August 06, 2017

#AuthorInterview with @mscox_fiction #CQWeek2017 @CuriosityQuills #Giveaway

Today we have an interview with Mathew S. Cox who is the author of many books. 
Where can readers follow you?

Originally from South Amboy NJ, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Since 1996, he has developed the “Divergent Fates” world, in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, The Awakened Series, The Harmony Paradox, and the Daughter of Mars series take place.

Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems, and a fan of anime, British humor, and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it.

He is also fond of cats.

So what is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Matthew S. Cox, and I was born in South Amboy, NJ. Currently living in Parlin NJ.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I think some part of me always wanted to be, at least a storyteller… but I developed a distaste for reading in my teen years due mostly to the summer reading thing. Like most kids, being ordered to do something made me not want to do it. Looking forward to summer break and then getting handed a list of 8 or so books I had to read by the end of summer turned reading from a fun thing into a chore, and it took me almost 30 years to get over that.

When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
As soon as I started hearing back from people who enjoyed reading my stories.

Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
It took about a year after finishing the manuscript, which is pretty blazingly fast. I got pretty lucky in finding Curiosity Quills, after fishing in the agent pond didn’t work out.

Do you work another job as well as your writing work?

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
The most recent release would be Division Zero: Guardian – the fourth in the series. Agent Kirsten Wren is a cop in the year 2418, a psionic who is an astral sensitive. Amid a world of high technology, cybernetic implants, and political unrest, she gets to deal with all the “weird” stuff the other members of the psionic police unit won’t touch. In Guardian, she takes on a case at the request of a senator, and finds more than an angry ghost are threatening her world.

Who is your publisher? or do you self-publish?
I am published via Curiosity Quills press.

Do you have a "lucky charm" or "lucky routine" you follow when waiting for your book to be accepted by a publisher?
Not really. A lot of nervous checking of email and jumping with joy when I hear that ding, only to find out it’s spam and then get angry/disappointed.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
It varies based on how “into” the idea I am. The fastest I’ve gone from idea to finished first draft is two weeks. The longest book took me about two months.

Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
I’ve had a few books fly straight out of my fingertips because I got so into them: Prophet of the Badlands, The Summer the World Ended, The Eldritch Heart, and Nine Candles of Deepest Black all wanted out of my head. The hardest, I’d have to say is The Dysfunctional Conspiracy, as it is a nonfiction memoir I co-wrote with Christopher Veltmann, and I had to do a lot of jockeying back and forth to keep facts and timelines as straight as possible. The world wasn’t coming entirely out of my head.

What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I’ll always be writing cyberpunk I think, but I am writing a number of different genres. At some point, I’ll probably do an adult fantasy, maybe an urban fantasy. Got some middle-grade ideas brewing as well.

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Yes. I’m currently working on a novel titled Citadel: The Concordant Sequence, a middle-grade (upper) post-apocalyptic story.

What genre would you place your books into?
Most are science fiction, some horror, some fantasy, some contemporary.

What made you decide to write that genre of book?
It’s the story I had in mind… I write the stories I get, whether or not they’re “hot” on the market at the time.

Do you have a favorite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favorite?
This is like asking a parent to pick their favorite kid, but if pressed, I’d have to go with Prophet of the Badlands. Mostly, because the protagonist, Althea, is my favorite character.

Do you have a favorite character from your books? and why are they your favorite?
Althea from Prophet of the Badlands. She’s so fun to write. Her combination of innocence, her powers, and her inner strength to do the right thing wound up making her so endearing to me. During the writing of Prophet, it felt like she was standing behind me at one point, and took issue with the way the outline was going. She demanded I make a change because she decided to fight for what she believed in and protect people she cares about (instead of passively letting the forces of evil take her away again). I had to listen to her since the whole point of her story is her transition from this meek and passive soul to a girl who has the ability to determine her own course.

If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?
Althea… because her powers are used to heal.

How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing on and off since my 20s, but I decided to “get serious” around late 2012.

