Thanks for doing this interview, Matt!
CHHR: I have read What Do Monsters Fear and Brain Dead Blues. Do you prefer writing short stories or novels?
MH: Thanks for reading, I know a lot of authors appreciate Cedar Hollow’s constant support. For the formats, I like both equally but for different reasons. With shorts you can concentrate on twists, and learn a lot about economic writing in the process. Exploring a concept more so than character is a great exercise and a good break from larger works, but creating three-dimensional and sympathetic characters in such a short space can be challenging. That’s part of the attraction, though. With novels you get freedom, and really sinking your teeth into proper character development is something you don’t get with shorts. Both have their own magic.
CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like?
MH: I try hitting 5000 words a week, which translates to 1k a day, to . When I wrote PRACTITIONERS with Lacey, I upped that to 2k a day in order to keep my own schedule on track, but typically it’s 1000. Having a set goal puts my mind at ease and allows me to plan months in advance by gauging an estimate of how much I’ll have finished.
CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing quirks? If so, what are they?
MH: I used to write “I seen” instead of “I saw”… Sounds ridiculous, but that’s how we spoke growing up. Another is never knowing how to spell ‘necessary’ (I had to autocorrect it just now), and ’silhouette’.
CHHR: How is the horror scene in Dublin, Ireland?
MH: Blooming… About three years ago, my sister and I formed Fright Club, a horror book club to promote modern writers. At the time of writing, the Facebook group has almost 200 members, and the monthly meet-ups are always growing. There wasn’t much horror-related events when we formed, but we’re starting to see a turn. A convention called Horror Expo Ireland came along last year, and hopefully others will follow suit.
CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?
MH: A little of both. With a novel, I typically know my plot points, how I want to get from A to B, but I never fill in too many of the blanks. That kills the excitement of a project. I’ll know my setting, my characters, but then I’ll let them speak and see where they lead me. That interests me, and I hope that if I’m curious about where they go and what they do, then a reader will be, too.
CHHR: How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
MH: Publishing the first book didn’t change my process, but it did teach me a lot about the business. Learning to coordinate promotional efforts with a PR rep., stuff like that. What changed my process was talking to knowledgeable authors. They were brutal, man, and I can’t thank them enough. Alan M Clark, specifically. He chewed me a new one for rookie mistakes, and I’m honored he took the time to shine some light my way. The business and writing are completely separate.
CHHR: What do you think makes a good horror story?
MH: Good character development. If I care about the character, I care about what happens to them. If they’re scared, I’m scared. That, to me, is good horror. I like watching people I care for get through the worst.
CHHR: What are you currently working on?
MH: I just finished editing a new novel called THE FAITHFUL, I’ll have that sent out to publishers this week. I just wrapped a few shorts, too, and now I’m onto a new novel, a coming-of-age called FROM UP HERE.
CHHR: What is in your TBR pile?
MH: Island Red by Matt Serafini, Floaters by Kelli Owen, Paradise Sky by Joe Lansdale, Slices by Scott Cole, Exorcist Falls by Jonathan Janz, and I’m just finishing up Sharkwater Beach by Tim Meyer.
CHHR: What is the last book that scared you?
MH: The God Beneath My Garden by Robert Ford. Bob has the knife in your gut before you even know it.
CHHR: What is your spirit animal?
MH: Patrick Lacey.
CHHR: What is your favorite beer?
MH: I’m a sucker for cheap shit. We do a good Fosters where I live, and the local bartender keeps that tap cared for like a baby… PBR from a can when I’m in the States.
CHHR: Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out and trying to get published?
MH: Your first novel is most likely going to be awful, and that’s okay, just be sure to finish it. Finishing projects burns the routine into you, and that’s essential. If you’ve got a story to tell, then be patient, because the mechanics will come. You just have to keep writing.
Goodreads: Matt Hayward is an Irish, Wicklow based author and musician. His debut collection Brain Dead Blues released May 2017, and a new novel co-written with author Patrick Lacey releases summer 2018. His work has appeared in Clickers Forever, Dark Moon Digest, Tales From The Lake, The Horror Zine, Tales To Terrify, and many more.His band Lace Weeper have become a staple on the Irish rock scene and have toured with many notable bands and musicians. For more info on Matt, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Hayward. When not writing, touring or recording, Matt can be found far up the Wicklow mountains, wandering the woods, drinking beer and playing guitar. Not all at the same time of course. Hayward's personal website can be found at www.sundancecrow.com.