Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
Absolutely! I’m probably my own favourite subject, after all. ;-) I am father of two and have been married to the same beautiful red-headed bane of my existence for the last 18 years. My daughter recently began at the University of Kentucky on a music scholarship and my son, who is still a couple of years away from high school graduation, shows all the signs of following in his big sister’s footsteps. My family is originally from Michigan, but about 8 years ago we transplanted to Kentucky where we still reside near Ft. Knox.
In my spare time, I am the director of operations for a small group of franchise pizzerias located in Michigan. I do a lot of travelling back and forth between the states, and those drives are the times when I do most of my brainstorming and hatching of evil plots. <insert maniacal laugh here>
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
I really think “Horror” is too general a term. To me, horror should always be sub-genre’d out into so that readers know what they’re getting into. For me and what I have most recently written I would have to say Dark Fiction, but I think Weird could also apply. I suppose as long as a story delves into mankind’s sinister side, “Dark” could always apply.
Let’s go with Dark Fiction. Did I win?
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Hmm. My books are like my music: it depends on my mood. Sometimes I stay in a particular mood for months, even years, and sometimes I move on to a new mood in a matter of hours.
I guess what I’m saying is if you ask me this question again tomorrow I might give you a completely different answer.
I love a good horror story, obviously. Stephen King brought me to horror, but lately I haven’t been as much a fan as with his older works. It doesn’t feel like he puts himself out there like he used to. Clive Barker & Brian Lumley—okay, you asked about “Dark vs Weird”... great example. Those two guys take the “Weird” trophy home every damn NIGHT. They are absolutely insane. And I mean that in an “oh-my-God-its-Clive-I-love-that-guy!” kind of way. Dean Koontz—I like his work, but oddly enough I like his Odd Thomas books most of all. And yes... pun intended, but in my defence I didn’t plan it. It just sprung to life as I was typing. That’s right—all your readers just witnessed the Magic of Writing in action.
As far as other genres, I absolutely love Dan Brown. Such an amazing, intricate mind. Every one of his novels is jigsaw puzzle that is a pleasure to put together. Huge, sweeping mysteries that should be impossible to understand, but he brings them down to earth for his readers and makes them make sense. James Alexander Thom, John Jakes, and Wilbur Smith—historical fiction! Who knew? Certainly not me, but I love them. Amazing authors that drag you into their epics and make you feel like you know the times they’ve set their stories in.
I could go on and on and on... but I’m sure by now some readers have already stopped reading. Yes, I tend to be long winded. I’m a writer, what did you expect???
What are you reading now?
I am reading Citizenville by Gavin Newsome. Normally I wouldn’t get into anything that has to deal with politics but this guy really gets your mind working. He sees a very possible future through technology in a way most politicians would probably have trouble understanding.
How would you describe your writing style?
I write the way I speak. I write the way I’m replying to your interview. Of course, sometimes the personalities or actions of my characters don’t allow for me to be as off-the-cuff as I like to be, but for the most part my writing style is informal, at times gritty, and usually very honest. Maybe too honest. I had a couple of people who read my latest novel who said the unsettling parts were written so openly, their hands were actually shaking as they read. One person said they had to skip past those parts once it got “too real”.
Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I zone out a lot. I have to have quiet. I’ve tried music, but I just end up singing along with the songs I’m listening to and can’t write a word. I write in my basement in a large room. There’s a pool table behind me, a mini-fridge on my left, and a window in front of my desk that looks out into the back yard. Of those 3 things, the only one that gets any real action from me is the mini-fridge. I almost never play pool and I normally keep the curtains closed. I’ve stared for hours at those curtains. Or rather through them, I suppose. Staring but not seeing, because I’m deep in my head. I imagine most writers have that place they go in their head—the place where the story is actually happening. Once you get there, that’s when you can really SEE what’s happening, that’s when you know you’re describing exactly what your characters would do in whatever circumstance you’ve got them in. You hear writers talk about how their characters “led them” to the end of the book? That’s what they’re talking about. Once you find that place in your mind, all you really have to do is follow your character. Not only will he or she take you to the end of the story, he/she will show you everything they did, everything they felt, and everything they thought along the way.
So... yeah. No exciting writing habits, not from me. But I bet my curtains feel very loved.
What’s your favourite food?
Wrong question to ask a guy like me. That’s like asking what my favourite kind of money is. My answer to that question is: “Yes.” If you’re a foodie like me, you’ll understand. If you’re not—well, I’m so sorry that part of your life is missing. There are only two things in life better than food, and they’re only better sometimes.
What’s your favourite album?
