Geoff Matthews began reading in the cot. His mother, at her wits end with the constant noise and unceasing activity, would plop him down on the soft mattress with an encyclopaedia full of pictures then quietly slip from the room. His father, ever the pragmatist, declared, that they should, “throw the noisy bugger out of the window.” Happily this event never came to pass (or if it did Geoff bounced well).
Growing up, he spent Sunday afternoons on the sofa watching westerns and Bond movies with the self-same parent who had once wished to defenestrate him. When not watching the six-gun heroes or spies being out-acted by their own eyebrows he devoured books like a hungry wolf in the dead of winter. Beginning with Patrick Moore and Arthur C Clarke he soon moved on to Isaac Asimov.
However, one wet afternoon in a book shop in his home town, not far from the standing stones of Avebury, he came across a book by David Eddings – and soon Sci-Fi gave way to Fantasy. Many years later, Geoff finally realised a dream and published his own fantasy novel, The Stone Road, in the hopes that other hungry wolves out there would find a hearty meal.
You can follow him on twitter @G_R_Matthews or visit his website.
You can also find him writing for Fantasy Faction.
I had the pleasure of meeting Geoff recently at a sci-fi meet up organised by Fantasy Faction and he was such a lovely guy – humourous, humble and just an all around great guy to talk to.
I hadn’t heard of Geoff’s books before this meeting (bad I know!) but then I don’t know every author in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi world and there is always more to know. I found that Geoff’s first book The Stone Road was self-published in the latter part of 2013 and is the first in a trilogy with a fantasy twist on kung-fu. The trilogy is complete and you can pick it up on Amazon UK.
His next books are the Corin Hayes series beginning with Silent City (you can check my review for this in the next few days so watch this space!) which follows a down-on-his-luck ex-soldier with a very unique job skill. You can pick up Silent City from Amazon.
Hi Geoff! I hope you’re well. You’re my first self-published author that I’ve done an Introduces post for and I hope that everything goes smoothly!
The most obvious question I feel I should ask an author is why write a book? Why not take up bungee jumping or something similar?
I tried bungee jumping… all right, I didn’t, so I had to write a book. There is a long answer to this question and a short answer. I’ll try for the short one…
I’ve been reading since I can remember and sometime before that if my mother is to believed; sci-fi and fantasy in the main.
Writing books is something I aspired to the moment I learned to scribble with crayon upon paper – I think my mother still has some of my first stories in her loft (attic). If I recall correctly, it was something to do with a trip to the moon and a battle with the aliens there. I should have been writing about a day in the life of a teddy-bear or something like that, but I’m sure the teacher understood (maybe).
There is something about creating a story and characters, a new world. It is a magical experience, if by magical I mean damn hard, infuriating, exasperating, annoying, and a struggle… but it is magical. You start with nothing and, at the end, you have a completed book that you hope someone else will enjoy.
I can lose myself to writing, and the reader (I hope (again)) escapes into the story.
Where did the idea for The Forbidden List come from? I know it’s based on a Far-East feel and contains kung-fu but what made the Far-East your go-to setting?
Did you not know that I was a fully trained Ninja? Of course you didn’t. I keep that a secret! Oh… damn!
The Forbidden List came from one line in a history book about China. A throwaway mention of an old myth where two cities who have been at war for decades decide to sign a peace treaty and build a road… that was it. The rest of the world, the characters, the story came from that one line.
I’ve studied Judo, Kung-Fu and Wing Chun (not to any great level – I’m no Ip Man, Bruce Lee or Jason Statham (though my hair line is heading that way), I am more a Mr Bean or Condorman) and I was always fascinated by martial arts movies from Asia.
For those of us in the Western world there is something ‘alien’ about China and the Far-East, something exotic and magical, otherworldly. There are a wealth of myths, legends, characters and settings to explore. All I tried to do was bring a little western-ish fantasy to the Far East setting, to make it more accessible but maintaining the mystical otherness of the ancient East.
