Matthew Bennett Young is a British author and has published in many forms (picture
books, flash fiction, short stories and poetry) although his big passion is for picture
books. Not only does he write but sometimes he illustrates as well. He is also an
artist-educator and has been teaching his inspiring workshops all over the world. He
currently resides in Montreal and is a member of Artist Inspire and Culture a L’Ecole.
He believes all creativity is a form of expression and is essential for wellbeing,
especially now, and it takes practice!
The soccer ball in this story leaves Earth with a mighty
strike of the boot and rockets past every planet. Each planet
has a landmark of a famous soccer city in the UK. See if
you can work out which city and soccer club it is!
So welcome today on Discovery Wordsmith. I am Matthew Bennett.
Matthew, hello. How are you doing?
Matthew: I’m very well, thank you, Steven. Thanks for having me on.
Stephen: Yeah, great. It’s great to sit here talking to you. So before we get into your book, tell us a little bit about you what you like to do, where you live things like that, other than writing.
Matthew: Okay. I have something here that what should tell you a lot about who I am.
It’s It’s a mug of tea build builders tea. I’m just gonna have a slurp. Okay. That’s a pretty big cup. I tend to I tend to lose my voice when I’m when I put more than 10 words together. I think it’s part of the, the isolation during the pandemic. You where’s my voice gone, no it’s PG tips. So that’s a big bra brand in the uk. I’m from the uk. Originally Stephen and a long time ago, I I left the uk went via Sweden, spent some time in Sweden, and then came over here to Montreal for basically my, my ex-wife’s career. We came over for that reason, and we’ve been here since 2012.
Stephen: Yeah. So where exactly do you live now?
Matthew: In Montreal? Yeah. I don’t, where are you, Steven? Where do you I am
Stephen: a little way south. I am right below Lake Erie, about an hour south of Lake Erie by Kent State, where the Kent State shootings were.
Matthew: Oh, okay. Dubious claim to fame.
Stephen: Yeah. But everybody knows it, okay.
Matthew: Yeah. So what are some of the things you like to do? You mean besides what I, what my writing is obviously a big passion. Yes. And particularly children’s or picture books. I must there’s a reason why I catch myself saying children’s books because I I don’t specifically write for children.
And when we get onto it, I think, I don’t. Know if you have any questions about that, but I really write to try and encourage a dialogue between adults and children or just adults, as well. I don’t see why picture books should have a, should be exclusively for children at all.
They are associated, that’s a strong association, but so many of them Deal with and have adult styles. And yeah, I just find the art and literature beautiful relationship to put together in that format. So that’s really why. Otherwise I I try and keep fit. I’m doing a bit of yoga. I really love that.
I love cooking trying different styles of cooking. Yeah. What else? Yeah, I can’t really think. I think,
Stephen: so you mentioned the tea and around here my son has become a tea connoisseur. He has, he goes to a specialty tea places and he told us all how hot the tea should be for different types and how long you steep it for different types.
And he is got like a specialty tea kettle so he can set the temperature just right. Certain mugs you’re not allowed to use. With anything other than tea. And he’ll put different herb teas or berry teas and stuff in different mugs and yeah, he’s really become the picky little connoisseur about it.
Matthew: That’s interesting. I’m kudos to anyone who becomes a connoisseur of anything really. I think and tea, I think the tea I’m drinking is vulgar if in the literal sense of the word. It’s just typical. That’s why they call it builders tea.
It’s what you have at a break. Lots of tannin, pretty strong flavor. There’s nothing delicate about it. Let’s put it this way. I don’t think your son. Would bother with it, but I know what you mean. It is, there’s some there’s a really nice Persian tea shop here in, in in Montreal and I had a black tea there once when I was meeting with a friend and it was just delicious actually.
Just on its own with no, no milk, nothing, just very fragrance and light and yeah. So I can Completely understand anyone becoming fascinated with different teas. And of course there’s, there are. Like everything, there’s such a, once you get into it, there’s such a di diverse range of products.
