Write Now with Matthew Donald

Today’s Write Now interview features Matthew Donald, barista and author of the MEGAZOIC series and TESLANAUTS.

Write Now with Matthew Donald
Photo credit: Malle Malia Zablan

Who Are You?

I am Matthew Donald, an author and barista based in Centennial, Colorado.

What Do You Write?

I love writing fantastical, action-packed stories with creative concepts, original ideas, a sense of humor, and a mostly lighthearted tone, although the latter two elements I often use to lull the readers into a false sense of security before hitting them hard with the feels and darker elements. In particular, I enjoy creating fun characters, concepts, organizations, and technology. I also tend to write for the young adult or middle-grade crowd, as while there are plenty of great adult-aimed books, they tend to be drier than I’d like. I love the sense of wonder in books aimed at younger audiences.

Where Do You Write?

I tend to write at a local coffee shop of a famous brand that shall not be named for legal reasons, even though everyone knows what it is. I can’t write on my home desktop computer, as it has far too many games and other distractions on it. I take my crummy old laptop and write elsewhere, specifically without headphones, so I can’t watch internet videos without everyone hearing. I tend to use Google Docs until the book gets too big and there’s too much lag when typing, at which point I switch to Microsoft Word. I also use Microsoft Word to format the book once the draft is completed.

When Do You Write?

On my days off work, I write in the afternoon, usually around 1 pm, but on my work days, I arrive an hour or so early and write until I have to clock in. Generally, I try to write at least 300 words at a time, but for scenes I’m really, really excited about, my word count goes far beyond that. I’ve written 5,000 words in one session a few times, usually in less than an hour. Is it riddled with typos and poorly-worded phrases due to writing that much that fast? Yeah, of course. But hey, that’s what editing is for.

Why Do You Write?

I write because I feel like there should be more to life than constantly working at a job you hate just so your boss can buy their third luxury car while you struggle to pay rent. Sometimes we need to escape to faraway worlds beyond that of our mundane reality, ones that are fun to get lost inside and explore, and give ourselves the outlet of enjoyment we need. When we go back to our terrible jobs, we don’t feel quite so terrible. Reading escapism can help with that, but so can writing it. I love escaping into the worlds I’ve created, and I hope to provide that kind of feeling for my readers as well. Ideally, they should have just as much fun reading my books as I do writing them.

How Do You Overcome Writer’s Block?

I tend to struggle most with starting books, and really the best way to get through that is to power through it. If the beginning isn’t great, that’s okay, it can be edited later. I have to write in order, though; otherwise, my brain gets all confused. In later parts of the book, sometimes I come across a scene that I’m not particularly thrilled to write about. That’s when I realize that if the scene in particular is boring to write, it stands to reason that it would be boring to read. Therefore, I need to reconfigure the scene in question to make it more enjoyable.

Bonus: What Do You Enjoy Doing When Not Writing?

I enjoy playing video games, listening to podcasts, recording and editing my own podcasts, watching movies, and reading sci-fi and fantasy books. I have a particular interest in paleontology as well, which is the way grown-ups get around saying, “I like dinosaurs.”

Before I wrote Teslanauts, I had a book series on dinosaurs called Megazoic, about a civilization of technologically advanced dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous that humanity never knew about. I also have a podcast about prehistoric animals called Paleo Bites, which are weekly bite-sized episodes where I and a rotating series of guest co-hosts talk about and rate a different genus of prehistoric animal, be it dinosaur, mammal, arthropod, and so forth.

Another podcast I have that’s currently on an indefinite hiatus is The Writ Wit, where my best friend and I talk about writing tips and tricks after opening each episode with a dumb skit one of us has written. Both podcasts are incredibly goofy in tone, and well worth your time if you’re into that sort of thing. Or not. Either way, you can check all of it out on my website, MatthewDonaldCreator.com.

My thanks to Matthew Donald for today’s interview.

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!