Today I am honored to be able to share my blog with a talented up and coming writer (and fellow Brit) who is not only a hard working writer, with a full time job, but someone who devotes his time to various good causes, and is doing everything he can to increase awareness of Dyspraxia, and its impact on adult life. A selfless man who deserves all of the success that is coming his way…
Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce you all to Mr. Matthew Munson.
Thanks for joining me Matthew, this is actually the second visit to my blog, so maybe I should say, welcome back instead.
Thanks, Alex – it’s great to be back, I do love your interviews.
You and I chat quite frequently online, but for those not privy to out ‘inner circle’ can you tell everybody a little about yourself?
Well, I am 31 years and 9 months old (I’ve never entirely grown out of that childhood obsession with giving your PRECISE age!); I live in Broadstairs, a English seaside town and I’m a writer signed with Inspired Quill with my second book due out in August 2013. I’m also an advocate for disability, especially dyspraxia (as it’s a condition that I have) and I’m currently learning British sign language.
You make no attempt to hide your Dyspraxia. At what age were you diagnosed?
I was first diagnosed by the deputy headteacher of my secondary school when I was 15 (having had it all my life, but never knowing about it before!), and finally had an official diagnosis when I was 29. I’d never heard of the condition before my teacher told me about it – and then found that there wasn’t much information out there for people of my age!
I have a son with ‘classic’ autism, and watching him grow and develop is an incredible feeling. What was it like growing up with Dyspraxia?
I used to hide it, if I’m honest; I was quite embarrassed about the condition when I was a child & teenager. If I may diverge slightly to explain what it is; dyspraxia is a chronic neurological disorder. It causes problems with speech, fine & gross motor skills, short-term memory problems, sensory processing and has overlaps with autistic spectrum disorders.
So that’s often why I often tried to pretend I didn’t have dyspraxia when I was younger; the pressure to conform and “fit in” is often quite strong. However, as I grew into adult, I realized I wanted to feel proud of who I was, so started talking about it more – and it’s opened so many new avenues as a result, as well as introducing me to fantastic new friends.
And how about as an adult, what is the greatest challenge that you find yourself facing in the day?
Memory, coordination and joint pain … sorry, I couldn’t pick amongst the three!
Also, there’s a severe lack of information about adults with dyspraxia. Studies are happening around childhood & teenage dyspraxia, but there’s not much information on adult dyspraxia, which can be incredibly frustrating; sometimes, you just want to know that you’re not alone.
A friend of mine and I have decided to do something about this and have formed “The Two Dyspraxics” (find us on Facebook), to raise awareness of the condition, provide information to fellow dyspraxics about their condition (to show that they’re not alone) and enable people to share information about the condition.
You have had two novels published so far. I have read them both and would highly recommend them, but maybe people want a little more. Tell us about your titles?
Thank you, I really appreciate that comment! My debut novel (published in August 2011) is called Fall From Grace, and is about three friends who are increasingly caught in an ancient Heavenly war and then discovering how they are a part of that.
The sequel is called Leap of Faith and is due out in August 2013, when I’ve finished the edits. You very kindly read the second draft of the book, and I’m looking forward to seeing what you think about the final draft. Leap of Faith will follow some of the characters through their lives post-Fall From Grace, to see where they are now and how they are dealing with a new challenge that faces them.
Will there be a third novel in this series?
I doubt it, but I’d never totally rule it out. Right now, I’d say “no”, only because I can’t think of any decent continuation of the story after how I’ve ended the second book. Whether or not that changes will depend on my imagination!
What else do you have planned?
I’ve got back into contributing to “The Word Count Podcast”, an online podcast that R B Wood runs from his home in the States. It’s a fantastic short story podcast, and I contributed to it regularly until work on Fall From Grace and Leap of Faith reached critical levels of intensity. Now that some of the work has scaled back, I can contribute again.
I’m also working on two other manuscripts; one is my (still unfinished NaNoWriMo story from 2012) and the second is a mildly sci-fi story I began some years ago, and I’ve recently discovered it again – and have been inspired to rewrite it and finally finish it!
Do you think you will ever write with a lead character that has Dyspraxia or any similar ‘disorders’ – I so dislike that word?
I feel the same way, Alex, but I know what you’re getting at. Well, why not? If the character could be written well, then why not. I’m reminded of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time”; I thoroughly enjoyed that book, especially reading it from the autistic boy’s point of view. I’ve written an ultra-short story once about an autistic boy, but never fleshed it out – maybe one day!
I’m rewriting the main character of my sci-fi story to be Deaf, so we’ll see how that works out …
Do you write many anthology submissions, or for magazines/ezines and the like?
Not many, although I’d like to do more. I’ve been published in two anthologies, both by American publishers – May December Publications and Pill Hill Press – and I do want to submit to more in the future. Maybe that’s the next project after finishing the edits for Leap of Faith and then completing the other two books …
You are published by Inspired Quill right? Do you have a running deal with them or was it just for the Fallen from Grace Novels?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have two, 1-book deals with IQ. I remember getting the email from Sara, IQ’s owner and Publisher-in-Chief, about Fall From Grace; I was in a coffee shop and almost yelled out in shock, awe and amazement! For Leap of Faith, we were talking over Skype, and it took a full five minutes for the news to sink in.
