Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.

 

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

Hello, Ms. Fiona, and thank you for including me on your wonderful site. My name is Matthew John Benecke and I’m 35, turning 36 this coming March.

Fiona: Where are you from?

I hail originally from Brooklyn, New York. I’ve had family in the same neighbourhood for more than eighty years and am proud to say that I am a born and bred Brooklynite! I currently live in coastal New Jersey and absolutely love it here in Hazlet.

Fiona: A little about your self (ie,  your education, family life, etc.).

I’m married to the love of my life, Heather, and we have three wonderful children—Timmy, Sarah, and Jackson. My wife and I met at Baruch College as members of the first graduating class of the Macaulay Honors College. We both earned B.B.A.s in finance but I wanted to pursue a career that was more intrinsically fulfilling for me, so I pursued and earned an M.A. in Adolescent English Education from Brooklyn College.

I spent the better part of ten years working in education with duties ranging from S.A.T. prep instruction and college guidance counselling to classroom instruction and private tutoring. Since 2010 I have been at home with my children pursuing my writing career.

 Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

Later this year I will be releasing my fourth novel called The Quest for the Key. It serves as the penultimate installment of my speculative fiction series, Kosmogonia, which explores the traditional battle between good and evil infused with a variety of writing styles and genres. Writing speculative fiction allows me to pull from a multitude of resources to create a unique blend of influences and elements that I hope my readers find both interesting and engaging.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing in elementary school thanks to the encouragement and guidance of several of my teachers. I remember Mrs. Michelle Shapiro DeBiasi and Mrs. Nancy Mail, in particular, emphasizing creative writing as part of our curriculum when I was in fourth and fifth grade, respectively. I enjoyed the freedom that came with writing as a creative outlet and the opportunity both to develop and inhabit fictional realms of my own design.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

April 9th, 1990! That was the date that I had my first piece of writing published—a poem about animals that I penned in first grade that was included in a small, local newspaper’s creative arts section. The thrill of seeing my name in print coupled with the excitement of having my writing read by others planted the seed that, nearly thirty years later, is finally beginning to grow.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

My first novel, The Lion in the Desert, was a culmination of a panoply of influences and experiences that I accrued throughout my adolescence and early adulthood. I have always been intrigued by the unknown and unexplainable—the paranormal and supernatural aspects of the world, but what truly fascinates me is when and how they intersect with the mundane, everyday experiences that we all share. I had several “what if” questions that combined to form the foundation of my plot—queries such as:

“What if someone was plagued by a recurring nightmare that was so terrifyingly real that they began to question whether it was merely a dream or a vision of some hellish future?”

“What if an ordinary office worker was on an elevator that got stuck and, when the doors opened suddenly between floors, instead of a concrete wall they showed a beautiful girl sitting in a sunny field?”

“What if an ordinary, everyday guy discovered that the world was going to end and no one believed him?”

From there, I pulled from a variety of influences—literature I had read, movies and television shows that I had watched, and video games that I had played—to create an exotic concoction of the occult and the ordinary—the supernatural and utterly normal. I try always to keep my characters grounded and based in reality, no matter how bizarre or otherworldly the events and experiences are that they share. As such, I want any reader exploring my work to be able to relate to them and to believe that the same things could happen to them, because it puts them in the same headspace as my characters; it makes the things that they think and feel—the actions that they take that much more plausible and thus relatable.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

The title for my series, Kosmogonia, comes from the Greek root of cosmogony, which is the study of the origin of the universe. I’ve always been fascinated with mythological origin stories as well as the science surrounding our own esoteric beginnings. I have also thought at length about the inherent nature of good and evil, and the idea of the soul and soulmates—essentially of love, itself.

I thought that it would be a fun and interesting endeavour to explore those things in the context of an origin story. Science and religion are often at odds when it comes to explaining the ways of the world and so I wanted to proffer something that is secular but sound—scientific but blended perhaps with a little magical metaphysics. Those are the driving forces of the series but they exist more as a backdrop to the individual plots and the metanarrative that links the five books together.

The first entry in the series, The Lion in the Desert, was inspired by a few lines from one of my favourite poems—The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats. That work has an apocalyptic feel to it that connects thematically with not only The Lion in the Desert but my Kosmogonia series as a whole. I envisioned not an actual lion passing through the swirling sands in some godforsaken desert but rather a figure that might or might not be a man, disappearing into the dunes as the wind whips wildly around him.

