Interview with Matthew Tysz (aka 'Folcro')


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    Interview with Matthew Tysz (aka 'Folcro')

    An Interview with Matthew Tysz








    Matthew Tysz (aka ‘Folcro’) was born on May 24th, 1989, and raised on Long Island, where he attended a small-town public education. His vocational path has taken him down many roads, from retail to used car sales, to high school security, working in a network or group homes to working as a nighttime patient sitter at a local hospital.

    He is a homebody at heart, though possesses this strange fondness for city life and, like the great H.P. Lovecraft, has an especially painful attraction to Manhattan (a place which he has lovingly destroyed in several stories).

    Matthew loves people, though often finds he keeps them at arm's length. He loves watching people, ruminating on their behavior and building little stories out of predictions as to what each man or woman he sees is going to do next. Most especially, he likes to imagine them in different settings, extraordinary settings, and ponder the discoveries of such extreme displacement.

    He states: I always believed that chaos is the muse of creation, and a good story is often driven by the choices made in the wake of madness.


    www.matthewtysz.com


    ---

    luckyscars: Firstly, must ask, is it Tysz like 'size' or Tysz like 'fizz', or something else entirely?

    Matthew Tysz: Tysz as in 'size.' Before Ellis Island, it was Tyszkiewicz, but I'll spare my fuse box trying to figure that one out.

    Your Amazon page speaks to a rather prolific writer! How many books have you completed to date?

    To date, I have nine novels finished and self-published on Amazon, almost done with number ten. I have a pair of short stories also published, but as a general rule, I prefer my short stories on the much longer side.

    Where can we find those? And why do you prefer stories on the longer side?

    My short stories can be found on Amazon as well, although they are on full display for free on my website, www.matthewtysz.com. I prefer longer stories because I love to fall in love with a story; I love to become involved in the expansive mythos of a world and the characters who inhabit it. I seek to make others feel the way such stories have made me feel; I want such expansive worlds to stand in my name, visited and enjoyed by those who have an appreciation for it.

    Your bio mentions a 'painful attraction to Manhattan'. As a resident of flyover country, I always assumed New Yorkers felt much the same way about Manhattan as Floridians about Disney World: What is it about the core of the Big Apple that attracts you as a writer?

    If you think about it, most of New York is what (New Yorker) Alec Baldwin might call 'flyover.' but Long Island, where I grew up, is a different place from both the city and the continental state. It's an island overloaded with suburbs, commercialization, and poorly-laid out roads; it's a place with too much going on yet still manages to be boring. The further east on the island you get, the more you escape the overcrowding, but not the boredom. It's home, but it's lonely. Manhattan is a place that has an excuse to be as wild as it is.

    But to answer the question more precisely, I'm a people watcher. The more people, the more variety among those people, the more activity going on in their lives to witness, the more I find there is to learn about them, both about myself and about my world. The stories I tell arefounded on its characters; they're the most important part of the story. There is no university for a human study like Manhattan

    You also write in your bio "I've always believed that chaos is the muse of creation..." What do you mean by that in specific terms? I think for most writers chaos is kind of a double-edged sword. Do you differentiate between different forms of chaos? What about your process comes from chaos versus discipline?

    I'm not sure I believe that chaos has to stand in opposition to discipline. In fact, if you have a crowd of disciplined people, whose disciplines take each of them in different directions, you can easily have chaos. But where did the chaos begin exactly? How does did spread? Can it be stopped at an affordable cost? These questions bring us back to the study of people, the premier harbingers of chaos.

    I agree. I think what I meant by chaos v discipline mostly relates to the process. The real world is definitely chaotic (especially now) but writing -- especially a book, especially a series -- requires some degree of a methodical approach. In layman's terms, how do you refine chaotic influences into a book? How do you decide what belongs in the book you are writing versus what doesn't? For example, do you select characters based around a central plot or does the plot develop organically from one or more interesting people you have seen?

    The subconscious is chaotically bombarded with constant influences big and small, and since we can never reach too deeply into our own subconsciousness, It's difficult to say where the chaos ends and the methodology begins. First and foremost, it's important to relax: the chaos of the world, the chaos of the mind, will never stop, but why does it have to? When you relax, when you let your mind work, you will find order in all that goes on around you. You'll realize what you want to see, and you'll see how the threads you're spinning can give structure to your imaginings.

    Figuring out what does and does not belong in a story gets easier with experience. Once your methodology for weaving a story progresses (which comes simply through repetition), you'll find there isn't a lot there that did not belong to begin with. But it still happens from time to time, and when it does, I admit it's often a weakness of mine. I like to pack so many things into a story, there are times I go a little overboard. The solution comes down to the language of your story: what are you trying to say? Are you giving a job to two different characters that one character can do?

    You identify H.P Lovecraft as a central influence. What is it about Lovecraft you find the most impressive as a writer? Are you more drawn toward the themes? The general mythos? The writing style? What unique lessons do you feel Lovecraft offers?

    The writing style? Heavens no. As much as I love the man, I have to say I find his prose, while eloquent, is flowery to a fault. The themes? Now there's something I can work with.

