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Cleveland Artist Spotlights
CPAC: How did you get introduced to your craft? What made you choose it as a profession?
Matt: I always liked reading as a kid, and enjoyed writing stories for school. But it wasn’t until I read The Scarlet Letter in high school that I understood just how powerful fiction can be. That experience more or less pushed me in the direction of wanting to become a writer.
CPAC: What are some things that have influenced you or your work?
Matt: There are numerous authors and books that have influenced me. Hawthorn was the first, but was followed—and supplanted, really—by the likes of Joyce, Proust, Hemingway, Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, Borges, Cortázar, Bolaño. The list goes on. But I’m equally influenced by cinema, music and painting. Growing up, I was more skilled in drawing and painting than I was in writing. And, perhaps as a result, I tend to first think of a story as a collection of visuals and ideas that can fill the canvas, rather than thinking of it in narrative terms. Existentialism, Naturalism and Humanism have also greatly influenced the type of stories I tell.
CPAC: How do you generate new ideas?
Matt: I get a lot from other books, newspapers, magazines, television news. A line or two will jump out at me—something about an interesting (or mundane) modern-day predicament, a philosophical musing, a scientific theory—and I’ll write it down, thinking, That would make an interesting story, even though I rarely see the story in it at that point. But lines combine with other lines and are fleshed out by the various faces and actions I come across in everyday life (or was affected by in the past) and a story comes together.
CPAC: Why have you chosen Cuyahoga County as a place to live and work?
Matt: I was born here, but grew up in Southwest Ohio. I moved back as an adult because my brother and his wife lived here and because I always enjoyed visiting Cleveland. Living here, I soon discovered just how culturally, intellectually and ethnically rich Cleveland is. And yet it’s still a very down-to-earth place. And, of course, the cost of living is really hard to beat.
CPAC: What is your favorite place, event, or “hidden gem” in greater Cleveland?
Matt: I love the Cleveland Cinematheque. We’re so fortunate to have a theater of this caliber in Cleveland. Rare is the weekend when a cinema buff can justify not lodging his or her ass in front of a film or four here.
Hear more from Matt Marshall in a video interview: https://vimeo.com/47107269