Matt lives with his wife in the good ol’ state of Arizona, where they go to graduate school and take care of their cat, Sherlock. Growing up, Matthew read everything he could get his hands on—science fiction, fantasy, murder- mystery, comic books, and even his mother’s endless piles of romance novels.
One day, he got the bright idea to write, which he stuck to, feeling he could make a difference to those around him. Now he writes science fiction and fantasy, drawing from his experiences as a budding clinical psychologist.
What type of stories hold the most fascination for you?
Stories that, at the heart of them, show us a piece of human nature. If we take great tales like Lord of the Rings, The Stand, Harry Potter, and Star Wars, we find that the heroes at the centers of these beautiful worlds demonstrate – through their great trials – what it means to be human. We fall, we get back up. We redeem ourselves. We change. We suffer. We achieve. We triumph. And what often accompanies stories like these are little tidbits of how one should live their life. How many of us have read Gandalf’s wise words and been moved to reference them when our own lives bring upon their challenges? As every writer probably does, I aspire to write something as profound as these stories. Someday. Maybe. I can only hope.
What inspired you to write fiction and what continues to inspire you?
I originally started writing fiction during my time in graduate school. I was studying to get a doctorate in clinical psychology. The stress of graduate school was so much, I needed an outlet. So I started writing. For a few hours each day, my head was in another world, wondering what these people were up to, how they lived their lives, how their culture was formed. That’s how From Moon to Joshua came about. I was working in a maximum security section of the South Dakota State Penitentiary (during graduate training for clinical psychology, one usually is sent on practicum placements where they work part time at a facility. Mine was the state penitentiary) identifying inmates who were violently psychopathic. For my own mental health, I found an outlet.
The inspiration, however, was always there. As a kid, I daydreamed. A lot. I played soccer as a kid and was good enough to travel all over the Midwest to be scouted by college coaches. That meant long car rides with headphones on. I would sit for hours in a car and just dream of different worlds. I would dream I was in them, observing. Eventually, I put what was in my head onto a computer. Although I’m no longer as stressed as I was in graduate school, I still find that inspiration to tell a story. There’s a need to get it out. Many writers will say this: it’s not that they want to write, it’s that they need to. Something in us demands that we put these stories together. Thankfully, I have people around me that inspire and support me.
On your website, polarbearscanwrite.com you speak of wanting to make a difference in people’s lives. How do you think fiction can work for a better world?
I think everyone remembers when they were first moved by a work of fiction. For me, I remember watching Cowboy Bebop and having the rug pulled out from under me. Besides being a work of art, Cowboy Bebop challenges our own concept of identity and existential existence. Fiction has the ability to change a point of view, inspire, cultivate critical thinking, and challenge the current perceptions we have the world. Many times it is more successful than nonfiction because it is more digestible and more subtle. This was my hope for my novel as well. I tell a story about a people who have been rejected by their home country and sent to live out the rest of their days on a hostile wasteland. They are deliberately forgotten. I think (at least I hope) that relates to many issues in today’s society.
Additionally, a work of fiction can get you through a lot of hard times. As a writer, that’s enough for me: if my work is able to take your mind off of the terrible stuff you have going on, even for a moment (and you enjoyed it), then I’ve done my job.
You have written for Cracked.com. What do you like about this form of writing? What don’t you like?
Cracked is a humor website that publishes list articles with a twist. For instance, one of my articles is titled: “5 Horrifying Ways Cartoons Tried to Cover Important Issues.” What’s great about Cracked is that you learn as a writer on how to write humor. You work directly with seasoned editors and writers who show you which lines pack the biggest punches. It’s a wonderful way to improve one’s writing skills. Given that, you don’t get to create a story, and that for me is at the heart of my writing. And that is the drawback.
Your novel, From Moon to Joshua, deals with the devil inside and also supernatural beasts, cowboys, guns, swords, whiskey, and a whole lotta action. What did you find most interesting about creating such a mish-mash world for a sci-fi western?
I think finding ways in which I could blend these elements together was the most interesting (and challenging). One of the responsibilities a writer has to the reader is having that reader be absorbed completely into the world and story you’ve set before them – and to not be pulled out of it due to inconsistencies. That was the challenge in mixing so many elements together, and what made it so interesting: could I have a world where all of this could co-occur and have the reader believe it? I hope I accomplished that.
What is your favorite book (to read) and why?
Oh that’s a tough one to answer, but I’d say my favorite book causes me to dream, to imagine, to change, and to grow. Those are the ones I keep closest.
What is the book you dream of writing but haven’t yet?
This ties into the very first question. I aspire to write something that completely captures a piece of human nature. Lord of the Rings. The Stand. American Gods. Harry Potter. Star Wars. Cowboy Bebop. They are paragons of this. They are also great epics. So maybe that’s it, then – writing a great epic that captures the beauty of humanity would be nice…if I can find the time.
More about From Moon to Joshua
Find out more about Matthew Moffitt
Webpage: Matthew Moffitt
Listen to an excerpt from From Moon to Joshua