Name Matt Hickman
Where are you from
A small town called Tipton in the West Midlands, UK. I wouldn’t say it’s rough, but the pubs have exit signs above the windows and the neighbourhood dogs carry knuckle dusters.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’m a qualified engineer. The day job is a sales manager for a large construction company that specialises in steel framed buildings. I live with my partner, that always sounds awkward, the truth is, we just never got round to getting married. Maybe we will one day. I have two children, a daughter; Millie who is eight and a son; Jake who is five. When I’m not travelling around the country for work, I like to dedicate my free time to my kids. They’re only young once, and I want them to have every opportunity for fun in life. Plus, it gives me an excuse.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
March is a busy month for me, I’ve just released a book; a collaborative effort with Andrew Lennon called Bound, a taut crime thriller. On Tuesday 15th of March, I have a story – Anna, featuring in an anthology called Kids by Dark Chapter press. This was actually the first story that I ever submitted to anything, but I’m sure we will come back to that at some point. On 27th of March I have a story – Educating Horace, featuring in an anthology called Easter Eggs and Bunny Boilers, headed up by Matt Shaw and featuring a whole host of talented writers from the horror community. It’s also a huge book, brimming with great sttories and a complete bargain. My current work in progress is a mad free for all called Amnesia, it’s due for release mid April. Following that, I will be working on a book that I’m hopefully going to pitch to Matt Shaw Publications. Then on to a sequel to Jeremy; Becky featuring one of the main characters from the first book, and have agreed to write a collaborative effort called Gemini with Stuart Keane for release in the early summer. Busy is an understatement.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing in May last year. I had been speaking to Stuart Keane about an anthology that he had been working on, and he suggested that I submit something to it. I have only had a little dabble with a couple of things before, so initially, I was tentative. I pondered on it for a few days and wrote something, to my amazement, it was accepted into the collection.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
This was a difficult one. Although I was writing and having several pieces accepted into various anthologies, I still didn’t consider myself a writer. I wanted to test the water with a wider audience so approached Andrew Lennon about releasing a small selection of shorts together. We released the book late in September, and it was received quite well. I suppose that was the point when I thought to myself, okay, lets start taking this a bit more seriously.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
One thing that stuck in my mind from a review from the stories in Hexad, was that they would have liked a little more background to characters and storyline rather than it being a rush to get to violence and gore. I thought it was a valid point, and I’m continually learning and listening to people’s advice. I had an idea for a story, I don’t know how many people know this, but I very loosely based the back story for the main character on a Pearl Jam song from 1992. The song portrays the life of a young boy, neglected by his parents and bullied at school. I wrote the story in two parts; the first being the background of the character and a tragic tale of a boy that is forced to save his friend from injury, resulting in him falling into a coma. The second was a totally different perspective, and an all-out crazy tale of vengeance.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m still very much finding my own style. With a lot of the shorts that I write, I tend to run with a horrific main theme, interlaced with undertones of dark humour. In my story for the collection; Behind Closed Doors, you will be introduced to a story that involves Zippy and George from Children’s TV – Rainbow and a large, black sex toy. I have learned over the short time that I’ve been writing, that readers all prefer different aspects in a book. Whilst some like to read all out carnage, which I’m more than capable of, others prefer something a little more involved. Although it’s impossible to please everyone, I’m still trying to find that style that is truly my own. My writing has improved ten -old over the past few months, so I’m more confident with trying new ideas.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The Pearl Jam song was called Jeremy.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not really a message as such, but to drive home that any person if pushed enough, can react in the most unexpected way. As much as I wanted readers to feel for the character, I also wanted them to question their own perspective by the time they had reached the end. I wanted to leave them shocked, in awe, and hungry for more of the character. I was so pleased with the reviews that came through stating that the two halves of the book were in complete contrast yet really worked. It was fun to write, and hopefully fun to read.