A Merry Christmas to all my readers, and please welcome my guest, Matthew Drzymala
I think if you read on you’ll see why it’s particularly appropriate to post my interview with him today, Christmas Eve. Our writing has something in common, which is that we write stories set in places that haven’t quite got themselves into the 21st century yet (or even the 20th, some might say). I’ve enjoyed reading some of his stories and I have a couple more on my Kindle waiting to be read over the festive season.
Here’s a link to Matthew’s blog: http://matthewdrzymala.com/
You’ll be able to find out more about him and his writing over there. I hear he interviewed a really famous mystery writer recently as well!
Anyway, let’s move swiftly on to the questions.
1. First of all, something which is possibly foremost in your mind at the moment. Please tell me about your latest publication.
My latest release is called Albert’s Christmas. It is the fourth story set in my fictional village of Bumpkinton and the second to be set at Christmas. This story is set around the village tramp, Albert Scatterhorn who steps forward to fill some very big black boots and a fluffy white beard.
Albert has had small cameos in two stories and has a sad past. I touch on that in this story, but not too much, I have a draft of story that is all about Albert which explores how he became a down and out, but I don’t plan to release that for quite some time yet.
[Here’s a link which should enable you to buy ‘Albert’s Christmas’ from your local Amazon store wherever you are (clever, isn’t it?): http://authl.it/B00Q1J55GS]
2. Do you like Christmas yourself? Are there any special festive traditions in your family? Or do you like to do anything in particular on Christmas Day?
I love Christmas, always have. We don’t have traditions as such, no. Since meeting my fiancée we tend to spend the day together. We open presents while listening to Christmas music (non of that Wizzard and Slade rubbish, more like Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley and Chris Rea. Who doesn’t love Chris Rea?).
We stay in or sometimes meet our friends for a drink but the evening is spent watching TV. I tend to take the telly for Doctor Who and Elaine for Call The Midwife and Strictly. We just love spending the day together. If the weather is nice we may have a walk in the park. You see all the kids on their new bikes that you know will probably mangled by May in a dusty shed somewhere.
3. What made you think of Bumpkinton? Is it based on a real place or is it your idea of a perfect, old-fashioned English village? (or maybe not quite so perfect)
Bumpkinton came about due to tiredness. It’s true. I took a creative writing course and we wrote a lot of stuff. As the months went by I was writing a lot of dark stuff. I was writing murder stories, quite horrific stories that involved a lot of bloodshed. We had to write a story for our last lesson and I was mentally drained. I really couldn’t think of much, I was struggling to find anything to write.
Then I thought ‘Write something light’. It was that simple really. I took to the internet and asked my friends to throw lots of names at me for characters, normal and a bit silly and a few of my Bumpkinton characters came from there. Then I just wrote a very silly story.
Thatis the story about Albert. It was the first one I wrote but due to events that happen in parts of it, I need to write a few stories before I get to that point in time. In essence everything I’m writing now is a prequel to the original story. I think I will save that story until I decide to put Bumpkinton to bed. The storyline of that one always makes me smile. For now it’s gathering dust, but one day it’ll be out and I think it’s probably going to be the silliest of all of the Bumpkinton’s.
It’s not set on any village that I know. It’s really just a setting for a colourful band of characters. The village is bigger than I’ve shown and there are more characters to come who haven’t even been mentioned yet. They will appear eventually. I intentionally didn’t base it on anything real. The characters at times are very caricature. I want to make the stories light and fun, hence there’s no swearing in them. The worst I’ve put is in Albert’s Christmas when a character says ‘Balls’ but that’s about as bad as it gets.
4. Have you ever lived in a place like Bumpkinton? Or would you like to live there, among your characters? Would there be any downsides?
I’d love to live in Bumpkinton. Father Whitworth O’Grady is the character I love writing the most. Everything I write for him is just effortlessly easy. Some characters are more awkward, but Whitworth is just a pure joy. I’d like to meet him and have a pint at The Ploughman’s Itch (the Bumpkinton pub, nothing sordid!)
I think Amelia Goose, the village busybody would irritate me to hell. She is there to annoy and believe me, she can be annoying to write. I feel though if she grates on me to write, she will grate on readers and that is exactly what I want her to do. I want people shouting ‘Shut up, Amelia!’ because invariably she ends up being silenced for her annoying views.
Other than her though, I think I’d fit right into Bumpkinton. I wish it existed.
5. Now some background information. How long have you been writing fiction?
I started to write when I took part in NaNoWriMo in 2011. I wrote a children’s novel which I still haven’t perfected. However, I’m working on a collection of short stories that involve the main character when he was younger than he is in the unfinished novel. I will finish it one day. I want to flesh him out more in the short stories and it may give me more options with the novel and help piece some bits together.
I wish I could say I’ve written since I was little, but I can’t. I was an avid reader and did write some stories when I was small, but it kind of died away in secondary school. However, taking part in NaNoWriMo fired my enthusiasm to try my hand at writing stories. I’m still learning, I know I can get better but that will come with experience.
6. What was your first story about?
If you mean that I remember writing, I’m not sure. I do remember one I wrote when I was eleven in school. It involved three friends going to a haunted house and one of them fell and got their leg caught in some broken floorboards. I can’t remember too much else about it though.
My first published story was a duel release. Last Christmas was written in a week as a very late Christmas tie-in for my first Bumpkinton novella, Bittersweet. They were released on 21st December 2013 (the day before my birthday).
7. Are you working on your next publication at the moment? Or perhaps having a well-earned rest?
I have bits and bobs written but I’m not concentrating on one thing at the moment. I plan to write five short stories with my novel character. I’ve written one so far and I have a chunk of next year’s Bumpkinton novella written, although I did that last year!
I may make that one into a novel, I’ll have to see how far it goes naturally. It also has my favourite story title so far. I can’t announce that yet, but if people thought Amelia Goose and Artichoke Caruthers were odd names, wait until they see the name of the character in the title of the next one.
However, I don’t plan to write much more now until January.
8. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Watch TV shows, mostly. I watch a lot on catch up. I’m currently working my way through The Walking Dead at the moment. I like to socialise with my partner and our friends and watch football. I’m a Manchester United fan, which raises a few eyebrows living in Liverpool. Let’s just say I’m not very popular with taxi drivers when they want to talk about Steven Gerrard and I tell them I’m a Mancunian. I’ve had a bit of colourful language thrown my way in the back of a cab in the last year or two! Haha
I probably don’t do too much to be honest. I used to Snowboard when I lived in Manchester as it has an indoor Ski Slope but I don’t get to it much anymore.
9. If you could go and live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
Anywhere Elaine wanted to be. Wherever she is is the best place in the world.
10. Would you be interested in being part of a colony on Mars?
Only if I get to handpick the people that go 😀
Thank you, Matthew, for some very good answers. I’m very much looking forward to my own Christmas visit to Bumpkinton.