Taking Off Like A Rocket with Matthew S. Rotundo

Matthew Rotundo
Matthew S. Rotundo

Matthew S. Rotundo wrote his first story, “The Elephant and the Cheese,” when he was eight years old. It was the first time he had ever filled an entire page with writing. To his young mind, that seemed like a major accomplishment. It occurred to him shortly thereafter that writing stories was what he wanted to do with his life.

Matt gravitated to science fiction, fantasy, and horror at an early age, too. He discovered Ray Bradbury’s “The Fog Horn” in a grade school reader, and read it over and over whenever he got bored in class. (Needless to say, he read it a lot.) Other classics soon followed — Dune and Lord of the Rings and Foundation, the usual suspects. As a boy, he often pretended his bicycle was Shadowfax, and that he was Gandalf, riding like mad for Minas Tirith. Yeah, he was that kind of kid. Half the time, his family and friends didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.

Matt’s story “Alan Smithee Lives in Hell” placed second in the 1997 Science Fiction Writers of Earth Contest. In 1998, he attended Odyssey. The workshop led directly to his first sale — “Black Boxes,” in Absolute Magnitude. In 2002, Matt won a Phobos Award for “Hitting the Skids in Pixeltown.” He was a 2008 winner in the Writers of the Future Contest. He has since continued to publish in various magazines and anthologies, and is the author of Petra, the first book in The Prison World Revolt series.

Matt lives in Nebraska. He has husked corn only once in his life, and has never been detasseling, so he insists he is not a hick.

Editor’s Note: this is part one of a three-part interview. Parts two and three will be published August 9th and August 16th, respectively. Also, this interview was originally conducted in March through July of 2016.

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Now, to get started, I ask all of my interviewees the same starting question, and that’s this: how do we know each other?

We both attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop — I in 1998, and you in 2005. We got to know each other via an email group for alums. You graciously volunteered to read and critique an early draft of my novel Petra. (Thanks again for that, by the way). We’ve kept in touch ever since.

I’m really starting to go into denial regarding how quickly the years are passing. Tell me, since my initial beta read of Petra, can you talk about your process from that stage to the published stage it’s at now?

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There And Back Again: Some Observations on Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit Trilogy

I have a new tradition. Every year, when a Hobbit movie comes out, I take a vacation day so that I can see one of the first showings. It accomplishes two things: 1) I can pay a matinee price for my ticket and 2) I can avoid the crowds. It’s a day of fun and excitement, and I love sitting in the theater and immersing myself back into Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth.

I knew I’d have a lot of thoughts about the movies, about the film trilogy as a whole, once The Battle of the Five Armies came out. And ever since Friday (this year, the movie opened on a Wednesday, but I wanted a three day weekend, so I made myself wait until Friday to see it), I’ve been mulling over the film, considering my reactions to it, and listening to Howard Shore’s The Battle of Five Armies score. There’s so much I wanted to talk about, but my attempts at a post got long, unwieldy, and unfocused.

So in order to at least start the conversation, I’m going to make a list. The list will be below the picture and behind a cut, because there will be spoilers, and I won’t be responsible for ruining the movie for you if you decide to spoil yourself. Cool? Cool.

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