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I don’t think as yet, that I’ve written anything that is based upon any life experiences. If they were, I think I would have probably been sectioned by now. When it comes to weird and wonderful characters and story lines, they kind of just pop into my head. I’ve always been an avid reader, I understand the concept of how work can be constructed so I just go with the flow. If you look up the phrase ‘winging it’ in the dictionary, I’ll bet there is a picture of me looking shifty.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I wouldn’t say that books have directly influenced my life. When I was about 14 years old, I read a book called Endless Night by Richard Laymon. Immediately, I was hooked, and went and snapped up all of his books. From then, I became a massive fan of horror literature, and read pretty much every writer from Bram Stoker to Stephen King and everyone in between.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I am constantly on the hunt for new writers. At the moment there seems to be a lot of new writers about that are producing phenomenal work. Over the past few years, I have found and pursued fantastic talent like Matt Shaw, Stuart Keane, Ian Woodhead, Duncan Ralston, Iain Rob Wright, Kyle M Scott, Jack Rollins, Chantal Noordeloos, Michael Bray, Andy Lennon, Shaun Hupp, JR Park, Duncan Bradshaw, Mark Parker, the list is endless and I apologise for anyone that I may have left off. That’s before I start on my list that is as long as my arm of people to pick up. These guys are out there, writing books, creating real quality. Strangely enough, if I had to pick a favourite all time author, it wouldn’t be a horror writer, it would be Irvine Welsh. I just love his writing style, the crazy narrative’s and the madness that he creates within his pages.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Every single person that I interact with within the writing community. Each and every person that I have spoken to, asked advice from or generally chewed their ear has shown tremendous support and encouragement. I mean, really, everyone is down to earth and friendly, they have all been in a similar position to me when they were starting out and are more than willing to offer advice and help. Special thanks go out to Stuart Keane, Matt Shaw, Andy Lennon and Shaun Hupp.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career so far, so to match that
At the moment, no. To match my current lifestyle would involve selling a few more books. Although I never say never.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
My latest book was a collaboration with Andy Lennon; Bound. This was the only real time that I have properly sat down in the first instance and created a full breakdown for the plot. Initial feedback has proven positive but it’s still early days, so a choice to change anything would probably be a subsequent reaction to something that a reader didn’t like.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It came about from reading, but I thought it was one of those things that I would never really do. I’ve never been one for holding back on things, so if an opportunity arises, grab it and run with it. Writing was one of those things that once I started, I knew it would escalate fairly quickly.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
An extract from my current WIP; Amnesia
Dr Thomas Harris sat upstairs in the dark control room, surrounded by dozens of digital monitors. Each linked up to CCTV surveillance cameras that had been set up within various locations from around the site. The room was silent except for the whirring of motors from within digital devices and the odd bleeping of recording equipment. He felt tentative, nervous, but also excited. If he had pulled this off, this would be the defining moment in his entire career. A medical breakthrough unlike anything ever seen before. Rolling up the sleeve of his white lab coat, he checked the time on his expensive wristwatch; 08:57 – things were about to get started.
Checking the screen which was connected to the camera in the room that contained the test subjects, he squinted, closely inspecting the patients as they lay in their slumber. Slowly rubbing the thickening stubble on his chin, he continued to watch the subjects as they slept. All eight of them. All in separate beds. No sound or movement emanated from the room at all; total silence.
The silence within the control room was shattered when a shrill ringing sound came from his mobile phone. The display lit up as it rang whilst sat on the desk. Quickly snatching the device, he pressed the button to accept the call and placed the handset to his ear.
He spoke. “Maxwell, are all of the preparations in place?”
“Affirmative, sir. Is everything set up within the control room?”
“Yes, all monitors and cameras appear to be functioning adequately. We have every single room and corridor inside this place under surveillance.”
“Do you want me to proceed with the plan, sir?”
Harris scratched at the stubble on his chin with his thumb and index finger and pondered upon his decision before replying.
Harris pressed the button that terminated the call, placed his phone back down onto the desk, and returned his attention to the digital screen that displayed the room containing the patients. He watched as the automated blinds on the windows began to open up, allowing trickles of light to slowly cascade into the room, the subjects continued to sleep.