I remember, I dunno if you remember the, I was looking at Lapsang, Soong. Do you know, have you tried that one? You No. Okay. It was because it disappeared and growing up. Or at least maybe when I was a young adult, I really enjoyed that. It’s got a very smoky flavor and that’s apparently the reason it fell outta favor was because there was an association with po Possible association with carcinogens.
And so it wasn’t, it wasn’t sold anymore. But really unique flavored tea, a little bit like smokey malt whiskeys and things like that, in that bracket of. Of PT flavors. Yeah. Okay. That’s
Stephen: cool. Yeah. He gave, got us some on Christmas and brewed ’em up just right and I was impressed.
It definitely did taste. Very good. Brewed correctly, and steeped just the right amount and stuff. So yeah, I was like, okay you sold me that. Teas can be better than I always thought they were. I, I’m standard American. Put a teabag in. Okay, it’s done. Whatever.
Matthew: Yeah. No, and it’s great when, if he’s looking at the herbal teas as well, they are really camera mile tea is just, is definitely something that you might consider before, before bedtime, if you just need a, yeah.
Stephen: So ma, we’re going to talk a little bit about your book called Space Ball. But before we do that, what got you into writing? Why did you wanna start writing?
Matthew: think What we’ve, yeah, I think what we have planned to talk about today is really all those things are connected, of course, but I think how can you not experiment with writing? I think if you, whether you continue or not is another thing, but I think everybody must surely experiment at some point.
And if you discover a voice or something, if you enjoy it, then you might continue as I have. But I have, as far as I can recollect, I’ve always enjoyed it. So in, in various formats, this is the picture books are really what I do now, but I’ve. Occasionally I write a poem as well.
Little stories, vignettes, a little bit of magic realism as well. I often get asked in, I do workshops for children in schools actually about creative workshops for producing. Your own stories u using, actually using music, which is very interesting to, to stimulate their creativity initially at least.
But and one question is very common of course is, are you gonna write a proper book? And yeah I’m just full of admiration for. For authors who engage with a longer work. It’s not been my thing. I have a few ideas, but which could, which certainly could work.
But I think I, I love producing, thinking of a concept that’s simple. Producing a picture book with obviously with pictures and text and Giving somebody a glimpse of a beautiful literary artistic world for, five or 10 minutes. And that really appeals to me. And then, and I, ideas have never been a problem.
So I’ve, I have so many that I want to do. So that’s it. I just, the time that it takes to produce them is I’m not gonna have enough time for the ideas that I wanna explore.
Stephen: Yeah, I understand that. Your book baseball we’re gonna talk about tell everybody a little bit about what it is and why you wanted to write this book.
Matthew: Yes. All my books I think are ultimately about, Bringing the reader to a place where they reflect on their ex their own experience, is the simplest way I can put it. Even though they all do that in a different way, that’s ultimately the foundation of what I think I’m doing.
And that reflection can involve, A healthy sort of disruption of routines in the way that we think about things. And that’s what I like to do. If I can, if I’ve done that and that’s what the reader gets from it, then I’m very happy because I think reflection about one’s own perceptions is really important.
As you, as we navigate our way through, through our lives. So with baseball that’s done in a very dynamic way. As I said in the beginning, using this very powerful, these two very powerful forces of entertainment, which are yeah the universe I suppose, which never fails to.
To stimulate the imagination and and soccer which is ob obviously I think the biggest sport globally. But the book is really a journey to the, to a point where there’s an expression in the book. There’s a father child relationship and. At three quarters of the way through the book, the father says, without spoiling it too much there’s a goal scored in the book, and the father says, that must be the greatest goal in the history of everything.
Okay. And that point is really the climax because th that’s the point I wanna bring the reader to, to consider. The history of everything. So your own history, your social history, political, your cultural and then that of others. So there’s, so at that point the child and the story fo, just focuses on that one expression.
