My Interview with Author Matthew Carter

Jeff: Today I’m interviewing author Matthew Carter who hails from Romulus Michigan. He’s written the book Liquid Soul. Matthew, it’s a very interesting title. To those unfamiliar with the book, could you tell us a little about that?Matthew C

Matthew: Liquid Soul is a story about a guy who, through his killings, is able to live a moment in his victims’ lives. He lives a solitary existence and he views this as his only way in which to not only communicate with the outside world, but more importantly to him anyway, he is able to become someone else even if it is just for a short period of time. This act is addictive to him and he does whatever it takes in order to make it get the sensation time and again.

J: What inspired you to tell this story?

M: It was originally a short story I wrote in college. I had finally found my writing voice and this was the second story I had written after that. I have always been curious about other people. I wonder what goes on in their minds, whether they are good, or bad and I wonder about their lives. I am an eternally curious person, but I wouldn’t go to such lengths to know what it is like to be someone else.

J: Could you tell us how you came to know you wanted to be a writer?

M: I’ve always been introverted and so from a very young age I would play different scenarios in my head and let my imagination run free. I didn’t start to write down my thoughts into stories until middle school and they didn’t really form coherently until college. I had steadily gotten better and I rarely if ever showed anybody what I wrote until about college. 

J: This story concept hints at a number of things. It’s been said “we all have thoughts that would shame hell.” I think most of us wonder if being able read another’s mind wouldn’t be an incredibly useful thing. Being able to read the mind of an “average” person (if there is such a thing), do you think we would be bored, surprised, or alarmed, or something else?

M: Well, I don’t particularly like the word average because when it comes down to it there is no average in people. Everybody has their own streak of uniqueness within them. Everybody has secrets and some are deeper and darker than others. I think if we peered within the psyche of another we would be all of those things and so very much more.

As humans, no matter our level of understanding, we are very complex beings with very complex thoughts. There are ideas that each of us have within our heads that are so different from each other it is mind boggling. Even if the ideas are the same, how the people were able to come up with the ideas are completely different. There might be lots of boring thoughts coming from someone else, but the way they come across, they would be mind blowing because they would come in such a way so foreign to me. I think I would mostly be surprised, but alarmed also. There will be something within each of us, despite our differences, in thought processes to connect us.

J: You make me wonder if we may all have the same sorts of dark thoughts, but the “good” people are better able to control them?

M: I think so, and that to me is part of the human experience. Many of us struggle with ideas that come to our head from our self-identification. Our self-identification changes with our environment, but sometimes those dark thoughts permeate within us and there are those who are able to fight off those thoughts and others who don’t want to fight them, or have just given in for whatever reason and whether they know the darkness they act upon is wrong, they love the darkness. “Good” people are those who don’t hold in the thoughts, but find proper outlets like writing, painting, music, etc.

J: And that’s a compelling argument for funding the arts!

M: Oh yeah, I love the arts, and enjoy going to the art museum whenever I get a chance.

J: Your main character, he’s not the typical protagonist. Would you describe him as an anti-hero in search of redemption, or something else?

M: One of the ideas behind the story was to make him appear as someone who would fit quietly into society without anyone suspecting anything. Now, he is a bit of an antihero because he thinks there is something spiritual about what he does, but on another level he realizes that what he is doing is completely off base of what is okay to do in society. Yet he even recognizes that he isn’t really a part of society, and is more really on the outside looking it, and taking what he wants from time to time in an effort to try to feel like he belongs and is needed even if it is under false pretenses.

How did he get started down this path? He had a bad home life, which he learns about through a few bouts of Liquid Soul. In the beginning he learns he has the gift, but knows little of his life before he had Liquid Soul. Only through LS does he become better aware of his world. Of course he sees it through his perceived reality and not through a healthy reality.

J: As we go through our lives, trying to find out who we are, the people we get to know make the journey more interesting. It sounds as if, for your character, killing another person is the only way he’s been able to find out who he is?

M: That’s exactly what is going on there. For years growing up he was isolated from his family when traumatic events struck him and the only way he was able to deal with it was through this interesting dance of through their death becoming them for a moment of their lives. He isn’t sure how to relate back to society, even though he has this deep desire to reenter it.

J: To be able to continue this life for an extended period of time, is your main character very clever at avoiding being caught, or just very lucky?

M: A bit of both actually. He may be a loner on the outside of society, but he knows where to go to avoid capture. But like any killers, there is luck involved.

