Episode 468: Raise Your Story’s Stakes with Tension and Surprise – Interview with M.T. Anderson

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing MT Anderson. We’ll be talking about his book, Elf Dog and Owl Head, and raising your story’s stakes.

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In this episode M.T. Anderson and I discuss:

  • Weaving events from your real life into a fantastical story
  • Why you need to have rules for the magic you create in order for it to be fun.
  • How to reverse engineer and perfect the opening of your novel.

Plus, his #1 tip for writers.

About M.T. Anderson

M. T. Anderson has written stories for adults, picture books for children, adventure novels for young readers, graphic novel adaptations of ancient French tales, and several books for older readers (both teens and adults). His satirical book Feed was a Finalist for the National Book Award and was the winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize. Both Time Magazine and National Public Radio have included it on their lists of the best 100 YA novels of all time. Another satirical science fiction novel, Landscape with Invisible Hand, has been turned into a movie starring Tiffany Haddish and Asante Blackk. 

The first volume of Anderson’s Octavian Nothing saga, The Pox Party, won the National Book Award and the Boston Globe / Horn Book Prize. The second volume, The Kingdom on the Waves, was a New York Times best-seller. The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge, a tragicomic spy story for young goblins written with Newbery-Honor winner Eugene Yelchin, was a Finalist for the National Book Award in 2018. 

Anderson’s nonfiction book Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad was long-listed for the National Book Award. 

He has published stories for adults in literary journals like The Northwest Review, The Colorado Review, and Conjunctions. Several of his stories have appeared in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror collections. His nonfiction articles and reviews have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Slate, and Salon. 

He has curated concerts that bring together text and classical music all over New England. 

You can find him on his website or follow him on Twitter.

Elf Dog and Owl Head

From the singular imagination of National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson comes a magical adventure about a boy and his dog—or a dog and her boy—and a forest of wonders hidden in plain sight.

Clay has had his fill of home life. A global plague has brought the world to a screeching halt, and with little to look forward to but a summer of video-calling friends, vying with annoying sisters for the family computer, and tuning out his parents’ financial worries, he’s only too happy to retreat to the woods. From the moment the elegant little dog with the ornate collar appears like an apparition among the trees, Clay sees something uncanny in her. With this mysterious Elphinore as guide, he’ll glimpse ancient secrets folded all but invisibly into the forest. Each day the dog leads Clay down paths he never knew existed, deeper into the unknown. But they aren’t alone in their surreal adventures. There are traps and terrors in the woods, too, and if Clay isn’t careful, he might stray off the path and lose his way forever. Graced with evocative black-and-white illustrations by Junyi Wu, Elf Dog and Owl Head is heartfelt and exhilarating, wry and poignant, seamlessly merging the fantastic and the familiar in a tale both timely and timeless.

If you decide to check out the book, we hope you’ll do so via this Amazon affiliate link where, if you choose to purchase via the link, DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

Link to Episode 468

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