Where do you get your book plot ideas from? What/Who is your inspiration?
A lot of my ideas come from worlds I’ve created for some homebrew roleplaying game settings. I draw inspiration from plots I’ve run there, other characters, and some ideas that I got but never used for the table. The inspiration for The Eldritch Heart came from me overhearing someone mistake Frozen for a story about two women in love with each other (and he was rather upset that Disney would “dare” do such a thing.) 

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
Well, if silence counts as music. When drafting, I can’t have any music on. There’s an annoying guy around where I live who drives an ice cream truck around even in the middle of winter, blaring this inane music. Even that gets in the way of my writing. I like to have orange herbal tea nearby when writing as well.

Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
I have a couple of people I trust as beta readers to give me feedback before I do a final self-edit and submit a book to my publisher. None of them are related to me.

Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?

Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
For the most part, yeah.

What was the toughest/best review you have ever had?
The best review I had was from a woman who read Caller 107, and commented that the book triggered a discussion with her teenage daughter about the topics inside it, and they had a nice long talk about it. That made me feel awesome. The toughest… I’m not entirely sure there. There have been some bad reviews, but usually they’re of the “not for me” type, which is just an issue of taste, or someone with dime-store morals offended that I dared use some “naughty words” in a book they read.

Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
Nope. That’s the quintessence of douche.

How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books? 
Who designed the Cover of your books?
I have a strange relationship with titles. Either I’ll get hit with one instantly and love it, or I will stew over a title for weeks and weeks and never quite like the one I settle on. The cover art is mostly handled by CQ’s art team, but I do have some input.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I always try to have a title before I start drafting, but sometimes the working title changes before release. (Originally, Caller 107 was simply “Natalie,” but a single name isn’t a great title for books. Someone trying to find the book on the internet when it’s a girl’s name is going to drown in a deluge of smut. (or celebrities).

How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Most of the time, I go to baby name websites and stare at names until something feels right for a character. Sometimes, the names will hit me at the same time as the character concept. Place names, I just pull out of thin air. I suppose that’s a side effect of running RPGs for 30 years.

Are character names and place names decided after their creation? or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
Most names I come up with while I am designing the characters. Sometimes I’ll need a place name or another side-character name in the middle of writing.

Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I will usually create a character personality/concept/habits before I start writing. I tend to have an excel sheet of notes for each character.

Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I am an outliner. For my novels, I’ll start off by writing down a series of events that I want to have happen during the story. Once I have enough down, I’ll rearrange them into the order that makes the most sense, fiddle with the content a little, and then work that into a chapter outline. With that done, I come up with titles for each chapter and transfer the whole thing to Word before I start writing.

How do you market/promote your books?
I am not a great marketer. I have an innate dislike of sales weasels and that bleeds through whenever I try to do something promotional. I’ve tried boosting FB posts, a thunderclap, some book tours and such. CQ is awesome. They put my books on NetGalley and a few have been on BookBub.

What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ?
That is a question for more educated people than I. It seems like a lot of the bestsellers these days are often skewered for poor writing, poor plotting, ridiculous characters, etc. Perhaps it’s name recognition, marketing from a major publisher, trends, who knows what makes things go viral.

Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
Aside from occasionally spending two or so hours trying to come up with the first word of a novel, not really. (The first word of everything I write is usually a comment on the character’s nature or present situation. For example, the first word of Division Zero #1 is “Adrift.” That is how Kirsten feels at that point in time.)

What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
Video games, reading, movies, sometimes roleplaying games.

Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
A few times yes. The character of Captain Eze from the Division Zero series is loosely based on someone I used to work with, Christopher Eke. He’s the person who nudged me off the cliff of laziness and got me started on writing. A character in one of my books suffers a fatal aneurysm, that event is based on me (as a 17 year old) watching my grandfather suffer a fatal aneurysm at the dinner table. In Daughter of Ash, there’s a conversation between Kate and Esteban where he tells her a story about being a small boy and his grandmother pulling him aside as a child and telling him “Whatever you do, don’t you dare marry a psionic girl!” This is based on my grandmother doing the same thing to me when I was 7, only instead of Psionic, she was terrified I’d wind up marring a black woman. (for the record, I don’t care what color a person is. I came along quite late – basically skipped a generation, so my grands were still living in 1902.)

