Friday, August 11, 2017

Interview with Matthew S Cox, THE ELDRITCH HEART

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
The Eldritch Heart is at its core a love story between two people trapped between the expectations of a society that conflicts with them and a decades-long war that has been ruinous for both sides. Princess Oona has spent most of her sixteen years in isolation within the castle out of fear that assassins from the neighboring kingdom will try to kill her. For twenty years, her kingdom and the adjacent realm of Evermoor have been fighting. Her father, the king, who is also the high priest of Lucen, teaches that the savages cavort with demonic forces and hate them for being pure.

Oona has known for some time that she has feelings for her servant girl, Kitlyn, feelings that go well beyond best friend. Alas, not only is their love frowned upon in a kingdom where the God of Purity is revered, a vast gulf of social status separates them. (Lucernians, you see, are quite obsessed with social order.)

Ever since seers have foretold the king’s heir will end the war between the kingdoms, the forces of Evermoor have been trying to kill her. As the pressures of her station increase, Oona becomes increasingly desperate to tell Kitlyn how she feels, but her greatest fear—worse than any assassin—is that Kitlyn will reject her as disgusting if she confesses her love. She would rather keep quiet and keep her dear friend close, even if it means never speaking the truth.

However, it soon becomes clear that Princess Oona’s life may not last too much longer. When the king appears to be setting her up for an arranged marriage to the Prince of Ondar, Oona cannot take it anymore. Hoping her love follows, she runs away into the woods, looking to leave the pressures of royalty and war behind.

Do you have a favorite character?
Although asking this question feels like being a dad asked to say which child he likes the most, I’d say it’s Althea from Prophet of the Badlands. She’s such an endearing blend of hope, innocence, strength, and ‘aww.’

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Actually yes. Once. The Hand of Raziel (Daughter of Mars #1) got its start as a serialized blog fiction I was writing a few years ago. When I first started, I introduced the character Pavo intending for him to be a one-scene police infiltrator trying to get into the Martian Liberation Front undercover. In my first draft of the first chapter, Risa (the main character) kills him without batting an eyelash right in front of the man she’s meeting to pick up an explosive device.

Some beta readers commented that it made her cold and unlikable – and to a point I had kinda been going for that, but I wound up having second thoughts. So, Pavo changed up a bit and wound up being the primary love interest for her throughout the series. (The other guy who had been originally intended to be an on-again-off-again romance also changed to suit this, becoming infatuated but ever at arms’ length since she won’t let him in.)

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
When I finished my first novel, I looked into “how to get published.” I wound up running into a lot of rather sanctimonious types who reacted to a long book like I’d handwritten something evil and wrapped it in human skin. You’d think I’d committed an atrocity against all of literature by daring to think someone might want a 200k+ novel as a debut. So, I set it aside and wrote Division Zero, intending it to be shorter and easier to query.

I sent out a bunch of queries to agents, all of which came back with more or less the same “this is great, but I don’t think I’m the right agent for you.” Responses. At the time, I spent my evenings in a writer’s chat room, where another author who had been published by Curiosity Quills Press often visited. I asked her if she’d read a few of my chapters and let me know if she thought the non-responses I had gotten were due to a flaw in the writing. She did, and within a few days, she suggests that I query her publisher directly, thinking they’d like it.

So, I did, and they wound up offering me a contract.

How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?
After I queried Curiosity Quills, I received a request for a full in about three weeks. It took about three months after I sent that in to receive word back that they were interested. Technically, Division Zero was the third novel I wrote, but it’s the first one published.

Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will self-publish? Are you doing both?
My books (except for the Divergent Fates Anthology) are all contracted with Curiosity Quills.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I’ll start off by getting a concept for characters and an overall glimmer of a story. Bit by bit, I jot down notes of events I wish to happen during the story, and eventually, I build that into a chapter outline. Once I have that done, I’ll come up with chapter names, and then I transfer the whole thing to Word and start going.

When I’m drafting new content, I need silence. Music (even instrumental) distracts me too much. There are some exceptions – I had Walpurgisnacht by Faun on while writing the harvest lord scene in Emma and the Silk Thieves, and Secrets by Bevin Hamilton was playing in the background while I wrote a particular chapter in Nine Candles of Deepest Black.
Sometimes I can handle instrumental music when editing.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
Outline. When I first started trying to write something longer than an essay for school, I sat down and started going – and got lost. Not being able to finish discouraged me for a long time. When again I tried to write a fiction novel, I realized I needed a backbone to follow, so I tried outlining… and it worked. 37 novels later, I still outline everything. Even short stories.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I still can’t afford to hire an editor myself. Thankfully, my publisher has editors.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
My paperbacks are available at Barnes and Noble (orderable).

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I’m not a big fan of marketing. I hate feeling like a sales weasel, even if it is a necessary evil. I’ve tried facebook ads, a blog, and twitter, but I don’t do as much as I probably should because I get spam-cooties and feel like a tool.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Yeah. I suppose I’m the classic old-school author who wants to sit in a cave and write and leave the marketing to professionals. Alas, that doesn’t really work until you’re a big name with a huge press behind you.

Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
I’m a fan of video games, roleplaying games, movies, and I love my cats.

Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer – dogs or cats? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or Tea? Talk or Text? Day or Night?
Cats, chocolate, coffee (though I do like a nice herbal tea), and usually text—unless I need to get a complicated idea relayed fast. I’m more of a ‘late afternoon’ person than a night owl. I hate waking up early (always have, even as a kid), but I can’t stay up too too late anymore, so I usually fizzle out around one in the morning.

What’s next for you?
I’m working on some collaborative projects with JR Rain, as well as an urban fantasy novel and a LitRPG middle grade. I’ve got a pile of books scheduled for release in 2018 and what’s left of 2017. If anyone’s curious, my release schedule is here:

The Eldritch Heart
Matthew S. Cox
Published by: Curiosity Quills Press
Publication date: August 1st 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Princess Oona Talomir enjoys the little things that come with her station: a handmaiden, her lavish bedchamber, and scores of fancy dresses―the duty to win a decades’ long war, not so much.
Oh, did I mention assassins?
Seers foretold the conflict would end by her hand. From the moment she drew her first breath, the neighboring kingdom has been trying to kill her so she could not grow powerful enough to destroy them. The king, fearing for his daughter’s life, has kept her confined to the castle grounds for most of her sixteen years. With the tide of war turning against them, the burden of her crown becomes too much to bear, yet one thing lifts her spirits amid the gloom.
Her servant girl, Kitlyn.
Alas, in a kingdom obsessed with the god of purity, she is terrified to confess her forbidden love. When her father makes a demand she cannot abide―marry a prince to forge a military alliance―Oona panics. He is handsome and honorable, but he’s not Kitlyn. Unable to admit why she cannot obey, Oona does the only thing she can think of, and runs away.
Alone and unprepared in the wilderness, she prays the gods will let Kitlyn find her—before the assassins do.

Author Bio:
Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.
Hobbies and Interests:
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour

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