Interview with Matthew Woodruff
Author of 26 Absurdities of Tragic Proportions
Where are you from originally and where do you reside now?
I was born in Saratoga Springs, NY. The hospital was actually on fire at the time so according to my older siblings, that is where I got my red hair from. I was born with a book in one hand and a pen in the other- my poor mother has never been the same.
If you currently reside somewhere besides where you were born, what’s the story that lead from there to here?
I’m currently in Gainesville, FL. where I am on staff at the University of Florida (Go Gators!).
What made you decide to write and publish your first book?
I have had a long love affair with the macabre illustrations by Edward Gorey, and one of my favorites by him is “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” – an alphabet book about the strange deaths of 26 children. One dark and lonely evening I was thinking about how and why these poor children met the unusual fates they did, and as if the spirit of Mr. Gorey was whispering in my ear, the tales flooded into and through me onto the keyboard and onto paper. So strong was the inspiration to write down these tales, I had to write one of them on my phone while walking across campus. Thus was born “26 Absurdities of Tragic Proportions”.
How would you describe your books to first time readers?
My first book, “26 Absurdities of Tragic Proportions” is a dark humor masterpiece that will, as one reviewer put it, ‘make you laugh out loud as much as you sob’. My newest collection of short stories, “Tales from the Aether” is full of the unknown and unknowable. A work of dark fiction and humor, this book will make you wonder if you ever really knew the universe around you – and the people closest to you.
Who do you feel is most likely to connect with the topics you write about?
My readers cross all generational and socio-economic lines. Anyone who wants a break from the usual and mundane, anyone who wants an escape into the absurd and unknowable will enjoy my stories.
What unexpected or surprising thing did you learn during the process of writing and publishing?
Actually I learned it was much easier than I feared. Like many people I have always wanted to write but did not always feel I was talented or committed enough. Once I started writing though I learned it came at its own pace and all I had to do was surrender to it.
If you could, what advice would you give to your past self before embarking on this journey?
Do it. I know that sounds trite, but just allow yourself to write and write what you love. Forget all the nay-sayers and critics, write for yourself – if you love it, so will others.
How many people would you ideally like to reach with your books?
My books are for anyone who wants a break from the mundane, books that will make the reader laugh and wonder. My books will find whoever needs them.
What has been the biggest challenge and frustration during the process to date?
My first book, “26 Absurdities” was inspired by the drawings of the great illustrationist Edward Gorey in “The Gashlycrumb Tinies”. I had hoped to be able to use his illustrations as part of my book, but after a long deliberation, I was turned down by the lawyers who run Mr. Gorey’s foundation.
What’s your biggest strengths when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?
The Big 3! Writing is easy for me – editing not so much, LOL! Hook up with a good editor – that’s my advice. As far as publishing goes there are multiple paths open to a writer. I happen to be computer savvy so for me, self-publishing and marketing is understandable, albeit time consuming.
What’s your biggest weakness when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?
Definitely time-management. Writing is fun – the rest can be like work if you let it be.
When do you think you will write your next book?
I have no plans right now – I will wait for inspiration to strike so I can write something really, really fabulous.
Are you self published or did you use a hybrid publisher, or a traditional publisher?
This is an issue of contention among writers – I was offered a contract by a traditional publisher for “26 Absurdities” but chose to self-publish to maintain creative control. I write first, for the enjoyment of myself and second, in the hopes others will also enjoy my work. I do not write according to a marketing department’s policy. The traditional route of publishing is to beg an agent for representation by submitting query letters. It is not unheard of to receive hundreds of rejections before someone thinks they can make some money off of you. Then, after you give a cut of the sales to them, they may find a publisher who will take a risk on your work – as long as you change it to meet their objectives – and give over the majority of your profits. For every John Grisham who writes by a tried and true marketing recipe, the are hundreds of Indie Authors every bit as good, who write from their hearts the things they love.
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