Festival Feature: Matthew Moen

Festival Feature: Moen to Discuss New Work of Creative Non-Fiction

Matthew Moen Featured at Book Festival
Featured Book: Dumb Bunnies and Expecting Cats

1. Have you ever presented at the South Dakota Festival of Books before? If so, tell us your favorite memory. If not, tell us what you are expecting and why you signed on.

I’ve attended the Festival since serving on the Board of Directors of the SD Humanities Council, but this will be my first Festival presentation. I will be reading from a work of creative non-fiction entitled, Dumb Bunnies and Expecting Cats, a humorous and true tale about an indigent graduate student and the pregnant stray cat who adopted him, but then needs an emergency c-section. Since all of my prior books were academic, presented at political science conferences, this Festival presentation will be some odd combination of fabulously fun and hair-raising, especially since I’m juxtaposed against so many experienced writers at the Festival.

2. What is the earliest memory you have of books and/or reading?

As the youngest in the family, I had the good fortune of parents and older siblings reading to me.

3. Who is your favorite author (besides yourself! and why?

Malcolm Gladwell would be high on the list. He blends counterintuitive ideas with light social science research to stretch one’s thinking.

4. If you have to give one piece of succinct advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Persistence. The minimum time that I took to write a book was three years, while the maximum time was more than a decade.

5. Tell us one fact about yourself that nobody knows.

I shot a hole-in-one on April 30, 1995 on the 17th hole at the Bangor Municipal golf course, using a five-iron.

6. What was the greatest moment of your literary career?

Hopefully, the greatest moment of my literary career is still ahead of me; a high point as a scholar was when my book, The Transformation of the Christian Right, was named an Outstanding Book by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in the United States.

7. Describe the feeling you had when you first held a finished, published copy of a book you had written.

My first book, The Christian Right and Congress, was published in 1989. It was gratifying because the book was the culmination of years of study in graduate school, dissertation writing, and early years as a professor of political science at the University of Maine.

8. What is the best movie adaptation of a book you have ever seen? The worst?

Pass. I’m not much of a film critic.

9. Write a haiku that describes you as a writer.

Pass. Completing this task would have the net effect (loosely paraphrasing U.S. House Speaker Thomas Bracket Reed) of subtracting from the sum total of human knowledge.

10. What is the strangest question you have ever been asked related to your career as an author or your writings?

In my early years, people often asked about my own religious preferences because I was writing scholarly books about religion and politics in the United States. Now having published a work of creative non-fiction, I’m getting asked about being a first-time author, even though I’ve written six other books. The gulf between academic and popular publishing is vast.

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