Some of you may have heard me yammering on about COMEDY BOOK WEEK!
Only I want to talk about one author, in particular.
No, not me.
Alright, so I really WANT to talk about me, but instead let me talk about Matt Drzymala.
What can I say about Matt Dryzmala?
Well, a whole lot of words come to mind. Some of them even have more than four letters. He’s a gentleman, a talented comedy writer and he is exploring small town humor in the style of Stephen Leacock in his latest collection, THE BUMPKINTON TALES.
STEVE – So tell me, did you grow up in a small town like Bumpkinton?
MATT – Hi Steve, thanks. Unfortunately not, did I say unfortunately?
No, I grew up in Manchester and now live in Liverpool, so it’s been major cities my entire life. I’ve never lived in a village but that’s why Bumpkinton works. It’s not trying to pretend it’s a real village, if people who live in a village can relate then that is brilliant, but I just put a group of characters in a made-up place and see how it worked. The village has become a character in itself. It’s not a tiny village and hint at it but I keep the goings on in a very small area, so it gives the goings on a more claustrophobic feel. The characters all get on each others nerves so having them meet regularly for village meetings is an ideal way of causing friction and allows for a good few one-liners!
STEVE – Tell me a little bit about your writing process. How do you go about writing a story? Do you outline. Do you know where you are going in the first place? Or is more of a game of blind man’s bluff, with you walking around your writing room waving a pencil in the air like a dowser’s rod, hoping to hit upon something that somehow resembles a plot?
MATT – Definitely the latter. I always tell people new to writing what they should do, but I never do it myself. I tend to have a story title, or a character name and it grows from there. My short story, Brainstorm, came from being asked to write about a story set in a storm and it ended up about a Clinical Psychologist who has lost everything. I am awful at planning. I’ll maybe jot some ideas down and little plot points but nothing beyond that. For some reason I always know the ending to a story when I start, I might not know anything in between but I tend to know what I want to happen with the end twist and the rest is built around it.
STEVE – Okay, seeing as we are both supposed to be funny guys – what is so funny about being funny? Why do you find that your short stories tend to lean into an innately humorous direction? Is your funny bone permanently magnetized towards Due North by North-wit, or what?
MATT – I find humour easier to write, plain and simple. I don’t know if I’m a funny person, but I love writing funny one-liners. I always have. I can write other genres, but even those have bits of humour. It’s just something I’m attracted to. I wrote a story for a writing group I run and it ended up being a 700 word joke with a punch line right at the end. Even if I don’t mean to, my brain will scramble around in a dark story for the first moment I can slip in some light relief.
STEVE – Being an author myself I have a keen sense of observation. I see that you’re from the UK. Tell me, is there much of a difference between what a British reader thinks is funny and what a North American reader thinks is funny? I know this might come off as a kind of a deep sort of question – but I recommend grabbing hold of your nose, yelling Geronimo, and diving right on in.
MATT – Humour, as we know, is massively subjective. I think Brits are more used to US humour as it’s been on our TV’s for so long. British humour is becoming more and more popular in the US and a lot of our actors and comedians are starting to go a little more mainstream. It always makes me laugh to see Hugh Laurie playing House. Growing up we’ve always known him to be rib-ticklingly funny in shows such as Blackadder, A Bit of Fry and Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster.
I think that US humour transfer better to the UK than the other way around, not that it doesn’t transfer, plus cultural references are more known about the US than they are in the UK. I would hope US readers would like my stories, if only for the ‘British-ness’. There are some gags about celebs I’ve renamed and TV shows that probably won’t be picked up on or make much sense (I have a TV celeb called David Donaldson, but that won’t make any sense unless you’ve heard of the Antiques Expert David Dickinson!).
I tend to write purely from what I find humorous. You have to write what you know and it won’t always make sense to everybody, even in the UK. I think some things are funny, regardless of where you’re from. I think regional quirks, less so.
STEVE – Are there any more Bumpkinton stories ahead for you? What else have you been working on?
MATT – I’m currently working on the first full length Bumpkinton novel titled ‘The Fantastical Gregory Shortbread’. The story is about a spate of crimes in the village and the villagers attempts to raise money to fix the damage don’t go to plan. Then a travelling theatre extraordinaire stumbles upon the local newspaper in a far off town and decides the is just what Bumpkinton needs!
It’s on its second draft and needs a lot of work. I’m aiming for a 2017 release, but I envisage at least four drafts before it’s remotely publishable. It’s got a mish-mash of ideas I’ve discarded or thought up later on in the story so I need to fix earlier chapters and generally make it work. It’s been a learning curve but it’s going well (at times!).
I don’t have any other work in progress as such. I do have a young adult story in rough draft, but I’m not getting to work on that much at the moment, sticking mainly with the novel and promoting The Bumpkinton Tales: Volume One.
I also have snatches of writing for a darker story, more of a thriller/horror, but it’s going to need me to research Alaska, unless I change the setting, but I haven’t worked on it enough to see where else would work. It needs to be isolated anyway, it’s just doing the story justice.
STEVE – What is the funniest thing that you have ever seen?
This attempt at an interview!
Haha, no, sorry, I apologise, I’ve really enjoyed doing this.
Funniest thing ever, hmmm, well it would only make sense to those who know what I’m talking about but I’d say John Terry falling on his arse in the Champions League Final Penalty Shoot-out in Moscow against my team, Manchester United. Great night in the rain in Russia, we won and John Terry fell on his backside and missed.
That’s a bit sadistic isn’t it?
STEVE – How about a little advice for somebody who wants to start writing?
MATT – Write. Write and… write. Writing isn’t easy, it’s not always enjoyable, but it’s so worthwhile at the end. I would never sugarcoat being an author to anybody. It’s not all bright ideas and thousands of words a day. It can be daunting and lonely, but when you write what you want to and it’s finished, the sense of achievement and joy can’t be beat. Obviously there are many days when writing flows.
Just write, writers write and if that’s what you want to be, you’ll do it.
So do, do it now!
So – check out Matt’s other work and stalk him ruthlessly until he breaks – at these links.
yours in storytelling,