It's that time again! Most everyone hates Mondays, but for the Drunken Space Penguin, it's the beginning of a brand spankin' new author interview! This week, we get to meet Matt Valenti, author of the political satire The Newts. His insightful way of dissecting and twisting things may change your way of thinking. Or, at the very least, make you question your own opinions. Let's take a tour inside his world and see what makes Matt Valenti tick.
DSP: For starters, tell us a little about you, we like to get to know our authors as a person!
Matt: I've worked as a preschool teacher and a lawyer, and learned there's not much difference between toddlers fighting over a toy and adults fighting over money. Both of these jobs have also taught me that humor is often the most persuasive way to win an argument or earn respect.
DSP: Nice to meet you! So tell us, where did you find the inspiration for your most recent book?
Matt: The Newts is a satire of American politics, and targets politicians and religious leaders who use deceptive, hypocritical rhetoric. All I had to do is look at the news and I got more inspiration than I could handle.
DSP: So, do you have any kind of writing ritual? Such as, you have to write with music on, or you can only write when you're completely alone, etc?
Matt: I have a busy day job and a family I love to spend time with, so writing for me is catch-as-catch-can. Although I'd prefer to be writing in a quiet, mahogany-paneled room with a view of redwoods, more often I'm scribbling away on lunch breaks, in bed at night, or sitting in traffic.
DSP: Who is your favorite character in your book and why? How about the character you had the most trouble with?
Matt: My favorite character in The Newts is the wine god Dionysus, who also happens to be the one I had the most trouble with. The joy and terror of writing scenes with Dionysus is that he has a habit of taking over and trying to write his own dialogue, and he can be a very unpredictable and moody god. Often I would sit back in amazement at the things coming out of his mouth and write them down as fast as he could speak them. Other times I winced in shame as he went into a drunken rage, and I had to argue with him to get him to agree to let me tone it down a bit. It's not easy working with gods; they always think they know best.
DSP: Now, when you sit down to write a book, a paragraph, or whatever you're working on at the moment, do you just sit down in front of the computer, or do you need an outline? Is there any other prep you need in order to organize your thoughts either before you write or in the process of writing?
Matt: I write most of the initial drafts on yellow legal pads, then type them into the computer and redraft numerous times. I constantly remind myself of James Michener's statement "I'm not a good writer, I'm a good re-writer."
DSP: Do you see any more books to continue this story? Do you have ideas for different books that might be published in the future?
Matt: I don't foresee a sequel to The Newts but I'm considering writing a short series of books that uses the plays of Aristophanes as inspiration. (The Newts was inspired by Aristophanes' "Frogs," one of history's very first political satires.)
DSP: Who is your greatest inspiration to write? What person makes you believe in yourself, and how?
Matt: I dedicated The Newts to my late uncle, Emil Schau, because he was always so supportive of my desire to become an author, and had a profound influence on the way I see the world. If there's a heaven, and if they allow Kindles there, I'd like to believe he's reading my book up there and getting a good laugh.
DSP: Do you have any aspirations to be similar or comparable to another author? Why?
Matt: Charles Dickens is my biggest influence stylistically. I'm a fan of Aristophanes, of course, as well as classic satirists like Rabelais, Voltaire, Lawrence Sterne, and Swift. Some of my favorite modern writers - purely off the top of my head - include Carl Hiassen, Kurt Vonnegut, Ken Kesey, and John Irving. I've also been getting into some great new works by Indie writers. Lately I've been enjoying Ryan Forsythe's political satire, "Dick Cheney Saves Paris," in which a time-travelling Dick Cheney tries to save Paris Hilton from doom while ensuring Al Gore is never elected president. Good stuff.
DSP: Okay, one last question, and this one is different for every author, not to mention completely off the wall! What is the one thing you'd most like to change about the world?
Matt: It's rotation. Isn't it about time to try something different? I mean, how many times do we have to see the sun rise in the east and set in the west?
I couldn't agree more, Matt! The whole East to West thing is overrated and has run its course, it's time for a change! Haha, this indie author will keep you thinking, laughing, pondering, and by the time he's through with you, maybe the sun will start rising in the South! Keep up with the Drunken Space Penguin and learn more about Matt Valenti all this week, and don't forget to grab a copy of his wicked awesome book, The Newts, available on Amazon HERE!