The title is more metaphorical than it is literal. The lion is a dichotomy, referring to both the danger in the desert and the everyman hero destined to face it. It represents the threat of the former and the courage of the latter.

I try to imbue all of my titles with multiple levels of meaning. I have always enjoyed playing video games, watching television shows and movies, and reading books that do the same. Games such as Final Fantasy, shows like LOST, the Twilight Zone, and Stranger Things , movies like Inception and The Matrix, and books like James Joyce’s Ulysses fascinate me because they have their superficial plots but they also have deep mythologies that can be plumbed and probed for those who are willing to undertake the journey; that is what I strive for in my work as well.

Book number two, The Walking Ghosts, refers literally to a subset of characters in the novel but metaphorically to the main characters who find themselves as the sole survivors of the end of the world, walking like ghosts among the wreckage of a world that has moved on. A tertiary reference is to the walking ghost phase of radiation poisoning, which I found fascinating when I was conducting research for the novel.

Book number three, The Metamorphoses, is purposely pluralized. It refers to a very literal metamorphosis not unlike that undertaken by a creature in a chrysalis, but also to the unseen changes that the characters undergo in terms of maturity and personality. It is my most character-driven novel and thus focuses heavily upon the lives and traits of the quartet of characters that make up the cast of protagonists as well as the primary antagonist.

My upcoming fourth novel, The Quest for the Key, has both literal and figurative elements to the title as well. There is, of course, a literal key that they must seek out but the chest to which it belongs holds within it a very special object—the key to their ultimate survival. There is some wordplay involved with homophones as the concept of qi is critical to the plot as well, with the heroes seeking to develop the life force that will be the light battling the darkness to come.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?

I write mostly speculative fiction, which is work that pulls from a variety of genres and styles without delving too far into any one of them. My novels all have horror, thriller, and supernatural elements—occasionally sci-fi and fantasy as well—but none of them would be considered pure novels of a given genre. What I love most about writing speculative fiction, though, is the ability to take seemingly disparate elements—say, a gothic character placed in a fantasy environment—and to meld them into something new and refreshingly different. I feel like my style is representative of me, as a whole, as I have a motley mix of interests and sources of inspiration.

Growing up, I was influenced a great deal by some of the best fiction writers in their respective genres. As a younger child, I was thrilled by the Twilight Zone-like twists that R.L. Stine employed in his Goosebumps series—moments that you often couldn’t see coming and that stayed with you long after you shut the book. As I grew older, I loved Stephen King’s knack for crafting bone chilling horror, but what stuck with me the most was his ability to create memorable moments and characters that you actually cared about.

When I began to develop my own writing style, it was at a time where I was experiencing a seismic shift in my literary influences. I still loved popular fiction but, between my later years in high school and then college and graduate school, I began to explore classical literature. I fell in love with the works of many of the great gothic writers like Mary Shelley, Henry James, and Emily Bronte, as well as Irish and English literary heavyweights like Yeats, Joyce, and Keats.

While I loved the commercial aspects of books by popular American authors, I developed an appreciation for the technical skill employed by literary novelists. I found that, all too often, writers of horror, science fiction, and fantasy were dismissed from the conversation of what constituted high quality writing by critical consensus. Those genres were treated as being inferior to the classics and so, as I developed my own writing style and discovered my voice as a writer, I wanted to find a way to defy those perceptions.

I decided to employ some of the approaches and techniques that I learned from studying classic literature—whether it was literary elements like alliteration and assonance or simply ascribing themes and motifs to different characters—in my fiction. I wanted to create great stories but I hoped, too, that the writing itself would be considered of a higher quality. I wanted to show that commercially appealing novels could also have literary merit. I don’t know  whether or not I have succeeded in my efforts but my work feels authentic to me so I suppose that’s what counts!

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

One of the challenges that I love the most about writing my Kosmogonia series is keeping the events realistic even as they grow ever more bizarre and otherworldly. I have always connected more with characters who remain believable even in the most extraordinary of circumstances—Batman as opposed to Superman. Sure everyone would want to root for the invincible, perfect superhero archetype, but, deep down, I think that we can all relate far more to the one who struggles not just with adversaries but with his own inner demons.

