Matt has hit the nail squarely on the head with his depictions of the life of a foreign fighter in Thailand, writing with an authenticity that could only come from someone that has experienced it first hand. It makes for a very engaging and entertaining read!
-Rob Cox, Muay Thai Focus
American author and nak muay Matt Lucas’ first release, The Boxer’s Soliloquy is a collection of fifteen interconnected short stories that follows the lives of muay thai boxers in Bangkok. Matt has made a considerable amount of trips to train muay thai in Thailand. He’s fought at the esteemed Rajadamern Stadium in Bangkok, in addition to other locations across Thailand and the U.S.
The first time I met Matt was in Bangkok in early 2009. We were both contributing to MyMuayThai.com, the muay thai website that Matt currently holds the position of Assistant Editor at. Back in 2009, Matt was studying Thai language, training muay thai, and was passionate about writing.
With the advent of his first release, I thought it was more than appropriate to catch up with Matt and discuss his book.
Hey Matt Lucas. First off, thank-you for taking time to do this interview. Now please give everyone a bit of a rundown of your path in muay thai.
I got involved in Muay Thai through a friend. He’d been doing Muay Thai for several years and had trained with Bunkerd and Nuengsiam at Fight and Fitness in San Francisco. He taught me some basics and I warmed up to the sport. I moved to Las Vegas where I irregularly attended Master Toddy’s gym for about a year.
After an overly long period of boozing and hanging out in karaoke bars I moved back to the Bay Area. I started working at a local microbrewery/bar where booze flowed easily into my liver. Not wanting to waste more of my life, I signed up at Pacific Ring Sports in Oakland. I started going to the gym six days a week and focusing on training.
I saw a local inter club fight/smoker and being of the ‘Fight Club’ generation, I decided to give it a try. I fought, I did okay, and I decided to keep fighting and to travel to Thailand. After participating in more smokers, and amateurs fights, along with studying Thai at a local Wat, I traveled to Thailand for a few months. I trained, I fought, and I decided that Muay Thai was something I wanted to pursue. I’ve returned to Thailand an additional 3 times and fought over a dozen times here in the States and four times in Thailand.
How does this all tie into The Boxer’s Soliloquy?
My own training and fight experience ties gave me the inspiration for writing the stories. A lot of the things that occur in the novel were developed while I was training and especially when I was running, during which to avoid boredom, I usually daydream.
Please allow us a peak into the plot line.
The book opens up with a story of one of the lead characters, Bryan, visiting Ayutthaya, the former capital of Bangkok. While touring the ruins of the city with his visiting western girlfriend, the two experience a growing divide. What follows is Bryan, and the other characters in the novel, attempts at pursuing their dreams and finding out the costs of those dreams.
Do we find you in there at all?
Like any type of writing there are elements of myself, things that I’ve specifically seen or heard in there but this is not a biographical novel. The fighters don’t necessarily fight at Rajadamern like I have, nor have I opened a gym like one of the characters in the book does for example. That said, I think it’s difficult to fully separate yourself from any type of creative project so there is a little bit of me in each character. My hope is that there will be a character in the novel that each reader can see a little of themselves in.
What was your process of writing the book? Is there any specific ritual you follow?
I started writing short stories when I began training about five or six years ago. I wrote them very occasionally, when ideas came to me or when I felt like writing. I was not very disciplined. I was however, and continue to, write regularly- journal, letter writing, do sports journalism and free lance writing for blogs. However, some of my stories, such as Rounds, were written while training in Thailand, during which I kept a very regular routine of writing, editing, training, eating, and sleeping. As I wrote the stories, I would send them to friends for feedback and I was actually lucky enough to workshop a few pieces in writing classes I was enrolled in as I finished my degree in English with a creative writing major.
How long did it take to complete – from idea generation to publication?
So I had no intention of doing a book from the outset but rather I realized one day that I had enough material to create a book. The first story was probably completed about five years ago with the last one finished about a year ago. After that I had to tie the stories together, as originally they were all disconnected, and establish overall themes and plot lines. In addition I had to get the work copy edited several times, laid out, and reviewed. This whole process from the completion of actually writing a first draft to publication took about a year. It is a lot more work than I originally anticipated but I am glad that I went through the process.
How does it feel to have The Boxer’s Soliloquy finished and on the market?
I feel really accomplished. I’ve written a book, and what I believe to be a good book. In addition there really isn’t a lot of literature based on Muay Thai. There is a ton of great western boxing material but for Muay Thai, not so much. I’m really happy that I can contribute something for a sport that I love and that has changed my life in such a positive way. I think that growing the sport includes not only training and fighting but also participating in the culture of Muay Thai. I think The Boxer’s Soliloquy is a part of growing the sport and culture.
Lastly, where can we pick it up?
The book is available on Amazon and Create Space. Additionally it is available as an ebook off of iTunes, Kindle, and Nook. I am currently shopping the novel out to local gyms for sale on site so ask at your local Muay Thai gym for a copy or to carry it.
I was immediately drawn into Boxer’s Soliloquy. Matt has a way with words that brings you up close and personal with all of the characters. You can imagine yourself right there with them.
-Kevin Ross, WBC Muay Thai Super Lightweight Champion