Pitching Chaos, an interview with Mat Johnson, author of Loving Day

Pitching Chaos, an interview with Mat Johnson, author of Loving Day

Electric Lit

Dwyer Murphy

This week marks the release of Loving Day, the new novel from Mat Johnson, author of Pym, Drop, Hunting in Harlem, Incognegro, and others. Johnson and I spoke last week on Skype. I caught him in his car, heading home from a school tour, and we continued our chat as he walked across the campus of the University of Houston, where he’s a faculty member in the creative writing program. Johnson has an energetic, incisive way of speaking. He works historical analysis, social observation, literary critique and wicked one-liners into the span of a sentence or two, always with the kind of conversational ease that makes you feel like he’s been mulling things over for a while and you were just the person he was hoping to see. We talked about race and culture in Philadelphia, prioritizing entertainment in literature, fatherhood, the book community on Twitter, and “the idea of being a straight male interacting with the feminine” (yes – sex – but other stuff, too…).

Dwyer Murphy: Over the course of your career, you’ve shifted between novels, graphic novels, comics, and non-fiction. With Loving Day, you’re back to the novel. How do you decide which medium to work with? Does the story dictate the format?

Mat Johnson: Usually it starts with the idea. I would say I’m a novelist first, but if the idea doesn’t fit into a novel, then I look for other ways to tell it. The graphic novel is kind of my way of doing a short story. I don’t usually write short stories, but I’ve found that pieces that are about the length of a story and have a strong visual aspect tend to work really well as graphic novels, so that’s how I’ll tell those particular stories…

Read the entire interview here.

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