Today we have New York school teacher Matt Posner, who has a great fantasy series called School of the Ages. Get your coffee and a scone – it’s time for a great interview!
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Matt Posner. I’m a public school teacher from New York City. My ambition from early teen years was to be a novelist, and I have finally achieved it. Widely-read, well-heeled novelist remains an ambition that fate holds in abeyance, but of course this appearance is the next of many steps toward that goal.
When did you start writing and what made you start?
When I was in elementary school I wrote for fun on typewriters supplied me for the purpose. It was a consequence of my voracity as a reader, I suppose. When you want more of something you enjoyed reading, you may have to write it yourself. If you think of a cool idea and no one has written it yet, you may have to write it yourself. I guess that is what I was up to even as a little kid. I committed to being a novelist when I was twelve.
Tell us a little bit about your latest books.
Since 2010 my focus has been books in the School of the Ages series, about America’s greatest magic school, featuring real places in New York and the world, realistic magic, humor clashing with darkness and tragedy, and a huge cast of well-developed characters.
I have just finished School of the Ages 4: Simon Myth. It features allies and enemies from Indian mythology, one as a menace in the 21st-century world, and others as elements of my protagonist Simon’s time-lost adventures in India’s distant past. Also, the books’ heroine, Goldberry, gets a chance to adventure without him for a while, and Yakov Mermelstein, Simon’s counterpart in the cabala school, gets to build a golem. And there are evil adult versions of some of the kids showing up at the school, and there’s some romance, too.
Where did you come up with this idea?
I have written about magic since I was a kid, and in 2002 I was thinking about a novel series with an elder magician and two to three child apprentices, but that changed. The genesis of School of the Ages was that I was working in a mesivta (Jewish high school) and learning about the subculture of Mishnaic Judaism and I wanted to write about it. So I developed the idea of a New York City magic school that is half cabala students and half traditional hermetic magic students.
Who did the cover art for your book?
I started out with covers by my cousin, Mike Cohen. Mike did a great job, but he is very busy with his work as a videographer, so I decided to switch to a full-time cover designer. Starting with book 3, I have been using Mande Matthews, who has a beautiful way with color and background. She is also a great fantasy author.
Who do find to be a huge inspiration for your writing? And why is that?
I am inspired by history and culture. I read about both ancient events and places and people, and contemporary news, and I get story ideas. I want to put my cast of characters into these situations.
Which one of your characters would be the best to meet in real life?
I love all my characters, but for this occasion, I will select Devi Moore, Simon’s 90-year-old grandmother from Mumbai, whose combination of wisdom, courage, and sassy attitude make her entertaining company. Devi first appears in book 3 and stars in several chapters of book 4. She’s a scene-stealer.
What are you reading right now?
I always read a lot of books at once. My main focus now is Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, which I want to review for my website.
What is the one thing that seems to always get in the way of writing time?
My job eats away the writing time, drains my creative energy, makes me tired in general, gives me stress (since teachers are in the crosshairs of politicians and the media these days), and of course is entirely necessary, not just to pay bills and sustain life, but to keep me connected to young people and to give me a chance to make a difference in the lives of others.
Are there any more projects you are currently working on? Do you know when we might get to see those?
I hope to get out a writer’s technique manual, How to Write Dialogue, in September. In October, Jess C. Scott and I will team up to work on another Teen Guide book to follow our successful Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships. I also have a novel for adults as a WIP, which will be in the “harsh realism” genre.
You’re throwing a fiction character party. What fictional characters would you like to invite (name and where they are from (book/TV/Movie/etc.) and why?
Gimli from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; Tyrion Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin; Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling; Benjamin Grimm (The Thing) from Marvel Comics, created by Stan Lee; Alice Parker from Alice Parker’s Adventures by Nicola Palmer.
I might have a chance at Alice someday since I know Nicola.
Now for the this or that:
Coke/Pepsi – Diet Coke
Cat/Dog – Cat
Vampires/Zombies – Both
Marvel/DC – Marvel
Thor/Loki – Thor
Hero/Villain – Villain to write, Hero to be
Car/Plane – car
London/Paris – I’ve been to London three times, and will certainly go again, but I need to spend more time in Paris. This list knocks me out: Tour Eiffel; Louvre; Musee D’Orsay; Notre Dame de Paris… OMG!
Connect with Matt Posner
Matt says: I am reader-friendly.
Teen Guide site for relationship and sex questions (collaborative with Jess C. Scott)