At which point in my life? Now? When I was a kid? Let’s do some snapshots of Matthew Keith’s life in music:
Age 5 – The Monkees Greatest Hits
Age 10 – Duran Duran – Rio
Age 15 – Guns N Rose – Appetite for Destruction
Age 20 – Metallica – The Black Album
Age 25 – Foo Fighters – The Color and the Shape
Age 30... do we really have to keep going? At same point I’m going to have to show my age, and I’d rather everyone just thought of me as “forever 30”. So let’s stop there. Right now I can’t stop listening to that song Sail, the Thrift Shop song has been stuck in my head for days, the band “Train” has some songs I keep going back to, and I really like the new Eminem CD.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
Don’t do it unless you’re doing it for pleasure. I started writing because I love it. Sure, I’d like to become a bestselling author with one made-for-TV series after another modelled after the craziness in my brain, but mostly it just feels good when I write. What an outlet. Don’t ever lose that—that’s the most important lesson I learned. I almost did after my first two books because they immediately saw some really good sales and I started to see stars. Then I started to get worried about whether I would write the next ones well enough. Then I wondered if I was writing them fast enough. Then ... then I realized it didn’t feel good anymore. So I stopped looking at my Amazon sales report every morning and just started writing again for the “high” it gives me. Plus... like I said—what an outlet... If I’m mad at my boss, I can create a character that reminds me of him and do all kinds of terrible things to him in my story. Not only can I write those things, but I can publish and share those torturous words with hundreds of thousands of readers all over the world—and all the while my boss will never know. Man that’s a good feeling.
And let’s not even talk about the things I’ve done to my wife in my writing. Wait. What? No, of course not, honey... only joking, yes.
Fame and fortune, or respect?
Well. Hm. Not a fair question. If I was rich due to my writing, maybe I wouldn’t care. But then, if I was rich I suppose I would have a lot less to worry about day-to-day and maybe I would start to crave respect, especially if I didn’t have it.
Of course, if everyone told me I was the greatest writer that ever lived, handed me a Pulitzer, and erected a statue of my likeness in the town square but never bought a single book I think I’d be a little miffed, too.
What a great premise for the plot of a book.
Both, please. Can I say both? I pick both.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
My most recent work, Sway. Absolutely and without question. It is rife with symbolism and meaning without handing it to the reader and saying, “Now this is what I meant by that...” I am proud of my other novels as well, I believe they’re very good, but they don’t hold a candle to Sway.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
Sway is a very dark, very unsettling story about a man who has returned to the recurring nightmare of his childhood only to find that it may be real—the product of a chemically-induced reaction to a drug he took as a child. Through short flashbacks into his past, we see that his childhood is jammed full of terrible abuse and violence, and we begin to wonder if the dream truly is real, or just a product of his fractured psyche.
My next novel will be the final installment of the Watchers trilogy, which started with Watchers of the Night. The final book, titled The Fall of Astralis is due for release in the spring.
After finishing The Fall of Astralis, I intend to go back to writing darker fiction (see—there it is again, “Dark Fiction”!) with the same feel as Sway. I enjoyed writing it too much not to go back. It lets my freak flag fly far too free.
Having been born in Pontiac, Michigan in 1972, I am as much a product of the 80's as anyone from that era can be. Back in high school, I was a 6'3" bean pole with long scraggly hair, a jean jacket that I wore nearly every day of my life, and drove around in a loud, busted-up '76 Cutlass that I bought from my big brother and thought was the greatest thing on four wheels. Guns 'n' Roses, ripped up jeans, radio way too loud - I was that guy.
Back then I didn't have many ambitions except to get out of high school as quickly as I could. I'd always envisioned myself one day becoming a teacher, but the road that led to that career included a minimum of four years additional school and I wanted nothing to do with that.
I'm older now, not much wiser, with a lot less hair and more around the middle. I've been a partner in a pizza business for over fifteen years with an amazing man who has not only given me the opportunity to achieve financial success, but has also been a mentor in nearly every aspect of my life. If he ever reads this - which I doubt - you know who you are. Thank you.
I live in Kentucky now and have two wonderful children, one who will be starting college in August (2013) at the University of Kentucky on a music scholarship and one who will be a sophomore in high school. I have been married to the same beautiful red head for the last sixteen years and from the way it's going I'll be happily stuck with her until the day I die. Truly, without her I would never have finished my first novel let alone been able to be halfway through a second and third. She has supported me in every aspect of my life - it is that support that gave me the belief that I could write something worth reading.
As far as my writing, it is something I'd always wanted to do but never allowed myself to find the time for. As any writer will tell you; it's a discipline and what starts out as 'fun' or 'romantic' turns into actual work at some point. Compound that with the fact that most writers, like myself, work 'real' jobs to pay the bills and it becomes ever harder to do. For me, it can sometimes be next to impossible. My first novel, Watchers of the Night, took over two years to write - an hour here, 30 minutes there. Sometimes I would go for weeks or even months without writing a word simply because I was just too busy with life.
But that's beauty of working without an agent or publishing contract. Until I'm offered that six-figure advance, I see no reason to sign with anyone or hurry my writing along. I would prefer to keep it a labor of love instead of ... just a labor. I hope you'll all be patient with the pace I set.
For those of you who've taken the time to read this page and are still reading by this point, thank you. I appreciate that you took the time and had the interest in who I am enough to soak all this in. If you like what you've read in my work, drop me a line - I would love to hear from you!
FILE UNDER HORROR AUTHOR INTERVIEW