Name Michael Matula

Age  35

Where are you from

I was born and raised in the Chicago area.

A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc.

There isn’t too much to say.  I went to Glenbard North High School, enjoy watching movies when I can scrape up the time, and I find that I’m getting more obsessive-compulsive as each day goes by.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

My latest short story, “My Boss is a Vampire,” will be appearing in Wrapped in Red, the new anthology from Sekhmet Press, on October 29th.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I always wanted to be a comic book artist.  I wrote and drew my own comics as a teenager, usually during study hall, but occasionally during classes.  But I had too many ideas for the stories, and I couldn’t draw fast enough to keep up with everything I wanted to do.  Nor could I quite match the images that I was seeing in my mind.  So I wrote out a side story for one of my characters, and I never really looked back after that.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Pretty much right away.  I finished writing my first book in high school.  Looking back, it wasn’t very well-written, and I’d probably die of embarrassment if anyone read it now, but I still hold a lot of the characters and the story very close to my heart, and I hope to one day rewrite it.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your story?

I had an idea for a woman who was not too dissimilar to me.  She’s struggling to find work, doing lots of odd jobs while trying to be a writer in an age where print is dead.  And basically, every job she takes goes wrong somehow, though she would never admit to it ever being her own fault.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I mostly just write the story as the character, placing myself in their heads as much as possible, and whatever they would think is usually how I tell it.  I always think that the key to writing is to find characters you like.  Then, the characters do most of the heavy lifting for you.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

I think I had the title before I actually wrote the story, which is often how I do things.  A good title can give you inspiration for the story, and makes me excited to write it.

Fiona: Is there a message in your story that you want readers to grasp?

Be wary of kids who learn voodoo curses off the internet.  You might have career trouble later in life.

Fiona: How much of the story is realistic?

Not much, if I’m being honest.  It’s part parody, part suspense, and hopefully all fun.  If any parts of it are realistic, then it’s probably unintentional.

Fiona: What books have influenced your life most?

Sunglasses After Dark was one of the books that made me want to be a writer.  That, and the Wheel of Time series, along with some of Michael Crichton’s books.

Fiona: What are your current projects?

I just completed the sequel to my first novel, Try Not To Burn, which is about three people struggling to escape eternal damnation and redeem their sins.  It’s part suspense, part psychological thriller, and part monster movie.

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

A teacher I had in elementary school, Mrs. McArdle, pushed me to join an advanced program, which may have helped steer me into a creative path.  I also remember one time that I was supposed to write down an answer to a question “What’s one thing you do better than anyone else?” It was supposed to just be a fun thing, a throwaway question, but I didn’t have an answer, as I’ve never felt particularly special.  So I asked her, and she said I was better at making her laugh than anyone else.  It was something that will always stick with me, and it was one of the first times as a kid that I’d ever felt like I mattered.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I’d love it to be.  There’s nothing I’d rather do full-time than write.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I try to let go of the stories once they’re out in the wild.  I obsess so much over them while I’m writing, making changes up until the very last minute, that once they’re in someone else’s hands, I feel like I’ve done all I can to prepare for them to leave the proverbial nest.

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I’m not sure if I’m allowed to share any of my vampire story.  But here’s a quick excerpt from Chapter 1 of Try Not to Burn:

“What happened to me?” Brand asked her, staring at the large gun pointed at his forehead, assuming the red dot of the laser sight was dancing merrily right between his eyes.

“You died,” she answered simply.

Brand glanced toward the girl. She nodded soberly, the smile fading in intensity until it was almost fully extinguished.

“We’re all dead,” she told him.

He aimed his eyes down toward himself, straining to lift his head as far up as he was able. From what he could tell, most of his uniform was missing. He only had on his white undershirt and dark blue slacks. His belt and gun were gone. His jacket and shirt were gone. His badge was gone.

Momentarily, he wondered if the two women had nicked them, but they didn’t seem to know he was a cop.

With his limited range of motion, he glanced around the room, trying to get some sense of his current location. He was lying on a dusty floor in a small, nondescript room. Entirely unfurnished, the room made a monk’s quarters look extravagant. A flimsy door sat to the right with nary a chain lock or deadbolt, and a single window peered out from the center of the far wall. He couldn’t see a thing through the filth-smeared glass, which looked darker than the lining of a smoker’s lungs.

He grimaced again as he turned his head back toward the pair of women.

“How can I possibly be dead? I still feel alive. In a lot of pain, but alive.”

“Trust me,” the black-haired woman told him, “what you feel is an illusion. On Earth, a coroner’s probably zippin’ up a body bag over your head right now.”

He stared at her for a few seconds, trying to decide if she was serious or not. He wasn’t sure.

“Where am I?” he eventually asked.

“Your new home. Hell City.”

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Trying not to overwrite is something I have to watch out for.  I like to be very visual with my writing, and sometimes I can get a bit carried away.

Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Most of my favorites are ones I keep from childhood.  It’s hard for a new writer to work their way into my favorites list, since they don’t have the benefit of all those warm fuzzies of nostalgia.  I’d say Nancy A. Collins is my favorite.  She can be quite dark, but her characters can really stick with you long after you’ve finished reading.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

I’m probably the last person to be giving advice, but I like writing characters who have some meat to them.  Back stories are important, even if you never tell the reader what they are.  They’ll give the characters’ actions meaning, and add weight to the story.  Birthplaces, favorite foods, past relationships, etc.  It all adds up, and can help make them come alive. You don’t have to use it all in the book, but I think it’s worth thinking about.

Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Hi, there!  Thanks so much for reading.  Wow, you look good in that outfit.  Have you lost weight?

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching

I like a lot of action and horror movies.  I rewatched the original Alien recently, and it really stood the test of time.  It might be my favorite movie of all time.  Some of my more recent faves include Inception, The Orphanage (one of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen), and Attack the Block.

I don’t watch much TV as it airs, as I usually only pick up box sets these days, but I really like Homeland and Game of Thrones.  I’m really going out on a limb with those choices, aren’t I?

Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music

Food: I’ve yet to find any Mexican food that I dislike.  A Chimichanga is quite possibly the world’s most perfect food.

Color: Gray or black.

Music: I like a lot of industrial and alternative.  I don’t tend to know which genres most bands fit into, typically, but anything I can jog to is usually A-okay with me.

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done ?

I’d love to be an artist.  I’d also have made a great time traveller or space pirate, but I think I might have been born in the wrong millennium for those.

Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? if so what is it?