Friday, June 2, 2023

6 Books with Matt Wallace

Photo by Edward Earl Newton
Matt Wallace is the Hugo nominated author of Rencor: Life in Grudge City and the Sin du Jour series, and he won a Hugo Award alongside Mur Lafferty for the fancast Ditch Diggers. He’s also penned more than a hundred short stories in addition to writing for film and television. In his youth, he traveled the world as a professional wrestler and unarmed combat and self-defense instructor before retiring to write full time. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Nikki.

Today he tells us about his Six Books.

1. What book are you currently reading?

I just finished an ARC of Premee Mohamed's debut short story collection No One Will Come Back for Us and it's just everything I love about short stories and collections and dark fantasy and SF. Premee has become one of my favorite authors of near-future stuff, alongside Dr. Malka Older and Eliot Peper, but Premee brings and weaves horror elements to her near-future fiction in a unique way. She's a scientist, and she focuses a lot on climate change fiction and themes of colonization. Her stories feel frighteningly relevant and wholly possible, and terrible things usually happen, but I find something oddly hopeful about her work, too. 

2. What upcoming book are you really excited about?

Chaos Terminal by Mur Lafferty, the second book in her Midsolar Murders SF/mystery series, which is like Murder, She Wrote in space with aliens and a sentient space station. The first book, Station Eternity, is the best SF novel Mur has ever written, in my humble opinion. It comes out in November and Mur hasn't sent me an advanced copy yet, because she secretly hates me (she is one of my best friends and podcast co-host). I've got The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw on the top of my TBR pile. Cass is one of the most singularly exciting voices in the game for me. No one uses language quite like them to create mood and character and atmosphere and their worlds. Their perspective on reality is as unique as their voice, too.

3. Is there a book you're currently itching to re-read?

Kristopher Landis wrote this amazing oral history of WMAC Masters, my favorite kids show from the early 90's, called Quest for the Dragon Star. WMAC Masters was a live-action Saturday morning series based around this fictional martial arts tournament that was kind of quasi-sci-fi, like a combination of pro wrestling and a tournament fighter video game. It had ninjas and strong moral lessons and, for the time especially, pretty stunning rep of both women and people of color and starred every martial artist actor and stuntperson from the era, including most of the O.G. Mortal Kombat cast, using their real names and playing fictionalized versions of themselves. There was nothing like it, it only lasted two seasons, and it ended on a massive cliffhanger that's been gnawing at me for thirty years. Anyway. Kris interviewed the entire cast and crew, the creators, assembled all of this behind-the-scenes archival material, and wrote this utterly exhaustive-in-the-best way history of every single episode in chronological order. My friend, author Hector Acosta, gave me a copy as a gift when it was first published, but I recently ordered a signed copy from Kris just to support the cause (he not only put the whole project together on spec, but he also published the book himself) and because I wanted it. So, it's on my nightstand right now, waiting to be reread. I was also talking to Alex Segura recently about The Godfather and it made me want to reread that for the first time since I was a teenager.

4. How about a book you've changed your mind about - either positively or negatively? Or A book that you love and wish that you yourself had written.

I don't know about a book I've changed my mind about, at least a more recent one. With the second Dune movie coming out I've talked a lot with friends and readers and other authors about how my perception of that original book has changed over time. It's still one of my very favorite novels (it ends with a literal knife fight over the fate of the universe, and if you know me you know that is extremely my shit), but I see the flaws in the writing style and Herbert's perspective on things now that I didn't see when I was a kid. So, when anybody criticizes the novel I'm basically like, "Yeah, you're right." But I still love what I love about it.

As for a book I wish I'd written myself, one of my favorite current fantasy series is C.L. Clark's Magic of the Lost. The first book, The Unbroken, did a lot of what I was trying to do with my novel Savage Legion, only Cherae did it way, way better. It made me extremely jealous while being grateful it exists because it's such a good book and such a "me as a reader" kind of book. The latest in the series, The Faithless, is also spectacular. Everyone should check out the series if they haven't.

5. What's one book, which you read as a child or a young adult, that has had a lasting influence on your writing?

I was just tweeting about the Dragonlance novels, which Ursula Vernon calls "extruded fantasy flavor," and she's not wrong. But I found a secondhand paperback copy of Dragons of Spring Dawning under my desk in language arts class in like, sixth grade? It smelled like someone had spilled a bottle of cheap cologne on it. Anyway, it was my entry into the fantasy genre, for good or bad, and it planted the seed of wanting to write my own sprawling epic fantasy series. It also occurred to me recently that when I say I "found" the book I very well might've just stolen it. Some kid from another period probably forgot it, and when they came back to look for it the book was gone. Sorry, kid.

6. And speaking of that, what's your latest book, and why is it awesome?

My latest novel is Savage Crowns, which is the third and final book in my Savage Rebellion Trilogy. It's awesome, to me, because I've completed my very first epic fantasy series. The idea was to write kind of a "self-aware" epic fantasy. Like, what if an epic fantasy story had learned from other epic fantasy stories and tropes, and that formed the basis of their world. I think I accomplished what I set out to do. The series had a difficult publishing journey since it was acquired in 2018, and that journey influenced me negatively in a lot of ways and the writing of the later books, but we both persevered and crossed the finish line and they all came out. So, I'm proud of that.

Thank you, Matt!

POSTED BY: Paul Weimer. Ubiquitous in Shadow, but I’m just this guy, you know? @princejvstin.