And I love that because for me, sometimes you’re listening and we all drift off. But then something, somebody says, it could be one word or an expression, suddenly, you latch onto that. And that’s really what happens at that point in the book. In order for the reader to just con consider what is my own history?
Who, who am I and what is everybody else and what constitutes the history around me as well. But it’s a lot of fun. The soccer and the space bring the reader to that point, and that’s really the purpose of the book.
Stephen: Nice. Okay. Why did you wanna write a book like this?
Matthew: Oh, cuz I think that’s important, Steven. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. I also, so perhaps to answer your question more fully, I don’t want to do I don’t want to bring, you want to bring the reader with a certain amount of energy and engagement to that point. There is this sense of momentum building up through the book and a complete change of direction then at that point.
But it’s, it. I hope people find it. It’s a lot of fun. I’m all the people that I have read it have said so to me so far. Yeah it’s very easy to follow. And then you, ideally you are left with that reflection. So as a, as an author, I think you’re always trying to think certainly I am of You want your reader to to want to read your book again, to want to pick it up again, to want to check things, to continue the thinking after the book.
And I think that’s a really great piece of literature. If you can do that, then you’ve you’ve really achieved something a, as an author. I hope that that the package as it were of this book manages to achieve that.
Stephen: Nice. So you mentioned the reader feedback and people have read it.
Have you gotten kids saying, they love the book, or parents saying, my kids have read the book and loved it and that they’re asking for more. Oh, sure.
Matthew: Yeah, sure. Yeah. Yes I it’s such a I should explain Steven to you and you, the audience. I did, I had done a, had a bit of marketing experience before in other work that I was doing and.
Really the soccer and the space are really marketing vehicles for this book. So yeah the chil children love the energy and all I did the illustration as well, and it’s all collage, another objective of the book was to try and encourage children to do their own.
Illustrations. So they’re not perfect. It’s a bit messy. Here and there. It’s done with cutout cardboard and images from various magazines and also crayon, which I love. I love the textural, excuse me, of in illustrations. So there’s a strong flow.
To the book, and I think that there’s a good harmony to it. Yeah.
Stephen: Nice. And are there any other books or authors out there that you can think of that are similar to this book?
Matthew: I’m sure there probably are, but I don’t know Steven I creative nonfiction and will account for probably most of books about space. But this is really taking a unique spin on that looking at our solar system. But it starts off with a quote from Einstein.
Who I just think must, he was such an amazing character and interesting person and thinking again about. Just things that he said. He was so succinct and saying that fantasy, one, the book starts with his, a quote from him saying that fantasy is more important than knowledge.
And, you would be, if you don’t think about it more on a deeper level, you would be surprised that he might say that because he was he’s so famous for what he achieved academically but. Definitely, it makes sense that he would say that because without his imagination he wasn’t able to use the scientific knowledge that he had to, to progress in his thoughts.
I think that’s what he means with that. And I think that’s a beautiful way to set up the certainly. My picture book in this case. And great for people to, to bear in mind generally. So yeah.
Stephen: Nice. This is a little weird for your type of book, but could you see this being turned into like a movie or a TV movie or a TV show?
Matthew: I don’t, I haven’t thought of that. No. No, it hasn’t occurred to me. No. I don’t know. I don’t, I’m not, I’m, I sorry Steven to interrupt you, but I I do, no, I do. Of course, I’m aware in the publishing World Series are so popular, so in that sense it could be part of a series. But I haven’t thought about animation.
I, there is, there’s another book that I’ve done. I haven’t even. Published it yet, but graphic designer I was working with asked me, have you considered this as an animation? And it’s just another world to me. I, it is something I don’t have any experience of in terms of what I’ve done.
So I’d love to, I think the next step for me, certainly tech, technically. In that sense is doing audiobooks. But I’m, yeah, I’m definitely open. I love collaborations and using the material in any way that you can. I think that’s really important.
Stephen: And do you have plans for your next book?
