Matt Doeden

Matt Doeden began his career as a sports writer. Since then, he’s spent more than a decade writing and editing children’s nonfiction. Matt lives in Minnesota with his family.


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

I liked to read anything about outer space, stars, planets, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. I liked anything to do with exploration or the ancient world. I read some fiction and would devour Choose Your Own Adventure books, but was most captivated by nonfiction.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“The best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry.”

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

I enjoy reading Dan Simmons, George R. R. Martin, and, when I’m in a more classical mode, John Steinbeck.

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

I can’t say being an author of children’s books was ever something I really aspired to. I had dreams of being a sportswriter, which is what I was doing briefly before getting into publishing. The whole author thing sort of snuck up on me, I guess. That’s not a complaint, of course. I love what I do.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

I think that no matter what you’re writing, whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry, news, or whatever, the key is to have a genuine interest and passion for the subject. It comes through. Usually if you learn about and study a subject closely, you’ll develop that interest. Or at least that’s the case in my experience. And keep it simple. Sometimes those of us who love words tend to fall in love with putting them together prettily. Writing in any form other than poetry is strictly about conveying information, whether that’s a fictional story or a nonfiction book about, say, a tank or a motorcycle. Save the pretty phrasing for poetry.