Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Author Interview with Matthew Gallaway

Matthew Gallaway's debut The Metropolis Case was recently released and after reading and reviewing the novel I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his wonderful book.

Music plays a central role in The Metropolis Case, how has music influenced your writing?

Like the music I love, which includes everything from opera to 'shoegazer' rock, I try to make my writing as beautiful as possible while maintaining a 'dissonant' tension in the prose. In The Metropolis Case, much of the plot is centered around events that are highly improbable or magical (and melodramatic), while the characters examine themselves psychologically in ways that are intended to be hyper-realistic. Another way to think of it is that in my writing, I try to capture the discrepancy between the magic that happens on-stage and the often pallid reality of life off-stage.

What role does music play in your life?

I spent many years playing in an indie-rock band called Saturnine, and so I'm very familiar with writing songs and playing shows. These days, I like to go to the opera as much as I can, and because I'm less knowledgeable about opera than rock, it's easy to be carried away by it as a member of the audience. There's something very magical about the way a good performance can take you to places both inside and outside of yourself, and I tried to bring this experience to The Metropolis Case.

Do you have one book you think everyone must read? Who are some of your favourite authors?

Oh geez, to pick one is nearly impossible, so (to list five) I think everyone should read In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust, Orlando by Virginia Woolf, The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil, Against the Grain by J.K. Huysmans, and A Book of Memories by Peter Nadas. Other favorite authors include Henry James, Carson McCullers, and -- more modern -- Alan Hollinghurst, Samuel Delany, and David Foster Wallace. And because I can't stop myself: Lydia Davis, Anne Carson, Alexander Chee, Richard Rorty, Darin Strauss, Shane Jones, Katharine Weber, and Gerald Elias.

What did you do when you found out The Metropolis Case had been sold?

Honestly, I pretty much died, because it was a long and improbable journey. (I ordered sushi from a nice restaurant!) I really never thought I would be so lucky as to see it in print. The whole thing has been like a dream, honestly.

Long and improbable journey? 

The short version is that I spent almost seven years writing the manuscript, and then started working with my agent after sending him a blind e-mail query. I went through three revisions with him, which took almost a year, before he announced to me that he "had a plan," and shortly thereafter sold the book. You can read about this process and see the actual query letter in a piece I wrote/curated at THE AWL. (My section is the final one.)

The story of The Metropolis Case is spread across time, what kind of background research did you do when writing the book?

I read a ton of books about the time period, artists, and cities in question, and also went to all of the cities (Paris I had lived in already) to help get a flavor for the streets and architecture.

The book is named after the opera The Makropoulos Affair, how much does The Metropolis Case draw inspiration from the opera?

I picked up a few plot elements from the opera (I won't say which ones, although I'm sure they won't be a big surprise to readers who know the opera), because I wanted to explore some of the psychological implications of art and immortality, which is a big theme in that opera (and the play upon which it's based).

What are you working on next?

My new novel takes place in a corporate office in the world of publishing and focuses on some of the surreal aspects of the business, particularly as I've experienced it over the past decade or so. It's meant to be a lot more contemporary in both setting and tone, designed to capture both the epic terror and sad LULz that I think so many of us experience in the modern workplace.

Matthew Gallaway lives in Washington Heights (New York City) with his partner Stephen and their three cats, Dante, Zephyr and Elektra.

Thanks to Matthew Gallaway for taking the time to visit In The Next Room, and I highly recommend picking up his book. Click here to read my review of the novel. To learn more about The Metropolis Case as well as to access the music referenced in the novel, visit the book's website

1 comment:

  1. Great interview! I love hearing how an author goees about researching a book. Thanks so much for including this on the tour!


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