Matthew: Yeah, I just, I’ve just finished a draft of my next one actually. It’s The first book I that was published was, it was all, it was about color called Maybe Colors. And that was really a poetic, simple poetic text with beautiful illustrations biographic designer in Sweden. As I told you, I was there for a while and it was, it’s really a playful experience or book that explores the experience of color, in a very simple way.
And young, young, younger children could definitely re relate to this. In fact, they have in my experience when I’ve done workshops with that book And readings for a younger audience. So it’s nice to do that kind of thing. But this new the next book I’ve just done the draft it’s uses color as a theme again, but in a kind of, it’s quite conceptual, so it’s not a story.
It’s just something I’m interested in in a. In that I, I’m interested for that particular concept and it’s called What’s your favorite color? It’s gonna be, should be published very soon. So we’re, yeah, all the work’s finished.
Stephen: Now you said you do the art
Matthew: also sometimes. Yeah, but I’ve done, yeah, I’ve got I’ve worked with.
Three other artists now on picture books. And I’ve done two myself. So there are some that I plan on illustrating in the future. I just enjoy it, I’ve always enjoyed that side of it too. It’s so exciting when you finish a text and you have the opportunity to illustrate it. But It’s great to work with illustrators as well.
And this book that’s about to be published I worked with a very talented young artist, Stella of Oleo. She’s he here in Quebec as well. And we’ve just finished I think it maybe took six to eight months to finish. Wow.
Stephen: Yeah. Picture books take a while with the art especially they can
Matthew: do Yeah.
That, that’s interesting. You say that. I think. That’s another common question I get. And I have to say it depends on the picture book. In my experience, I think I mentioned maybe Colors was my first book. When I knew what I wanted to write, how I wanted to write it, it took me maybe an hour or two to write the whole thing cuz it’s quite repetitive, but not in a dull way, that’s, and that’s something you’ve gotta be really careful of as well.
I, or. I try and be aware of. So as a, I think with experience as an author you are gaining your own sense of fluency and awareness of where you are in your book and. Hopefully there’s less editing to do in that way, structurally with the more experience that you get. But that book was very quick because it’s more, it’s like little stanzas that are poetic.
But my second book, snowman, is actually a tra more traditional story, and it took me ages to get the, it took me nearly a year to finish the text cuz I could, I just didn’t feel. I didn’t feel right about it. I just didn’t feel like it, it was put together. And that was more of an organizational thing not the text itself, but where things should fit in, together.
So it’s very interesting. Yeah.
Stephen: Okay, good. So let me ask you some things besides your book what are some of your favorite books and authors, ones that you like to read?
Matthew: Yeah, I yeah, I,
I could say Stephen, there’s a lot of stuff that’s quite generic. That’s just the way it is. There’s a, but then you look at, some authors have taken that in a really constructive way, and one in particular sticks out, which you’ll know very well. Robert Munch. Okay. Okay. So he, I think he’s fantastic and how he gets his sense of humor across.
I find his books amazing and so I like him very much. I didn’t know about him. I hadn’t discovered him till I came to Canada, so I’m very grateful for that. I think. There’s just a joyful sense of humor in his, in, in his picture books that aligns very well with the other objectives of that, that he had with each book.
I think so. Robert Munch A big influence when I was younger, certainly as a child. Is David McKee? I don’t know if you’ve, you know of him? Yeah. Okay. And actually older as well. And it’s interesting to talk about him, his work because he really did tackle subjects that were perhaps more adult orientated.
If you look at. He’s, he wrote one book called, which was really a social commentary. It was called, not Now, Bernard. I don’t know if you’ve come across it.
Stephen: No, that doesn’t ring a bell.
Matthew: Okay. And it’s quite shocking because four pages in a child a young boy goes out into the garden and.
Discovers a monster in the garden and he goes back indoors to try and tell, to tell his parents. And it’s really about parenting actually, because it is a comment on certain styles of parenting, cuz the parents just aren’t, don’t l listen or look at their child at all. And so he goes, he says, and his dad’s hammering a nail or something and.
