Today I welcome Matt Posner, author of the School of the Ages series of books. Please be warned, in the interview below the author expresses some rather strong opinions about agents. These are his opinions and not those of this site or myself personally. While I do not agree with him, he raises some points that may be worth discussion, so please feel free to discuss.
First of all, thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview. I’m so proud to welcome you to my site!
So, obviously you write or you wouldn’t be here. The question is, is writing work or pleasure?
Writing is work that is pleasure. I work full-time as a high school teacher in Brooklyn, but fiction writing is a career path I prepared myself for with both practice and academic training.
What’s your ideal full-time job (apart from writing)?
Ideally, I would be a college professor teaching creative writing. That’s not an easy position to secure, although I do have the academic credentials for it. I have a very professorial personality and I do still teach adjunct, though I don’t teach creative writing. To me, although it has its petty nonsense and idiots like every other job, being a professor in the old-fashioned and traditional sense, where you have an office, and office hours, and you get to teach what you want and study for a living, is just heavenly. I trained for this career, but at the time I was training, that lifestyle was dying out, and now there are pitifully few such positions available anymore. I had to retrain as a high school teacher.
What are you doing when you’re not writing?
If I’m not writing or working, I am probably watching TV. My wife Julie and I watch all the cooking competitions and restaurant restoration shows. Chopped, Sweet Genius, Next Iron Chef, Restaurant: Impossible, Kitchen Nightmares. We also watch movies, Star Trek reruns, anime, a lot of Syfy Channel when it has new content.
Indie or Traditional, and why?
Indie, for sure. I couldn’t get any interest from the legacy publishing world, and I began to develop a very negative view of the business. Authors aren’t treated well, except for the high-profile clients, most of whom are celebrities. Midlist authors are given unfavorable contracts and inadequate promotion. Unknown writers have to confront literary agents as middlemen, and they are feckless, self-regarding jerk-offs whose profession I will not be sorry to see disappear . Evidence is starting to emerge to confirm my negative view of agents. Please take a look at this link from my associate Sibel Hodge.
What/who do you read for pleasure?
I read YA fantasy, indie writers that I know, graphic novels, and pro wrestling autobiographies. My top priority now is to read and support independent authors, and to be honest, I’ve reached the point by now at which I feel as if buying a book by an author with legacy publishing credentials is somehow a betrayal. I wrote to one such person recently, offering friendship, and was ignored, which is not a large enough sampling to prove such writers look down on us, but did annoy me enough that I mentioned it in an otherwise good review I gave to his book. I do still read non-indie books, of course, but I can get a steady supply of review copies from fellow indies I meet, and they are just as good as anything I could pay ten times their price to get.
Did your book end up the way you intended?
No, they never do. It’s good, and it has many favorite moments for me and for readers, but the School of the Ages novels are getting better as I go, and I wish the first could have all the juice of the third (coming out next year).
Describe your book in three sentences.
The School of the Ages series is about Simon, who starts at age 13, and a really cool cast of supporting characters, most of whom are teen or adult magicians. Simon loves magic, but he has a hard life, and as he grows up, he faces both supernatural and very human magical challenges. The first novel, The Ghost in the Crystal, pits him against the malevolent ghost of a Bible-era heretic; the second novel, Level Three’s Dream, has him struggle with the emotional distress of a super-powerful young autistic wizard who throws Simon and his crew into Alice in Wonderland world.
What are you working on now?
I’m planning to put out a short story book on December 1 called Tales of Christmas Magic. It will have three School of the Ages short stories, two with a Christmas season setting, plus some other content to round it out. After that, I will focus on preparing the third novel for publication. It’s The War Against Love, which brings Simon into conflict with both murderous European magicians and a girl who knocks him silly with her beauty.
Now for the important stuff. We want to know who you really are. These questions are designed to reveal the TRUTH OF YOUR INNER SOUL:
Are you right or left handed?
I’m left- handed.
Do you prefer chocolate or parma ham?
Wine or whisky?
Gin and tonic.
Dogs or cats?
Cats. I was quite a cat fancier in my time.
Coffee or tea?
For waking up, coffee. For gustatory purposes, tea.
Favourite flavour of ice cream? (or frozen yoghurt, if you just HAVE to be different)
My favorite ice cream flavor is peanut butter cup, but I can’t eat that too often; too much sugar, and I’m on glucophage as it is.
If you ruled the world, what are the first three laws you would pass?
I’m not wise enough to rule the world. No one is. Whatever laws I passed would inevitably end in rebellion.
If and when Armageddon strikes, what three items will you take into the fallout shelter?
Assuming a fully stocked shelter, so that I don’t have to list food, water, or toilet paper, I guess I need books to read, empty notebooks to write in, and a drum.
You’re dying and a vampire offers you eternal life – as a vampire. Do you take the offer?
I ran a Vampire: The Masquerade role-playing campaign for over a year, so this isn’t a fair question.
When you die (assuming you didn’t take up the vampire’s offer) what will you regret not having done?
I’ve made many mistakes in life. Mostly I regret making social mistakes and not knowing how to get closer to people that I really liked.
Name three things Heaven has to have (otherwise you’re getting reincarnated ASAP):
Music, books, movies.
What three things should our world have that would make it a better place?
A reversal of global warming; a way to preserve the natural world and prevent extinctions; an answer to overpopulation.
Last, but not least:
Dragons or unicorns?
Grilled, baked, or fried?
Thank you very much!
You’re very welcome, Mhairi.
I’m from Miami, Florida originally, married to Julie and settled in Queens, New York since 1999. I teach high school English in Brooklyn, focusing on special education students. My parents are classical musicians. I’m an avid reader and active in avant-garde music with my band The Exploration Project. You can find more about him and his books on his website, School of the Ages.