Interview with Matthew Kagle

Photo of the right half of author Matthew Kagle's face.Say hello to Matthew! He signed up for  my speculative fiction interview post last week, and I’m thrilled to share his witty answers with all of my readers today. 

What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading?

Green Eggs and Ham. It’s a powerful dystopian novel about the dangers of factory farming and not maintaining public transportation.

Who is your favourite author? Why?

J. Michael Straczynski. I’m reasonably sure I’m going to like whatever of his I pick up.

What do you like most about the genre(s) you read?

Science fiction/fantasy lets me look outside of reality. I read a mainstream book once and disdainfully thought “But this could have actually happened!”

More and more authors seem to be writing cross-genre stories these days. How do you feel about this trend?

The idea that a genre is a narrow, easily-defined thing is laughable. Science fiction stories often have psychic powers. Fantasy novels sometimes add elements of technology. You change a few words, and you can swap genres.  For example:
It was dark. I saw an [ALIEN/DRAGON/DEMON/EX-GIRLFRIEND]. I attacked it with my [BLASTER/SWORD/PENKNIFE/CHARM]. It howled with rage and retreated. I raised my [FORCE FIELD/SHIELD/BROKEN BODY/LONELINESS] in triumph.

If you could name a pet after one character, which character would you choose? Why?

I’ve named several pets after characters. I named one pet Lily after the Harry Potter character and another after an obscure comic character named Winslow.

Logo for Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show. The title is written in a fancy script against a plain, white background.What fictional world would you never want to visit?

The Buffyverse. If you go to high school, you die. If you’re one of Buffy’s friends, you die. If you live in 50 miles of the Hellmouth when they close it, you die. If it’s Tuesday, you die.

What fictional world would you want to visit?

I suppose Star Trek. Morality is nearly universal. The good guys almost always win. Every race is sexually compatible.

Sharing spoilers with people who haven’t read the book or seen the film/show is a hot topic on Twitter and across many fandoms. How do you feel about sharing or overhearing spoilers?

It’s hard not to share them because it’s damned fun to talk about the things that enthuse you. If there was some way to put a filter on my browser to avoid spoilers until I was ready, I’d love it.

Which series do you think should be made into a TV show or film next?

My first novel would make a killer non-linear web series…
Other than that, I’d like to see a Demolished Man 4D show that uses touch, feel and smell to represent psychic powers.

Book cover for My Dinner with Andre by Wallace Shaw. It shows two men sitting at a restaurant table having a conversation.Which TV show or film do you think should be turned into a book?

That’s tough, because I can’t think of any examples of novelizations turning out well. My Dinner with Andre, maybe?

What is the most unusual or interesting way you’ve come up with an idea for one of your creative works?

I’ve gotten a lot of story ideas from vivid nightmares.

Sometimes characters don’t do what their creators want them to do. If this has ever happened to you, how did you deal with it?

Not really. Sometimes I choose to develop a character further, and I end up taking him or her somewhere new.

What is your favourite trope?

Villains turning into heroes and vice versa.

What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?

Shrinking. Swapped bodies. Deus ex machina. Mistaken identities. Prophecy/destiny. Meet cute. Manic pixie dreamgirl.

About Matthew: Matthew Kagle was born in 1972 and raised by his grandparents after his parents died in a car crash.

He graduated from University of Amherst with degrees in philosophy and comparative literature; then studied at the School of Hard Knocks.

He currently lives in Baltimore with his beagle, Melchior, and mountains of student loans.

Matthew can be found on Twitter and his website.

His most recent books include The Loom of Sorrows and A Thousand Secret Sorrows.


Filed under Interviews

6 Responses to Interview with Matthew Kagle

  1. Lydia,

    Brilliant interview! I especially liked Kagle’s profound, insightful analysis of Seuss’ dark, seminal work, _Green Eggs and Ham_. I thought the question about turning a show into a book was novel.

    Kagle’s response regarding cross-genre literature was spot on. Remember Polonius’ enumeration of trans-genre possibilities for the theatre?:

    “The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited.”

    I have to admit, though, that Renaissance drama discriminates pretty blatantly against space aliens.


  2. Matthew A Kagle

    Turning anything into a book is usually “novel.”

    I can’t take complete credit for the “science fiction is fantasy” concept. Phil Foglio’s comic series “What’s New” made me aware of it. There’s a panel where it says “The difference between the genres is how cool they are.” Someone asks a wizard and an astronaut where they got their wand/blaster.
    Wizard: It was given to me by the great demon Urg after I saved his life at the Battle of Squatront.
    Astronaut: Sears $49.95.

    • Matthew,

      Yes: the “novel” reference was deliberate : ). I like the wizard/astronaut example, though maybe the astronaut should have, “Dude! Same here!”

      I hope you’ll do another interview with Lydia again.


  3. This was a fun interview, Lydia 🙂
    A couple of things that never occurred to me before but now seem so obvious. First, “You change a few words, and you can swap genres” – how have I never noticed that before?? Then, there’s the Buffyverse! So true, no matter what, someone dies! I guess I was having too much fun watching it.
    Thanks, Matthew 🙂

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