    As a writer of
    post-apocalyptic fantasy, one of my favorite plot devices is general hopelessness. As a writer of apocalyptic fantasy (big difference), authors like H.P. Lovecraft and Garth Ennis are fabulous professors of hopelessness. But finally, my favorite part of Lovecraft is his general mythos. Second only to characterization, world-building is the most important thing to me; it's what makes a story truly immortal, keeps readers coming back, and encourages the expansion of an interesting universe. The Legacy Lovecraft built is one I envy even more than that of Tolkien himself.

    World building is something that often comes up on the forum, so I would like to explore that briefly. For those starting out, what do you believe to be the best way to approach constructing a fantasy world? Do you take a structuralist view by essentially borrowing and re-configuring real-world features, such as currency, language, etc, or do you try to completely re-imagine everything? How similar are your created worlds to the real world, in general?

    The thing about having existed for some four thousand years is that human civilization has, from a practical standpoint, gotten a lot of things right. Even if you can change the nature of the world, you can't change the nature of humanity, and that's mainly what people want to read about: the themes of good and evil, greed, grief, perseverance and survival, love, anger, the horrors of indifference. Without these themes, there's very little reason for a general audience to engage in a story. So I do a lot of reflecting, taking elements from the real world and "putting them to the test" in a different world, perhaps highlighting and exploiting certain human elements that we, in the real world, don't often see in our regimented and relatively predictable lives.

    It looks like many (most?) of your published works form part of quite extended series. Why is that? What advantages do you feel a series offers?

    Yes. Five (out of a future nine) of my currently-published books belong to the "We areVoulhire" series, three (out of a future five) belong to "The Turn" series, and then there is my one standalone (so far), "The Last City of America." As I mentioned before, I'm a sucker for characters and world-building; this leads me to write stories that are longer, layered, and often demanding of an episodic style of storytelling. You fall more deeply in love with the world that way, and of course, with the characters.

    A lot of your work seems quite dark in tone, perhaps even nihilistic, yet you describe yourself as somebody who 'loves people'. What drives you toward your subject matter?

    As I mentioned before, I have a penchant for implementing hopelessness into my stories. There are two reasons for this. One: I often like to introduce a relief of hope only after an introduction of oppressive hopelessness, thus making said relief more effective. Two, and this perhaps ties in with the nihilistic aspect you noticed: I enjoy the thought of not having to rely on hope, but on the inconsistent, sometimes tangential unpredictability of human nature. People can be saints, they can be monsters, but their diversity inspires me. No artist worth his weight in dirt can bring himself to hate that which inspires him.

    Which of your books are you most proud of and why?

    That's like asking a mother which of her children she loves the most. One thing I can say: the closest thing to a trophy I can identify among my arsenal of literary elements is my villainy. I have three books whose plot-lines are centered on three of my best villains. With that in mind, I would have to tentatively say "The King of May" is the best showcase of my best strong suit.

    Villains, that's another frequently discussed topic. What is most important to you when creating a strong villain? Do you prefer villains that are, well, villainous or more checkered, more antagonistic rather than evil?

    I love evil. I've always been fascinated by it. However, I also believe that people are good at heart. Everyone is capable of both. This is another aspect of humanity I like to bring into the consideration of my reader: does redemption have limits? Are there people who are truly, purely unrepentant? I like to push that limit, creating the most twisted characters while peppering them with empathetic elements. Sometimes I'll break a serial killer's heart. Sometimes I make a rapist funny. While the occasional "mustache-twirler" can be loads of fun, even embellishing of a larger story, I think it's generally a mistake to let an audience forget that villains are people too.

    Do you self-publish? What advice would you give beginning authors about publishing/selling work?

    I do self-publish, and as a beginner myself, I think I would be much better served to receive advice than anyone else would be by taking mine. If you're trying to make serious sales, just remember that Amazon is not your friend, they're your boss. They want consistent results month-to-month or you'll free-fall in the rankings; no one will ever notice you and no one will ever love you. So don't let that happen.

    Complete this sentence: "Hell is....."

    Loneliness.

    Can't argue with that! Thanks Matthew!

  2. #2
    Fascinating interview, Lucky, thankyou.

    To date, I have nine novels finished and self-published on Amazon, almost done with number ten. I have a pair of short stories also published,
    I seem to remember when you first joined WF you had only published one novel and now you have nine! Well done. How long on average does it take you to complete a novel?
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  3. #3
    Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    professors of hopelessness
    ... is my phrase of the day. Good interview, thanks guys!


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  4. #4
    What an interesting interview! Thank you Lucky and Matthew!

    I love evil. I've always been fascinated by it. However, I also believe that people are good at heart. Everyone is capable of both.
    A belief that I wholeheartedly agree with!
    There is no life I know
    To compare with pure imagination.
    Living there you’ll be free
    If you truly wish to be.~ Willy Wonka

  5. #5
    Creative Area Specialist (Fiction) Folcro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PiP View Post
    I seem to remember when you first joined WF you had only published one novel and now you have nine! Well done. How long on average does it take you to complete a novel?
    This is true! Once I got that spark, around 2017, I couldn't stop. When I start a series, the first book will often take me at least a year to write. Once the series is going, I can write a (relatively short) novel in ~three months.
    For any who are wondering...