Regardless of the setting and the circumstances, I try to make my characters relatable. One of my most ardent hopes is that, when a reader gets to one of these moments that test belief, that he or she looks at the character’s reaction and identifies with or understands their motivation and course of action. If someone says, “Yes—I could see myself doing the same thing” or, even better, if it prompts someone to think, “What would I do in that same situation?” then I feel like I have achieved what I set out to do.

With regards to what everything is based upon, I believe that all writing is autobiographic to some extent. None of my characters are exact replicas of existing people but they are all undeniably amalgam s of individuals that I have known or interacted with; the same goes for the plot elements, as well. Tim Channing’s office in my first book or his journey along the Alaska Highway in the second one are both places that I have been to, personally, and that have imprinted themselves upon me.

Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

What a great question! From a technical standpoint, I do not need to travel for my writing but, at the same time, it would be impossible for me to write without travelling. So many of the experiences that my characters have stem from my own journeys. Getting out and seeing the world (or, at the very least, the continental countryside here in the United States) is critical not merely to building one’s cache of experience but in growing as a person as well. It’s one thing to look at photos of places but it’s something else entirely to inhabit that place—to see the full 360 degrees around you while you’re there and to interact with the people who call it home.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

I designed the covers of my first three books and had the pleasure of working with Anthony Jensen, an absolutely incredible artist based out of New York City for my fourth. The Lion in the Desert cover features a photograph that I took in western New York while hiking at Watkins Glen State Park. It’s meant to represent the descent into an underground bunker that takes place in the book while also evoking a sense of dread and mystery.

The Walking Ghosts cover sports a photo that I took locally at a nearby reservoir. It is meant to convey a post-apocalyptic barrenness that falls in line with the novel’s setting. I wanted it to have a feel of otherworldly desolation, despite remaining in the modern American landscape.

The Metamorphoses is my favourite of the first three and it features the work of the best photographer I have ever encountered—Andrei Cosma of Photocosma (https://www.photocosma.net). He and his brother produce some of the eeriest, most spine-tingling photos from their native Romanian countryside. The photo speaks to the theme of change and metamorphosis—both metaphorical and physical—that the novel explores, and features a detail that I edited in that speaks to the supernatural elements therein (take a peek at the hands emerging from the tree and count the fingers!)

My latest cover and the accompanying promotional images for The Quest for the Key were created digitally by Anthony Jensen (http://www.anthonyjensen.com). The promo image depicts the eponymous key mentioned in the title while the cover itself displays several critical plot elements and locations from the book. Anthony’s ability to bring to life so accurately something that previously existed only in my mind continues to astound me. He is a rare, rare talent, and I am fortunate to call him both a creative collaborator and a friend.

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

The Kosmogonia series doesn’t have any underlying moral message or theme that I am trying to convey to my readers. Instead, my hope is simply that they enjoy the journey and can share in the sentiments and mindsets that my characters experience throughout the books. It is a series about the battle between good and evil, our internal struggles with identity and the relationships that we share with others, and, ultimately, about the nature of love and the idea of soulmates. Life is filled with light and darkness and, though they are at constant war with one another, we cannot have one without the other; balance between them is, I think, what we all strive for and seek within our individual lives.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?  Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?

I am extremely fortunate to be a part of a wonderful group of writers (and readers!) spearheaded by Andrew Christie called Books & Everything. He has facilitated a forum that allows us all to interact with each other despite our disparate geographies (he and most of the writers are based out of South Africa while some of us are here in the United States, in the U.K., and many other places abroad). Among my fellow writers in the group, I have been impressed with the works of Sarah Key and Raashida Khan (who you interviewed in February 2018!), and I look forward to exploring their latest writing throughout the year. I would also recommend the works of Melina Lewis, Sian B. Claven, Toni Cox, and Ilse V. Rensburg as I have enjoyed their writing in the past as well.

Regarding my favourite writers, James Joyce is, to me, a master manipulator of the English language. I am in awe of what he has been able to do with works like Dubliners, Ulysses, and Finnegans Wake, and I find him to be a constant source of inspiration. No one has approached writing the way he did; he had a truly unique mind.

In terms of popular fiction, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King remain my two favourite authors. Rowling’s ability to engross her readers on a deeply emotional level and King’s penchant for penning tales that titillate the darkest, innermost recesses of our minds are what draw me time and again to their works, especially Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and The Stand, respectively.

Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.

