That’s a loaded question! I have my good and bad days but today feels fine. I’ve been making it a point to reflect on the good things. For example, we (American Authors) just released a new album in February and the reaction has been amazing so I’m grateful for that. Oddly enough my book came out the same day and the reaction has also been amazing, so those things keep me happy.
Known for your music – how were you drawn into writing?
It happened the same way music did. I fell into it because I had a story to tell. Music and words go hand in hand so it felt like a very natural progression.
When did you realize you want it to have this more than a hobby?
It ultimately still feels like a hobby but I think it happened after my wife read the first draft. It was raw, it was unedited, and ultimately unfinished, but she said I should keep going because the story was compelling. I don’t like leaving things unfinished so I wanted to see it through till the end.
Let’s talk about No One Is Listening – how the idea for the book come about?
I’m someone who values my personal time and after getting off of a three-year tour, I decided the best way for me to get that isolation, was to fly to Sweden in the middle of winter and stay in a cheap run down Airbnb. I made it a point to not meet or really talk to anyone except my bartenders and tattoo artists, so as you can imagine I had a lot of time to just be silent and alone with my thoughts. I started reflecting on my personal experiences with family and friends, and decided elements of those experiences could make for an interesting story.
Does your musical background in any way or form influences your work as an author?
Only in the way that music tells a story like a book or a poem.
Speaking of which, it wasn’t too much of a brainer to have the lead of the book being a band member?
You write what you know.
Did you get to pour some of yourself in the Bell’s character?
Bell is a part of me that is always there. He’s a part of me I mostly choose to ignore, and he’s a part of me I sometimes wish I could be.
The story (or at least most of the setting) has this nice Raymond Chandler, neo-noir vibe – were you influence by the 50s and those type of novels?
Nice reference! I was mostly influenced by Bukowski, and his favorite author John Fante. They don’t write nearly the same but they both have a way of highlighting the horrors of those vices that we as a culture idolize. The world’s changed so much since their books but our struggles are mostly the same.
How did you go on balancing the darkness with the most positive aspect of the story?
The darkness in the story comes from real experiences that humanity deals with daily, like depression, alcoholism, and the ultimate panic of not really knowing who you are. The protagonist “Bell” has all of these qualities and he knows it. But he also has the desire to be a better person. From the very beginning of the story, he has a positive goal to reconnect with his mother. The rest is figuring out who he is, and how to achieve that goal. It was a very natural balance, because every character at their core is a good person…well mostly.
What would you say was the most challenging thing?
Writing the climax. It was hard because it’s very real to me, and sometimes accepting that things can’t or won’t change is the hardest thing in the world to do. My wife and I were at a restaurant and I read it to her out loud. We both started crying and I swear everyone thought we were breaking up. (Haha) It’s become quite controversial in my family but that just means I’m doing something right…right?
What else is happening next in Matt Sanchez’s world?
My wife and I are working on a musical for film titled “The Pre-Existing Condition” that deals with the struggles of 3 individuals and their fight with healthcare and insurance companies. The music is so inspired and the story is beautiful.
I’ve also started my next book that will be a prequel to “No One is Listening” and the working title is “Steps.” This one will focus more on the relationship between Bell and his brother Francis.