Matthew Thomas was born and raised in New York City. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he has an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. His New York Times-bestselling novel WE ARE NOT OURSELVES has been shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the James Tait Black Prize, and the John Gardner Fiction Book Award, longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award, the Guardian First Book Award, and the Folio Prize, named a New York Times Notable Book, and named one of the best fiction books of 2014 by the Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Publishers Weekly, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Apple, and others.
Matthew ThomasHi Dalia. Thanks for such an interesting question. I'm tempted to say it was tea that got me going when I was down, because there's more than a little…moreHi Dalia. Thanks for such an interesting question. I'm tempted to say it was tea that got me going when I was down, because there's more than a little truth in that statement, but a less cheeky answer is that I tried to focus on whatever task was next--the next line, the next scene. It's easy to feel down when you're writing a book, because there's so much failure built into the job, even when things are going well. And when you're down, you're especially prone to thinking about the overwhelming task ahead of you and getting lost in a haunted wood. But if you focus on smaller parts of that task, you can work your way out into a little clearing. I guess I tried to put on blinders. If you only let yourself see this one small thing in front of you, you can quiet the voice that says that this larger task is going to fail. Work patiently on a little corner, day after day, and eventually the canvas fills up. (Though without tea, I wouldn't have finished anything.)(less)
Matthew ThomasThank you for the kind words, Annette, and I'm sorry I missed you in Austin. I loved Book People. What a terrific store. (And the restaurant across th…moreThank you for the kind words, Annette, and I'm sorry I missed you in Austin. I loved Book People. What a terrific store. (And the restaurant across the street, 24 Diner--great food!) Part of what gave me insight into the nuances of Alzheimer's disease and its effects on a family was my experience with my own father's early-onset Alzheimer's. My father died over a decade ago. I also did some research into the practical realities of the disease--financial, legal, and otherwise. But I would say the biggest tools at my disposal were the things any writer uses: the imagination (combined with an attempt at empathetic understanding), which allows one to inhabit the consciousness of people other than oneself; and a sort of observational attention--keeping one's eyes and ears (and mind and heart) open. When the memory of sense impressions and the study of the psychologies and emotional lives of people are employed in the service of the imagination, the result, when things are working right, can sometimes be the accumulation of deliberately chosen details that do multiple duties in bringing a story more vividly to life. (less)