Wordsmith Interview – Matthew Serback

Age: 29

Location: Cleveland, OH.

Education: Cleveland State University

The Writer

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing fiction for a little over three years.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer?
My greatest accomplishment as a writer is preparing my first book for publication (ELJ Editions in October of 2017).

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
Both in life and writing, I don’t take much seriously. I write a lot of absurd and strange stories – including some extremely experimental works. There’s an inherent challenge in balancing out the wildest of my ideas while also maintaining a base level of normalcy that allows readers to find a way into my writing.

The Work

Tell us about your work in Crack the Spine.
“The Right Way to Die” is a flash fiction piece about two characters who are dealing with the prospect and the reality of having an abortion.

Is there a main theme or message in this piece?
Ultimately, the last two lines of dialogue by the characters sums up the theme of the piece. The dialogue isn’t necessarily about the abortion but about the larger idea of responsibility. I think people have trouble recognizing their mistakes and taking responsibility for their actions.

What inspired “The Right Way to Die?”
I honestly don’t remember what inspired it. I know the rose petal images came from another poem I wrote, but I didn’t think they fit the poem well. I do a lot of writing around sentences and images I like. The drowning in the newspaper and flower images are most likely what inspired me to write this story.

Tell us about another project you have published or are currently working on.
My debut novella “Thanks, The Memories” will be published through ELJ Editions in October of 2017. Some of my friends don’t like the title, and I’m a people pleaser, so I might have to change it to appease them. The story is about a husband and wife who try to recall their memories after living for over 1,000 years.

What inspired “Thanks The Memories?”
I have issues with short-term memory, but I’ve also done a lot of research into how corruptible memories are. While driving to my friend’s house, I imagined how incredibly disturbing and awful our memories would be if we lived to be something like 1,000-years-old. That spawned the original idea for the book.

Where/When can we find this work?
I love getting these plugs in. Scheduled release is October of 2017 by ELJ Editions (ELJ-Editions.com).

The Methods

How many drafts do you generally go through before you consider a piece to be complete?
I think three is the happy medium. Shorter pieces can get there by two, but most longer form fiction takes me about three drafts before I’m happy with what I’ve written. I’m not a fan of laboring over work forever. Nothing is perfect. Give it to the universe and move on.

What are your thoughts on writing at a computer vs. writing longhand?
If you consider time to be your most valuable asset, and you have a working computer nearby to use, I think it’s nonsensical to write on anything else. If you write something longhand, you eventually have to transfer it over. You’ve created an unnecessary step that doesn’t have any benefits. But at the end of the day, people should do what they want.

What is your usual starting point for a piece?
Most of work comes together from thinking of a weird image or idea and asking my friends if they think it’s weird. If they agree that it’s weird, I will do my best to turn it into a story.

What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer?
Just because you take something seriously that doesn’t mean other people will.

The Madness

What is your favorite book?
“Disobedience” by Alice Notley or “Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut.

Who is your favorite author?
I have a lot of favorite authors. Readers and writers should check out Tatianna Ryckman’s work. She’s alive and terrific.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Anyone can play me, as long they are straight up ripped (and, preferably, on steroids).

How many of your character have you ended up killing off?
I have one rule for writing: Everybody dies.

Rain or Sunshine?
“California Sunshine” – The Game

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Vanilla. I’m a basic bitch.

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
The Gaslight Anthem.

Additional Reading on Matthew


Occasionally, I do a podcast with my friends on YouTube and Twitch. It’s called “Nation of Bootleggers.” You can just search for it.

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