Not now Bernard, it says so, so he goes to his mum to try and tell her, mommy, there’s a monster in the garden. She’s and they’re annoyed with him because she’s watering the plants and she doesn’t even look, they don’t even look at him when he is talking. And you get this kind of dreadful sense of how bad parenting could be sometimes.
And this, and it’s stark in this book and it’s course, he, of course, he wants to do it. The kid goes back out into the garden and a monster eats him a whole lot.
You can’t read that to a child.
Stephen: I’d read it to my kids, but they’re a little warped.
Matthew: I, I, I think my mine are quite sensitive and I just, no I couldn’t I think there’s enough out there that’s shocking that they Yeah, that’s really true. You can’t filter out, so I don’t need to.
But as a, as an artistic work, I’ve just found it amazing because he doesn’t, he could have stopped there. And this is what I admire so much about, about, the talent of some people. He takes that and. And the, basically the monster adopts the personality of the boys. So the monster goes in having eaten, the boy goes in, and because the parents aren’t even looking at, they don’t realize the mon, it’s the monster.
So they’re going, not now Bernard. And the mother serves the monster that his tea and the monster goes up to bed. In sleeps in the boys bed and the parents don’t even realize. So I think let’s
Stephen: Very like grim fairytale yeah. That sounds like something you’d read in a grim fairytale,
Matthew: But huge.
I just think, I just find him an amazing author, huge talent and did, he produced so much. There’s another book called The Hill and the Hill and the Rock, and it’s just really a fantastic folley. I just laughed my head off. And again, it goes back to this ability for of some people to, to use their imagination in such a way that you were just carried off.
In, in the sort of carnival of their imagination. It’s a he was a big influence.
Stephen: Are there any local bookstores that you like up there?
Matthew: There are a few. There are a few, yeah. There’s a local there’s a local publisher called Drawn and Quarterly. They do a lot of interesting work with adult literatures.
They’re doing all, they publish all sorts. They do a lot of graphic novels and they have a picture book outlet as well which is great. It’s great that They can make it work. Because given the, the amount of competition there is, certainly online now as well.
It must be very difficult to keep that, that, that sort of business going.
Stephen: Okay, so before we talk a little bit more author stuff if a parent or whatever came up to you on the street and said, Hey Matthew, I heard you wrote a book. I was thinking of getting it for my kid, reading it with them.
Why should we get your book? What would you tell ’em?
Matthew: I would tell the parent that What I hope for and certainly it’s been the case so far in my experience, the book will make you want to talk together as a, parent-child relationship about your experience of something. The first time I read my first audience for maybe colors was My son who I dedicated it to him in Sweden at the time.
He was eight years old, I think. And he read it with his friend and they hadn’t even finished the book before they started talking about their experience of their own experience of colors. And that’s what I. What I want that, that engagement between generations and, within generations as well and within yourself.
A simple concept to enjoy. But a one that, that, could sustain itself for a while. You want your reader to. To return to your, what you’ve done in their thoughts. And really about it. It’s about changing that, that perception that we were talking about, so that the next time that you see a color, it’s not just part of your everyday landscape, it’s, oh I, I read maybe colors that, that was very specific in directing my thoughts in a particular way.
And it’s almost like. C b t you are, you’re hopefully giving the reader another perspective in their everyday experience.
Stephen: Nice. Okay, great. So let me ask you, you’ve written several books. What have you learned through that process that you’re doing different now than when you first started?
Matthew: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. I
I think with, when you produce more than one and they are varied in their style and presentation, I think you gain a lot of confidence from that when you know when you’re. In taking on new projects, I think you also feel a lot more comfortable about dropping ideas. I’m a, I’m much more aware of what it is that I think I can work with in terms of an idea might come along but if it.