I knew I didn’t want to write a book set in Medieval Europe; there are quite a few of them. The world of the Forbidden List is a little ‘niche’ and I knew it would be a harder sell, but why the hell not go for it. The Fantasy-Faction book club seemed to enjoy it though… so it can’t be that bad!
In the Corin Hayes series, the third book of which you’re working on now, where did the idea for sub-ocean living come from?
Good question. Erm… Corin began as a short story. The first 5K or so and then he just hung around in my head. Whispering to me. Asking me to finish his story and by the way did I know where the bar was and could I spot him a few quid for a beer?
He was an experiment, a broken hero who isn’t a hero. Inspiration can be traced back to Jack Reacher, Seaquest DSV, Bioshock, the Man from Atlantis, 20,000 leagues under the sea, Dirk Pitt raising the titanic and an old Ladybird book about the deep sea.
I was teaching Creative Writing at the time of the first book and trying to get my fantastic pupils to explore plotting and setting, using Television shows as examples. Find the successful shows and isolate what make them so great. So there is something of 80s TV shows and Noir detective in Silent City. Plus, with Corin, I get to say all the things he (I) thinks and wished I could say… humour, snark, anger, annoyance and sarcasm. It is all there. Sorry.
If there was one character of yours you’d redo who would it be and why?
One character? Do I parachute out to safety here and say there is one in the book I am working on or go for honesty? Hell.
Honestly, probably I’d do a little more work on the Duke and Jiao in The Stone Road. It was my first book and while I’m totally happy with the way the characters developed throughout the book, I think there is some more foreshadowing I could do for both. Just hints of character and flaw that would bring them out a little more. A touch here and there.
What is your favourite book of all time or your top five? We all know its hard to pick more than one.
Top Five… you’re good with the tough questions, aren’t you!
Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings because it really lit that fantasy spark back in the mid-80s (yes, I am that old).
Magician by Raymond E Fiest. The scene at the end when Pug comes into his power is just incredible. What a pay off!
Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett (wipes away a tear). Million to one chances work nine times out of ten; scientifically proven, you know. Well, magically proven anyway.
Daughter of the Empire by Janny Wurts. Telling the other side of the story from the Magician was such a masterstroke and the story just carries you along.
Now it is the tough pick between Master of the Five Magics by Lyndon Hardy or The Wizards and the Warriors by Hugh Cook… I … I … can’t choose. I’m taking them both and you can’t stop me!! *Grabs the books and runs for the door!*
Favourite animal and why? Mine is a chameleon because they’re just amazing creatures.
I’m going to have to say… Panther, or Wolf… or Shark (though they scare the everything out of me). Scorpions scare me too, but I reckon a hefty whack with a shoe could deal with one of them. It would have less impact on the shark.
Anyway favourite; Tardigrade, those little things can survive almost anything. Incredible things that we can learn a helluva lot from!
Your website says you’ve finished book three of Corin Hayes, is that going to be the last or will there be more?
The last? No chance. I love writing Corin… not constantly mind. There is a whole flooded world to explore and a tonne of misadventures to go through. I get accused of putting Corin ‘through it’ in the books, but he wouldn’t have it any other way… well, maybe with a beer and whiskey chaser.
Each book can be read on its own and in any order, that’s the aim, though are two long arcs that run through the books; Who killed Tyler and what is everyone after? There are, I sincerely hope, little clues in each book that come together in your mind as you read. At some time, there will be a book that draws one or both of those together… in the future though. Oh, and if you’ve read the Forbidden List books too… well, I am just saying… *winks*
Inquiring minds want to know what you have up your sleeve next.
As I tend to work on two books at a time. I know it is strange, but while I am writing/editing one, the other is there fermenting in the back of my mind, appearing as notes in my writing journal or even on the computer as a first draft. For instance, I am editing Corin 3 (Three Times the Trouble) and have 60K written of my new series which I am describing as the ATeam meets World of Warcraft.
As I told my pupils in Creative Writing class – ideas are easy; the writing is tough.