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
Caller 107 has a karmic message. Send out bad, you get bad back… and sometimes you might get a chance to fix past mistakes. Other than that, none of my books are intentionally trying to send a moral message.

Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
William Gibson and Tolkien are my biggest influences. I’ve recently been compared to Heinlein, though I haven’t read a lot of his work.

Which format of book do you prefer, ebook, hardback, or paperback?
I don’t think I really have a strong preference, but as an author, seeing my book in paperback feels more real than having ebooks.

What is your favorite book and Why?  Have you read it more than once?
Neuromancer, yes, and because it is essentially the work that established cyberpunk as a genre.

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
It depends on the story and how much the overall whole relies on all the little details they leave out for the movie. I have not seen a lot of movies based on books I’ve read, except for the Harry Potter series and The Martian. Goblet left out SO much stuff, but the last movie was pretty spot on.

What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
I’m currently in writing mode.

Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
Possibly in the future when we have flying cars and commercial spaceflight.

Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative, writing?Not having a kid in school, not being a kid anymore, and not being a teacher, I really can’t say. I do remember being a kid and being forced to read sucking all the joy out of it though. I think it would be good to encourage reading, but when it’s required it can backfire.

Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?Most of my writing in the past has been in support of developing the worlds I use for roleplaying games and associated manuals. I have dabbled on and off with writing years ago, but reading/writing is a relatively new obsession.

Did you have a favorite author as a child?Not really.

Do you have a treasured book from your childhood? If yes, what is it?Not really. Though, between eighth grade and the end of high school, 5 english teachers in a row required us to read Fahrenheit 451… as if the year before hadn’t ever heard of the book.

Do you have a favorite genre of book?I am partial to science fiction.

Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
Stuff that is too dark or that involves the death of child characters. The world’s grim enough and I read to escape. Having kid characters die just puts me in a wicked black mood for a few days so I try to avoid any books or movies where that happens. There was a book (not published as far as I know, it was a beta request from another author) that I got a few pages in and had to put down. The story involved a psychic going into a house and seeing the ghosts of murdered children. She started to receive a vivid flashback of the crime happening and I did not want to read about sledgehammer vs 6 year old.

Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? and Why should we watch out for them?I don’t really have a good answer for this at the moment as I’ve been so busy I feel out of the loop.

Is there anything in your book/books you would change now if you could and what would it be?Nothing super significant. Might reduce some echoes in my older books… might add a bit more to the end of Chiaroscuro (more stuff happening in the various time periods), but that runs the risk of making the book drag on, which is why I didn’t.

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?Seek critique. Family and friends are not a reliable source of critique because they are probably worried about hurting your feelings. Don’t rush to change something the instant someone gives you a criticism. If you hear the same thing from two people, start thinking about changing. If you hear the same thing from three or more, it should probably be changed.

Do you or would you ever use a pen name?I don’t, not sure I would. I have no plans to ever write something so embarrassing or scandalous that I would want to hide who I am.

If you could invite three favorite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with? Gibson, Tolkien, and probably Piers Anthony.

!Quick Answer Questions!
Books or Movies?
 (As a younger person, movies. Now? Books.)
Action, Drama, Mystery, Romance? 
Library or New books from a bookstore? (Bookstore)
Morning or Evening? (Evening)
Early Nights or Late Nights? (Late nights)
Shower or Bath? (Shower)
Optimist or Pessimist? (Is it better to be an optimist or a disappointed pessimist?)
Coffee ot Tea? (coffee)
Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter? (spring)
Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate or White Chocolate? (Dark)
Long Hair or Short Hair? (Fond of long hair, but that’s probably because I’m bald and jealous : ) 
Wine, Beer, Soft Drink? (iced tea / water)
Dogs or Cats?  (cats)

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