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: 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?
M: 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