    Show: Stephanie's eyes rose and her lips curved down as Melanie ambled through with intentional grace. Men's eyes widened ablaze; Stephanie's narrowed in darkness. Her snarling lips caressed the edge of her glass.

    Tell: Stephanie was jealous of Melanie.

  6. #6
    Nice to meet you Folcro. I've read your limelight interview, but I must say that I even more liked reading you and Luckyscars speak about your books, writing, and your outlook on writing. Like you, I like to write about hopelessness, not in stories, but in poetry. Hope to see you more online. Luckyscars, thank you! Great interview.

  7. #7
    Awesome interview!

    Complete this sentence: "Hell is....."

    Loneliness.
    I loved this line; the last line. To me, it summed up just about everything that was covered in the interview. Your love of watching people, being near people and the chaos they inspire is reflected in that one comment. And yet, I suspect you have experienced loneliness to be able to qualify it in that way. Wonderful job and thank you so much for sharing.
    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


  8. #8
    Matthew -- Good grief, my young friend! . . .you are an inspiration! I 'taught' literature--a massive presumption: no one 'teaches' literature--for a very long time. Put another way: I talked about literature with people younger than me for a very long time, and another group of people actually PAID me to have so much fun. Anyhoo, I'm retired now and for the past 12 years I've been doing MY writing. Mostly poetry. But also two novels, one of which I've been working on for six years. You whip one off in 3 months. What is fucking wrong with this picture. D'ya think maybe perhaps just possibly I should get off my ass and finish it? With you as my model, perhaps I will.

    But I digress before starting. Which stretches the meaning of 'digress', I grant you. I was most interested in your observations about good and evil. Especially the latter. And within THAT abstraction, the role of CHAOS in creativity. And that digression led my scattered memory wayyyyy back to a super-important moment in my intellectual (I guess. . .) growth. I was 18, fumbling thru life discovering liquor, how to get into bars underage, driving cars too fast, partying, trying (usually . .but not always ) to get laid . . y'know, all the bullshit one goes thru at that age, when I read Colin Wilson's The Outsider. Absolutely blew my young, ill-formed mind. YOUR mind is much further down the road of Thought than mine was at your age, but I still think you would thoroughly enjoy and gain from this now-old book. One sentence from that book sticks in my mine to this day like shit to a blanket:

    "The Outsider sees too deeply and too much. And what he sees is essentially Chaos"

    I recommend the book to you, my young friend. And one other thing I recommend to you, having read luckyscar's wonderful interview with you: COME BACK TO US! I know I speak for others in saying I would love to have that head of yours active in these Forums again. Who knows, you might learn the odd snippet from us too. Not me--I am the Master of Digression and A Bear of Little Brain--but others here have Real Thoughts which you would find of interest. Y'all come home, y'hear?



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    "I believe in nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of the imagination". Keats, ​Letters

    "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls -- it tolls for thee. " John Donne, Meditation XVII

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Folcro View Post
    This is true! Once I got that spark, around 2017, I couldn't stop. When I start a series, the first book will often take me at least a year to write. Once the series is going, I can write a (relatively short) novel in ~three months.
    You must be very disciplined to write a novel in three months. Can you qualify relatively short? Do you employ an editor or edit yourself?
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  10. #10
    Creative Area Specialist (Fiction) Folcro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clark View Post
    I'm retired now and for the past 12 years I've been doing MY writing. Mostly poetry. But also two novels, one of which I've been working on for six years. You whip one off in 3 months. What is fucking wrong with this picture. D'ya think maybe perhaps just possibly I should get off my ass and finish it? With you as my model, perhaps I will.
    Thanks so much for your input; it was so encouraging to read!

    Honestly, there are too many variables from person to person (and book to book) for me to say how long writing a book should take. With my latest series, I'm writing it sort of in the style of a serial. I was told that readers like short bursts, bite-sized, akin to the addiction of potato chips. But if you want to write a true tome, that can take longer. But in my experience, the only reason for a novel to take more than a year or two to write... maybe you should light a fire under yourself. But at the end of the day, you know if you're putting in due effort. Just remember to take a break once in a while.

    Quote Originally Posted by PiP
    You must be very disciplined to write a novel in three months. Can you qualify relatively short? Do you employ an editor or edit yourself?
    I'm very lucky; I have a night job with ample downtime (shhhh!).

    According to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a novel is 40,000 words or more, and my novels are always comfortably longer than that. The books in my newer Voulhire series average about 75,000 words.

    As for editing, I used to think I was the messiah of proofreading my own work, soon to discover I was embarrassingly wrong. I have beta readers through onlinebookclub.org, who have been invaluable in my dubious publication journey.
    For any who are wondering...

    Show: Stephanie's eyes rose and her lips curved down as Melanie ambled through with intentional grace. Men's eyes widened ablaze; Stephanie's narrowed in darkness. Her snarling lips caressed the edge of her glass.

    Tell: Stephanie was jealous of Melanie.

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