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Interview with:

Matt Guion [nonentity8408] 

What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
The first books I remember reading are children's books: Goodnight Moon, The Missing Piece, Where the Wild Things Are, The Giving Tree, all the Sandra Boynton books, and the like. The first books I remember as having a definite impact on my writing are the Wayside School books by Louis Sachar. The way he pieced seemingly random elements together was fascinating to me, even then. I started writing for a school assignment, and found that I loved creating stories almost as much as I loved reading them. I started writing for my own pleasure shortly thereafter, but the first people to read anything I wrote were school teachers.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
My favorite genre to read is fantasy or science-fiction, because it is generally very imaginative. I generally enjoy reading young adult fiction, because I like most of the themes and messages in the pages, and because they, too, tend to be very imaginative. My favorite genre to write also tends to be fantasy, because my imagination has less boundaries to work against. I'll leave a link to my infrequently updated livejournal page. http://nonentity-8408.livejournal.com
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
My creative process involves a lot of note-taking. Sometimes, I get more into the planning for a story than the actual story itself. I also do a lot of wandering around and talking to myself about what's going on in a story. Sometimes things work better in my head than they do on paper.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Good stories.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
Characters. If you have good characters, you can make a good story. Things like plot, premise, setting, themes . . . and other storytelling elements can all be generated by well-created characters.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I've used both in equal measure, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
I have a whole system of five dimensions of character development which I won't get into in depth here, but as far as making the character believable, you want to ask two questions: What does your character want? and What is your character afraid of? There can be multiple answers for either of these. This is what is going to drive your character into action. He or she is either going to be moving toward or away from something. Also, a character needs both history and growth. He can't have been born explicitly for the story itself. There should be aspects of the character that even we as readers might not see. My characters usually come from personality quirks of people I already know. I develop them with extensive note-taking (of course). Oftentimes, I'll have my characters fill out one of those internet surveys or make a pretend facebook profile, because then you not only get information about the character, but information in the character's own voice, which will more often than not leave certain things out.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
No, I'm much better at writing.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
At this point, I'm still unpublished, so I'm writing just for the sake of writing.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Sometimes, frustrations I have will make their way onto the page, and it will give me an opportunity to rant a bit.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I participated in Power of the Pen in eighth grade and did very poorly. Nowadays, I participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which, strictly speaking, I don't consider a competition, but I did receive an award of sorts for reaching the 50,000 word quota, so that's something.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
My sister, who is a vastly better writer than I am, generally has useful things to say.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I think in a lot of ways I have, but in a lot of ways, I'll never be truly satisfied with the way I write. That's good, though, because otherwise my writing would become stagnant and would never improve.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
None whatsoever. I have, in the past, tried to make myself write every day, but I didn't do so well. The only exception is NaNoWriMo.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I use my laptop for most of my writing. Occasionally, if a computer is unavailable, I'll jot things down in a notebook. I also do most of my revision and editing on a computer. I don't print stuff a lot, because I have limited resources in that regard. My usual process is to plan characters, and then start writing. I usually keep fleshing out my characters and plot as I'm writing. I'll write until I hit a wall, and then (unless I'm doing NaNoWriMo) I'll go back and read through what I've written so far, to see if I can get the groove back again. Get a running start, as it were. I rarely finish things. Often I'll get a third of the way through one story, and then be distracted by another.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
I'm on the NaNoWriMo site a lot during October and November. I also spend a lot of time on YouTube, where there are other writers talking about some of their experiences and readers who talk about books in general.
What are you working on now?
I'm planning out my novel idea for NaNoWriMo, which is about a group of friends who gather a year after the death of one of their own to remember her by visiting the last places they remember seeing her.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
First off, pull them out and read them again. This could be a very painful process, depending on how well you wrote years ago, but fight through it. Could be there's some good ideas in there somewhere. If you've got something you feel reasonably good about, see what you can do to clean it up a bit. If it requires a complete rewrite, do that. If it just needs a few tweaks here and there, start tweaking. And show it others, someone who will give you good feedback. The more opinionated and blunt they are, the better.
What subjects do you teach? What types of students do you have?
I teach music, primarily instrumental. At the moment, I'm back in graduate school, but when I have students, they are of middle and high school age, generally intelligent, creative, and often unfortunately precocious people.
How have your past experiences prepared you for teaching? How did you become interested in education?
I was always that kid in school that everyone went to for help understanding the homework assignment. I enjoyed that kind of tutoring, and decided to make a career out of it.
Who was your most influential teacher and why?
There have been several, but it would probably be my high school band director, because he's the one that specifically got me interested in teaching music.
What is your educational philosophy?
Every child, regardless of age, race, color, creed, gender, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, or any other variable that I've forgotten to name, is entitled to the highest quality of education our world can provide in all subjects--academic, artistic, and athletic--so as to prepare them to pursue the careers and hobbies they wish to pursue and become well-rounded adults. If a teacher is incapable of providing such an education, he or she should refer the student to someone who is.
What is the secret to instilling interest in knowledge?
Well first of all, it's no secret, or at least it shouldn't be. Your students are not going to be interested in a subject unless you, yourself, are interested in it. ANY subject can be made interesting by the right teacher. Once you find something in a subject that captures your interest, you can capture theirs. Enthusiasm is infectious.

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Matt Guion
Bowling Green, Ohio

[nonentity8408] Matt Guion
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