I first met Mike in April 2013 on the authonomy website, where he's running two critique groups, one for fantasy, one open for all genres. Since then, I've beta read three of his books, and bought another two. That's probably some indication that I like his writing style...ok, it's a dead giveaway. However, I asked him a few questions. Here are his answers.
Who are you?
Mike Matula, a novelist and a story writer. My first published novel is Try Not to Burn, and I’ve had stories published by Sci-Fi Short Story Magazine and DarkFuse, and also in Wrapped in Red, a new vampire anthology from Sekhmet Press.
Where are you?
Just outside of Chicago.
How are you?
I’ve been better, but I’m doing okay, all things considered. You?
Which book do you want to talk about? Tell us briefly what it is about.
Try Not to Burn. It’s a paranormal thriller with sci-fi and fantasy elements, featuring characters who are all haunted by their sins, and struggling to make up for the things they’d done in the past. Here’s a quick summary:
Shot to death in the line of duty, rookie cop Brandon Morales awakens in a much darker world than the one he left. Trying to make sense of it all, Brand stumbles across Sam and Jane, two women simply struggling to survive. With their souls hanging in the balance, and eternal damnation never more than one wrong turn away, these three strangers will need to put their trust in one another in order to stay one step ahead of the flames of Hell. But when enemies pose as trusted friends, when lost loves crumble the will to continue, and when hidden desires threaten to tear allegiances apart, it will take more than faith and determination to pass God's final test. It will take a miracle.
Tell us about your main character. What does he/she look like, love, hate, dream of? What qualities/flaws/principles does he/she have?
Brandon Morales is inherently a good man. He did something in his past which he never atoned for—something which the courts acquitted him of—and it haunts him. That experience has defined his life. It’s what led him to become a cop, but it’s also what makes him try to keep people at arm’s distance.
In terms of appearance, I always imagine him with dark hair and rugged looks. His personality, though, is based largely on my own. We’re both weighed down by guilt and regret, we’ve both had quite a few of the same experiences, and we both dream about zombies more often than is probably healthy.
Is there a song you'd associate with your book?
Can I pick two? Get Ready to Die by Magic Dirt, and Dragway 42 by The Pretenders are two of my favorites, and always make me think of Try Not to Burn whenever I hear them.
Is there a message in your book? Do you want your readers to take something home?
No matter how horrible things get, no matter how hard you landed when you hit rock bottom, there’s always a chance to pick yourself and push on, if you want it badly enough.
All that matters is the climb up. The fall down is what tests you, but it’s not what makes you who you are.
If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?
A healing factor (like Wolverine from the X-men) would be pretty great. It’s not particularly flashy, and the power of flight would probably be more fun than simply healing quickly, but to be able to live for a couple hundred years, without worrying about getting injured or growing old...sign me up for that one.