Matthew Arkin is a critically acclaimed actor, acting teacher, and recovering attorney. He attributes his skill for crafting dialogue and creating characters to his more than forty-five years of experience on stage, television, and film, and to reading approximately one suspense thriller per week since he was a young child.
Following the advice of one of his moms, author Barbara Dana, to “write what you know,” Arkin created Zach Brandis and the novel In the Country of the Blind. Like Zach, Arkin gave up a career as a lawyer. Like Zach, he was born, raised, went to law school, and spent most of his life in and around New York City. It is his love affair with the city, as well as his experiences as a former attorney and victim of cult abuse, that allow him to approach Zach’s story with such a high degree of depth and realism.
For more information, visit matthewarkin.com. To sign up for his newsletter, visit http://matthewarkin.showbizsender.com/subscribe/join/y2g6y9
What inspires you to write?
Since time immemorial, we have gathered in caves and listened as storytellers conveyed meaning and transmitted knowledge through myth and metaphor. I believe in the power of the stories we tell, and that by engaging in the process of writing and reading, we can effect positive change in the lives of others. I am inspired by this belief to make sense of my own life, the stumbles I have made, the things I have learned, the struggles I have fought, and the triumphs I have won, and to set them down as best I can in the hope that some reader, somewhere, will recognize him or her self in my own journey, know that they have a companion on the road, and gain hope and confidence by that knowledge.
Tell us about your writing process.
My writing might best be described as outlining the seat of my pants. I usually have a clear idea of the overall arc of the story, but not all of the byways that will get me from the beginning to the end. Sometimes I just have to sit in front of the blank page (which is on my computer screen) and wait for a new character to walk through the door and solve a problem for me. I used to think it was a bunch of hooey when I heard writers talk about that happening, but I’ve been visited enough now by these friends to know that it does occur. But only if I sit patiently and in faith.
I have just started using Scrivener, and I love it. My favorite outlining, story tracking software is Powerstructure.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I listen most of the time, but sometimes I talk. It depends on whether a character has found his or her genesis in the good guys or the bad guys in my past.
What advice would you give other writers?
Sit in front of the blank page or the computer whether you think you are getting anything done or not. Two hours, each day. If you don’t write a single sentence, it is still a productive day. You have the luxury of aiming at a craft where you can stare out the window, and when someone comes along and asks, “What are you doing?” you can respond, truthfully, “I’m working.”
The hardest thing about writing a novel is believing that you can do it. But if you write (average) two manuscript pages a day (which is nothing) at the end of the year, you will have a novel. Then, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, and don’t be afraid to kill your babies.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I am about to self-publish. The publishing world is topsy-turvy, and there are no rules anymore. The big guys only want a sure thing, and that is always a best guess informed only by what succeeded yesterday. As a writer, look to your own tomorrow. I don’t think there is any point in going with the big guys unless you happen to be one of the authors they are really going to get behind. Otherwise, do it yourself, build a following, and then when they wan’t you, you will get a better deal. Or maybe decide that you’re still better off on your own.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It is up in the air. No one knows what the new paradigm is going to look like.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Suspense, Literary fiction, Short stories, non-fiction (acting, self-help, inspirational, recovery).
What formats are your books in?