Matt Bell - Eccles Visiting Scholar - Author of "Appleseed"

Matt Bell

October 14, 2021
The Great Hall

Reflection | Podcast | VideoPhotos

Eccles Visiting Scholar George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation
SUU and A.P.E.X. Events is most grateful for the support from The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation which made this event possible.

Matt Bell’s latest novel, Appleseed, was published by Custom House in July 2021. His craft book Refuse to Be Done, a guide to novel writing, rewriting, & revision, will follow in early 2022 from Soho Press.

He is also the author of the novels Scrapper and In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods, as well as the short story collection A Tree or a Person or a Wall, a non-fiction book about the classic video game Baldur's Gate II, and several other titles.

His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Tin House, Conjunctions, Fairy Tale Review, American Short Fiction, and many other publications. A native of Michigan, he teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.


On October 14, SUU’s APEX event hosted author Matt Bell.

Bell sat down with SUU's Lynn Vartan and Todd Petersen to discuss everything to do with writing and his book "Appleseed." "Appleseed" is written as a Speculative Fiction, a combination of six or seven genres.

Petersen and Bell, who are both writers, held a discussion about the writing process. Bell explained that "How much magic the book can hold and the more magic you put in, the more the world changes around you."

Many books are only focused through a type of tunnel vision based solely around the protagonist and their thoughts. Bell explained that he is constantly "Looking for different ways for the book to look around its characters and its limited perspective."

"Some of the things I am writing now are more directly thinking about how things could be otherwise, how we could live differently. You can’t get to a future you can’t imagine," Bell expressed, calling himself a Utopianist.

Petersen explained that "when people look at something finished, they don’t realize there is a process." Agreeing that people are blind when it comes to the process of creating a novel, Bell added, "Finished books can tell you what the novel can do. But they don’t show you anything about how they were made. It’s just not visible in the final project."

It doesn’t matter if every piece of writing is perfect, just as long as you are writing is what matters.

"Most of what I write gets thrown away, but it’s all useful, it’s all process, it’s all thinking," Bell explained. "And every sentence you write is practice for the ones you'll publish."

"As writers and creators, there is a part of us that we don’t always get to talk to directly that is sometimes a lot smarter than we are," Petersen added. "Something else is happening here, than just regular thinking. A writer must let that force out."

Agreeing with Petersen, Bell expressed that "the reason books feel like they are written by impossible humans is because they were written by 1,200 versions of you or me."

With some final words of inspiration, Bell left the audience with the message that they must "keep the image bank full as you’re writing, go big with wonder and get influence from every direction, as much as possible. The more the better."

To purchase "Appleseed" visit Bell's website. Bell’s next book, "Refuse to Be Done: How to Write and Rewrite a Novel in Three Drafts" will be out early 2022.


Audio Transcript