Interview with Matt Greenwell
Updated: Mar 12
My first author interview and the first man on this site!
Matt Greenwell is a writer living in North Wales. Having graduated from the Open University in 2016, Matt has self-published two books; Collected Works: Volume One, and Dreams of a New Old World. He has also had several poems published in various magazines and competitions. As well as publishing his own books he curates an anthology of short stories under the name Green Moon Anthologies for charity; these include Underdog and Machine. While Matt currently focuses his writing on short stories, along with his poetry. As well as his books, he has had various pieces of writing published. He is hoping to branch out into novels and scriptwriting in the near future. You can find all his work under his name on Amazon and Instagram.
He is also a friend of mine, a very nice man and he volunteered honest!
Here is his instagram link
When did you start writing and how did you decide to do it?
I began writing in my early twenties, which is shockingly twenty years ago now. I was inspired by two things really, the first was the writing of Jack Kerouac who I had just discovered. I’d never read anything like that before and the way he wrote in his freeform style really appealed to me. I was naïve and ignorant enough to think that he had just dispelled with all the rules of writing without taking into account his amazing techniques. I was young and just latched on to the spirit of his work and decided that I could tap into my own internal voice and share that in some way. The second was a very good friend of mine who was a huge Bob Dylan fan. He exposed me to the poetry within Bob’s lyrics and that unique wordplay and confluence of cultural touchstones really excited me. From those two reference points I just went at it. I was writing poetry, and diary pieces, and longer form ideas that seldom saw any end point, but I was off and running. I guess that period lasted about three or four years and I would come back to writing seriously later, but I knew back then that I loved it and had something and had found a way to express myself that no other art form would allow.
How does a story begin for you? Is it an idea, a conversation, a title or an image?
It’s all those things and more. Sometimes I have specific concept or viewpoint I wish to express, be it political, or philosophical, or anything else. These are for me often quite hard pieces to put together as they are real work. You’re trying to achieve something deliberate and that can leave you feeling a little dry and emotionless in many ways even if you achieve what you wanted to. Often with my pieces, they’re collections of fictionalised remembrances. These can be really interesting personally to explore and can be very cathartic. I’ll work through a piece like this, often just off the top of my head with no real plan, just wandering around the library of my mind, picking out situations I’ve known or taking bits from people I’ve encountered in my life and it ends up in a melting pot that once finished reveals things that I’m unaware of myself until I’ve worked through the writing process. These pieces tend to take much more work in the editing process, but often end up being some of my most enduring work. Sometimes however, a story or a poem will come out of nowhere, fully formed and just waiting for you to clothe it in words. The idea can come from an image, a situation, a lyric, anything, but once it’s in your head, it’s just about pinning the butterfly down. These, I must say, are the best of all.
available in paperback and ebook
One new writer, fourteen short stories, and more than thirty characters that will pull you into their world of intrigue, adultery, and dystopia between generous doses of carefully crafted visions of everyday life through the eyes of the young, the old, the damaged, and the strong. Matt Greenwell's debut collection of stories will have you turning the page for more as you're transported into outer space, launched into the depths of a drug trip, or pulled deep into the mind of a furtive thief. Part story-teller, part poet, Matt Greenwell holds a mirror up to the world he has known and takes a unique perspective on life in imaginative, thoughtful ways to create irresistible reading.
What is the strangest thing you have had to look up in the name of research?
I must admit here that I’m shockingly lazy in terms of research. I’ll do pretty much anything to avoid doing any at all. I’ll change the nature of a tale, or I’ll fictionalise something, or drop a subject altogether to dodge having to sift through research material. I do remember having to wade through the most boring websites I’ve ever seen in order to gen up on models of box packing machinery. Never again!
What motivates you to keep writing?
To be honest, I don’t need motivation to write. Writing is of itself the most rewarding pastime or occupation. To take the germ of an idea and then mould it into this new creation that regularly morphs from what you began with into this new creature is an amazing thing to be part of. It’s quite like having kids really. You are impregnated with this spark of life and you nurture it and work at raising it and you have these ideas of what it will be and then you suddenly find this thing in front of you that bears no resemblance to what you expected yet enlightens you and makes you smile. And that segues nicely onto the other big motivation I have - my children. I pretty much stopped writing to focus on music in my twenties, and then went back to it in my thirties when my first child was born. I stopped work to raise my children and began a degree in English with Creative Writing. Once my children were born, I knew that I wanted to leave them something of me in writing, something true, something more than photographs or second-hand anecdotes. I wanted to have books and stories they can read one day when I’m gone and see my philosophies and values and thoughts on the world. Something filled with the colour and personality of me in my own words.
available in paperback and ebook
Inspired by the broken world of modern Earth, this is a personal rumination on the dreams humanity has harboured, and the reality it has wrought. Packaged in fragments of poetry and prose, Dreams of the New Old World is a collection that hopes to throw light upon what has been, and what could be.
What do you consider your greatest writing accomplishment? And which was your biggest challenge?
