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Interview with Matt Schiariti



 
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Zeddicus Zorander




Since Bloodletting is a writing site, we have lots of people here who are interested in writing their own stories. Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring authors?
Do what works for you. You’re likely to see a lot of people giving sage advice on the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to go about doing things, the right way to say things. There are plenty of methods out there by pros and semi-pros alike. Everybody does things a little differently, and the key is to find YOUR method. What work for someone else won’t always work for you. Also, if you’re planning to self-publish, get it as clean as possible before you upload it to Amazon, smashwords, wherever. The goal is to make it as pro as possible. The last thing you want is to upload what is essentially a working manuscript for people to buy. You only get one chance to make a first impression and readers—reviewers in particular—can be pretty unforgiving. People will be spending money for your work. You want to give them the highest quality product you can. If you can swing it, hire an editor. If you’ve got the means, get someone with experience to make a cover for you. These things go a looooong way.

When did you start writing?
I’m still green, as it were. Didn’t start writing until February 2012.

What made you decide to publish your book?
My first published short story, Hollow: Be Careful What You Wish For was pretty well received. It got mentioned by name in a few reviews so when I came up with the idea for Words With Fiends, I had it set in my mind that I was going to write it and self-publish it as a Kindle Single. Amazon rejected it, but that didn’t stop me. I felt that I had an entertaining story that was relevant so I’d sent it to a few people to proof read/check for holes/give feedback. Everyone who read it liked it so after some minor tweaking, I went ahead and did it. That’s enjoying some pretty good reviews. The story is similar for Ghosts of Demons Past. I’d written it in the spring of 2012. A friend of mine had the (dis)pleasure of reading it chapter by chapter as I completed them. He dug it. I sent it to another person. And another. And another. I went back and edited it about three times and let it sit. Then, earlier this year I went through it AGAIN and gave it a more thorough line edit, figuring that I’d grown a bit as a writer and I could make it even better. Once that was done, I sent it out to another ten or so beta readers. A few niggling issues aside, every single person liked it. Some even loved it. It made me think that maybe I was on to something so I hired a pro editor to go through it. She loved it as well, going so far as to read ahead as she neared the end just to see what happened, then going BACK to focus on the editing. The response has been pretty flattering to be honest. Being biased for obvious reasons, it’s no small surprise that I’m proud of the story, but to have so many diverse people read my debut novel and enjoy it? That right there let me know that all the time I’ve spent writing, tweaking, editing, etc, was well spent and that publishing it is the right move.

What motivates you to write?
I do. It’s got nothing to do with taking over the literary world one keystroke at a time, or being better than Writer X or Writer Y. It’s about me seeing if I can take the ideas in my head and make a coherent and enjoyable read out of them. Writing isn’t a competitive sport to me. If I can write something that I’m proud of and other people enjoy? That’s a win.

Do you ever feel frustrated with your work?
Never! And if you believe that, I have a nice bridge to sell you! ;) Seriously, I don’t know of any writer who doesn’t get frustrated with their work from time to time. I pummel myself with questions like “does this suck? Is this idea too trite? Could I have said this or that better?” There have been times where I’ve gotten so upset about the crap I’d been typing on a given day where I just threw my hands up in frustration and walked away, shaking my head. Don’t let anybody kid you. It happens to everyone.




What makes you keep writing when you get frustrated?
After my self-imposed pity party--and a lengthy cooling off period—I look back at the things I’ve actually completed. That shows me that I can get it done. Some stories just take more work than others.

How do you get over writer's block?
I step away. Completely. If I get to the point where I want to treat my laptop like a discus, I consider it a sign that it may be a good time to take a break. Could be that I’m forcing it, could be that the story needs more thought, whatever. Ghosts of Demons Past took me about 4 or so months to write, but I wasn’t working on it every day. I didn’t outline it so plenty of hazy areas cropped up . There were times when I’d get to a sticking point and wouldn’t touch it for a week or ten days. Rather than sit and stare at the computer, spiraling deeper and deeper into a pure, seething hatred of a story that wasn’t working out, I took a break, thought it through and came back when I had a solve for that particular problem. Mind you, writing isn’t my career. I have a 9 to 5. Writing stories or books is something I do in my spare time so I have the luxury of no deadlines and I can get away with taking a long hiatus if I need to. That won’t work for everyone, but it’s what’s worked for me so far.

