Interview with Matt Juhl

When did you first start writing?
For as far back as I can remember I've always been storytelling. However, it wasn't until I was twelve years old that I put anything on paper. After performing in theater productions, I decided to try my hand at play writing, creating over ten plays.

Then I became interested in poetry, writing hundreds of poems. Although most of my pieces were written in my personal journal, some of my work has been shared on Poetry.com. In 2003, I won the Distinguished Poet Award for my work entitled "What Joy Does the Morning Bring?" For me, poetry has always been a cathartic outlet of expression.

No matter what I was creating, I always dreamed of becoming a novelist. I began writing short stories, ranging in length from fifty pages to a hundred or more—building my confidence to try my hand at novel writing.

Then in the summer of 2010, while visiting the breathtaking coastline of Western Michigan, the picturesque surroundings of the desolate beaches breathed life into one of the stories that I'd been working on in my mind. After I returned to my home in Texas, I sat in front of my laptop and began writing my first novel, "The Straight Crimes."
What's the story behind your latest book?
Long before I began writing "The Straight Crimes" in 2010, I pondered the question, "What would it be like if the love between a man and woman faced equal discrimination as between gay people in modern society?" This seemed like an interesting concept to write about.

My goal was to get people to understand what it's like to be judged based on sexual preference, even heterosexual couples. I needed a universal theme that most people could relate to—love. For me, an aspiring novelist, I decided to take this concept and bring it to life as a romantic suspense.

"The Straight Crimes" is a story about the dangerous attraction between Harper Jones, an outspoken, Southern girl, who relocates to the coastline of Western Michigan and Nik Roberts, a physically strong, but emotionally battered, attractive, young man who catches her eye.

Harper and Nik find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other, discovering exactly what they've always been looking for—and that's the problem, existing in a world where the love between men and women is not widely accepted.

Then Harper befriends entrepreneur and socialite Traci Galva, whose immeasurable kindness is surpassed only by her ambition. After facing eviction because of her mom's drug habits, Harper seeks refuge with Traci. Shortly after, everyone is stunned when Faye's house violently erupts in flames and Mindi mysteriously vanishes. With only Nik and Traci to depend on, Harper's world is turned upside down. What first seems like an accident becomes classified as a case of arson when police discover Faye’s mangled body in the ashes.

With fingers pointing in every direction, Harper and Nik find themselves tangled in a web of lies, passion, and murder as they fight for their lives and love.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
For me, there are several...

I love creating characters. It's fun bringing them to life through their dialogue, allowing them to tell the story. It's an exciting challenge developing characters that readers can relate to, root for, or love to hate.

However, the best part is getting a response from a reader. If I can make someone think, react, or share what they experienced, then I've done my job. It's the greatest joy getting feedback from a reader and seeing how they interpreted the story and characters I created.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. While writing is cathartic for myself, the greatest gift for me is seeing someone get as excited about my work as I am.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Honestly, I prefer a paperback above all else. However, I have an iPad mini that I use for reading, writing, and staying in touch with family, friends, and fans on social media.
Describe your desk
My desk—if you can call it that—is not your traditional "desk." Writing brings me so much pleasure that I have to be totally comfortable. I do a lot of writing on my couch, although the TV sometimes derails my creative endeavors. But my favorite place is my covered back patio—especially during a rain storm. It overlooks a greenbelt, tall trees, and a creek (playfully nicknamed 'Lake Juhl') that runs along side my property. The serenity and quietness, aside from my wind chime, make it a perfect place to write.
What are you working on next?
Although I'm still in the development process, I've mapped out my second novel and will begin writing in the upcoming weeks. It's another romantic suspense—delving deeper into the world of controlling, obsessive love, the kind of twisted passion that leads people to do unthinkable things, such as stalking, breaking and entering, and murder...

If you enjoyed "The Straight Crimes," you will definitely love this thrilling, dark tale!
Published 2013-10-29.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.