Joining Curiosity Quills for another edition of our Author Spotlight: Question & Answer Coloumn, is Matthew S. Cox, author of newly released cyberpunk novel, DAUGHTER OF ASH, which hit Amazon on March 7, 2017!
In the comments, please join us in asking Matthew S. Cox anything you’d like to know about writing, his new book, and life in New Jersey. Or you know, just throw something completely random at him to keep him on his toes!
Who are you and where do you call home right now?
My name is Matthew S. Cox. I’m from New Jersey, currently living in Parlin/Sayreville, but originally from South Amboy. I spent about five years living in Quakertown, PA, but wound up back in NJ.
Tell us about your latest book: your inspiration for it, how you got through your most difficult challenge in writing it, and what you love about it?
My latest book, Daughter of Ash, is the fourth book (of 6) in the Awakened series. The idea for this series came from my roleplaying game habit. One of the systems I run (Divergent Fates) is the basis for the setting. When I first started to get serious about writing, I figured since I’d already spent twenty some odd years developing a world and backstory for it, it would be a good idea to use that world as a backdrop. As far as the Awakened storyline goes, it is loosely based on a story I ran for the game, though the way the plot of the books unfold is quite different from how that game went. Kate, the main character from Daughter of Ash had a rather minor role in the game, as the players found her when she was only 7 (but still a deadly pyrokinetic). She had been more or less found, saved from the street, and kept safe away from the action. Obviously that wouldn’t have made for much of a story, so the Kate in this book is 25 and fully part of the conflict between Archon and Division 0.
So far I think the most difficult challenge I’ve had with this series is waiting for the release dates. The sixth book is still quite a ways off despite being written. But to get to the spirit of the question, I think the most challenging aspect of Daughter of Ash was dealing with a character who can’t touch anything without destroying it, and trying to convey that sense of total isolation.
I feel rather awkward being asked what I love about it - it’s like asking an author to rate their own book. However, I will say Kate has one of the more pronounced evolutions of the characters. Her personality at the beginning of the book is not who she is at the end.
What are a few of your hobbies?
As I mentioned above, roleplaying games. (Mostly custom systems). I’m also fond of video games, though I haven’t spent too much time on them in recent years since writing has become my drug of choice.
If you had your own food truck, what would it serve?
Probably either an array of soups or a bunch of healthy-ish grilled chicken dishes.
What do you want to get better at doing, writing-wise?
They say the mirror is distorted, so I can’t say anything sticks out to me in particular - so I’ll answer this by saying “everything,” all aspects of writing. The more we write, the more we learn and there isn’t a point where we’re ‘finished’ learning.
What TV series are you into right now and why?
I watched enough TV as an 8-20 year old to last a lifetime. Much past 20, I haven’t been too into watching TV, mostly because I’ve been busy with other things. The most recent series I watched were Stranger Things and Sense8 (both Netflix).
What movie do you quote the most?
What do you collect, even a little bit? Tell us about your favorite one.
The only thing that comes even close for me insofar as ‘collecting’ goes would probably be image files to be used for character sheets. I’m not sure I can pick a favorite, but you can find them here: https://www.pinterest.com/matthewcox10420/fantasy-artwork/
What’s your preferred genre of book when you just want to escape?
Fantasy or Cyberpunk.
What do you like to do on vacation?
If I ever go on one, I’ll let you know : ). Typically when I have time off I wind up writing.
Is there another genre you’ve been itching to write in?
I’ve written sci fi, cyberpunk, fantasy, post-apoc, YA horror, YA contemporary, MG fantasy, and sci fi horror. I keep having this idea for a story that feels like lit-fic but I’m not sure if I’ll ever get around to pursuing it. Also, after reading JP Sloan’s YEA THOUGH I WALK, I have a small temptation to give ‘western horror’ a try, but again, not sure if I will chase that cat.
What unusual object do you like to bring with you if you leave the house?
An enchanted nugget of pocket lint blessed by a conclave of Zoroastrian mystics drunk on fermented goat’s milk. It’s supposed to bring luck, but they didn’t specify it would be ‘good.’
If you had a champion racing pigeon, what would you name it and what would its tagline be?
I’d name him Ares, and his tagline would be “He’ll get there… eventually.”
Finally, give us one recommendation for something - movie, TV, game, food - that you enjoyed recently.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie that really blew me away. The last film I saw like that would have to be the Lord of the Rings movies. (Not the subsequent Hobbit films). TV though, I’d have to say Stranger Things. As a child of the 80s, it hit all the nostalgia buttons. I had a reviewer of my book Nine Candles of Deepest Black make a comparison to Stranger Things in his review (though I had written that book long before I even knew about ST).
About Daughter of Ash
Designed to be the perfect assassin, Kate is as beautiful as she is deadly―everything she touches, burns.
The government attempted to engineer a pyrokinetic the likes of which the world had never seen, but their plans went awry. Her power to command fire as a living extension of her psyche was more than they had hoped for, except for one problem. Her skin is hot enough to destroy most materials on contact. Useless for infiltration, they declared the project a failure and slated her for disposal at the age of seven.
Years after escaping, she hides on the outskirts of society in the shadows of East City. A chance encounter brings her under the wing of a Syndicate underboss, El Tío. Kate kills without hesitation to earn the favor of the only person ever to show her kindness, but her happiness is as false as her holographic clothing.
An eerie figure interrupts her routine with a promise of an end to her curse, if she joins The Awakened―a group of psionics as powerful as she. To find them, she must travel thousands of miles across the country, but her uncontrollable ‘gift’ leaves her no option but to walk. Desperate for human contact, Kate throws herself into the Badlands, unconcerned with danger.
Cured or dead… Either way she wins.
The next installment awaits...Author Spotlight Question and Answer: Bob Defendi