J: Many writers use a third person point of view, fewer use first person, but that’s what you’ve done here, and I think it’s inspired. The reader has only your main character’s point of view for reference. It’s more subjective, but we can really get wrapped in that perspective, that singular point of view. We can get deep into the psyche, the motivations and with each killing and the acquiring of additional layers of experience and memory…I can see how the reader can almost become a captive part of this journey; a victim in a different sort of way. And because of the way your character lives his life, we find ourselves in sort of a multiple first person perspective.  Could you elaborate on that a bit?

M: Yes I don’t think this story would have worked as well if it was a 3rd person story. I really thought it was essential to get to know the whys of the narrator’s motives. Or, at least why he thinks he does what he does. Through this type of 1st person I feel like it is more personal and whether you want to or not you get to know him through all of his psychosis. The readers needed to feel as if they were on a personal journey through his darkness no matter where it leads. If I went with 3rd person he would have just been portrayed as a mysterious serial killer with subtle drops here or there, but what I tried to reach for was a man in which you got to experience life as he did, and through his eyes.

J: Could you share an excerpt of Liquid Soul with us?

 liquid soulM: Of course.
“I don’t have a past. I don’t have a future. I just need Liquid Soul. It wasn’t like this had been my first time, but it felt just as good and as pure. The addiction was something I just couldn’t help. It wasn’t alcohol or drugs, but instead it was feeling the crimson of my victims; most likely the only pure things left in them. I examined their souls and peered inside to see what experiences they’d had. In my head I had certain ideas of what I needed to shake my core, and to keep the high going. But the more I got into it, the more I realized it was more than just the blood drug that gripped me; I soon became attached to the people themselves. Throughout my life I had wandered alone, trying to find pieces of me in any place I could and when it came down to it, I was nothing but a shell of missed opportunities. But when I saw others’ lives there was a glimmer of hope that resonated within. A certain wish blew over me and I was finally rectified. There was never a point in which I was worried about being jealous about what my friends had seen or done. Instead, I felt blessed that I was able to feel what others were all about. I was enlightened by their truth and way about things.”

J: And finally, wondering if you have anything else in the works at the moment?

M: Yes there is. I am penning two novels right now and hope to have one out by December.

J: And would either one be a sequel to Liquid Soul?

M: No, but there is a sequel in the works; just not yet.

J: Matthew, thanks for hanging in there with me on this! I appreciate your thoughtful responses.

M: This has been two tons of fun.

Catch up with Matthew at his website: http://www.liquidsoulsessence.com/

And on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Liquidsoul9/about

 

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My Interview with Eric Mutch

Eric is the author of the suspense novel Miranda (published by Thorstruck Press) and a resident of Provo, Utah.

EricI read Miranda last month and was caught up in this gripping story of intrigue. It’s hard to put it down because it feeds into our concerns that we don’t really have privacy; perhaps we don’t have nearly as much free will as we think and that there is some shadowy organization that’s got its clutches into just about everything important.

Jeff: Eric, could you tell us a bit about the process that brought this book to life, how long it took you to write it and where the inspiration came from?

Eric: The idea soaked in my brain for some 20 years before I ever started typing. I had a terrible run of luck for a while and lost a few opportunities to coincidental mishap. Mail mis-route in one case and a car breaking down in another. After a while it occurred to me just how easily these things could be made to happen deliberately. I imagined a shadowy figure running around tampering with lives.

Miranda as a concept formed in an abnormal Psych class in college. Identifying a dangerous personality, or a useful personality could be accomplished by a system of tests in the school system at a very early age. After the identification, its easy enough to create a system of coincidental happenings to nudge a person one direction or another. Those people running the system can be left largely unaware. Simply set up the right policy and procedure outline and have access to the records.
 There’s not much of a story there, just a world in which to tell the stories. Granted, it’s a pretty robust world. The idea of telling the story of the shadowy figure who *does know some of the behind the scenes facts and performs the distasteful tasks is a much more interesting way of giving the readers a glimpse into the inner circle of our secret society. The actual writing began after talking to a friend (whose name is Porter, not coincidentally) about my idea and he liked it so much he brought me a laptop the next day to write it on. How could I not start the story after that. It took me some 6 months to pound out the story, and some years to learn to write and revise it.

J: With motivation like that it would be tough not to proceed! In today’s society, with everything we see going on it’s easy for those thoughts to creep into our mind. We see real cover ups and wonder how many more are going on that we don’t hear about. Thoughts of paranoia can take hold without too much trouble and it seems easy to get caught up in reading stories about conspiracy theories. Could you speak to that?

