Interview with M. Matheson

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
That question is as varied and many-faceted as a rough-cut diamond only not as shiny. The first 10 years were spent relatively stable and then my father died. After that, my life became a loose sparking wire dancing on the ground and just as wickedly dangerous. A succession of abusive stepfathers saw to it that I grew up mean and bitter. I attended nine different High Schools from Seattle, Washington, which was my favorite, to Phoenix and Buckeye, Arizona. The latter was my least favorite but most eventful. Orange County California is where that long crazy trip had begun and where I always considered home. I returned via a week long hitchhiking trip from Seattle and settled there before landing here in Sacramento, CA decades later.

You did ask how it influenced my writing didn't you?
After my father's death, my life was in such an upheaval of constant chaos and conflict that decades later I found the most painful things of that time made for great storytelling; the most glaring and horrific found their way into my stories especially No More Mister Nice Guy. Amidst all that trouble, there were many varied living experiences from hog farms in the Arizona desert to living as a teenager on my own in a rented house or infamous dive hotel in Seattle. I had been told to leave my family's home while I was still a teenager.
I'm a storyteller and found the things I've seen and done could be weaved into interesting tales. The fiction we read and write the good stuff is chock full of truth.
When did you first start writing?
During my teens, I was a voracious reader, and only dabbled in writing a story here and there. I read a lot of classics, Bradbury, Vonnegut and Tolkien, also some books with only cult followings. I didn't start to write full stories until I was in my late thirties. Before that, I remember writing an allegorical tale with the members of my immediate family, my four daughters mostly, cast into fictional roles. I built the characters from unmistakable traits they would all recognize and then sent us out on a comical quest; I updated the story every day on a web page. It took another ten years before I started writing more stories, poems etc. which I sent mostly to family members. About six years ago I began to devote more time to improving my craft and actually sending my tales out where other people could see them.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
That someone would find joy in reading my work. Along with that, I find it is a great therapy and exorcist of inner demons. I write about my struggles in fictional form and I can explore, befriend, or kill them.
What do your fans mean to you?
Priceless. Without my fans, I would be an odd and terrifying creature stuffed alone in a dark closet with a typewriter on my knees.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The story "No More Mister Nice Guy" centers around a boy Billy Hartman who lives an idyllic life until his father, Big Frank, breaks his heart. Young Billy is known as the all-around nice kid. "That nice boy Billy Hartman," is an epitaph he grows to despise. Inside, he feels rotten, full of hate, and brimming with malice. A conflict that tears at his soul. So, in what he sees as a brilliant act of quiet desperation, he sets out to murder that 'Nice Boy Billy Hartman' and let his true dark heart have its way.
He joins the Marines soon after 9-11, and becomes very good at killing and war, is not a very nice man, and everyone knows it. On his third tour in Iraq, he is hopelessly wounded, but rescued by a Civil War soldier/priest/chaplain, Mike MacKenzie. He is so out of place and six wars late, it could only be called a miracle.
After his rescue, and return home from battle, he single-mindedly pursues the true identity of the mysterious stranger. Along the way, his life intersects with a parade of characters who have also met Mike, a silver thread that connects all the characters of the story. Many have dismissed Mike's 'advice' at their own and other's peril, living on in lives of grievous regret.

Billy's life is eventually fast-tracked into wholeness, including his family and father Big Frank. He lives on in a picture-perfect life until the return of Mike MacKenzie.
In the end, Billy is faced with a mind-bending choice. To lose everything by freely giving it up or...

No one could read this story without finding their own pain secreted away in its pages.
Billy learns that life is indeed best lived dead. If that doesn't ring with you now, it will when you read the book.
This book is an allegorical tale of the pains of living and opportunities for redemption universal among the human race.
What are you working on next?
I've just finished the second draft of a crime novel that sits on the shelf percolating while I flush my head.
Flatline is a bloody romp through outlaw bike gangs, and Mexican Cartels. Troy Bittles runs to and from sinister forces through Arizona, Mexico, and Central America. The unlikely protagonists are mismatched in every way and forced together on a mission that neither wants to be on. They eventually land in Recife, Brazil, called on as paid assassins to use their special skill set to take down the death squads preying on homeless children. As Hercules, a Central American bodyguard puts it, "We're not murderers boy, we're killers. There's a big difference."
The heroes of this story most definitely are not the good guys.
This will be finished by the end of 2015.

I am also working on a memoir called Taking Jericho. This is a story of my wild ride from motorcycle outlaw, transformation into a missionary for the gospel, but centered mostly on the formative story of an inner city ministry I founded in Sacramento, California. It's a crazy story, but one worth telling and reading. Hopefully this one will be done in the first half of 2016.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords opened the opportunity for me to publish into many different outlets. There are lots of people and software that offer services for a fee, but Smashwords plus a little reading and elbow grease can do that for no cost. I have had nearly 4000 downloads of my stories and that is a lot of platform building.
Read Mark Coker's books: Smashwords Style Guide and Secrets to E-Book Publishing Success, both offered here for free. Priceless
Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King is my outright hero as a storyteller.
My favorite all time book is 'Two Years before the Mast' by Richard Henry Dana written in 1851.
C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are my standout literary favorites.
Currently, I'm hooked by Dennis LeHane and David Baldacci.
I have a gaggle of others, many are victorian era authors such as Shelley, Lord Byron and Poe.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My four-year-old son Tobias.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
See the last question. :-) I am retired, my wife works and my son and I are joined at the hip. WE spend our time on playgrounds, amusement parks, and train museums.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Mostly on Twitter. I support authors that support me.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, it was called, "The Great Turkey Toss". Back in the mid-1990's I wrote it as a serialized comic story for my four daughters. It was about our trip to the greatest event of all time, The Great Turkey Toss. Each of the fictional characters illuminated one of the family. A friend at work picked it up from my desk and he ended up following it too.

