Michael has spent most of his life working with young people. He has decades of experience in writing and editing, public speaking, teaching, and group facilitation. His background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Theology from Yellowstone Baptist College and graduate studies at Westminster Seminary in California. He is also a Certified Relational Wisdom Instructor through Relational Wisdom 360. Michael was State Editor for Watchdog Wire-Montana from 2013 through 2014.
Michael has served as a special education tutor on a Hutterite colony in central Montana, and spent ten years as a counselor to and teaching assistant for at-risk teens at Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch and Yellowstone Academy. His time there allowed him to hone his relationship building and communication skills while working with young people from all parts of the country and every imaginable background. He is able to quickly establish rapport with young people, and simply enjoys their insights and observations of the world.
Due to this experience, in 2007 Michael was recruited by Home Science Tools to help supervise its warehouse operation. From 2007 until March of 2015, Michael served as Order Processing Coordinator/Team Leader. Michael’s time at Home Science Tools gives him a deep appreciation for the commitment and dedication of parents who choose to homeshcool. It also provides an inspiring, industry-leading example of customer service Hellroaring Studio hopes to emulate.
Michael discovered flash fiction in 2011 after joining The Flash Factory at Zoetrope Virtual Studio. His first work of flash fiction, Blazin’, took top honors in a fifty-word contest at Foundling Review. He then met the Baltimore Review’s hundred-word challenge with Legacy.
Also in 2011, Michael began work on his sonnet sequence Hell, Roaring. An early draft of the first sonnet garnered positive comments from Dr. David Cremean, Professor of English at Black Hills State University.
“I read it over multiple times in a few different ways, even out loud. I hear (some) Milton –the engines and ensigns and Death and Hell, and (in) the overall wording and feel — yet it isn’t heavy, over-the-top and Latineate like Milton. I like the inversion of Tennyson. The diction is at once poetic to a degree, but overall contemporary, too, not overly poeticized. The rhyming is muted quite well in multiple ways, including near and eye rhymes; the work avoids sing-songy meter, too. Some nice alliteration and consonance. In some ways, it echoes of Donne (and that’s a high compliment in my book) in the way it sounds, less of Milton despite some of the imagery seeming Miltonic, and yet by echoing avoids mere imitation.”
To have work compared to Milton or Donne (much less both) is high praise, indeed. Much less from a literary scholar of Dr. Cremean’s standing. Dr. Cremean wrote the introduction for the 2008 edition of Zane Grey’s The Rainbow Trail for the Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading. He is a former president of the Western Literature Association, Review Editor for the Cormac McCarthy Journal, and Editor of Cormac McCarthy – Critical Insights, released in September, 2012.
He wasn’t the only one to praise Michael’s work. Dr. John Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary thanked Michael for sending him a copy. “I love it. Your language is so rich, and the imagery accumulates powerfully.”
Impressionst Realism painter Taylor Lynde said, “In the tradition of poets and writers, such as Thompson and Melville — remembered for looking at the infinite behind the finite — Michael Mattson gives us Hell, Roaring. In this poem, Michael Mattson gives us a wake up call, from the the old school: Writers who knew we were small, and temporarily between a very bad place and a very, very Good place- as is the testimony of scripture. I recommend it heartily.”
Throughout 2013 and 2014, Michael served as State Editor for Watchdog Wire-Montana. During an editors’ retreat to Washington, D.C., he visited Arlington National Cemetery for the first time and was asked to write a reflection piece about the experience. Shadow of Arlington was published on Memorial Day 2014 on the national page at Watchdog Wire. It is a prime example of flash fiction and poetic techniques applied in a personal narrative, and stands alongside Hell, Roaring as one of Michael’s favorite pieces to date.
In January 2015, Michael was among a group of forty writers flown to Washington, D.C., for School Choice Week to attend the Amplify School Choice conference and write about what they learned. Two of the articles he subsequently wrote (Common Ground, Common Cause and School Choice Epiphany) are featured pieces on the Amplify School Choice website.
In June of 2015, Michael took the helm as managing editor at Flash Fiction Chronicles*, a top resource site dedicated to the craft of flash fiction. You can learn more about Michael by reading his editor’s interview at Six Questions For and get an brief lesson in the craft of flash fiction with his article An Eye for an I.
*Flash Fiction Chronicles is currently undergoing a major redesign after a server meltdown at Everday Fiction, the hosting site.