Then I like to leave it in, leave it in my thoughts for any, any length of time It can be really I have a book that I’m planning on which I’m really excited about actually. But I’ve had it in my thoughts for several years. It’s ba it’s based in London, in the UK actually.
And I know what I want and I did some research when I was over there last summer. So I, I think you just get a, you get a lot, you gain a lot of confidence. You get a lot more a sense of how to do, how to complete what not to do and where you are when you’re involved in a work.
You’re involved so deeply. I think one of the hardest things is to understand is to separate yourself objectively and. And experience it as a consumer would, or the, the reader will eventually you can’t do it, but you can to a certain extent with more experience. And I think now I’m a lot more aware of what I need to do in certain parts of a project.
To make it coherent.
Stephen: Okay. Yeah. I can see that I get the same way as I’ve learned and done more. I think a lot of authors feel that, and that’s good to know for new authors that it starts coming together as you do a little bit more.
Matthew: Oh, definitely. I think my first, the first things I wrote were very poor.
Just, yeah, you, you’re really just finding your feet, finding your voice, finding out what it is that you want to do with and I think once you have that mindset, that frame of mind then a lot of what you need comes in through experience. So yeah.
Stephen: Okay. And so you suggested we discuss word games, which I found very interesting because, we’re I’m a big gamer.
I love the game and word games are something that authors should probably be good at. And people don’t want to play against the author in the group in a word game. First of all, what are some of your favorite word games, and why is that important to you to talk about? Do you
Matthew: know Steven, I have to be honest, I, I.
I thought about you, you, when you asked what would you like to talk about in the second part of the interview? And
I don’t think they’re talked about enough. That’s that, that’s the thing. And I, and it was, my experience, I’m not saying this would work for everybody, but I think a big part of my childhood experience was playing Scrabble and. As, this might come as a surprise, but it’s, yes, it’s about it’s competitive in the sense that you are trying to score points off words, but you are looking at combinations of letters and then you realize what combinations work well and you get a sense of.
Of words from that. But what I loved about that game was the opportunity that it gave you to also that kind of word game I enjoyed because you can discuss intermittently with you, with your opponent, anything, in a very, really, Pleasant way whilst you are, ruminating on what word?
So it’s a kind of, it’s a, I find that game fascinating because it’s probably the closest I can get to multitasking. It’s is ha having a conversation and yet giving yourself the time to. To play with with the combination of letters and the spontaneity of not, of not knowing what letters you’re gonna get.
It’s great, but I think, I don’t know enough. I wish I knew more. Bo there’s a, boggle was very popular, but then there’s a stress ile Yeah. There’s a stress to that though. I, that I think is appropriate. Sometimes, but not always. If you compare that to Scrabble, you’re talking like an entirely different tempo.
Stephen: And Scrabble gets more of the feel of playing chess with somebody. If you’re playing somebody that’s about the same level player as you, it can be a lot more fun. But when you’re playing somebody who’s a pro that has like the Scrabble dictionary and just knows so many words it loses some balance to it and not quite as much fun for a newbie a lot of times the same as playing a chess game.
Matthew: I have a solution for you, Steven. I thought of a variation for my kids. Which I love, I have to say, I know it’s me. This was me saying it. But there, there’s it fits in with what I do with workshops with kids as well. But for my kids, I came up with, because you want to try and get them at the table before, you become adept at playing scr.
The typical game, right? So I said to them, look, You can put down any words you want. You can spell a word as long as you can define it. It doesn’t have to be a word in the dictionary.
Stephen: Nice. You’re raising little Shakespeares.
Matthew: Yeah. There you go. And this is something that brings, it, it resonates with, when I was doing workshops back in Europe when you’re dealing with kids at that age they’re so creative.
I used to do an exercise with them where, I would just say, and every single kid had a word that they made up and they knew what it meant. And very often the sound of that word. It was appropriate to their, what the definition or the meaning that they gave to that made up word.