I am fortunate to have had the support of several influential professors and teachers who encouraged me to pursue this path and who gave me the belief in myself that I could. Professors Jessica Siegel and Carey Harrison at Brooklyn College, Susan Locke, Anne Swartz, Carmel Jordan and Bridgett Davis at Baruch College, and at James Madison High School, Mr. Punzone, Mrs. Bendrihem, and Mr. Edelman all proffered invaluable words of encouragement and provided me with the tools necessary to hone my craft.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I do see writing as a career but one that is volatile and variable, at least at the onset. For most writers to make money, initially, I am sure that they must support themselves through other means. Even within the confines of writing professionally, most fiction writers likely have to branch out and explore a multitude of outlets beyond their preferred one.

I consider writing to be my current career, albeit one that is in its infancy. I have written for decades but always as a creative outlet with the goal of someday pursuing it professionally; now, I believe, that time has finally come for me to do so.

As far as that career being a successful one, I might be employing a different metric than most writers. While being financially self-supportive and obtaining national or international renown are both worthy goals to have, the ones that ultimately fuel me and my writing are more small-scale and intrinsic. If I can continue to create works of fiction that are genuine and authentic to the vision that I have for them, and if I am able to develop even a modest but consistent readership, then, in my eyes, I will be having a successful writing career.

Fame and fortune are great but they are merely matters of scale and scope; I am content with far less and aspire for different forms of fulfilment.

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

I wouldn’t change anything in The Quest for the Key but it would be great to be able to go back to my first two books and add in some details. The problem with hindsight, as a writer, is that it’s a tantalizing tease: you didn’t know then, at the onset of your project, what you know now, and so you are bound, to an extent, by what’s already in print.

Certain character connections and various events exist and will come to fruition in books four and five that have their foundation in the first three novels of the Kosmogonia series. Others would have been great to have established early on but part of the fun is the challenge of figuring out how to incorporate those things into the as-yet-to-be-written while remaining true to all that precedes them.

Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

This is another excellent question. I believe that each project offers the opportunity for the writer to learn something new, whether about him/herself or the world at large. From a factual, knowledge-based standpoint, I learned a lot about different cultural mythologies as I researched the people and places that populate The Quest for the Key’s Avalonian landscape. I strive for authenticity in my settings and my cast of characters, and so it was paramount to me to design and to fill them with descriptions and voices that remain true to their inspirations.

I would say though that the one thing I will take away from this particular writing experience is the value in ceding creative control to those who are better equipped to handle those aspects. One of the elements that I love about being an independent author is being able to influence all aspects of my work, from the writing itself to the cover art and marketing. The Quest for the Key was the first time I collaborated with an artist for the cover design and, simply put, I can’t see myself doing it any other way in the future.

Anthony Jensen’s immense talent is a combination of his own inborn artistic vision as well as his ability to take feedback and to create something that is truly in line with the commissioner’s initial concept. Anthony has created several pieces for me including a painting of the opening scene to The Lion in the Desert, a map from both The Walking Ghosts and The Quest for the Key, and the cover image for the latter that features several important objects and moments from the Kosmogonia series. With every single one, the finished product far exceeded what I had in mind, thanks to both his prodigious artistic skill and his creative input.

Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

One of the aspects of my writing that I pride myself on is my descriptive sections. I usually have very vivid images in my mind of the various places my characters travel to and so I strive always to paint the clearest picture as I can for my readers while still allowing them the flexibility to form their own ideas of what they look like. A consequence of this approach is that I have been told that my writing has a powerful cinematic appeal.

I would love, someday, to see my novels translate to the big screen, and it’s something that I’ve dreamt about—a motivator from the earliest days that got me excited about writing and envisioning where the future would take me. I would often daydream of a time when my books were made into movies and thus I developed a dream cast—one that comprises actors who both resemble my mental image of my characters and embody the characteristics and acting styles that would render them perfect for the roles.

As such, here is my dream team cast for my collection of characters:

Tim Channing (Paul Rudd or George Newbern)

Sarah of Avalon (Jennifer Connelly)

Marcus Taylor (Dwayne Johnson)

Kaitlyn McCarthy (Bryce Dallas Howard, Amy Adams, or Jessica Chastain)

Tony Luu (Jet Li)

The Creature (Lance Henriksen)

Vladimir Barintov (Daniel Craig)

Kurt Kane (Jere Burns)

Claire Brennan (Laurie Holden)

Samantha Brady (Shailene Woodley)

Susan Channing (Frances Sternhagen)

Stephen Channing (Clancy Brown)

Fiona: Any advice for other writers?

