Meet Matthew Pungitore, author of Midnight's Eternal Prisoner: Waiting for the Summer.
Question #1: What's your process from idea to final draft? Do you outline or go with the flow? At what point do you decide, "Hey, I'm done!"
MATTHEW PUNGITORE: I focus on bringing to life the core will and emotions of an idea. As the Art moves through me, I concentrate on building ideas and dreams and stories that I would want to read about. I think about my creation, moods I want to share, and how I want to reach out, how I want to communicate with others. You might say I "go with the flow" sometimes. I follow the flow of my Art and then I drag it into this world. Once I know what I want to summon, what I try to create, It screams to me. It wants to be heard. I create the beginning, middle, and end of a story while always thinking about its soul and what I want it to cry out. Books, Reading, Stories, it is all a process of connecting to others and building something together with those who share dreams. I think writers are still learning new things about writing and what it is capable of, what it means to our spirits as linguistic creatures. I don't know if one's "Art" can ever really be "done." Can you truly control "Art?"
Question #2: Are there any authors or stories that influence you? What impact have they had on your writing?
MATTHEW PUNGITORE: When I write, I influence myself and inspiration comes from inside of my mind. The Gothic movements, Romanticism, and the Renaissance cultures around the world have stayed with me. Everyone is changed by their environment and the world around all of us. Each of us is transforming one another. We build off each other in new ways. We create new things and spark new movements. Durante Degli Alighieri (Dante Alighieri), Niccolò Machiavelli, Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, and Tomie dePaola are authors that have impacted me deeply. These authors have shaped the way we all read, write, and look at the world. There is so much about Italian art and writing that lifts me up. Italian authors have given me worlds I can see myself in, connect with. And I must praise the revolutionary works of the great American writer, Washington Irving. I am proud of being an Italian and an American.
Question #3: Your book Midnight's Eternal Prisoner: Waiting for the Summer takes place in a world quite unlike our own. What's your process for building worlds? What's the most challenging part of it?
MATTHEW PUNGITORE: When I am creating a castle, a city, a world, it comes from fantasy, but it has to connect with readers. It has to mean something different to them, but still bind them. I hope to craft an environment that makes sense but also inspires others. The right moods all have to be there and the voices of those places I create need to be able to jump and howl from that fantasy and into the heart of the readers. I want my worlds to be believable and fun. Those short, small moments in those worlds are the main focus and for me are more important when I tell a story. I want readers to look upon my art and think that they can see themselves right in the worlds I create. And then they will use their imaginations to create more of the world and the story and suddenly realize that they are part of this dream and their thoughts and emotions are mixing with the words on the pages, helping to give them an unforgettable experience. The environments I create in my stories, I hope, will come alive and resonate with readers, speak to them, bring out their spirit, dreams, and nightmares. The fantasy must have rules and even though it is all a story, it still is hypnotizing and you can enjoy the experience on a profound level. That is why the horror and the chaos must always be there, because it is within us all.
Question #4: Going off of that - how do you balance the details of the place you're trying to create vs moving the story along?
MATTHEW PUNGITORE: The details need to be part of the story sometimes, but I try to focus on mood and atmosphere. I want to create a space where emotions and feeling are always radiating outward and inward in a cycle. Details, Feeling, Story, it all should be part of the progression. I craft worlds to share my emotions and build upon the feelings and thoughts of characters. Readers will connect their own emotions to the magic of the pages. I go with the guidance of my art and my emotions. I want my readers and fans to have fun and remember how they felt reading my work, to have a lingering ghost of that emotion within them for all time. That balance is different for everyone. I will seek that balance out for myself, but readers should decide for themselves.
Question #5: Do you build your story to fit a theme, or do you let the theme emerge?
MATTHEW PUNGITORE: I do both. Themes emerge while writing, so let them rise up. I write a story with a mood and theme, but sometimes other voices and feelings and attitudes of the art take control. It is like being possessed. Have fun with it. I'm having fun. Shouldn't reading be fun?
Question #6: How did you choose your genre? What's the most important thing people don't know about dark fantasy lit but need to?
MATTHEW PUNGITORE: I want to add to the "Gothic" and to "Dark Fantasy." I think I have a lot to offer. I think I know how to bring some fun to readers who like the dark, the horrifying, tales of mad romance, and the stories of blood and death. I want to surround myself with the macabre and the monsters and the people who love it all as I do. What people don't know about the "Gothic", "Dark Fantasy Literature", and "Horror" is that there is a lot of light in it and there can be a lot of love and beauty that goes with it, too. It is a lot of fun. There is still so much we can do with it and so much it can teach us. I embrace its beauty and its haunting charms. And it has always been with us. Monsters, Demons, Stories of Ghosts and Curses, legends of Fear itself, all of it has always shaped Human-kind and been a part of our ancestors like a fascination, like the blood in our bodies. It is a great thing and it somehow connects with all the other genres, as if it is at the heart of everything.
