Monday, May 21, 2018

Interview with Matthew S Cox, THE FOREST BEYOND THE EARTH

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
The last novel I finished, Out of Sight, is a young-adult science fiction story about a street kid (sixteen year old Sima Nuvari) who lives on a dystopian future Earth, trying to survive. She gets caught up in a sweep of the authorities attempting to ‘beautify’ that part of the city by getting rid of homeless kids, and coerced onto a starship heading off to deep space to set up a new colony.

Do you have a favorite character?
Althea from Prophet of the Badlands. (It’s a close call with her, Wisp from The Forest Beyond the Earth or Kirsten from the Division Zero series).

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
The closest thing I can think of to this is Pavo from The Daughter of Mars series (The Hand of Raziel, Araphel, and Ghost Black). At the earliest stages of writing the first book, the Pavo character was intended to be a cop attempting to infiltrate the Martian Liberation Front, and Risa (the main character) was going to kill him in the first chapter. However, beta readers didn’t care for that as they said it made Risa seem too unlikable. Originally, she was going to have a doomed romantic connection with a different character (though him being from Earth and her loyalty to Mars would’ve pulled them apart). However, I decided to keep Pavo alive and though he’s still a cop, he’s also loyal to a secret society that has the same goals as Risa… so the two of them wound up falling in love and that completely changed from my original plan for the story.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Yep. When I first started, I queried Divison Zero around to agents. They all replied with some variation of “this is great, but I don’t think I’m the right agent for you.” I wound up querying Curiosity Quills (a small press) directly, and they loved it enough to sign it.

What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
I don’t mean this in a sense of regret, but I was new and they made an offer, so I jumped on it. After seventy some odd polite rejections from agents, I went with the first offer… though to be fair, their contract looked decent and better than what I had heard might happen with small presses.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
I’d started co-writing some books with J.R. Rain, and he encouraged me to try self publishing a few as a test. I did so, and they are doing pretty well. Good enough that I’m continuing to self pub more. However, I do still have many books with Curiosity Quills Press.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
While I’m drafting a new story, I need silence. Any music (especially with words) distracts me out of the story’s world. Sometimes I do put on mood music (instrumental) to set the scene, but not often. During editing, music is less distracting but I still typically work in silence.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
Mostly outline, but I do listen when the characters have issues. For example, in Prophet of the Badlands, my initial outline called for a certain series of events to happen to Althea… however, an unexpectedly strong emotional bond formed between her and another character and she absolutely refused to be separated from her. As if Althea stood behind me shaking her head, I had to change the outline to accommodate that… and the change rippled through the rest of the six-book series.

What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
Amazon marketing can be fickle. Formatting a manuscript can be a hair-pulling experience, but I’ve got the hang of it. (I’ve recently gotten Vellum, which is an order of magnitude easier to use… however it does sacrifice some control over appearance.)

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Yes. I loathe marketing. I’m not good at it and I don’t much care for feeling like a spammer. I’d much rather be writing the next book. However, I would also rather enjoy being able to make a living from writing (yeah I know, keep dreaming right?) and to that end, it won’t help much if no one knows my books exist.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Hire a decent cover artist. A cover that looks like your ten-year-old kid drew it is going to make readers run for the hills. Hire an editor – if the reader finds the cover intriguing, you don’t want typos, story problems, character issues, or mechanical flaws in the writing to turn them off. Also, don’t rely on feedback from relatives or close friends. What they tell you will always be affected by their relationship to you. (This could be sugar coating things or being overly harsh.)

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 (though I do not dislike dogs). Chocolate. Coffee in the morning, herbal tea later in the day. I tend to text more than talk lately. I’ve never been a morning person. When I was a kid, my mother sometimes had to literally drag me out of bed in the morning. Why they make grade school kids wake up at 6 a.m. is beyond me.

What’s next for you?
More writing! One of these days, I’d like to say I’m living off writing. I have no illusions of becoming rich, but being able to survive at all on it would be a dream come true.

The Forest Beyond the Earth
Matthew S. Cox
Publication date: February 6th 2018
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult

Under the watchful eye of the Mother Shrine, twelve-year-old Wisp ekes out a simple, but challenging life with Dad, foraging for food and losing herself in old books from the world that came before. She loves the Endless Forest ― except when the Tree Walkers come for her.
In ages past, the great rain of fire and ash destroyed the Earth, wiping out the ancients and everything they had made. Nature has reclaimed much since then, spreading out in a vast forest full of wonder and dread. Ever in fear of being taken away, she follows Dad’s rules without question while learning to survive off the land.
No longer a small child, she accompanies Dad on one of his treks, her first time more than a few steps away from the cabin. A day exploring with him is the happiest time of her life, but joy is short-lived.
A monster follows them home.
Safe in her Haven, she hides while Dad goes outside to confront the beast. She wakes alone the next morning, and waits. Alas, her hope of his return fades with the daylight. Desperate, she breaks his strictest rule and goes outside alone. Not far from the cabin, she discovers his rifle abandoned next to the monster’s strange footprints.
Afraid but determined, Wisp sets off on her own into the Endless Forest to find Dad ― before the Tree Walkers catch her.

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 <- after="" also="" and="" cats.="" deliberate="" fiction="" fond="" happens="" he="" intellectual="" is="" it.="" life="" nature="" of="" p="" questions="" reality="" science="" that="" the="" what="">

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