Sunday, January 13, 2013

An Interview with Author Matt Posner

Welcome to Meet The Author! Today Matt Posner has stopped by to give us a little insight into his life and his books.  So let’s get started.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I live and work in Queens, New York and I teach a city school in Brooklyn. I'm originally from Miami, Florida and have an academic background in fiction writing. I'm also a performing point in an avant-garde multimedia band called The Exploration Project. I've been happily married to Julie since 1999. 

What projects have been published?

I am still working on the School of the Ages series, set to constitute five novels and an indefinite number of shorter books that are short story collections or novelettes featuring my characters. I published three novels and two short books so far, and the fourth novel is deep into the first draft now. Also, along with Jess C. Scott I am the author of Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships, an advice book for teenagers on the topics in the title.

 Tell us about the School of the Ages series.

The School of the Ages series is about a magic school in New York City and the kids who are in it. My main character is Simon, who with his friends grows up in the books with lots of loss and adventures. The books feature a strong ensemble supporting cast of both entertaining student magicians and really horrendous villains. The books are multicultural, combining magical and mystic traditions of East and West, and featuring a lot of real-world places and events. I don't like to mention Harry Potter, but I keep getting asked, and no, except for the commonality of the magic school setting, the books are nothing like Rowling's books. They are darker, and they don't have any of that bother about fate and prophecy and dark lords:  I used to use the slogan for them that I still like:  GROWING UP MAGICAL IS HARD.

How did you select the title of your novel?

The first book is The Ghost in the Crystal. I chose the title because it features a ghost attached to a crystal, and both ghost and crystal are strong nouns that properly suggest adventure and magic.

The series title School of the Ages came about because of my mistake. I wanted to name the series after the painting by Raphael in the Vatican, with all the philosophers. I thought that painting was called "The School of the Ages." But I made a mistake as it is actually "School of Athens." My  mental mistake occurred because that painting is on the cover of Harold Bloom's book The Western Canon:  The Books and School of the Ages.  Harold Bloom is to me as a lion to a jackrabbit; he couldn't care less if he tried with both hands.

What was your inspiration?

I love to write about magicians and wizards. I've done it since my teenage years. I was originally planning to write a series about one master wizard and three or four teenage apprentices. Then I was working in a yeshiva high school in Long Island, and became fascinated by the Mishnaic (Orthodox Jewish) subculture that controlled life there, and wanted to write it into a novel. So I created a school that was half Jews, studying Cabala, and half non-Jews, studying mostly Hermetic magic (European/Middle Eastern tradition) with some Indian culture mixed in.

Overall, my inspiration is reading nonfiction, history and culture and science, which I then incorporate in various ways into plotlines.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on School of the Ages 4:  Simon Myth. So far, the largest and the longest book because it encompasses a lot of characters and settings and resolves many plotlines that have been ongoing for a long time. I am sure the fifth book will be much shorter because it will be just a series of adventures.

What are you reading at the moment?

I read almost exclusively independent authors, but it happens that I am reading Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. I read about fifty pages and then had to take a break, and when I returned to it I had forgotten who the dozen or more characters were, so I may need to start all over again. The last time I had such a problem was when I tried Anna Karenina, which I ultimately set aside.

Do you have any advice for other authors?

It's not a living for most people who do it. Don't try to make writing a profession if you have any choice. If you want to be an independent author, learn marketing (which I myself have had to learn in small bites and still have not mastered). You can be published, you can have some readers, but big money and success are very elusive.

Don't trust large publishers. They specialize in screwing authors out of money and rights, and they are in financial trouble and desperate.

And finally, can you tell us some fun facts about yourself, such as crossed skydiving off my bucket list.

I guess I have an informal list in my mind of great paintings I want to see. Here in New York I've seen "Persistence of Memory," "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon." In Philadelphia I saw a Cezanne Large Bathers. In the Louvre I saw -- well, who can list everything you see in the Louvre? In Amsterdam I saw "The Night Watch." Most recently, I walked into a room in the Vienna Museum of Art History and it was filled with Breughels. "Tower of Babel," "Procession to Calvary," "Peasant Dance," "Hunters in Winter." OMFG! Standing in front of things I've admired since childhood. This year or next we hope to see "The Scream" in Copenhagen. Stuff in Italy will have to wait a few years, though.

Where can we find out more about you, and where can we purchase your books?

I'm a reader-friendly author, ready to hear from people who like my books or have questions about them. Here's how to reach me.

I'm also a Goodreads author.

All my books are available for Amazon Kindle. All my novels are available at the Nook store also. Teen Guide is available in every digital format and in paperback at all online booksellers. In India, my first two novels are exclusively in paperback from Times Group Books, available at online booksellers like and and others.

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