Please help me welcome author Matt Lucas to the interview hot seat! Let’s take a gander at his bio and then find out more about what he has to share with us today.
Matthew C. (“Matt”) Lucas was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, and lives there now with his wife, their two sons, dog, and axolotl. He writes speculative fiction that ranges from dark and epic, to droll and historic, to a lot of stuff in between. His published novels include The Mountain (Montag Press) and Yonder & Far: The Lost Lock (Ellysian Press), with two more novels (including the next Yonder & Far adventure) set to be released in late 2023 or early 2024. Matt’s shorter works have appeared in Bards & Sages Quarterly, The Society of Misfit Stories, Sword & Sorcery Magazine, and Best Indie Speculative Fiction.
When he’s not working, enjoying his family, writing, or playing the bagpipes (badly), he can be found at the neighborhood bowling alley, an enthusiastic if not especially talented regular.
Author Social Links: Website
Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?
Matthew: Yonder & Far: The Lost Lock came about after I had read Susanna Clarke’s delightful Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (for the third or fourth time) and thought to myself how fun it would be to craft a historical fantasy in that same vein, but set in the United States … and told from the point of view of the fae … and with a dash of Casablanca. With that impetus, and after a fair amount of historical research, the book practically wrote itself.
Betty: What, if any, new writing skill did you develop while working on this story?
Matthew: Definitely historical research. This is my first novel of historical fiction, and I wanted to get the details as right as possible. I am not, however, a professional (or even an amateur) historian. So it took some time for me to find good sources that could provide a holistic overview of the late eighteenth century in the United States as well as more granular details about specific story points I wanted to flesh out (e.g., legal proceedings in post-Colonial Boston, the origins of Prince Hall Freemasonry, Age of Sail mechanics, and so forth).
Betty: Did you struggle with any part of this story? What and how?
Matthew: I’m a discovery writer (i.e., a “pantser”), so I usually go into a new novel with a good idea about what will happen in the beginning, a fair idea about how it will end, and no idea about the middle. Middles are where I spend the most time in my writing, and Yonder & Far: The Lost Lock was no exception.
Betty: Which character(s) were the easiest to get to know? Why do you think?
Matthew: John Yonder came pretty easily (although his partner, Captain Far, was a close second). Some of Yonder’s lines, I swear, I heard them spoken in my ear while I was writing. He’s a fussy, preening, pompous, lawyerly little fellow of simple pleasures. For some reason, I can channel him pretty easily. Make of that what you will.
Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?
Matthew: I read a couple of “general history” books, a couple of presidential biographies, some guy’s master’s thesis on Boston in the 1790’s (that was, fortuitously, posted online for whatever reason), and I looked at a lot of maps.
Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?
Matthew: As a discovery writer, my writing process usually has me going over the prior day’s work before writing anything new. So the first completed version of my drafts takes a little longer to complete, but it’s usually about 80% finished by the time I write “The End.” So, really, it only took two versions—the initial and the edited final—before I felt the story was complete. My editors (God bless them) had other ideas. We went through somewhere between ten and twelve passes of the whole manuscript before the book was released last year.
Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?
Matthew: It took about a year. And that’s right on track for my method of writing. I’m a daily word-count writer (I try for around 500 a day, not including Sundays), which puts me on pace to finish a first draft of a 100,000-word novel in about twelve months.
Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?
Matthew: I drink a lot while I write … Half a pot of coffee, at least.
Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?
Matthew: Arching eyebrows, nods, and smiles. I end up editing a lot of them out because my first drafts have my characters communicating like mimes.
Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?
Matthew: I think Patrick O’Brian’s writing is superb. His Aubrey Maturin books are an amazing amalgam of flowing prose, richly drawn characters, high-stakes action, and impeccable historical research (that never overwhelms the story).
Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?
Matthew: For writing and revising, we have a small den with a window to the backyard and a framed picture of a peacock that I end up staring at a lot. That’s where I do my fiction writing. Reading can be anywhere, but usually it’s on the couch in the living room.
Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?
Matthew: I do have a day job, and I love it. I’ve been a state appellate judge for the past eight years—a job that entails, interestingly enough, an enormous amount of reading and writing.
Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?
Matthew: It’s been a few years, but honestly, I’m still on cloud nine each time I get an offer of publication from a publisher. That’s a thrill I don’t think any author ever forgets. More recently, I was proud that Yonder & Far: The Lost Lock took second place in the historical fantasy category of the spring 2023 BookFest Award.
Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?
Matthew: Right now, historical fantasy.
Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?
Matthew: For me, success is reaching an audience that enjoys the kind of stories I do: fantastic adventures told with a little bit of a literary flare; page-turning speculative fiction that also wrangles with the deeper issues of life. If I can entertain those readers, the time and effort I’ve put into my writing will have been worth it.
Boston 1798. John Yonder, Esquire has accepted a seemingly simple case. He need only recover a magical lock of hair for a spurned lady. She had given it to her lover, Wylde, who is somewhere in Boston. The problem is, neither Yonder nor his murderous, wine-soaked partner, Captain Far, have any idea how to find him. But Yonder has an idea: he tricks a fortuneteller, Mary Faulkner, into assisting with the case. With a whisper in her ear, he tethers Mary’s mind to Wylde’s, creating a terrible, but potent human compass.
Following Mary’s guidance, the trio sets out after Wylde. Hapless sailors, pirates, slave owners, and a host of others hinder the path to Wylde. In the end, Yonder, Far, and Mary learn that the man they’re after, the lock of hair he’s carrying, and the client who hired them are not at all what they seem.
Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | Smashwords
I’m always intrigued by pansters, being a “plotster” myself. Thanks for sharing with us, Matt!
Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories
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