The first book I wrote was my greatest accomplishment for sure. The first publication is always the most triumphant moment. Seeing your words finally in print like “real” authors. I wrote it all, I edited it all, I even published it myself with all the mind-numbing admin that brings. It was a long time in the making and to finally get it all together was such a great feeling. If I ever need inspiration to keep going, that feeling is it.
I think my biggest challenge has been the short story anthologies I put out. These are a real labour of love. Having to compile and edit them. I’m not a fan of editing other people’s work and try my best to keep my hand off the page. I will correct grammar or errors when necessary but having to go back to other authors with suggestions on something that I don’t feel works is always a horrible thing to have to do. I remind myself it’s always to serve the story but you’re still dealing with pieces of writing that someone has worked hard on and has sent to you believing it’s as good as it can be. Thankfully, I’ve not had to do this much and the authors I’ve worked with have been generally wonderful people who take any editorial notes in the spirit they’re meant.
What advice would you give to new/aspiring writers?
Write for yourself. There will always be people who don’t like your work, but conversely there will always be someone who loves the way you write and completely identifies with your voice. So write for you. The worst thing is putting out a piece of writing that you’ve written to someone else’s idea of how it should be and not respecting it yourself. Let them write that story, you write yours. Also, forget perfection. The beauty of being a writer is that you can write as much as you want. Write something, finish it, and then move onto the next and make the next thing better, and the next, and the next.
Has a book really touched you? Made you rethink your views on life? If so, what was it?
The number of books that have touched me are far too many too mention. Joyce’s The Dubliners, Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums, Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude, Okri’s An African Elegy. I could go on. If I had to pick one, I’d say The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. I think maybe I read it when I was a young man, but I reread it in my forties, and it moved me deeply. It helped me reconnect with myself as a young man. Helped me recalibrate my feelings of disconnect with the world around me back then. It helped me know myself in ways I didn’t know I needed to, and it gave me a clear view on the truth of youth.
available in paperback and ebook
In this first edition of our Green Moon Anthologies, we bring you a collection of short stories based on the theme of the Underdog. Our authors have used their talents to create different interpretations of the theme which all coalesce into a compelling collection of stories. Ranging in genres from dark humour to drama, to Sci-fi, readers will be entertained at every turn. Green Moon Anthologies give 100% of the proceeds of the book to charity. This first edition will be raising funds in aid of Mind: the mental health charity.
You are stuck on a desert island and can choose: one of your own characters, a character from someone else’s book, a famous person to join you, who do you choose?
Let’s go with Don Quixote. At least he’d find some crazy adventures to get into even on a desert island.
What’s your ultimate dream with being a writer?
I guess the ultimate dream is to leave behind a body of work that enters the canon of literature alongside the books that we all love. Books that help grow the libraries we all love so much. That said, I’d be more than happy just creating several books that entertain people and give my children a good idea of who I am.
Do you ever write to music and if so, what?
I do listen to music when I write, but I cannot listen to anything with lyrics as they tend to creep into what I’m writing or colour my thoughts. I’ll listen to Jazz almost exclusively. Mostly Miles Davis or Cannonball Adderley or Chet Baker. Sometimes I’ll listen to other world music like Vishwa Mohan Bhatt or Ali Farka Toure. But nothing with words in.
What are the worst problems do you encounter as a writer?
For me the worst problem of all is finding the time to do the work. The writing is a joy in and of itself, but life is always a full time occupation for us all and squeezing the odd bit of time in to write doesn’t work well for me. I find it very difficult to just dip in and out of it. I have to have a rhythm and consistency to achieve any real, good work. I work almost entirely at night, especially on my stories. Sometimes I’ll be able to write poetry in the daytime, but to really concentrate on longer, more complex pieces I need space and the magic that night brings.
available in paperback
In this second collection of short stories, Green Moon Anthologies delves into the world of machines to investigate the world around us past and present, real and fantastic. From the far edges of unknown universes, to the domesticity of our very homes, machines permeate all we know. Easing our burdens, carrying our loads, Machines were created to help ease our way in a frightening world, yet sometimes, it is those very machines that can be the source of fear. Our authors, both old and new, now bring us an exciting new collection of these stories to shine new light on this machine world, both within us, and without us...Green Moon Anthologies, as always, donates 100% of the proceeds of this book to charity. In this second collection, we will be supporting The Safe Foundation; a wonderful Cardiff-based charity whose work helps the poorest and most vulnerable people in both the UK and abroad. Whether it be an introduction into education, or health programmes, or any number of other projects they run, The Safe Foundation are an incredibly worthy cause which we are very proud to support, and in buying this book, you are helping too. We thank you.
Anything else you want to share with us? Maybe something that inspires you
Every writer inspires me. We’ve all got a voice and whatever we write will find a home in a reader. Even if you think something will only appeal to you and you alone, you’re almost certainly wrong. My second book was a pure indulgence. It’s a long-form piece of fragmented writing that sweeps through my views on culture and is hedonistic to the extreme in its wordplay. I wrote it purely for myself. I received criticism for it, but I also got plenty of positive feedback for it too. I was nervous about publishing it at all, but I think it was the best thing I did as a writer in that I realised that it just doesn’t matter what you put out into the world as long as you do it for the right reasons. Life is short, write what you will, the world wants you to.