The airways were suddenly filled with a loud, high-pitched siren that filled the room where they slept. Harris looked on in awe, his gaze transfixed to the digital screen as he watched the test subjects, one by one, slowly begin to wake up.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
For me, it’s coming up with that one idea and locking that firmly as the objective of the story. I have been known on several occasions to throw myself off onto mad tangents, then read it back the following day end ending up deleting 2000 words of gibberish. I suffer with it in life too, the technical term, I believe is ‘waffling’.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not concerning writing, however with my day job, I travel the length and breadth of the country, and do in excess of 1500 miles per week. Hopefully, as things progress, I will start to promote more and attend conventions etc.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The very talented Michael Bray. Not only is a fantastic writer, he holds a degree in graphic design. He has a company called MB design, you can find his page on Facebook.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
As well as the waffling issue, my hardest thing if putting enough time aside. With a job that involves hours and travel and a young family, it’s easy to find excuses not to write. I’ve found that doing the late shift suits me, when everyone else is retiring for the evening, my laptop comes open and I start to work. Consistency is the key, I find that a word target of approximately 2-3000 words per day is perfect. It soon adds up.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I’m constantly learning. Since dealing with editors, I have learned more about the technical aspects of writing than I ever knew. Sentence structure, prose, character development are all issues that are getting better, but are still under development.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
If Jeremy was made into a film, I would have loved Furlong to play him, but about the age that he starred in the Terminator sequel. He just has the perfect look and mannerisms that would fit the character.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write. Write as much as you can, when you can and get someone that you trust to give you honest feedback. Initially, you will need to invest in your books, and get very little back, do it properly. Get yourself a decent cover that will catch people’s attention, get your work edited, or at very least, beta read by someone that has an adept mind for reading. Try and portray yourself across well, and remain professional (most of the time). There are many platforms of social media where you can interact with readers and other writers. Use them constructively, if people buy into you, they will buy into your work.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thanks so much for reading my work. It’s been a thrilling experience up till now, and everyone has been there to support, and encourage my growth. The positive feedback in reviews and promotion are helping me develop and mature as a writer, so it all comes back to those people that have taken the time to go to Amazon and downloaded a copy. I would also like to give a shout out to Christina Cooper who runs the Fans of Modern Horror page on Facebook. She works tirelessly, promoting writers material, all in the name of her absolute love for horror literature.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I have just finished a fantastic thriller; 89 by Stuart Keane, and my next read is Celebrity Culture by Duncan Bradshaw.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I can’t say that I do, but if it was from my childhood, it was most likely to be by Roald Dahl. A love that thankfully, has been passed down to my daughter.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Anything makes me laugh. I must admit, I’m glad that I can laugh at myself because I do several times on a daily basis. I’m the clumsiest person I have ever known and often find myself the brunt of my own ridicule. I’m also a pretty soppy git with a big heart. You can very often see me welling up as a direct result of a proud parent moment.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I would have absolutely loved to have met Rik Mayall. I thought he was a comic genius, I lost a little part of the memories from my youth when he died.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
He came, he saw, he kicked it’s ass. Because.. Ghostbusters.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Reading, and spending time doing daft things with my kids. The nicer weather is on the horizon, and I just love to get them out and about. The easiest way to get children out and about in the fresh air, is to take them. I’ve had many hobbies that came and went over the years, I was pretty much a Jack of all trades and master of none. I enjoy films when I get chance to watch them, although I am that person that is constantly making references to other films or asking what the hell is going on.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love most films, mainly horror and comedy, but will pretty much watch anything. We had a trip out to the cinema to see the news Star Wars just before Christmas, I was like a giddy little school girl. I rarely watch TV. There’s just not much that I fancy, and everything else is just too far down the line to start. I like the idea of The Walking Dead, but how can I start that now? The last show that I started to watch was Hannibal. I’ve always been a fan of the character, but I stopped watching after a while, I found it really disappointing.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I love most types of food, I’m a real sucker for Indian and Chinese food. There are some great take away places at motorway services called Noodle Bar, they are amazing. I tend not to do McDonalds or anything like that unless I need Wifi for work. I also have a severe weakness for pizza. Colours? Not sure, Black like my soul, and red to match my eyes. I like all types of music, in my youth, it was rock and metal, I then got into the clubbing scene and dance music. Now I just ask my daughter what the racket is on the radio.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’m not sure. I have always had a strange little creative streak. I started DJ’ing some years ago, and again, it became one of those things that I got fairly good at but never did too much with. I often wind my children up that I’m going on Britain’s Got Talent whilst riding a unicycle and juggling burning puppies. I suppose that’s something to strive for.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Book links :
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE :