My guest today is author, M.L.S. Weech, otherwise known as Matt!
Hi Matt, welcome to Rainne’s Ramblings.
Would you like to begin by telling us a little about yourself and your background?
I’ve been published for about three years. I do that when I’m not enjoying my job teaching Sailors at the Defense Information School. I was raised in the desert southwest, and in my youth, there wasn’t exactly a lot to do because I essentially lived in a desert. My imagination was my most accessible toy. I grew up to join the Navy, and after ten years of service, I returned to where my career started as a civilian instructor.
When and why did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was about 8. I’d just watched what is still my favorite movie ever, and my favorite character died. Naturally, I cried, but my biodad sort of chuckled at me and told me to write a better movie if I didn’t like this one. So started work on the sequel, and I’ve been writing ever since. I finished my first book when I was about 17. I got genuinely serious in 2009, when I joined a writer’s group and committed to writing 1,000 words a day. I love stories. I love thinking about the plot. I love the crafting of words. It has simply been a part of my life for so long I’m not sure what my life would look like if I didn’t do it.
What inspires your books?
My posts are usually inspired by something random. My first book, The Journals of Bob Drifter, was inspired by my family dod and my dad. My mom had a nightmare she told me about, and that inspired my second book, Caught. My newest published novel is an anthology in which my contributing story was inspired by the riots in Virginia. So usually I see or hear something, and my brain, which is prone to flights of fancy, takes it to an extreme degree.
Are there any particular places that help you get the creative cogs turning?
I’m a believer in work habit and ethics. I can pretty much write anywhere, but I’m most productive on my couch with my laptop and cool elevating table. (I can pull the top up so it’s even with my arms). That’s where and how I’ve written for about five years, so that’s where my body is most conditioned to want to write.
What is the setting and genre of The Power of Words?
The Power of Words has four stories. The first is a science fiction novella set in a world where people can virtually swim in a social media world. That world is dominated by a group of speakers called Voices. This is a world in which social media and digital lives (in this case lived through visors known as omnies) rule, and bare faces are considered odd.
The second is a traditional fantasy set in Richard T. Drakes’ Hollow World series. The story takes place at a seedy bar, and it’s essentially a hostile negotiation between an entrenched criminal and a newly risen hero of the people.
The third is the first in a post-apocalyptic series. It’s a zombie survival story taking place in San Antonio. Some might roll an eye at the idea of “another” zombie apocalypse, but this story is unique in that the main character isn’t one who’s in any way suited to survive in such a place.
The last story is my own, of which I’m very proud. It’s a dystopian science fiction heist story. A mom, who’s essentially a former policeman, hatches a scheme to take out the servers for the planetary silence protocol currently enforced. She believes in the right to speak, and, more importantly, she wants her daughter to be saved from the ruthless enforcement policies currently in place.
Why do you think this book will or should appeal to new readers; what makes it stand out?
The first reason would be that it’s great speculative science fiction in the vein of Hugo novels of old. There’s a clear message and meaning, which is nice in a world of popcorn scifi.
The other reason is that it’s all dedicated to the importance of communication. We live in a world where maybe sometimes people want to be heard, but they don’t want to listen so much. I think people need a reminder on the importance of hearing and speaking. Communication is what matters. These themes are wrapped stories that are engaging and fun.
Many authors state that their characters are portions of themselves. Is this true with you?
I don’t even hide from this. Part of my process when I create characters is that I give them one trait from myself. Sometimes it’s a good trait. Sometimes it’s a not so good trait. Every now and then, I take a positive trait to an obsessive degree to see what happens. I’ve has people ask me which character is most like me, and I do have a thought on that, but the fact is every character has a part of me. Those who know me and read my books often comment how much of myself they see in each character.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Umm….(counts in his head)…five unpublished books and one half-finished.
What is your favourite part or scene in The Power of Words? Can you give us a peek?
I can’t give you the peek because my favorite part is the reveal in my contribution to the story. I’ve had many people complement me on the plot twist in Caught, and I think this twist is just so much better. That’s honestly my favorite part, but another part I enjoy is a scene in which the crew’s lifter, Laree, is trying to get a security badge. It’s just a cute little scene that makes me chuckle. Here it is:
A pair of glass doors whooshed open as she stepped into the lab. She kept her eyes down, but noticed a few technicians look at her. She pointed at the empty lab chair before snatching up a data pad, pretending she’d forgotten it.
Bad mark! she thought looking at the first person she saw. He didn’t have a red badge either. Bad mark! Bad mark! Two more employees displayed their green badges like wards against her plan, mocking her increasingly impossible timeline.
She walked around the monitors and holo-tables as if simply taking a leisurely route back out of the room. Bad mark! For spark’s sake does anyone on this floor have a … there’s a good mark.
A spindly young technician in need of two meals and a gallon of anti-acne cream sat at a monitor. His red badge dangled from his white coat pocket like a pretty bow. She made a show of nearly dropping the data pad, and the helpful tech, who’d probably never seen a woman naked before, had his moment in the limelight. He heroically stood there while she plowed into him. He just managed to snag the data pad as she snatched the man’s badge.
He looked at her, and she could practically see the wedding play out in his eyes. Oh, Sweetie, no! She hid her face with the data pad and winked at him before heading out of the lab.
That’s when her wrist communicator started flashing. Come on, Laree! Did you really think it was going to go that smoothly?
Tell us about the cover and how it came about.
Again, I’m super proud of this one. I actually designed it myself. I knew I wanted a text-based cover because it was an anthology. So I took the title and played with some concepts. One of my favorite design techniques is the Gestalt principle of figure and ground. Silhouettes use this same principle. The idea is the contrast of one set of shapes on a simple background create the impression of an object or, in my cover’s case, words. I took this one step further because I used a very specific set of words as my figure (the text creating element). I keep it secret as to what those words are because I’d like to think people wonder what the words are and end up staring at them to figure out what publication they’re from. It’s a simple concept executed well. I’m not trying to boast. I’m not saying it’s the greatest cover or concept ever. I just assert it’s a solid idea done well. The real judgement of that would be the viewers though.
Have you done any personal appearances?
Ever? Yes. I’ve been in a few bookstores, and I usually do a book launches at a local comic book store. The owner (Bumper) is a great guy, and I like to hang out there. I don’t anymore because if I go in there, I’m going to buy rare comics, and they’re expensive. Most of my appearances (and the one I’m about to do) are at conventions. My next one (and last for the year) will be the Baltimore ComicCon Sept. 28-30.
What do you think makes a good story?
I honestly have a simple formula for that. Sympathetic, proactive characters + interesting plot + interesting world = good story. The key element there is the character. They can be reading a book or talking about the weather if they’re sympathetic and proactive enough. I do have to explain that sympathetic to me doesn’t necessarily connote “likable.” A character someone hates can be just as captivating as a character someone loves. The point is, the character evokes strong emotions.
Which writers inspire you?
Currently, I’m a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson. I think Peter V. Brett is the best with characters. Dan Wells is the most underrated author out there right now. Then there are the go-tos, Anne McCaffrey, Robert Jordan, Timothy Zahn, and Dean Koontz. I do want to give special attention to Michael G. Manning and C.L. Schneider, two indie authors who really are outstanding.
Do you have plans to, or have you already, released audio editions of your book(s)?
The Journals of Bob Drifter is already out on Audible, and Caught is nearly finished. In fact, the Audible version of Power of Words is in production, though I’ve hit a snag there, so it might not be out as soon as I want.
Writing seems to be a large part of your life. Imagine a future (if you can) where you no longer write. What would you do?
Well, I’m getting married in November, so I’d probably just be an annoying dad and (hopefully) loyal husband. I’d watch WAY more football (and THAT’S saying something) and play a few more video games too. I might take up sleeping as a hobby. I’ve heard good things about it.
Your blog is a mixture of books (news and reviews), Book Cover of the Month and your Mum/your faith:
How/why did you come up with the idea for Book Cover of the Month?
I love top ten lists and competition and brackets. I also love book covers. So I started out just picking covers I thought were nice because that’s actually how I discovered C.L. Schneider. After I started doing that, I wondered what to do the covers. The idea for a bracket came pretty quickly after that. I just like to talk about covers. I’d like to see more voters, and I would really like to have more (professional) debates about why this cover works and why that one doesn’t. For now though, it’s really fun, and I’d look at the covers regardless. This just gives me an interesting bit of content to offer my readers.
Has writing about your Mum’s illness and your ‘Trial of Faith’ helped you?
The testimony is first and foremost about giving glory to God. This trial truly shaped me. It saddened me. It broke me. It humbled me. But it also helped me improve my relationship with God. I struggle with pride so much in my life. I was raised in it. I was trained in it while in the Navy (Take Charge! Be a Leader! Be Assertive!). This event was humbling because here I am, a man committed to the idea of, “There’s always something I can do!” Then I’m placed in this situation where I was simply helpless. It’s put me in a place where I’ve realized I’m subject to God’s will and God’s grace, and I’m better for it. Life was hard when I felt like it was all on me. Now I realize my life is in God’s hands, and everything he does, even this, is for good. The testimony reminds me of that. I still struggle with pride. MAN do I struggle with it, but I hope I’m improving and growing.
It also helped me to open up more. As I said above, I already fail to see what’s “interesting” about me. Combine that with the fact that I’m honestly super private and generally selfish with my time, opening up like this has helped me grow as a person.
The greatest help would be hearing, thinking or knowing that my testimony has helped introduce more people to Jesus, and through him God. I fear now that what I’m doing might be brining too much attention on myself and not enough to God (which is the main objective). I feel this way because our faith and grace are evidenced (not granted!) by the fruits of our labors. I’m not honestly sure if’ I’ve born any fruit. I’m not sure if I’ve helped anyone find Jesus or even encouraged anyone going through something similar. That portion of the blog is almost over. I have ideas on what the Sunday blogs will be, but I want them (and everything I do) to glorify God. I may fail more often than I succeed (because we all fall short of the Glory of God), but I want to try.
It’s time to relax! What do you do?
I write. When I’m not writing or watching football, I’m playing video games. Reading is fun. But honestly if I had more time for writing, I’d be much happier. Marketing, editing, publicity, those things just really burn me out.
What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Favorites ever are: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BEST EVER), How I Met Your Mother, Stargate SG-1, and Supernatural (the first five seasons only). Current series would be Doctor Who, The 100, The Marvel TV shows, Game of Thrones, and Stranger Things.
If you had to choose a character from one of your books to have lunch with, who would it be and why?
Bob from The Journals of Bob Drifter. Sure, he might be there to take my soul, but he’s hundreds of years old. He’d have a ton of stories to tell me before I croaked.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
I’m bad at sharing. Not because I’m unwilling, but because I’m really just sort of baffled at the sorts of things people want to know about. I think I’m pretty boring, so it’s hard to think about things because I just don’t know. I usually talk about my students or my kids (my fiancee’s kids, but I’ve pretty much already hijacked them).
Thank you for joining us today, Matt. Good luck with the release of The Power of Words in October, and best wishes for your wedding and the future.