So made up Scrabble and it’s just, how much fun is that? It just, it’s just so cool. And it gives you, you, you give your kids a chance to beat you where you don’t stand a Charles really.
Stephen: Yeah. They’ll definitely, no matter what, Tiles they have. They’ve got a word to put down.
They’ve got big words to put. Yeah. But I love that too, because instead of worrying so much about the competition and worrying about trying to compete at an adult level, it brings the game to a kid’s level and encourages their creativity. Yeah. Which is vastly important in my view. In their whole lives, especially if they wanna write or play music or many other endeavors.
Yeah. That creativity I think sometimes we don’t nurture it enough I’m sure you got some Scrabble purists out there going, oh my gosh, you could never
Matthew: do that. No. It’s just, I was just thinking the same thing. Yeah. Yeah.
Stephen: But you’re using the tool in a different way and that’s, perfectly acceptable.
There. There’s a new game out on digital, on phones and stuff called Wordle, and I know I see a lot of people playing that one. I think sometimes people avoid the word games because they associate them with Scrabble and, oh, I’m no good at Scrabble. So they think of all word games as Scrabble
Matthew: yeah. I think. I think a lot. Imagine if you’re dyslexic as well, what a nightmare it must have been to to have that, have that sort of proposed as a game. But again, yeah, if you could make up your own words, it wouldn’t matter how you spell them, I don’t know. Steve and I dunno, Steven I think whatever way you encourage connection with. The form the graphic the sound, just if you can get people to enjoy that, any a any one of those things then you’ve, you are, you’re helping them in a world, to To develop a a much better way of and improving their communicative skills.
That’s, and games are a great way. Yeah. That’s so important. In my work, I had the workshops I do the mu the musical stories workshop. I’ve got one actually on Monday that I’m gonna do. Here in Montreal with a group of eight, nine year olds it’s all about use, developing a sense of literacy in terms of feeling words.
And that, that’s ultimately about being able to communicate with your, within yourself and with your. With within your, with your relationships as you grow older. So it’s it’s disguised because the children walk off with a, with their own story. And that looks like it’s the objective.
And of course that’s a great objective. But actually what they’re doing in my, for me is they are nurturing their vocabulary for the way that they feel. And
Stephen: That’s not only important for kids to be able to express themselves, but for writers to be able to describe that for other characters and worlds and things.
Matthew: like that. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So it’s yeah it’s it’s great to do that with with the games. What is also completely. Different in terms of what became very popular though I’m sure you remember when it happened cause it took the, a bit like wordle, but the magnetic words that you put on the fridge.
Yes. Yeah. And I love, I just think that was fantastic. When I first came across it, I dunno, 20 odd years ago of course I bought a set straight away and it’s just that Notion of it, it’s very clever because it is, it’s those moments that you, when you’re doing something else totally unrelated.
So you go into the kitchen, you wanna put the kettle on or chop a apple up, or whatever it is, and they’re a couple of words on the fridge. You just, of course you’re gonna play around with them while you’re waiting for the ket kettle to boil or whatever. And so you are moving through that.
World of words again in, in but you are presented with, you are forced because of the words are complete. I love that as well.
Stephen: And they have variations of that too, where it is words and you’re supposed to put ’em together in sentences or sayings and phrases.
They, they make ’em to leave messages for people, but I’ve seen other ones that are. Focus more on creativity to allow kids to, we’ve already got all the words here. Just put ’em in an order that tells a story, makes sense, whatever.
Matthew: It related to this completely is on my website.
I think there’s a few examples, but you met you asked me, about my experience and I think we talked a little bit about that. In terms of picture books, but one thing I really enjoyed was there was a challenge on the radio once many years ago. And I forget what the program was called, but they invited famous creative personality, and in this case it was David Lynch that came on and they, talk about creativity in their process, of course, but then at the end of the program they the creative would, would offer six words and you had to write flash fiction in a hundred words or less using those six words.
