Today is our digital sit down with author Matthew Cox. He has written 8 short stories and 7 novels, one of which, The Awakened: Prophet of the Badlands received honorable mention by Writers of the Future.
You can read his running tale entitled Divergent Fate on his website at MatthewCoxBooks.com.
For more about and by Matthew, follow him on Facebook and Twitter @mscox_fiction.
At what age did you first start making up stories and putting them down on paper?
Somewhere in my early teens.
What was the title of your first (or favorite) work, or name of your main character, or plot synopsis?
The first thing I wrote when I decided to get serious about writing was Virtual Immortality. So far, of the things I've written, my favorite is Prophet of the Badlands. I'm fond of Division Zero as well, where Kirsten Wren, a psionic cop, deals with crimes and strange events involving paranormal entities in a far-future world.
Who is an author, or perhaps character, that inspires you? How so?
I've drawn inspiration from a lot of authors, films, and even video games. Though, I'd have to give the most credit to William Gibson insofar as inspiration goes for creating my favored genre.
What keeps you motivated? How do you keep the words flowing when writers' block is more like writers' Hoover Dam?
I've got 25 years of stories in my head from when I was unaware that I wanted to be a writer...as well as an addictive personality. The energy I once channeled into World of Warcraft now goes towards writing. So far (knock on wood) I haven't had much in the way of writers' block.
Do you believe in killing your characters and/or sparing your villains from the horrible death readers think they deserve?
Once of the things I try to do is create complete, believable characters - both for the good guys, bad guys, and everyone in between. I've never been terribly fond of character death in other things, but sometimes it does make sense for the story to do it. If the story warrants it, it can happen...but it's not something I enjoy doing. As far as killing off the villains goes, again I'd have to say it needs to feel like a natural evolution of the plot. If the "hero" would kill the villain given the circumstances, it'll happen - but not just because the villain has to die at the end.
How much of you do you inject into your characters?
Any of this, at least so far, would be at a subconscious level. I think to a point, a writer will always inject a little something of their own psyche into a primary character or even a bad guy. I could probably go character by character and find traits that I think leaked out of my own head, though I have not deliberatley made an alter ego.
When you get that first inkling of a story idea, how do you polish it by developing characters, setting, plot, etc?
I'm an outliner. When I get a story idea it can
begin as little more than one or two sentences. I'll take that concept
and build it out to a chapter outline. I tend to establish the
characters more strongly and then process everything with their mindset,
which can sometimes alter the outline depending on how the scenes
evolve while I am writing them. (The most prominent example in my mind
is when Althea from Prophet demanded a change about 65% of the way
Is there a classic work (book, film, music, etc.) from which you can extrapolate your own original story? For example, Beowulf, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Think in terms of Stephen King basing his Dark Tower series from Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.
(This goes beyond the realm of mere fan fiction)
It's been a long time since I've read any of "the classics", though I have heard it said that all stories have already been told. Anyone who tells a story is invariably reinventing a plot that's been done before, while changing the greeblies on the outside. At the moment, I've got more ideas than I can find time to write down, and I haven't made a conscious decision to draw on the classics for inspiration yet.
Do you have a magnum opus?
Well, Virtual Immortality is pretty long. I'm not sure if I'd call it my magnum opus though. I haven't been doing this long enough to feel like I've peaked yet. Again, maybe 10-15 years from now I'll have a better answer for this.
Do the good guys wear black? Do they always win?
Most of my protags wear grey. One (Althea) is about
as white-hat as it gets, Kirsten is pretty close to being a paladin as
well, but for the most part I think characters that are "too good" or
"too evil" are unbelievable. There are degrees of both sides in every
character. Generally, I prefer satisfying endings. I can't give too much
detail here without spoiling, but for the most part, the good guys
win... though, at least in the case of Division Zero, winning isn't
necessarily perfect happy. For Archon's Queen, less so (given the
overall scope of the character/series).
How do you deal with over-exuberant fans?
Thus far? Gratitude :)
For more about and by Matthew, follow him on Facebook and Twitter @mscox_fiction