E: I would love to. We tend to focus on the spectacular ideas – Aliens and the like. We see maliciousness around every corner and see that some wild paranoias exist. In truth the dangerous conspiracy is much more banal than that. We forget that everything is a conspiracy. If I make a grocery list with my wife, we have conspired to go to the store. Very powerful people, be they politician, businessman, scientist, or other, like to keep the power. They all have secret plans to squash the competition and control the market. Go to any board meeting or political office and tell me I am wrong. Remember, *you* are either the competition or the market. The goal is to manipulate your behavior through direct or indirect means.

The question becomes, at what point is this a conspiracy worth calling conspiracy? At what point are they powerful enough and good enough at the game to become an illuminate ranking group and is this even a bad thing? Sometimes I watch the disinformation spread around the internet, the lack of critical thinking in the mainstream, and I pray that there IS a group with enough sense to guide the outcome. Someone who wants to stay powerful and realizes that in order to do so, they need me to have the will and resources to support them. I know that a market has to be able to afford what I am selling. I think there are huge untapped resources available and it takes some very powerful people to develop them.
I often get asked if I feel any danger in publishing Miranda if I feel there really is a Miranda out there. I dont. The best thing they could do is allow me to publish. It discredits me. Then stir in a ton of disinformation and the story fades. We dismiss the people around us as potentially part of this because we separate ourselves, we think of our own religions, businesses and politicians as exempt simply because we know them. Which is of course what makes them able to manipulate us so easily.

J: It sounds like your journey to writing a novel was a bit different than some. Many writers seem to have an urge to write that takes place early in life, without any specific stories to write. It sounds like, for you, the passion for the idea ignited the urge to write?

E: Very true. I have something to say and I want to it do through fiction. It’s not about the conspiracy however. Its about human nature and how we are developing as a society and our maturity as a people. I try to put a context into the stories to make people think, which at first glance makes me sound a bit arrogant and I suppose I may be. Success to me is in making people question what they have assumed to be true. Miranda has part of that message. The rest will come as the story unfolds further.  

J: You live in Provo, Utah, a place where the LDS church has a lot of influence. Some would say that influence is very controlling. Did living in this sort of environment have any impact on the writing of Miranda?

E: I would be lying if I said no. The worst tyrant is one who wants to save you from yourself, one who thinks he is acting in your own best interest. Greedy people can be sated but a religious fanatic can never be. The LDS church is, as a whole, benevolent. However, they are as willing as any religion to play where they are not welcome, as they did with Prop 8. They aren’t a violent people, they actually have a brilliant social structure and preparedness. There is a lot to admire about them; they are smart, educated, frugal, and driven. Still, they will take your rights away to accomplish their goals. People who advocate for legislation of morality are moving us closer to a theocracy. In a theocracy only one religion gets to be state sanctioned. That is my worst fear.

J: I like your comment about disinformation on the internet. For me, the most important thing I learned in college was critical thinking. I see people jumping on every urban myth and wild news story and think about our desire to believe gossip, and outlandish rumors. So many people want to be that person, the one who heard it first and let all their friends and family know some shocking truth. I know a few people who do this and I finally gave up trying to steer them straight. It seems this rabid desire to get to the bottom of things is just clogging up the works even more. Your thoughts?

E: One might think its deliberate; a method of hiding the truth in this ridiculous disinformation. If I wanted to discredit an idea, I would surround it with lies and half truths. I would arrange to have a bunch of nutty comments surround it and twist it until it became laughable.

J: Your main character’s name is Porter, and you mentioned Porter Rockwell in the story as being the source for that name. Rockwell is a figure we find in early Mormon history, but few Mormons know anything about him. I think most people have never heard of him. Thoughts on that?

E: Porter Rockwell is one of my favorite historical characters. He is often thought of as a part of secret society and there is some grounds to support that. I snuck him in because his colorful life reflects the nature Miranda’s employees share. He was very possibly a mass murderer, but was without doubt influential in the direction the entire western development took. He did what he did (presumably) out of religious fervor. Or perhaps he was a sociopath…who knows. Either way he fits the Miranda profile.

J: Miranda makes us think. It makes us wonder. It worries us a little. What do you hope Miranda’s effect will be on people?

E: I hope they realize that we still have the power. I hope they realize that critical thought will save us. I hope they understand that nice and good are different, that hard and evil are different, and that a lack of accountability is why power corrupts.

