Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Author Insides - Rebekah Matthews

Rebekah's short story "Be Careful" was featured in this Autumn's issue of The Battered Suitcase. She's a graduate of Indiana University, where she studied English and Communication. She currently lives in Boston, where she works as an assistant editor in college textbook publishing. She likes talking about her hardships with public transportation, and varies between being proud of and being ashamed of her recent obsession with Star Trek: Voyager. She is presently working on a collection of short stories about lesbian relationships.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was in first grade I wrote a story for class and maybe accidentally copied the plot from Pete’s Dragon. My teacher really liked it and kept telling me I was going to be a writer. Maybe she had never seen Pete’s Dragon, but I believed her.

Why do you write?

A lot of it comes from inappropriate self-absorption, and I’m also pretty dramatic, and writing is the one channel where those mostly negative personality traits can sometimes be liked or respected by other people. So it works out, kind of.

Is being a writer/poet anything like you imagined it would be?

I’m not sure I imagined anything much in particular. When I was in high school I was obsessed with Virgina Woolf’s diaries and had these ridiculous fantasies of other people caring about my diaries. But that was before blogging!

What do you think makes a good story?

Shame! Shame is the best. The things that scare you, the things that you want, the things that both scare you and you want. Anything about sex.

What's your favorite genre to read?

Short fiction, especially anything minimalist and/or lesbian.

Who is your favorite author or poet?

Rebecca Brown.

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?

Besides Pete’s Dragon, Virgina Woolf’s diaries, and Rebecca Brown? Actually TV has influenced a lot of what I write about, especially science-fiction heroines. I write a lot about limiting idealism and obsession and TV is a great, dysfunctional inspiration for that.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?

The Bible! Haha. It’s true though. Also any lesbian fiction, no matter how “bad,” from Rubyfruit Jungle to Curious Wine; when I was a teenager that stuff was pretty much my salvation.

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?

Besides TV, I’m a big fan of drama on the Internet. There’s so much good creative material in social network fighting and blog confessions and drunken Tweets.

What does your family think of your writing?

When I make a Facebook status update with a link to a story I got published online, my sister usually “likes” it.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I work a 9-5 office job; even when I’m writing the most intensely, it’s usually just an hour or two an evening. I’ve been trying to take solo trips to “get away from it all” and focus on my writing for a few days, but even then I write for an hour and then want to go eat ice cream and take a nap.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?

I write in my bed.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I worry a lot that I write the same story about the same idea over and over and over.

What are your current projects?

For several (too many) years I’ve been working on a collection of short stories about lesbian relationships. I hope to finish by the end of the year and try to publish a book. I’m also always trying to write as much flash fiction as possible.

What are you planning for future projects?

I have no idea. I really want to make a YouTube video that’s a montage of people in Boston showing off their damaged umbrellas.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

For people who want to write but don’t know what to write about, I’d say something like: what’s the last thing that happened to you that made you feel really freaked out? Write a paragraph about the experience, especially your feelings about it, and then write a story about that. You don’t even have to make up that much. Just stick to what happened to you and exaggerate a few things. For people who are already writing, I don’t know if I could tell them anything they don’t already know. Maybe that online publishing is wonderful, and a lot easier and less intimidating than you’d think and really rewarding. Oh, and also, you don’t have to get an MFA. Writing is a good, meaningful hobby, and you can still be serious about it—and be an “artist”—without going to school for it and/or devoting your entire livelihood to it.

Where can we find your work?

I have a website,, which has links to all of my stuff that has been published online.

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