Interview with Matt McMahon, Author of Species of One

31 Aug 2021

What’s the story behind the story?

Who wouldn’t want to live in a society where everyone is nice and genuinely care for their neighbors? That eutopia is not a fantasy. It exists. At least it exists in twenty percent of all societies, populated equally by men and women.

They are the “Highly Sensitive People” (HSPs) first identified twenty-five years ago in Dr. Elaine N. Aron’s “The Highly Sensitive Person.”

Species of One brings the reader into their lives as characters from different backgrounds adapt to their world. Some were affected by traumas such as child abuse and war. Others grew in supportive environments. An emotional journey of triumphs and tragedies we can all share.

What inspired you to write Species of One?

As an HSP myself, a 2019 non-fiction book about Orchids (the most creative of HSPs) and Dandelions (non-HSPs) that painted a dire future for HSPs from unsupportive families or subjected to childhood trauma concerned me. In writing Species of One, I wanted to show how important HSP’s are to our world and how even damaged Orchids can thrive.  

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

It’s all about the characters and their arcs. How different they are at the end of the story than they were at the beginning.

If you had to write a blurb for the last book you read, what would it say?

My last fiction read was Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, an inventive reimagining of the “It’s a Wonderful Life” moral that makes us see that the lives we are living are perfect the way they are.

What are your ideal writing conditions?

As an attorney, I got into the habit of dictating anything lengthy back before everyone had a computer. When computerized speech recognition became a reality, I was hooked. It allows me to dictate whenever and wherever works best, driving, at home, or in the office. Editing the computer transcription is the first round of edits that helps sharpen the story and prepare me for the next scene.

What’s your favorite genre to read?

I am a fan of literary fiction that profoundly explores the human condition, obstacles thrown in our paths, and how they mold our lives. Every fourth fiction book I read (I read equal amounts of fiction and non-fiction) is a classic I didn’t get to read in my misspent youth. When I read Don Quixote a few years back, I couldn’t believe it was written more than 400 years ago.  

Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

So far, I have written a literary psychological novel and a near-future political thriller. I don’t want to write in only one genre. I want to write stories that spotlight overlooked subjects and have lessons to enrich our lives.  

Where did you write Species of One?

I dictated much of it while driving and visiting scenes in the Catskill Mountains where the story is set. The rest was written and edited in my home office. I often work in a dark room to block out distractions and wholly immerse myself as if I’m in the story. 

What was your favorite scene to write in Species of One?

Sorry, that would be a spoiler!  

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading Species of One what would it be?

That everyone is perfect exactly as they are, and there is always a place where they belong.

Matt McMahon is the author of the new book Species of One

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rebecca