicted distractions (namely, the internet), to the more rewarding distraction of my fifteen-month-old daughter.
Leigh: What inspired you to write The Revolutions of Caitlin Kelman?
Since my mid-twenties, I’d been banging my head against the wall of literary-fiction-writing. Two years I ago, I suddenly felt this desperate need to write something fun, people would actually want to read (radical idea, huh?)
At the same time, as both a reader and a writer, I’ve always thought books should have a purpose — some deeper reason for existing in the world. So the story of The Revolutions of Caitlin Kelman, where a teenage girl finds herself drawn into quite radical political movements, really appealed to me.
Leigh: Give us some insight into Caitlin. What do you think is special about her? What matters most to her?
The most interesting thing about Caitlin to me is her uncertainty. She has these profound motivations, but every option available to her seems imperfect. Unlike so many people in our culture, she’s not an ideologue. She doesn’t know what to do. She doesn’t even really know what she believes.
At the same time, life happens, and Caitlin actually make decisions — and then live with those decisions. She’s never really sure if she’s making the world a better or worse place. I find this ordinary everyday uncertainty very compelling, as it’s the opposite in many ways of what we see in our political cultures (as true in New Zealand as it is the US).
Fiction-wise, I’m always drawn to books and writers that try to capture that uncertainty. It’s harder than the old ‘good versus evil’ formula, but I think it’s ultimately more rewarding.
Leigh: What drew you to the Dystopian genre?
Well, we live in interesting times! I think the best dystopian writing can cut through a lot of our preconceptions, and help us look at our societies with fresh eyes. While, of course, being entertaining to read! I also wanted to take the chance to write a dystopian novel that wasn’t really sure itself what ‘utopia’ looked like.
Leigh: Do you have a special time to write? How is your day structured?
After much experimentation, I’ve started getting up at 5.30am, which gives me a full hour before the little one wakes up. This is the crucial ‘pre-distraction’ time, which is generally when my best work happens. After making everyone breakfast, I’m then off to work at 8am. I sometimes find time in the evening for those tasks I can dip in and out off — like editing — but family comes first then, so that hour in the morning is key.
Leigh: If there’s one message you’d like readers to take away from your book, what would it be?
I want them to enjoy themselves! Anyway, a reader’s view of the message of the story will be far more interesting than anything I have to say.
Leigh: Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Who knows! To be honest, I’m still in toddler-land, so my biggest dreams revolve around eight hours of sleep and not having to change another nappy.
Leigh: How can readers find out more about you and your work?
Website: Zoe Rose Books (ZRB)
Amazon Author Page: Amazon Author Page of Matthew Luddon
Book Links: https://www.books2read.com/kelman1 (this has links about a dozen retailers)
Thank you very much, Matthew, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.