Interview with Matthew S. Burke

When did you first start writing?
I’m going to have to guess at this, but I believe I wrote my first poem sometime around ele​mentary school. I think it was some school project where we had to write a poem for our moms. High school is where I really started writing for myself and created a bunch of poems which will thankfully never see the light of day.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Playing video games, watching TV and movies, reading, surfing the web, eating, inhaling, exhaling, turning carbon into energy, pondering, performing witchcraft, turning myself into a snake like that one scene in Conan 2, or was that the first one...
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness by Simon Wiesenthal
Read it.

2. Hannibal by Theodore Ayrault Dodge
My absolute favorite history book had to be on this list. It was a toss-up for first place. This book details my personal hero, Hannibal Barca, and his campaigns during The Second Punic War. Like every good history book, though, Dodge wrote it like a story, truly an epic. Being a military man himself, he gives context to Hannibal that would be hard to capture by other writers. Plus, this book was written over one-hundred years ago and is often still considered the preeminent work on the subject.

3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Too often, properties or franchises do not grow up with their audiences. I was eight when this book came out. It contains murder, bigotry, broken friendships, amputation, slavery, and a whole lot of other subject matter that we usually try to shelter eight-year-olds from. Rowling knew that her fans were growing up with Harry and could handle more adult themes. We still have the characters we love, the characters we love to hate and one of the best twist endings out there.

4. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
My favorite book when I was younger, and it still entertains me a dozen readings later. When I pick it up, I read it cover to cover every time. So much happens, so many adventures, such great characters. Revised edition or original, “Riddles in the Dark” might be my favorite chapter in any book ever.

5. Mass Effect: Ascension by Drew Karpyshyn
I wanted to cheat and include the other two Mass Effect novels he wrote here as well. These books are, for me, at least, phenomenal reads. The way he writes action and characters and intertwines stories keeps me hooked.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Glass Cannon owes its existence to several lengthy and heated debates I had in college about superpowers. It always boiled down to which one was the best, which one was the strongest. Invisibility? Super strength? Immortality? Walking through walls? Time travel? Control over gravity? Flight? After we realized it was fruitless to keep arguing, we started arguing about limits on powers. About whether powers grow with the person like muscle or whether the powers are always there, you just get better at using them. One night, those debates triggered something in me and I just started writing.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My cat Tenzin, his meows and his claws.​
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and was lucky enough to attend Sycamore school district. This had a huge impact on my life as I grew up in an extremely diverse school. I had friends from all over, of every race and religion. Without going into too much detail, I once had an English teacher who gave us a pop quiz on how many trees were in the courtyard of school and how many different colors made up our carpets. (We all failed.) She did this to her students to wake us up, force us to observe the world around us in detail, make us better writers.
How do you approach cover design?
For me, it should reflect the emotional core of the story or it can try to represent a specific scene of great importance. Abstract is good, until it goes too far and becomes confusing. We don't like judging books by their covers, but we do. We can’t help it. I’m also a sucker for hand-done (digital or not) work.​
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don’t think it was the first, but I always remember the The Little Engine that Could. It taught me that trains are rather inefficient as they are confined to a track, and if that track happens to go straight up a mountain, well, then you're just compounding the problem. I’m kidding, of course. Perseverance, determination, bravery.
What is your writing process?
This:
Step One: Writelieksthis and hopefsit can betraindsleted later.
Step Two: Stare blankly at the abomination I just created.
Step Three: Move on, fix it later.
What do you read for pleasure?
Honestly, Wikipedia. The knowledge might not be as in-depth as books, but on every page, there is a link to another page, and another. I’ll start with some battle in WW2 and then three hours later end up on the conquests of Cyrus the Great. It’s quite addicting.
Published 2017-02-26.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Glass Cannon
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 87,780. Language: American English. Published: February 28, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
(5.00 from 1 review)
Oh, sure, superpowers seem sexy at first. You can do things no other human can do, and everything just falls into place. Yet, what happens when a man who can vaporize reality with a thought starts facing the bitter truths about the world we live in? Soon, the only things keeping him going are his black and white set of rules and his work. Of course, rules only work when everyone follows them...