Get out of your comfort zone regularly—both with regards to your writing and your writing career. So many writers are tremendously gifted from a creative standpoint but don’t know the first thing about marketing or how to build a brand, so exploring the business side of writing is critical to developing a path to success. And, above all else, take risks and do not be afraid to put yourself out there.

I would say that the biggest challenge facing new writers, in particular, is fear—fear of failure, fear of writer’s block, and fear of negative feedback. The only way to get past those roadblocks is to take that first step towards moving past them: actually getting started! The notion that you cannot fail if you do not try is inherently false: if you never try then you’ve already failed.

Don’t be afraid of what others might think. Share your work with people you trust but be emotionally and mentally prepared to hear their honest opinions. View their voices as only one of many and trust your internal vision for your work. You cannot possibly please every single person who will read your work but, if you please yourself by remaining true to your vision, than anyone else who is happy is merely a bonus.

The best writers are voracious readers. Read constantly but branch out; if you remain mired in the same genres then your writing will become one-dimensional. The most well-rounded musicians are the ones whose work is inspired by a multitude of sounds and styles; the same can be said for the greatest writers.

Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

Writing is an inherently intimate, isolated act. There is no audience—only the writers, their thoughts, and a keyboard or pen and paper when the stories are put into print. Still, if we write without our readers in mind, then we fail to create something worth reading.

I would like simply to say thank you to anyone who has read my books. Writing is half of a creative compact that is rounded out by the readers who explore our work. The fact that you would take the time to read something that I have written means so much to me given the plethora of options that you have available to you.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

I am reading several books concurrently. I’m about to finish up Melina Lewis’ After You Died… and I just began Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird—an influential novel that I first read when I was younger and that I’ve now introduced to my nine year old son. I’m also absorbed in Sarah Key’s Tangled Weeds and, for some more recreational reading, I picked up This Dark Chest of Wonders: 40 Years of Stephen King’s The Stand by Andy Burns.

 Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

Sun Grumble by Claudia Fregosi and In a Dark, Dark Room by Alvin Schwartz. They were two of the stories that my mother would read to me when I was a child and I remember being able to read them on my own around the age of four. I can still envision the artwork and even smell the pages as if I were flipping through them right now!

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

Both are centered around my children and my wife. They are four of the funniest people I know and so they keep my heart constantly filled with joy and our house filled with laughter. What makes me cry, though, is the realization that my time with them is so fleeting. As parents, my wife and I get this evanescent stretch where we get to serve as their whole worlds before our children grow up and move on—something I have been musing upon recently with my youngest son beginning school full-time this September and my oldest being one year away from double-digits.

That’s life in a nutshell though—smiling through the tears and appreciating the laughter-filled moments that drown out the occasional sorrow that darkens our days.

Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

From the past I would love to meet with James Joyce. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss his linguistic gymnastics with him and to confirm both the identity of Mcintosh and the true meaning behind U.P. up.

From the present, I would love to spend a day with Corey Taylor—lead singer of the bands Slipknot and Stone Sour and author of several New York Times bestselling books or Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters. I got the opportunity to meet Corey a few years back prior to a show and he struck me as an incredibly insightful, grounded, genuine guy whose perspective is far-reaching and salient. I’ve never met Dave but he strikes me as a similar personality. If given the opportunity, I would love to discuss everything from comics and music to cosmology and philosophy with each of them.

 Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?

I have several but the ones that I love the most are music, photography, and basketball. I am a voracious consumer of music and I listen to an eclectic array of artists and styles. I also play guitar and piano, which is great because, as a creative outlet, it allows for an immediate release of energy and emotion that I can tailor to my mood and mindset in real time.

I’ve been an avid photographer since I was a child. In fact, before digital cameras became prevalent, I used to carry a disposable camera on me at all times just in case a photographic opportunity presented itself to me while I was out and about. I prefer shooting landscapes but I do portraiture as well and have had engagement photos commissioned before.

I’ve always enjoyed watching and playing basketball but, now that I have children who are old enough to play, I get the pleasure of coaching them as well. It allows me to combine my passion for teaching with my love of the sport.

 Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

My favourite television show of all-time is the Twilight Zone. The storytelling, the acting, and, above all else, the writing remains untouched in the annals of the media. The reboot of The Outer Limits from the 1990s is another favourite of mine along with Dawson’s Creek and Seinfeld from that era. In terms of modern shows, I enjoyed LOST, Fringe, and Jericho when they were on, as well as Breaking Bad.

With regards to current programs, I love Game of Thrones, Westworld, Into the Badlands, The Walking Dead, and Stranger Things. I cannot wait to explore Castle Rock, which is a Stephen King-centric show, and possibly Black Mirror, which I’ve heard great things about.

Movie-wise, I have a diverse olio of favorites. I loved the television versions of The Stand and Stephen King’s IT, and I absolutely cannot wait to see the continuation of the latest film iteration of the latter. I love the Matrix trilogy, Inception, Interstellar, the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, but my favourite, darkest movies would hardly top most people’s top film lists. They include In The Mouth of Madness, Event Horizon, The Ninth Gate, Dark City, The Mist, Ravenous, Paranormal Activity, The Blair Witch Project, 10 Cloverfield Lane, and The Prophecy trilogy with Christopher Walken.

 Fiona: Favorite foods, colors,  music?

As a native New Yorker, I have to go with Brooklyn pizza from Victoria’s Pizzeria but bagels from Gem’s House of Bagels here in Hazlet. They have French toast bagels that are sublime and some of the best everything bagels I’ve ever had. Shake Shack’s burgers, chicken sandwiches, and fries would definitely be my choice for either final meal or one thing I could eat for the rest of my life.

Color-wise, I’ve always been a blue and green guy. I’m more a fan of color schemes than individual colors, though. As a devoted Ravenclaw, I love silver and blue (though I know the true colors are blue and bronze)!

As for music, my favourite bands are Slipknot and Stone Sour at the heavier end of the spectrum and the Foo Fighters and Incubus as we move towards a more alt-rock oriented sound. I enjoy industrial and rap/rock crossover acts like Rob Zombie, Static-X, and Linkin Park but I am also a fan of softer and more classic rock. I love Billy Joel and Elton John alongside other more eclectic performers such as Loreena McKennitt and Jason Mraz.

I’m a huge fan of instrumental music as well including Nobuo Uematsu (composer of many of the Final Fantasy soundtracks), John Williams, Andy McKee, Victor Wooten, and Adrian Von Ziegler whose music served as the soundtrack for my Quest for the Key writing sessions. Bands with big guitar sounds like Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Zac Brown Band, and alternative groups like The Wallflowers, Third Eye Blind, Fuel, and Lifehouse also get a fair amount of airplay in my home.

Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

I would focus more on music and improving my drawing abilities so that I could enjoy multiple creative outlets. Career-wise, I would likely enter the classroom once more or resume an office-oriented career that relates to education. Though, admittedly, it is difficult to imagine a future where I no longer write!

Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?

If I had only 24 hours to live then I would want to spend the bulk of that time forging lasting final memories with my wife and children. I would want to do things with them that would give them positive, happy recollections of our time together. I would also write each of them a letter thanking them for all that they have done for me during our journey together and point out the specific things that I loved and appreciated about each of them. I would also write and record a piece of music for each of them so that, whenever they listened to it, they would think of me and how much I love them.

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?

Here lies a good father and husband—an honest man who is respected in death for all that he did in life.

Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?

I do! The best resource for information about me and my writing is my primary website at http://www.matthewjohnbenecke.com. Prospective readers can find out about past, present, and future works, keep up to date regarding releases and events, encounter other authors and artists whose creative pursuits I support, and find my contact information.

With regards to social media, I am most active on Facebook and have an official author page here: http://www.facebook.com/matthewjohnbenecke. I use Instagram @matthewjohnbenecke and Twitter @beerwhisperers, so feel free to give a follow on either of those and of course a like on Facebook if you enjoy my work!

My craft beer blog features mostly reviews of the different breweries that I have been to but there are other craft beer related entries as well, all of which can be found at http://www.thebeerwhisperers.com. I also have a craft beer-centric novelette called FOMO that is available along with Beer & Fitness on my Amazon author’s page.

The best place to find my work is on Amazon.com at https://www.amazon.com/Matthew-John-Benecke/e/B01KG4L9AE but it is available also through Barnes & Noble at http://www.bn.com.

Thank you so much for your time, readers, and especially Ms. Fiona for interviewing me!