With The Fourth Gwenevere hitting shelves soon we sat John Matthews down to find out the most important things about him, from his biggest inspiration to his fantasy dinner party guests.Here is part one of that interview, be sure to look out for part two in the coming weeks!
1. Did you always dream of becoming a writer? And if so, has it turned out to be how you imagined
Yes and no. I thought I would become a successful novelist, live in a big house and have a private plane. It didn’t happen like that. Instead I wrote more than 100 books about myth and legend and am only just now beginning to complete some of the many fiction books I started over the years.
2. Do you write primarily from experience, or are you a keen researcher – and has that research ever changed the course of the story?
I research as deeply as I can then let my imagination take over. My research has never changed the direction I was going in, but I have found things I thought I had made up to be true after the event!
3. Who or what is your biggest inspiration? Why?
Other writers, my amazing wife, and the actors, artists and musicians I have the good fortune to know personally. All of the above have an abundance of energy, love life, and don’t sit around congratulating themselves but get down to the job. I try to follow this myself, but I can be an arch procrastinator.
4. Do you plan your books? And where do you begin a story, at the beginning, in the middle or at the end?
I plan very carefully as I like to know where the story is going, but it often takes off and surprises me – always, I think, with a better result than when I try to stick too closely to the script! I generally start at the beginning.
5. You’re throwing your Fantasy Dinner Party: who are your five other guests, living, dead, real, mythological or made-up, and why?
Taliesin the Bard, Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Sherlock Holmes, Mark Ryan. (Good grief, they are all men! I love the company of women but find I have a lot more laughs with the guys)
6. When and why did you first start writing?
I wrote my first story when I was 8 – about a kid who fell though the floor and ended up in a room full of skeletons. Why? I couldn’t think of anything better to do.
7. What was your favourite book as a child? And what was the last book you started but couldn’t finish?
Boy’s version of Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur. Read it over and over till it fell to pieces. We didn’t have many books in our house! I finish pretty much everything I start. The last one I gave up on was The Queen of Dreams by Peter Hamilton
8. Other than writing, what would be your dream job? And what’s the most interesting job you’ve actually had?
Film director. I’ve had the most fun being an historical advisor to a couple of epic productions, the best of which, funnily enough, was Jerry Bruckheimer’s King Arthur. The stories I could tell . . .
9. What’s the book – or who’s the author – you turn to when you’re sad, ill or worried?
10. What’s your view of eBooks and online writing – blogs, fan-fiction, etc? Are you involved in any online writing yourself?
Not desperately keen on these. I love books. I do write occasionally for blogs and I write a lot of reviews on Facebook – but I’m not a fan of fan fiction.