• Gaby Triana

An Interview with Horror Author MARK MATTHEWS

Today on the Witch Haunt, I sneak a peek into the mind of talented horror author from Detroit, MARK MATTHEWS. He's written several novels, including All Smoke Rises, Milk Blood, and Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror.

WH: Hi, Mark! Thanks for being here with me today. Won't you give us a brief introduction of your fabulous self?

I’m the author of a handful of books, and the editor, publisher and contributing author to Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror. I have a Masters in Counseling and I have worked for over 20 years in substance abuse treatment and behavioral health. I'm the father to two girls, love theater (I'm seeing Hamilton twice when it comes to Detroit), and I brush my teeth in the shower.

WH: LOVE that intro. :) So, if someone was new to reading the works of Mark Matthews, which book should they start with?

I think All Smoke Rises is my most creative, unique, and powerful piece. Many readers never realized it was a sequel to Milk-Blood, so reading Milk-Blood first would give it greater context, but it also serves as a stand-alone story.

WH: I will have to check both out. What other career would you have if not writing/publishing?

Writing and publishing is my second career, more of a hobby. “Hobbyist” is a term I cling to, despite others telling me I'm disparaging myself. It reminds me that I am doing this for fun, not to pay the bills. I’m the guy in his garage with carefully crafted pieces of woodwork and neighbors come by and say “Damn, that’s pretty cool, how much?” and I say, “hmmm… you want to buy this? I didn’t really create it to sell.” That said, any art needs an observer, or a reader, otherwise it is just a tree falling in the forest with nobody to hears, so I do my best to be read.

WH: I've always tried refraining from calling my work a "hobby," but now I see your point. Calling it a hobby keeps it fun, which is something I feel I've been missing lately. So thanks for that!

On your website, you wrote a piece about why you write horror that includes several confessions regarding fear, God, and past addictions. How do these themes work into the stories you write?

I try to follow the adage of “write the book only you could write” and access my worst fears, memories and life experiences. I am a recovering addict/alcoholic of 25 years, but the affliction still shapes me, both personally, and in the field of work I am in.

Writing from the wound means I access all the hurt inside and turn it inside out. There is something monstrous about addiction, trying to exist on a substance that is illegal, craving it the way a vampire craves blood or a zombie craves flesh. I have had those in recovery get offended by this, but there is always a prevailing compassion for the addict and their families in my stories. Horror has a unique opportunity to shine the light on our darkest parts. In all my fiction, characters are broken, fractured, but as Leonard Cohen writes, ‘there’s a crack in everything that’s how the light gets in’

WH: Congrats on still reclaiming your life 25 years later. I love your idea that horror is an exaggeration of fears and pain that already exist within the author. We're all broken in some way, aren't we? If you could interview any author, gone or alive, who would it be?

Man, this changes with the book I am reading. When I love a book, I want to talk to the author right then and there. That is the beauty of social media. I am one who feels a need to reach out to writers so I fan-boy all over them. I recently got a response from Gillian Flynn, and that made me shriek.

To actually answer the question, though; Edgar Allan Poe. So deep, so mysterious, perpetually tormented, and with a unique perspective of the human predicament.

WH: Both great authors who have given us much to think about! How have you changed as a write from when you started until now?

I am much more confident, not being “afraid to go there.” I use more scalpels on my sentences, and I’m also self-aware of where I go astray.

WH: What is something few people know about you? Any secret talents?

I can burb the alphabet. I was on stage in front of a hundred folks for a burping contest at a Renaissance Festival and took second place.

WH: Whoa, nice! Who’s your favorite Addams Family character?

Cousin Itt. I often speak in a squeaky language only few can understand and I am one hairy dude. I live among a lot of dark horror, but provide the comic relief.

WH: I love this, and I love how sometimes horror and comedy go hand in hand. How do you like your coffee? What’s your favorite dessert? (this is the food portion of the interview :))

I love Black Coffee first thing out of bed. Dark. Rich. Full dark, no stars. Same as my chocolate, which is my favorite dessert. I truly feel there is a connection between a chocolate rush and an opiate rush. Science confirms this.

WH: "Black Coffee" written as a proper noun says so much about your love for it. So, because this is a witchy blog, tell us what is the witchiest thing about you?

It was a sleepover (I love it already...) I was eight years old and sleeping in my basement. It was the darkest I thought was possible, and the dark seemed alive, as if there were creatures swimming in it, looking for prey, and I felt movement all around me. I knew I had to stay still, for that which was moving could not know I was alive, for if it did, it would suck me inside of it forever. I was under the covers hiding, trembling. It was then that I realized our house had been built just over Hell, and our basement had dug right inside.

Perhaps not witchy, but certainly supernatural.

WH: I would read this all the way to the end. Write a novel just for me? :D What do you feel makes a horror novel scary or compelling?

Investment in the character, what we do for that which we love, and what are we willing to endure to get it. I also love stories from the ‘monster's’ point of view. I don't read horror to feel scared, I read to feel compassion, to be reminded of our fragile nature. I think the best horror writers have the finest hearts around, and are particularly sensitive to what makes us damaged, and how to survive in a world that is constantly trying to hurt us.

WH: I tell people this all the time, that horror writers are some of the most sensitive people I know. You have to be, to identify deepest fears.

What is the most awesome thing happening in your life right now that you’d like to share with us? What’s next for you? We can’t wait to see what you have coming up!

I wish I could announce what I want to announce. I am working on an exciting as hell project but it’s too early to announce, publishing date is way off, and I also want to save myself from possible embarrassment if something falls through.

How about this: I am going to the Horror Writer’s Association conference, Stokercon, in May. I hope to be on a panel or two, and rub shoulders with every living soul I can find.

WH: Ooo...I wonder what it is. Maybe I'll find out in May if I bribe you with Black Coffee at StokerCon. Thanks for chatting with me today, Mark! And looking forward to new stories from your dark mind soon.

To follow Mark Matthews, visit the following links:

* Website: http://www.wickedrunpress.com/

* Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Mark-Matthews/e/B0058HDKC0

* Latest release: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078L2747N

* Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mark.matthews.3781995

* Twitter: https://twitter.com/matthews_mark

Mark Matthews is a graduate of the University of Michigan and a licensed professional counselor. He is the author of On the Lips of Children, All Smoke Rises, and Milk-Blood, as well as the editor of Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror. He lives near Detroit with his wife and two daughters. Reach him at WickedRunPress@gmail.com

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