Matt Betts’ short and flash fiction has focused a lot on humor and horror. His work appears in Arkham Tales, Ethereal Tales, the Triangulation: Taking Flight anthology, Bizarro Fiction! The Journal of Experimental Fiction 37, A Thousand Faces and Cinema Spec: Tales of Hollywood and Fantasy.
Matt’s poetry has been published in numerous venues, and his poem “Godzilla’s Better Half” was nominated for a Rhysling Award, the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s highest honor. His poetry has appeared in Star*Line, Escape Clause, The Book of Tentacles, Illumen, the 2010 Rhysling Anthology, Kaleidotrope, and others. One of his pieces was also mentioned in a New York Times article on zombie poetry.
“Matt Betts doesn’t seem to know all writers get put into a box. He ignores genres and boundaries and simply writes what his imagination wants. His stories are what make reading fun.”—Greg Hall, Everyone Hates a Hero
Bernadette Sukley had a chance to speak with Matt about his writing and the writing industry.
Bernadette: A favorite author(s)? Why?
Matt: I read quite a bit, and have a number of favorites. Stephen King is certainly one of them. He’s written some fantastic books. I think he’s a favorite because he makes stories seem so simple. As an author, I started writing because I thought anyone would be able to write his kind of fiction, but I soon found out that it isn’t easy to write like that. It takes work to make something so easy to read, and yet so effective.
I’m also a huge fan of Elmore Leonard. Again, his stories are pretty straightforward, but his dialogue and characters constantly blow me away. He’s another one that made it seems easy. His stories are simple crime stories that never turn out quite so simple. My goal has been to make my dialogue as good as his and to follow one of his rules for storytelling: Cut out the parts that people tend to skip.
Bernadette: What is it about zombies that have captured the attention of literature (and other media)?
Matt: I think zombies are one of the great monsters in literature and pop culture. As a reader, you don’t have to understand their motives or anything else about them. They want to kill the living. That’s pretty much it for motive. Therefore, the author can write about the heroes of the story. The focus shifts to how average people handle dealing with such a mindless adversary. You can examine how people do, or don’t, band together to survive. I think from time-to-time that’s a welcome change from complex villains with intricate schemes and complex backstories. And it’s fun to see how each author has interpreted zombies-are they fast or slow, smart-ish or mindless, are they after brains, is someone controlling them? Each vision can be interesting and pretty unique.