Featuring an interview with Jeremy Mathiesen, author of the Cyrus Longbones book series.
What (or who) influenced you to become a writer?
One of my earliest memories is of being in a movie theater. I was about five years old. Indiana Jones was playing, and Indiana was escaping from an ancient tomb, about to be crushed by a giant bolder. I could feel my emotions being played like guitar strings and realized that someone, somewhere had created this emotional experience for me. The idea that someone could do that was gripping. From that day forward, I knew I wanted to tell stories.
Is there a particular fiction genre you’d love to be able to write in?
I very much enjoy writing middle-grade, action adventure fantasy, but I take great inspiration in the historical fiction writer, Ken Follet, and Nobel Prize winner, John Steinbeck. Like Follet, I hope to one day write complex, woven plots that stretch out over time and ancestry. Like Steinbeck, I dream of having the ability to see past the black and white trees of our everyday world and write character driven stories that illuminates all the shades of the forest we truly inhabit.
From where do you draw the inspiration for your deliciously evil villains?
I had a very colorful childhood. I lost my mother when I was very young. I moved around a great deal. For a period of time, my family became Jehovah’s Witnesses, where I learned many of the great Bible stories, (sorry if I knocked on your door at 9 AM on a Saturday morning.) And like in the old Grimm fairy tales, for several years, I had an evil step mother. All these elements, and a healthy imagination, have given me plenty of inspiration for my villains. I once read that a story is only as good as your villain is bad.
Do you rely on outlining, or do you like to wing it by following the plot wherever it chooses to go?
For my first book I definitely winged it, but the story had many structural issues, so once I learned about proper structuring, I went back and plotted the disjointed story into something far more palatable. Book two was done much the same way. For my third book, I’ve plotted out the story first, but I plan to go off-script whenever a better story reveals itself.
Would you say your works of fiction are more character or plot driven?
My stories are definitely plot driven. I do enjoy character driven stories, and one day would like to explore that sort of writing.
Is there a particular aspect of writing you wish you’d known about when you first began your career as a writer?
I love story structure, and for a long time it was a mystery to me. It still is in many ways. I can never learn too much, too soon about story structure.
Do you write every day, and when you write do you have a set number of words you aim for each time?
I average writing around five to six days a week. I’m always aiming for seven, but with a young family it’s tough. I don’t aim for a word-count, but I make myself write for at least one hour each morning.