Matthew Lang on Writing, Characters and his release ‘Better with Bacon’ by Matthew Lang (author interview)

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Better with Bacon by Matthew Lang
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Matthew Lang here today to talk about his latest story, Better with Bacon.  Welcome, Matthew!

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~Our Interview with Matthew Lang~

How much of yourself goes into a character?

It varies depending on the character. Some of them are closer than others – and some need to be further away from my own self because of necessity. In Better with Bacon, I think David got some of my drive and more than a few of my flaws. Patrick got my love of cooking and food, a number of my insecurities, and my penchant for not wearing clothes. When you ask authors about characters and plot you’ll find some who say they say they just write what the characters naturally do and they don’t have much control over their personalities. I’m not like that. I do often feel like I’m recording what real people naturally choose to do, rather than forcing them to do anything particular, but I’m also willing to go back and tweak some character traits, or change the environment the characters are in so that they naturally choose to go in a direction I need them to for the narrative I’m writing. As such I think I might have more control over some of my characters than other writers seem to.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

No. If I’m using my personal experiences I’m either adding details to scenes – the physicality of George as an example is based on a real person I’ve met playing pool in a bar as an example – or I’m using it to set up tensions between my characters that I know come from a real place. I don’t have a need to give my characters idealised experiences that I didn’t get a achieve. They’re not there to rewrite my story, they’re here to tell their own story. I just have to go and live mine separately.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Well, I like writing about places I know. One of my friends calls my writing ‘a love letter to Melbourne’ because much of my work is set in my home town, and sometimes locals who read my work will go ‘oh, I think I’ve been there’. At the same time, I like writing fantasy stories, even if I haven’t published one yet. When it comes to speculative fiction, I tend to prefer fantasy over science fiction because magicbabble is much easier to write than technobabble as far as I’m concerned.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

No. Not for emotional reasons. I’ve had to shelve stories because of giant plot holes I’m not sure how to fill in. I’ve shelved by Golem urban fantasy story because it’s missing one of the three acts it needs to work, and I haven’t quite worked out how to fill out act 2, but that’s not emotional. I think I need to tweak my story world there instead.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’m very much a Happily-for-now guy, even if what I write can read as a Happily Ever After. I think it’s because if you go for Ever After, it’s hard to write for those characters again. You can’t give them genuine relationship tension if you’ve already given them a Happily Ever After without essentially reneging on the Happily Ever After.

I also have a strong belief that life goes on, and an ideal romance is only ideal for the period of limerence we glorify in western culture, and I think we have acknowledge that for our own mental health. Or growing up watching Into the Woods on a regular basis has warped my mind. There’s always an after, and the after is always the interesting part.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNmRE7gsKco]

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I favour queer stories with romantic elements. I like stories where there’s something going on besides gay men having relationship issues. There’s a struggle most men my age and older have gone through – and that’s a desire to be more than our sexuality. I always wanted to be the guy who’s a great writer. The guy who runs awesome events. The guy who can sing and makes home made ice cream. I want those to be as important parts of my identity as the fact that I’m gay. And some, not all, but some gay romances not only reduce their heroes to their sexuality, but then impose heteronormative gender roles and expectations on a relationship between two men. And one of the reasons I think gay men sometimes reject those stories is because we’ve had to spend a lot of our lives fighting against that discrimination and objectification. So as much as I like a romantic plot line, I like it when it’s not the only plot line, if that makes sense.

And as a teenager, I wanted the smut and sex. Seriously, I think most gay men who read have sifted through the Nifty Archive at some point in their adolescence.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Sir Terry Pratchett. He convinced me that you can both entertain and inform at the same time and he had an amazing way of twisting words into meanings that were there all along, but you just never saw them coming.

How do you choose your covers?

By what works. I find cover art requests very difficult to put together because I’m a word guy. I think in words and narrative. I don’t necessarily think in imagery. So I usually will say “I think I want something like this because I’m going for this sort of feel – but if you think up something awesome please throw it my way,” and more than once I’ve ended up going with a cover dreamed up by the artist that’s completely off brief. Better with Bacon is one of them actually.

What’s next for you as an author?

I need to finish my golem story, as I think it’ll be the start of a series that’s going to be a lot of fun and will hopefully let me explore a lot of different mythologies and monster stories. I also expect it’ll be long enough to get into print as well as ebook format. I’m also looking to experiment with interactive fiction, so as a gamer I’d like to run a group of story driven gamers through a narrative roleplaying campaign and see what they do – I think gaming with other people is an amazing way to stretch your narrative muscles because what you’re essentially doing is cooperative storytelling with a framework of rules around how to further the story and some random elements of chance throwing up plot difficulties for you. If I do that it’ll be youtubed, so if anyone wants to watch the experiments you can follow me at https://www.youtube.com/user/mattlangwrites.

I’m also writing a free read web serial on my website based off an online game where I pretended to be an alien lounge singer, as I wanted to see if I could write a narrative where I didn’t control everything, and so far I think it’s progressing well. One of my friends has also asked me to write a gay dating sim with them, so that’s also a thing I’d like to tackle at some point.

I also think that Better with Bacon will eventually spawn a fully fledged novel as a sequel. There’s a few things that I know are going to happen to the guys in that wonderful after, but I need to let them rest for a bit to find out just how tough the challenges coming their way are going to be.

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About Better with Bacon

When Patrick’s long-term girlfriend Li Ling dumps him just as he’s working up the nerve to propose, he ends up drunk on David’s couch—and later in David’s bed. Although initially reluctant to pursue anything beyond a one-time drunken tryst, David throws caution to the wind during an intimate dinner, where the two men also discuss Patrick’s dream of entering the food industry. Just as the friends-turned-lovers are settling into their new romance, Li Ling calls Patrick—she’s pregnant.

Convinced the announcement spells the end of their love affair and a return to their platonic friendship, David flees to Sydney to escape his heartbreak. But upon his return to Melbourne, David discovers the situation hasn’t gone the way he’d expected. There might still be a chance for David and Patrick’s dreams to come true if they can forgive each other’s mistakes and move forward.

About the Author

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Matthew Lang writes behind a desk, in the park, on the tram and sometimes backstage at amateur theatre productions. He has been known to sing and dance in public, analyse the plots of movies and TV shows, and is a confessed Masterchef addict. Over the years he has dabbled in marketing, advertising, event management and the sale of light fittings, but his first love is and has always been that of the written word and is rarely too far from a good book. He likes his men hot and spunky, his mysteries fantastical, his fantasies real and his vampires to combust when exposed to sunlight. Other than that he’s pretty normal. One day we may even take him out of the straight jacket.

web: www.matthew-lang.com
twitter: @mattlangwrites
facebook: Matthew Lang on Facebook

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