Question #7: I'm still struggling to write my first book, and you've already beaten me to it! Did you set out knowing you'd write one? How did you keep yourself on track during the project?
MATTHEW PUNGITORE: I've always wanted to share my art and my feelings and somehow it has come to this. I've always wanted to be a part of an art form that would connect people, something fun, something that would allow me to share myself in a unique way. I will lead people on a journey and together we can be a part of something wonderful. I self-published "Midnight's Eternal Prisoner: Waiting For The Summer" through "BookBaby". It has been a fun journey. "BookBaby" has been so kind and helpful to me. The people working there have the best customer service and they are very "author-centric", very focused on authors and the art and getting authors the support and information they need. I would work with Bookbaby again because they have made self-publishing fun and easy. My art came from within me. It clawed out of me. I struggled to bring it to life. I had the support of my Mother, Sister, and Father. I had my ambition and my dream. Having focus is hard in this world where everything is made so confusing on purpose and everything is moving so fast. That is why I am thankful to my loving, loyal Family and to BookBaby.
Question #8: You told me you're working on a project at the moment, would you care to share with us any tid-bits about it?
MATTHEW PUNGITORE: I am learning to do better, to be a better author and writer. Readers and fans should expect my next book to be longer and it will be a dark, mature adventure. I am listening to criticism and support from all of you, but I must stay true to myself. It is important for me to know who my fans and readers are and what they want, as well as to follow the will of my heart. I am also trying to get a Youtube Video Animation out with a friend of mine. Let us see what happens.
Question #9: What process did you go through to get published? If you could do it again, what would you keep? What would you change?
MATTHEW PUNGITORE: I self-published through "BookBaby" and it was a great time. Fun. Easy. BookBaby is focused on authors and author needs. I would work with BookBaby again for sure. I like how I can call BookBaby and communicate with a smart team of people who are nice and fun to talk to. I would not change anything, but I would like to try other things, maybe try something different sometime, too. Trying new things can be rewarding and enlightening sometimes, right? I would not mind trying to get published by a publisher or a major publishing house just to see what it is like. I'm always learning and I'm really trying to be the best I can and do the best job I can.
Question #10: On your social media I see you've been quite active with book signings and events - what's something memorable you've heard from a fan?
MATTHEW PUNGITORE: When I hear that people are having fun and enjoying my work, that warms my soul.
Question #11: Any advice to aspiring writers? On writing? On marketing?
MATTHEW PUNGITORE: Writing, Books, Reading, this whole literary thing, it's for People, and we should be bringing People together. I want to be there for my fans and readers. If you want to communicate with me, then send me a message or something. We should be providing entertainment and thoughtful, inspiring art that will create discussion. Life is a busy, messy thing and it gets wild. Focus on the people and making people happy and having fun. That's what I want to do. I want people to have fun. Give the people something fun and unique and we can create something beautiful through art. I want to see more dark, mature, and thoughtful works of art, so I am creating dark, mature, thoughtful works of art. Create what you want to see, something you would want to read. I write what I want to read and I think there are a lot of people who are going to want what I'm writing.
Question #12: Is there anything else you'd like your audience to know?
MATTHEW PUNGITORE: I really love cute animals like black cats and Welsh Corgis. I also find snakes and bats cute. They inspire me. They motivate me to be calm and to be a better person. I want more tattoos. I love the Summer. I love Halloween and Christmas, as well as learning more about the history of all those holidays. Let's just have some fun again, my friends. For people like me, fun can be reading about monsters and stories about battles with powerful foes. I love horror movies and cooking/baking, but I'm not even half as good at that as my Sister and my Mother are at all that cooking/baking stuff. I would like to thank my Father for his support. Thanks, Dad! I would also like to thank BookBaby for being so awesome and for all of their support. I would sincerely like to thank "longshotbooks" for giving me this amazing opportunity to talk to all of you! I hope I can meet more of my fans and readers so I can hear what you have to say. I really would honestly like my art to create something powerful and fun that inspires and unites people. I hope you all enjoy reading my novelette, "Midnight's Eternal Prisoner: Waiting For The Summer" ! Have a great Summer !