Being an Indie author, are you striving for the Big 6 ‘traditional’ route, or are you Indie through and through?
If you’d asked me that before I’d even tried submitting to indie publishers, I’d have said to you that I would have wanted to go the “Big 6” route and nothing else. However, my perspective has been changed incredibly by my relationship with Inspired Quill; I’ve really been involved in the process from beginning to end and made to feel welcome by everyone I’ve dealt with. So now, I’m a huge fan of indie publishing (at least, the side of indie publishing that’s done professionally), and I don’t honestly think I could be persuaded away from this route.
Also, I’ve had Sara & Peter Stewart (IQ’s chief editor) stay at my home when we gave a talk in my home town, and they also travelled down for Fall From Grace’s launch party. Would big wigs from a major publishing house do that? Well, maybe they would, but I felt comfortable enough with both Sara and Peter to accept them as friends as well as people who would push my books to be the best they could.
If you could choose a publisher, any publisher- in the traditional world – who would you want to take your books?
I think my previous answer should tell you everything you need to know about that one J
Your books are available in Waterstones right? I have looked into this briefly, but just how simple was it?
Well, it certainly helped knowing someone who worked there! He was brilliant in getting my book into the local store, and arranging for me to come along to their book group; a lot of my subsequent talks and events stemmed from me going to that one group, and I will always be grateful to that group for the incredibly friendly and welcoming response I got there. If I had the time, I would definitely join that group myself; when I’ve finished my courses, who knows …
How long did the whole publishing process take?
I think it was about 8 or 9 months from acceptance to publication. Fall From Grace was the first book to be published by Inspired Quill, so we were all doing a fair amount of learning as we were going along. It’s great to be working with the team on my second book, as it’s interesting to see how their processes have grown and adapted – and just evolved to be even better. It’s about the same length of time for Leap of Faith, but it’s more paced out now and gives us time to get everything prepped.
Do you ever go into the store and stand by your books hoping to see someone buy it?
I may have done … Okay, yes. Yes, I have. There have been occasions where copies of my book have found themselves moved to the bestseller tables as well. Of course, I can’t condone this sort of behavior. Not in the slightest. Not at all.
Have you ever seen anybody reading your books? Non family and friends of course.
Sadly not, although I do keep looking. Sales are happening in parts of the UK and aboard that I’ve never been, and certainly don’t know anyone there. I do get some lovely comments on my Facebook page and my website, so I know these readers exist somewhere …
You are also learning sign language right? How did you get into that?
I started to get frustrated with myself a few years ago when I started to meet Deaf people through work and couldn’t communicate effectively with them. A friend and I were lamenting this about three years ago, and decided to do something about it – and that’s where the language classes came in!
I’ve passed all but one of my exams, and I’m going back to do a 10-week “refresher” course so I can try and pass it.
You also write and blog for a number of publications for the deaf, just where do you find the time?
Good question – I just do, I guess, although it’s difficult! I write regularly for Hearing Times, the UK’s major Deaf newspaper, as one of their columnists, and I do struggle to keep to deadlines sometimes … but it always works out somehow!
You certainly like to keep yourself busy. What about in those relaxing quiet moments? Yeah I heard that they exist for some people. What do you do to unwind?
Relaxing moments? Yes, I think I’m the same as you; I have heard rumors of spare time, but I personally think they’re overrated.
Seriously, though, I read books avidly, love music, cycling and walking (including a yearly walking marathon) and travel to see friends around the south-east.
Cycling and walking; you certainly don’t like sitting still. Were you always an ‘outside’ kid?
No, not at all; I’ve always been quite bookish, to be honest. I’ve always held desk jobs, and I’m far more comfortable with a book than anything else.
I got into cycling and marathon walking comparatively late in life, but I now enjoy them hugely. I’ve done the Shine walking marathon in September 2012, and intend to do it again this again this year –and who knows what next!
Thank you very much for being here Matthew.
Who is Matthew Munson?
I entered my thirties back in 2011 (which wasn’t as scary as I imagined and certainly required no special effort on my part) and had my debut novel published in the same year! I live in Kent, in the south-east of England, in a town you may well have never heard of. I was born in one seaside town, grew up in another one and then moved to a third as an adult – all within a six mile radius.
I will always live by the sea, and my office faces out onto a busy street; this tests my concentration and willpower, as I have a daily target of 1,000 words and have endless emails to tackle. I usually succeed … and feel guity when I don’t.
I worship at the alter of Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, China Mieville and David Moody, amongst so many others. I am usually trying to read three books at once – and love being surprised by new authors on the scene.
You can stalk… I mean find Matthew online at the following social media hangouts
Or via his Blog.