J: And lastly: earlier you said “The rest will come as the story unfolds further.”   Is there a sequel to Miranda? If so, what can you tell us about it?

E: Yes there is. Its called ‘The Mark of Kale’. It takes the story deeper into Miranda’s inner circle and shows a little of their perspective.

J: Eric, thanks so much for letting us get to know you a bit better and sharing some thoughts about Miranda.

Miranda

Eric uses the pen name Ayrich Mutch.

Click on the image to go Miranda on Amazon.com

You can find Eric on Facebook at:

https://www.facebook.com/eric.b.mutch?fref=ts

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An Interview with Author Annia Lekka

I have the privilege today of interviewing Author Annia Lekka, from Athens, Greece. A few years ago I read an excerpt from her book, Fishtail Mountain. What I remember most about it was the way it made me feel. I was captivated. Since then I’ve had the privilege of reading her novels ‘Lydia’s Letters and ‘The Perplexing Case of Seraphim Karalis.”annia-lekka

Jeff: Annia, what do you love about Greece and what would you tell people about it that don’t live there?

Annia: People seem to have an image of Greece being long sandy beaches, turquoise waters and heat. That is definitely a big part of this country, but it may surprise people to know that Greece is also a country with lots of contradictions and it varies in both climate and landscapes. Its geographic position makes is a true gateway to the east, the west, the north and south. Its history stretches back over the centuries and I honestly don’t believe there is one part of the land that doesn’t have something else buried underneath it! There are too many things to love about this country: the sun, the most incredible seas, the numerous islands (each one offering something unique and different), old traditions which can be both fascinating and entertaining, tasty fruit and vegetables, its oil, olives, ouzo, yoghurt, mastic, wines, saffron and other edible delicacies…and I can keep going on and on!  However, if I were to pick one thing I love most about my country, I’d say it’s this particular versatility that never ceases to amaze me. You could be warming up by the sea one minute, then the next, up in the mountains wrapped in a scarf and jacket, trying to fight the chill. I love this juxtaposition in sceneries and temperatures which, I must admit, is echoed in the people, too. There are many colourful characters in Greece and most people are warm and hospitable. It’s certainly not a boring humdrum life here!

J: I understand you have some exciting things happening with your writing. Could you share some of that with us?

A: I have just started a new novel all about colour. This is thrilling for me, for various reasons. Firstly, I finished my fourth novel in June of this year, so I didn’t expect to be starting a new novel so quickly, but the speed with which this one is being written in both excites and frightens me a little! Secondly, this particular story appeals to my innermost nature because I am a very visual person, and being able to research into the making and history of colour pigments is thrilling. Also, inspiration for this novel seems to be coming in complete ‘downloads’. By that I mean that I feel like chapters are coming to me whole and, sometimes, I even start panicking a little, worrying whether I can write everything down fast enough before the ideas leave me. For example, one night, my husband and I were coming home on the Vespa, and I started ‘seeing’ one of the chapters forming. I kept having to repeat the ideas in my head over and over again, so as I wouldn’t forget them, and when we got home, I wrote them down! That Vespa ride felt like it lasted a lifetime!

A few more exciting things…firstly my short memoir, Alice, will be published in the Go World Travel magazine Chance Encounters anthology in December, and secondly, I will be doing a small reading along with other new writers in a week’s time as part of an arts event. Feeling both a little nervous as well as happy!

J: When did you decide that you were a writer, and that you must write?

A: I am not too sure exactly when I made the conscious decision to become a writer, but I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Whenever I was upset, or happy, or wanted to express something I was feeling, I’d write it down. Writing (and painting) have an immediate effect on me, one of clarifying and releasing whatever I keep inside, as well as relaxing me. So, although when I was younger I wanted to be a ballet dancer, an actress, an opera singer, an artist, an archaeologist and a number of other professions under the sun…it feels that all these interests and pursuits were building up to me realising that what I wanted more than anything, was to write.

J: Greek is your first language and yet you write in English. Have you done any creative writing in Greek?

A: I started learning English when I was 7 years old and my family moved to London. Until then, I’d never spoken a word of English. But, school was in English, (as were my friends), and I was young, so it quickly replaced Greek for me. Whenever I wrote something creative, I never wrote in Greek. I have tried writing creatively in Greek, but it always feels stiff and unnatural. So, I stick to English.

J: I understand you’ve written four different novels thus far. Could you tell us a bit about them? Do they share any common characteristics?

