100 Creatives 2012 Mat Johnson, Novelist and Tweeter
Novelist Mat Johnson has only been in Houston for the last five years. Originally from Philadelphia, Johnson moved around quite a bit before earning his BA in English in Indiana. He spent some time just living and writing in London, then Alaska. Later he moved to New York, where he earned his MFA in creative writing at Columbia University. Then he taught in upstate New York for a while, up until five years ago when the creative writing program in Houston caught his eye.
What he does?
He is a writer. In addition to his novels, Hunting in Harlem, Drop and his newest novel, PYM, which came out just last year, Johnson has also written a nonfiction novella, The Great Negro Plot, as well as four graphic novels, including Incognegro, which was published by Vertigo Comics.
Besides being a writer, Johnson is a faculty member of the University of Houston's creative writing program. He says he originally came to Houston because he wanted to be part of the creative writing program, and calls it "one of the best in the country."
"My job to me is one of my best blessings and I really enjoy my students, and when you look around Houston and you see the impact of the literary community, it shows you that your work is actually doing something."
He also travels across the country to different universities, speaking a couple times a month...discussing his work and talking about the creative writing program in Houston.
He also admits that he is a huge fan of Twitter and is on there a lot.
"I goof around on Twitter. I have a lot of followers on there. When I go on Twitter, I just think of something that is really bouncing in my head right then and I put it and I get an immediate response."
What inspires him?
"The idea that I'm going to die and I'd like to have my story told before I run out of time. Every day I get up and I just want to capture the way I'm looking at the world, and that's enough of an inspiration to keep going."
He says he wants to have a conversation with the world and that his writing allows him to do that.
If not this, then what?
"I'd want to be a truck driver. My whole life is about producing stories and helping other people produce stories, and I'm so jealous of people who just get to read. So sometimes when things get hard, I just fantasize about driving a truck and listening to books on tape and just consuming art instead of producing it. "
If not here, then where?
Maybe New Orleans, Austin, but doesn't see himself going far from Houston.
"I don't think I could ever really leave Houston, but if I did, I think maybe I would end up someplace out West...San Francisco or Los Angeles or some place further west, but the quality of life I have in Houston, I could never have in any of those places, so I doubt that will ever happen."
He has a new graphic novel coming out next month called Right State with DC comics. And he has a softcover coming out for PYM. He is also working on his next novel, which he hopes to have out by 2013.
More Creatives for 2012
(In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Orna Feinstein, printmaker and installation artist
Adriana Soto, jewelry designer
Domokos Benczédi, Noise and Collage Artist
Robert Boswell, Book Author, UH Prof
Patrick Turk, visual artist
Elizabeth Keel, playwright
Bob Martin, designer
Mary Lampe, short film promoter and developer
Nisha Gosar, Indian classical dancer
Jeremy Wells, painter
George Brock, theater teacher
Radu Runcanu, painter
Ariane Roesch, Mixed-Media
Sandie Zilker, art jewelry maker
Philip Hayes, actor
Patrick Palmer, painter
Ana Mae Holmes, Jewelry Designer
John Tyson, actor
Jerry Ochoa, violinist and filmmaker
Raul Gonzalez, painter, sculptor, photographer
Roy Williams, DJ of medieval music
Laura Burlton, photographer
David Peck, fashion designer
Rebecca Udden, theater director
Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, vintage designer handbag dealer
Paul Fredric, author
John Sparagana, photographer
Damon Smith, musician and visual artist
Geoff Winningham, photographer
Johnathon Michael Espinoza, visual artist
Jaemi Blair Loeb, conductor
Katya Horner, photographer
Johnathan Felton, artist
Nicoletta Maranos, cosplayer
Carol Simmons, hair stylist
Joseph "JoeP" Palmore, actor, poet
Greg Carter, director
Kenn McLaughlin, theater director
Justin Whitney, musician
Antone Pham, tattoo artist
Susie Silbert, crafts
Lauralee Capelo, hair designer
Marisol Monasterio, flamenco dancer
Carmina Bell, promoter and DJ
ReShonda Tate Billingsley, writer
Kiki Lucas, choreographer and director
J.J. Johnston, theater director
Mary Margaret Hansen, artist
Richard Tallent, photographer
Viswa Subbaraman, opera director
Emily Sloan, sculptor and performance artist
Sonja Roesch, gallery owner
Enrique Carreón-Robledo, conductor
Sandy Ewen, musician
Camella Clements, puppeteer
Wade Wilson, gallery owner
Magid Salmi, photographer
Carl Williams, playwright