My first published story was, I Had The World By The Tail. You can read it here on Smashwords
What is your writing process?
I am not finicky, have never had writers block, and due to my lifestyle if I want to continue writing, I've had to adapt. I am inspired by many things, but I have been fortunate to have taken a wide bite of experiences out of this world. From the chaotic and heartbreaking to the more transcendent.
Thanks to modern technology, I can write anywhere. I can be found wandering a playground with one eye on my boy or pushing a swing with one hand while I type into my iPad mini with the other.
I have never been at a loss for words whether speaking or writing. My loved ones have promised to honor my request that when I die my headstone will be engraved with "Just one more thing..."

So the process is.
Inspiration. Tap Tap Tap. Edit. Revise. Edit. Revise. Have my beta readers read. Edit. Revise. Edit. Revise. Send to professional editor.
Every writer no matter how good, if they believe in their story and want people to read it without throwing up in their Cheerios, need to have it professionally edited.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury. I was thirteen. It lit my hair on fire for reading fiction and I believe it formed the nucleus for my desire to write. It also made me want a tattoo of a rose in the palm of my hand. I never did it. Oh regrets...
How do you approach cover design?
Get my daughter to do it if it's a book. If it's a short story, I do it.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana
Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian and also the 20 other books in the series.
On Writing by Stephen King
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by Tolkien.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
Why? You ask.
None of you have that long to live.
What do you read for pleasure?
Books. My reading has a wide swing from Victorian fiction to Historical and Biographies to Horror and Science Fiction. My latest interest is Phillipe Petit the man who walked a wire between the World Trade Center towers in 1974. He's written eight or more books, most on creativity.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle App on my iPad Mini and iPhone
Describe your desk
Playground, park, museum, and big chair in my front room. We mustn't​ forget Starbucks.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Twitter. I've learned enough to write a book. I shudder at some of the wasted time and effort most authors put into their accounts.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I submitted stories to journals and magazines for several years without luck, and stumbled upon Smashwords (no kidding).
Published 2015-10-31.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 94,650. Language: English. Published: September 1, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled
Flatline is a crime thriller brimming with guns, guts, modern-day outlaws, and just enough romance to keep a grin on your face. In the ancient tradition of Robin Hood, these American outlaws utilize their unique skill set of fearlessness, unwinking violence, and a hot pepper dose of vigilantism to fine-tune the scales of Right and Wrong, at least as they see it. The conclusion will rock your world
Price: Free! Words: 5,580. Language: English. Published: March 15, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction, Fiction » Adventure » General
Forty Winks for Jonah. The crowd, Twenty-Eight-Stories below, clamors for his death as he pens the story no one believes. It is showdown time for Jonah and the monster that has pursued him for the past eighteen years. From his fifth birthday on, things only got worse.
Price: Free! Words: 6,150. Language: English. Published: February 15, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
Are you stuck in a situation too prickly to take to law enforcement? Or, they've been no help at all. Switch sides. Call an outlaw... Troy Bittles, a retired Enforcer for the world's most notorious bike gang The Breakers, can help. Retirement is boring, and he's done a lot of bad. In an effort to balance the scale of justice Troy uses his special skill set to help his neighbors.
Price: Free! Words: 6,570. Language: English. Published: April 10, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Parody, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
Watch out for Taxman a serial auditor and anti-hero. He may have you in his sights.
New Years Day
Price: Free! Words: 5,720. Language: English. Published: December 30, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Holiday » Adventure, Fiction » Inspirational
In this short story, a serendipitous encounter sends an overly typical guy and America's most beautiful young starlet on a life-changing journey in her Ferrari.
The Christmas Trust
Price: Free! Words: 7,920. Language: English. Published: November 29, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Holiday » Christmas, Fiction » Inspirational
Marvin Battles is the corporate big-shot and Scrooge. In a chance encounter with a panhandler, Joe Skives, his former boss fired for bribery and other crimes, Marvin’s bad holiday attitude gets turned on its head. A Christmas story that takes on the Corporate Monster and our ideas of true Christmas Spirit.
I Had The World By The Tail
Price: Free! Words: 2,730. Language: English. Published: October 5, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Comics (nonfictional), Nonfiction » Transportation » Motorcycles
Comic Memoir, 98.5% true, of a motorcycle crash from my CRAZY BIKER days.
The Eagle Claw Hack
Price: Free! Words: 8,150. Language: American English. Published: September 23, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense, Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
A Short Story- A retired teacher and indie author enlists his former student, a teenage computer wunderkind in a wild scheme to exact revenge on unfaithful readers.
No More Mister Nice Guy
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 73,400. Language: English. Published: August 7, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller, Fiction » Christian » Suspense
No More Mister Nice Guy travels the highways familiar to fans of Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress or C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, yet comes steeped in a setting of bullets, blood, and modern warfare.
Price: Free! Words: 2,510. Language: English. Published: July 13, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller
Trish had turned her back on the whole human race; they just weren't worth risking her affections for any longer.