Q&A: Matthew Hance

From the August 2, 2012 edition

Matthew Hance, whose award-winning science-fiction stories have been published in anthologies and e-zines, had just written a novel and was feeling mentally fatigued when he came up with the idea for a story about a memory-erasing service. It deserved more than one short story, he decided, so he asked authors and artists to contribute their takes on the idea. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, “The Memory Eater” is now available on Amazon.

I started writing after the movie “Red Dragon.” I had such high expectations for that movie. I was a big movie buff. And that movie just wasn’t good. I got out of the movie theater and was like, “I’m going to write something better.” And I wrote the worst novel in the world. I thought I was going to drive to my high school prom in a Dodge Viper from the profits from this horrible, horrible book.

I had a class in college that was sci-fi literature. That’s when I got into all of the classics like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” stuff like that.

I write more soft science fiction, where the science takes a back stage to the characters. There’s soft and hard. I’m not really into the hard, where you get into all of the mechanics of everything.

I had written a short story about a person who had no memory, so they had to go through the story and figure out how they came to lose their memory. At the time I was in my customer service representative job. So the story I came up with was someone who worked for a company as a customer service representative, and their service was they deleted memories.

I decided to expand it and turn it into an anthology. I thought I could get enough submissions to fill out an anthology, so I just put the word out online. I ended up getting about 230. I had the luxury of picking the best and then develop an overall story with it.

A lot of the authors I’ve never met before, and I’m sure I might not meet them ever. Some of them are from Australia, Canada, Europe. This is worldwide. There are two other people from the Columbus Creative Cooperative. There’s 27 different artists [in the anthology] who I found online. Most of the artists are overseas.

When I first put out a call for submissions, some people tried to shoot me down, like, “Isn’t this a rip-off of ‘Eternal Sunshine’?” But I’d never seen the film. I went and read about it, and it kinda is, yeah. It’s weird how that works. I wrote a short story, and two days after I wrote it, I read a Ray Bradbury story that was the exact same thing. I was like, “Are you serious?”

I wanted to get 500 books, and I didn’t have money to pay for them up front. One of the authors [in the anthology] recommended Kickstarter. The great thing about it is you give the product to the people, you let them see what it is and you let them judge for themselves whether it’s worthy enough. It was cool to put it out there and have the support to meet the goal.

Photo by Tim Johnson