Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Voices of New Media: Author & Podcaster Matthew Wayne Selznick

Matthew Wayne Selznick is a firm believer in doing things yourself…and, he practices what he preaches. He’s an author, podcaster, publisher and musician and the end result of all his creative endeavors can be found online at his website, www.mattselznick.com. I was first introduced to Matthew Wayne Selznick through Mur Lafferty’s podcast I Should Be Writing where he was discussing, among other things, his novel “Brave Men Run – A Novel of the Sovereign Era.” That’s where I started, so why don’t we?

“Brave Men Run – A Novel of the Sovereign Era” is, according to Selznick, “The Breakfast Club meets X-Men.” While it doesn’t have capes or Judd Nelson, it does have people with extraordinary powers and a cast of characters who are mostly in their teens. Its also one of the best written fictional accounts of what its like to be different in the biggest popularity contest there is, high school. Thanks to the writing in “Brave Men Run,” the main character, Nate Charters' experiences on the page read like they’re experiences off the page. They breathe and are full of a life spent reflecting on what it means to be different and who you are because of it. Matthew Wayne Selznick has managed to capture the essence of what it means to live an outsiders life just at the point where all of the things that made you different suddenly thrust you into the spotlight for better and for worse.

For “Brave Men Run – A Novel of the Sovereign Era”, Selznick has chosen to independently publish his work in several formats simultaneously and forgo the more traditional author/agent/publisher model. Along with the traditional print form of the novel, “Brave Men Run” was also released as an e-book, an audiobook and as a podcast novel read by the author himself. While the book, audiobook and e-book are for sale at Lulu.com and Payloadz.com respectively, the podcast novel version is available absolutely free of charge through Podiobooks.com…and if you like what you hear, you can always leave a donation for Matt at Podiobooks.com.

Similar to other authors who have chosen a podcast novel as a method to make their work available to a wider audience, Matthew Wayne Selznick has much more on his plate in the realm of podcasting. He’s also the host of Writers Talking, a live podcast where along with other authors, he discusses topics relating to the craft of writing. Even though Selznick is himself an author, he often times will ask the simple question which other interviewers tend to overlook. Through these questions he manages to get useful and oftentimes insightful answers as to the how’s and why’s of writing instead of just what happens after the author has written.

The Writers Talking podcast is hosted at Talkshoe.com, which allows not only the host and authors to take part in the discussion, but also any number of fans and listeners that sign in. After an in-depth interview segment, Selznick opens up the chat room and phone lines to anyone listening in with a question or comment. Talkshoe.com, in addition to hosting the podcast session, also compensates Writers Talking for each live listener and subscriber to the podcast. Matthew has chosen to donate 50% of any proceeds from his Writers Talking podcast, including donations, to 826 National, a group of nonprofit organizations that, in essence, help school age children learn the craft of writing.

In addition to Writers Talking, Matthew Wayne Selznick created and contributed to the first season of Five Minute Memoir. In a concept similar to that of NPR’s StoryCorps without the two party interview, contributors to Five Minute Memoir give listeners a look into the defining moments of their lives by retelling the stories that helped shape them into who they are today. From individual tales of people finding themselves employed as the low man on the totem pole in the vast Regan-era military machine to the very simple lesson of telling someone you love them while you still have the chance, Five Minute Memoir is some of the most compelling, moving and ultimately honest work ever shared with an audience.

If that weren’t enough, there’s also Scribtotum, Selznick’s personal blog, Sonitotum, Scribtotum’s companion podcast, and the DIY Endeavors podcast which features mostly musical tracks from independent artists who are trying to do music and the business of music their own way. On top of all of that, or perhaps because of it, Matthew Wayne Selznick endures a daily commute in excess of eighty miles each way to the offices of Mahalo.com, “the world's first human-powered search engine” where their “goal is to hand-write the top 20,000 search terms” on the internet. So not only does he do it all himself, he works for a company that does too.

Matthew Wayne Selznick is very much about doing it yourself and “DIY” plays a large part in all of his creative outings. At the top of his homepage, just under the welcome message, there’s a section called “Living The DIY Ethic” and if you look off on the sidebar, you can follow a link to what might just be the most telling thing about Matthew Wayne Selznick, his beliefs. As they’re listed, they are:

Each is followed by a short explanation to put them in context, but the titles are pretty much self-explanatory. So what does it all mean? Judging solely from his work, his words and his actions relating to both, Matthew Wayne Selznick is something of a visionary who doesn’t believe that just because something is the way it is, it has to stay that way. He has taken it upon himself to be one of the first to blaze a trail through the way things have been done to the way things could be done…and for that, we’re all better off.

FYI - If you find yourself interested in Matthew Wayne Selznick, this is really an opportune time to find out more about him. He has recently announced that for the remainder of 2007, he is taking a hiatus from podcasting in order to publish his follow-up to “Brave Men Run – A Novel of the Sovereign Era,” entitled “Pilgrimage - The Dawn of the Sovereign Era.” This will be another multi-format release, but this time with a twist since the podcast novel version of “Pilgrimage” will be a full cast audio drama, a first for Selznick. His hiatus gives you a few solid months to listen to “Brave Men Run – A Novel of the Sovereign Era” and all of the archived episodes of Writers Talking, Five Minute Memoir, Sonitotum and DIY Endeavors. So take your time, listen to a great book, some great interviews and some amazing stories…and by the time you’re done, Matthew Wayne Selznick will be back with “Pilgrimage” and more of his great work

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