A: My first three novels are not a trilogy but they are interrelated. They all take place on the largest of the Princes’ Islands, (in the Sea of Marmara), now called Büyükada, and Istanbul, during 1830-1912. Although the novels can be read separately, certain characters appear in two novels, and there are threads that can be picked out like connecting dots, a bit like the way Krzysztof Kieślowski includes certain characters that were in one film, in the background of another film in his trilogy, Trois Couleurs: Bleu, Blanc, Rouge. In the same way, these novels have different main characters and stories, but there are similarities, too. The first novel is about the owner of the Turkish baths on the island, the second is about one of the families who owned a hotel right by the pier, and the third one, is about the gravedigger of the island. And the way they connect? I’ll give you an example: the gravedigger, Seraphim, also appears in the second novel but as a very minor character, and his father is mentioned in the story with the Turkish baths owner.

My fourth novel has nothing to do with the previous three. It takes place both in Athens of 2014/15 and in Paris of 1896. There are two main characters and they come together in an unusual way. My Greek main character is a young architect called Simos, and my French narrator, is a woman artist called Madeleine. And somewhere in between the two, there’s the French composer, Erik Satie. This novel deals a fair amount with art and music, and has a lot to do with letting go and forgiveness.

J: What genre do you usually write in and why are you drawn to that genre?

A: I don’t think I can place my writing in only one genre. Being a very visual and observant person, my work is quite vivid and colourful. It can be quirky and unusual. Dreams are vitally important to me, and I often use images I’ve seen during sleep in my books. I am drawn to magical realism, but also love researching, so this means I enjoy writing historical fiction, too – but with a twist. My stories usually have a strong voice and narrative. Everything we do in life revolves around people, so understanding how a person thinks and feels is something that moves and intrigues me. So, put all these together….and I honestly can’t answer what genre my writing fits into.

J: Where do you get your inspiration from and how does a story come together for you?

A: Different stories come together in different ways. As I mentioned above, dreams offer a whole world of inspiration for me. Some dreams have become complete stories and others have helped with a scene, but I use them a great deal. Other times, I might see a person on a bus or the tube and be fascinated by their features or an action of theirs. This might spark the beginnings of a novel. And there are times when I’ll hear a story on the news or from someone, and this will ignite something…and a story emerges. So, I think, the safest thing to say is that I don’t only have one way of approaching a story.

Now, the way they come together also varies. With some books, I’ve written out a very rough outline of how the story will go. But, with others, they seem to write themselves. I’m comfortable with either approach. Each one is challenging in its own way, so I give them the time they need to percolate and allow them to show me how they want to be written!

J: What can you tell us about your current project?

A: My current project started as an idea when I went to the exhibition on Making Colour at the National Gallery in London this August. Colour is so important to us all – unless you have some form of colour blindness – and this exhibition although small, was truly inspiring. My main character is an Art Historian. This is exciting as I’m now researching into all aspects of colour, both in life, in symbolism and in art. It is different to my other novels in that there will be a book contained within the book. I don’t know how it will work out, but I’m enjoying it tremendously!

I’d like to thank you, Jeff, for your great questions and the chance to speak about myself and my writing. It’s been great sharing these things with you…over virtual tea and biscuits! It’s been a treat!

J: Thank you, Annia for letting us get to know you a bit more and for sharing your inspiration with us!

Bio

Annia Lekka was born in Thessaloniki, Greece, but grew up in London. She obtained a BA (Hons) in Theatre Design from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design, and was awarded a scholarship by Royal West of England Academy for research studies in Nepal. She has worked as a set and costume designer in Athens and London, and as a stage manager at the Athens Concert Hall. In 2008, she gained an MA in Creative Writing (with Merit) from Lancaster University. In 2009, her short story, Medicine Man, was published in the Year Zero anthology, Brief Objects of Beauty and Despair. In 2011, her short story, The Unfolding, came joint-second in the Ifanca Hélène James Short Story Competition. In 2012, her novella, Fishtail Mountain, was longlisted for the Cinnamon Press Novel/Novella Competition. In 2014, her short memoir, Alice, was chosen for the Go World Travel magazine Chance Encounters anthology, which will be published in December 2014. Annia lives with her husband and three children in Athens. She has completed four novels and is currently working on her fifth.

If you would like to read excerpts from her work, please visit her website: www.annialekka.com
or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Annia-Lekka/82893230212?fref=ts as well as on
Twitter: https://twitter.com/annialekka

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