Saturday, August 8, 2020

Inside the Mind: Matthew Travagline


Welcome to Inside the Mind where we here at The Faerie Review interview authors and creators.
Our guest today is Matthew Travagline, the author behind Gleeman's Tales.

Lily: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview Matthew I really enjoyed reading The Gleeman’s Tales. The book is post-apocalyptic, but a gleeman makes the reader think of the past, what inspired you to merge the two?  

Matthew:  I really enjoy dystopic and post-apocalyptic fiction. I also love a more traditional fantasy. When it came time to planning out what would become my debut novels, I wanted to write what I haven’t seen a lot of – a blend of the two together. So often in post-apocalyptic fiction, the emphasis is on the future, of technological progression, of returning to where we (humans) were. But returning to the same level of technology that we have now after a world-breaking event would be nearly impossible, in my opinion. Everything from the power grid, municipal plumbing, the internet… these would all prove mighty hurdles for humans picking themselves up in the apocalypse. And that’s assuming that there is unity and cooperation. So I don’t think a widespread usage of, to use my own term, “first age” technologies, would be possible. 

As far as the bard aspect…this came from a serious lack of culture, merriment, and the lighter arts within (fantasy and post-apocalyptic fiction). Yes, there are serious exceptions. Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicle and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel are books that heavily center around culture (in fantasy and the apocalypse, respectively). Mandel’s work, especially, I’ve been watching the popularity of with glee (her work is more closely tied to the premise of Gleeman’s Tales). Oh, boy, I’ve gone off on a tangent already.

Lily: I'll have to check both of those out. I loved the way you blended the two ideas! Were Gnochi and Cleo based on anyone? 

Matthew:   I tend to believe that a writer puts a little of themselves into each of their characters, even if that piece is an antithesis. I think Gnochi was cast from the idea of what role I would play in a similar situation. If a setting like that, I’m not likely to be at a forge, or on the front lines of battle, but comfortably settled into a story, perched atop a bar before an entranced audience. Neither of the characters, though, were literally based off of another person or even a likeness. I tried not to write them with too many exact, definitive descriptions (like Oslow’s beard) so the reader has more freedom to imagine them as they will. 

Lily: I agree that even if it's not intentional a little of the writer gets into their characters. I can definitely see some authors turning into gleeman if the world was turned upside down. What was the highlight of writing this? 

Matthew:   Coming to a natural end on the first draft (which I hand-wrote) was definitely a highlight of the process. In that moment, when only a select handful even knew about its existence, and without the stresses of marketing or publishing, I had achieved my dream to write a novel.

Lily: ​That had to have been a great feeling! I like the idea of writing something by hand but I'm not sure I'd be able to read what I wrote afterwards. Without spoilers, what’s your favorite part? 

Matthew:   I really loved working Gnochi’s vignette stories into the central narrative. They were, after all, the skeleton of the idea before I had even outlined, so ensuring they had a contextual relevance was an enjoyable puzzle to parse out. Imagine crafting a rib cage out of a pile of loose bones. It required a little finesse, trial, and error, but ultimately became a viable structure that proved vital to the heart of the story.

Lily: Now we’d like to talk about you as a writer. When did you first consider yourself a writer? 

Matthew:   I’d written some stories and attempted a book when I was in in middle school, but it wasn’t until high school when I first learned that my writing was enjoyable for others to read. In my 9th grade English class, we had an assignment to write an additional chapter onto the end of Lois Lowry’s The Giver. What I turned in was particularly gruesome. A little dark. But my teacher read it aloud at the end of class. He then spoke to me about my writing and encouraged me to continue writing.

Lily: That's awesome! I'm glad your teacher encouraged you even though it was a bit dark. What is the most difficult part about writing for you? 

Matthew: Battling with my own procrastination. Even with a full time job, I have plenty of time to work on my writing, but forcing myself to write or edit is often the real struggle, even if the ideas are there.

Lily: I can imagine it's hard to get into the mindset sometimes. Do you read your reviews? 

Matthew:     I’d love to get to a point where I have so many reviews, I cannot possibly read them all, but we’re not at that point yet. Maybe some of your readers can help me get closer to that point [laughs]. But, yeah, I do read my reviews, especially if they offer genuine critique. There is a difference between a troll one-star review, offering nothing concrete to justify the score, and a low-scoring review with solid criticisms.

Lily: ​ I hope we get you some more reviews I definitely loved reading it! When I do feel like I have to give below 3 stars I always try to offer constructive criticism. When I see a low rating I always check to see if the reviews are constructive or just "I didn't like it", tells me whether a book is worth picking up. (Although if you want to know a secret I don't check reviews before I decide if I want to read a book an author has approached me with). Let’s finish up with some fun questions and get inside your mind. ​What is your favorite word and why? 

Matthew:   I’m not sure if I have a favorite word, if that’s possible. There are some words that I appreciate for their value, despite not being used colloquially. I think a better question would be, what is my favorite pun, to which I would say all of them, especially when used intentionally. (I never apologize for my puns!)

Lily: ​ I secretly love puns, they're a great example of how amazing language and words are! Now for an important question, are you a morning person or a night owl? 

Matthew:   I work nights, but constantly am changing back and forth between day and night cycle, so I’m a little sparrow that’s tired all the time.

Lily: ​ I've always been a night owl but I have to change to a day schedule once or twice a week, so I understand switching and being tired. What’s the worst or best job you’ve had? 

Matthew:   I really have had enjoyable experiences with all my jobs (which is rare), but a standout for me were the two summers I was a park ranger. I got to spend all summer outside, but had a lot of free time to read and, more importantly, it was during these summers when I really developed the plot of Gleeman’s Tales and The Harbinger of Change

Lily:  That sounds like heaven in a job! How many chickens would it take to kill an elephant?

Matthew:   I’m wondering if this question was targeted specifically because of Typhus. If not, is this the first time you’ve asked it to someone whose written an elephant into their book? I feel like elephants can be spooked quite easily. Get the right chicken underfoot and the elephant could fall and break a leg. That might be able to do one over. 

Lily:  The opportunity was there I had to take it hehe. You're not wrong though. Although I wonder who would be more startled. The chicken at being released under an elephant or the elephant at the chicken suddenly showing up. Would you rather your only mode of transportation be an elephant or a camel?​

Matthew:   Elephant, hands down. They live for a long time and have great memories, so you can really develop a lasting bond with your elephant.

Lily:  That's very true. How can readers discover more about you?

Matthew:   Check out any of the links below:

Website | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads Author Page

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

To order a copy of Gleeman's Tales

Amazon US | Amazon UK

To order a copy of The Harbinger of Change

Amazon US | Amazon UK

If you're interested in a signed/doodled copy of either you can request one from this store (just give them a call, they will ship):

Bethany Beach Books

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