Oh, wow. And I just thought what a brilliant exercise it was and so productive in many different ways. And I enjoyed it so much. I think he, I can still remember some of the words that he used bacon fire yeah, scissors, I think were in there as well. And I ended up writing three different stories using those just those six.
But the the challenge, what a challenge it was to try and. Create a coherent piece in under 100 words. Yes. So you are constantly, while you are being creative, you’re trying to edit as well. And that, that was really useful for me as a, as an exercise. I must do some more of that actually.
Stephen: And you mentioned your website. What is your website address?
Matthew: It’s www.one wild word. Org. One wild word is all one, one word. And there again, it was I called it that because I liked the idea that all you need to start with is one word, like a seed and where you can take it from there is the fascinating journey of writing, I think.
Stephen: Nice. Great. Yeah. All right. Matthew, before we go could you do you have any advice for new authors out there? Especially picture book kids authors, which I think is still more difficult than a lot of people would realize. Any advice for them?
Matthew: I think get, just get tested and don’t and don’t try not to be too sensitive. I, that’s, it’s easy for me to say. But there was a time when I took negative feedback very personally. And now I love it. Actually. I it seems silly to say it, but I do say to people that sometimes I say, negative feedback can be more important than positive.
So don’t worry if it’s really what you are. If you really have the, if you have this passion it’s more like a need. You need to do it. And certainly in my case I can’t stop. It’s not something that I can just switch off. It’s something that I, it’s a way that I need to express myself that works for me.
But of course, it’s such, such a delight when you go from. A concept in your head to something that somebody can hold and enjoy and relate to is really a phenomenal joy and achievement. And one, one should always be proud of that you forget about it. But it’s, culturally it’s such an important resource artistic expre expression in any way.
But I would say most of all, What I, I don’t I, it’s so easy to be discouraged in so many ways. But try and produce something that, that works for you and then give it to somebody who you don’t know you’ve never met. Somehow you’ve gotta get it to an audience that isn’t emotionally related to you.
Yeah. You don’t have a relationship with and try and get feedback then and then look at the feedback in a very, in a very sort of sensible and productive way. Because the more I, the longer I’ve done this, the more I realized that a lot of feedback, like my fir the first, one of the first feedbacks feedback I got on maybe colors was from quite a prominent reviewer at the time.
But she wrote, the blue is too blue in the book. I was like, oh, okay. And then I, that was really important for me. That was a really sort of significant point in my career, in my health, my mental health as a, as an author was, I just realized, you’re not gonna you can’t satisfy everybody.
It doesn’t matter how much you want to. And then when you get feedback from so many different sources about the same thing, you realize everybody likes different parts and that’s a good thing. And they don’t like this and he doesn’t like that. She didn’t like that. But they like, he liked this and she liked that.
And so it works when you get that feedback back, you realize, okay, all of this is fine. I, you accept all of that. But then you might get something where you realize, okay, structurally, There’s a comment or some feedback where you realize, yes, I should have done that instead, or I can change that because that person is actually right.
I can see that now. And you real, you, you realize that you may have overlooked something that could be a problem. So I would say get as much feedback as you can and work through it. And that means. When you think you finished, you never have.
So don’t ever think you finished anything,
Famous. You don’t finish it, you just abandon it.
Matthew: So that’s what you’re not supposed, that’s what you shouldn’t do. But I think it’s never what it is a, ultimately what you produce in the end is a version that’s, That you might be happy with and that you think has longevity, but to get to that point, I think you are, you could do any number of 10 to 20 revisions of everything, right? And that’s, yeah, that I’m glad I said that because I think that’s something that you. I think you don’t realize as starting out you, you might think this is finished, and then you get your feedback and then, but you should always try and look at where where that particular project might be found lacking.
Stephen: Great. Matthew, it has been really fun talking to you. I, your book sounds great. Baseball. I’ll provide links in the show notes to it and your website so everybody can check you out. I appreciate you taking some time being on today.
Matthew: Thank you, Steven. It was a real pleasure. Thanks so much.