How do you handle negative reviews of your books?
Ah, the infamous bad review! Something every writer will have to deal with sooner or later if they plan to publish, independently or otherwise. You can’t take it personally. Bad reviews are one of those things you have to try to shrug off. When you put yourself out there, sooner or later someone is going to outright hate it. It can be a learning experience though. Sometimes, even in the most scathing review, there could be points made which you can learn from and use as a tool to improve what you do later down the line. Don’t discount them just because they’re negative. There's a lot of distractions around, especially with social media, how do you block it all out and write? Some days are easier than others. If you have little kids in the house, you know there’s rarely a quiet moment. My son (Vincent, but you may call him Babyface Vinster) was born right around the time I started getting serious about line editing Ghost of Demons Past. Social media was nothing compared to that! But, you have to find the quiet times to work away as they come. Another pearl of easier said than done wisdom, courtesy of me, Captain Obvious. Insofar as Facebook, cellphones, etc. I tend to shut all that stuff down or, if I’m really in the zone, forget I’d left them running in the background in the first place.

What do you enjoy, outside of writing?
Read, read, read! Par for the course, right? My main hobby besides reading would be playing guitar. I’ve been playing for about twenty years now. It’s one of the few hobbies that ever stuck like that. Outside of that, I like movies, TV, music, friends, family, long walks on the beach, bathed in the pale light of the moon….erum…anyway, nothing too exciting here.

What's something about you that most people don't know?
I own hermit crabs…they’re named after Star Trek characters. O_o

What is the chance of you including a platypire in one of your upcoming books?
Is this a test? Like, if I don’t give the desired answer, will my interview be pulled? While I’m not sure about platypires, there will be hooligans. Oh yes. There will be hooligans.MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.

Have you ever had to rewrite portions of a book because the characters decided to be someone else than you intended?
Yep. It hasn’t been a common theme but I’ve run across it. I had that happen in Ghosts of Demons Past. The changes were minor, but I had to revamp a thing or two about my villain after the book was completed.

Where do you come up with the names for your stories?
I like puns and plays on words, but the titles evolve from the story idea. Words With Fiends came pretty easily since it’s centered around Words With Friends. Most times, I come up with the title before I’ve even got the plot worked out, just based on the idea and where I’d like it to go, what it’s going to be about. Titles can come about from a critical line of dialogue in the story I want everything to center around. Ghosts, however, turned out to be the exception to that rule. It didn’t come easily and I beat myself up over the title for months. No lie. I’d tell you some of the others that preceded it but you’d probably mock and make fun. And I wouldn’t blame you either. They were awful.

There are five races on Bloodletting: Angel, Slayer, Vampire, Witch, and Werewolf. Which would you pick? Slayer, which I’m assuming is the ‘tank’ character.
Even back in my D&D days, I liked building up fighters. Nothing quite says ‘bad ass’ like an enchanted, +2 b@stard sword and having the strength to utilize it to its fullest, deadliest capability.


GHOSTS OF DEMON'S PAST- PROLOGUE:



Drip. Drop.
Drip. Drop.
That was all I could hear as I came to. The sounds of liquid splashing were like gunshots in the otherwise quiet room.
I could feel something wet on my face but realized that my wrists were bound behind me when I tried to move them. The harder I struggled, the more the duct tape cut into my flesh.
Once I was able to get my eyes open, I could see what the dripping noise was.
The image was fuzzy at first but eventually came into focus. Liquid was falling from my face, collecting in a shiny crimson pool between my black combat boots.
Blood.
My blood.
I shook my head to get my shaggy black hair out of my face, but it was stringy and sluggish, like I had a dead octopus made of sweat camping on my dome. And, damn, did my head hurt like hell. Every time I moved, it was like someone was exploding C4 inside my skull, making pain resonate all through my body and making my heartbeat ring in my ears.
At least I still had a heartbeat, though.
I took in my surroundings. I wasn’t just in a room. I was on a floor of some giant, abandoned warehouse. Steel beams and joists showed through the water-damaged ceiling. The drywall was torn off of most of the walls, exposing old, deteriorating insulation. The floor-to-ceiling windows that lined the walls were painted over, allowing only some weak light to filter in—just enough to show how dingy my surroundings were. The whole damn room was just varying shades of rust brown. In between the shadows, it looked like dried blood. The red pool between my feet would probably fit right in, given some time.
A naked bulb cast a small pool of light in front of me. Not five feet away was a metal folding chair, just like the one I was sitting in. Whoever it was there for was nowhere to be seen.
I tried to maneuver myself to get a better look, but my body was just one giant sack of bruised meat. To make matters worse, I couldn’t even remember how I got here.
“Where the **** am I?” I asked nobody in particular.
“You certainly aren’t in Kansas anymore, Mr. Gabriel.”
The reply came from all around me. The way the sound bounced around the room, I couldn’t tell from where it originated. It was female, though; that much I could tell. Definitely female. Was that a good thing or a bad thing? Judging by the fact that I was beat up, bloody, and bound with industrial-strength duct tape, it probably didn’t matter.
The sound of my blood falling to join the party in the pool at my feet was replaced by the sound of footsteps. High heels to be exact. There’s no mistaking the sound of a wooden heel reporting on bare concrete. They were slow and measured, echoing throughout the massive empty, shadowed space. Whoever they belonged to was in no rush.
Not a good sign for me.
“Tsk, tsk, tsk, Mr. Gabriel.” The deep, yet completely feminine, voice emanated from the shadows around me. “Or can I call you Seth? Yes. I like the sound of that better, don’t you? So much more…personal.” I detected the sound of a smile. Something told me it wasn’t a pleasant one.
“You just never know when to quit, do you, Ssseth?” The snake-like voice floated around me in the open space.
“Losing is for losers, and winners play to win,” I grunted.
That was a mistake.
She was on me in an instant. Her hand connected with my already wrecked face. The slap sent me reeling back, chair and all.
Note to self. Never crack wise when you’re tied to a chair in some non-descript abandoned warehouse with an apparent psychopath.
The force of the blow added to the mass of fire that was my face. Even the cool concrete couldn’t take away the white hot pain, pain so intense it made me throw up. It pooled in front of me, smelling like wet pennies and tequila.
The woman’s leather-clad arm emerged from the shadows and effortlessly set the chair back to rights…with me in it.
“Sseth,” she said, sounding pouty. I still couldn’t see her face. Her back was to me as she walked to the chair set up under the naked bulb. “Why must you make me hurt you so?”
“Would it help if I said I was sorry?” My voice didn’t sound right. I ran my thick tongue over my lips and found out why; my mouth was a craggy landscape of weeping cuts. It stung just to lick them.
“No,” she said over her shoulder. “Nothing short of a miracle can help you now, Seth.” She didn’t sound too broken up over it either.
She turned her chair around and positioned it so it was fully under the bulb. With the grace and delicacy of a dancer, she threw her leg over the back of it and sat down, resting her arms on the back. I took her in: long red hair framing a lovely face with just the hint of crow’s feet at the corners of her green eyes; full mouth with even white teeth; small, button nose. Dressed in her black leather biker gear—which was more or less spray-painted onto her lithe body—she’d be the kind of girl I’d like to bang. A lot. And often. But as the soupy fog that gripped my brain began to clear, I could see her for what she really was. I could remember her for what she really was. I could remember everything.
Her green eyes weren’t green. They were smoldering, like the color of a sunset just before the great big ball of fire that gives us life surrenders to night. What would look like even, white teeth to anybody else were actually two rows of razor sharp fangs.
No, the sulfur-smelling thing in front of me wouldn’t win any beauty pageants. Not anymore.
“What’s wrong, Seth? You don’t like my human vessel?” She ****ed her head at me. “I will make many men beg in this form. Beg…and scream.” Her long forked tongue played over her fangs.
“I like your human vessel just fine. At least until you squatted in there and ****ed it all up.”
“I would really hate to further damage your otherwise handsome face, human,” she said through narrowed, fiery eyes.
“Somehow I doubt that.”
“You would be correct.” She stood up from her chair in a lightning quick motion and hurled it backwards. The chair blasted through a blacked-out window with a deafening crash, pale moonlight finding its way through the gaping hole.
I’d obviously pissed her off.
Not good.
Very not good.
Her fists were curled into little balls of hate, the sound of her leather riding gloves creaking in the near-soundless room as she stalked towards me. The leather hugging her hips and chest made it hard not to look. Luckily I could see her evil-assed face for what it was. That’s always good for keeping my herculean libido down.
“You and I are going to have some fun, Seth,” she hissed in my face, inches away, her breath saturated with sulfur.
“Charades? Maybe Uno?” Sometimes I just didn’t learn. Sure, I sounded brave, but I was ****ting my pants. Whatever she was going to do, I just wished she’d do it. I’m not a big fan of long torture sessions. And as I looked into her eyes with the flames dancing chaotically in them, I knew that’s exactly what she had in mind.
She took off a leather glove and revealed dangerously sharp talons.
“I will so enjoy making you bleed, Seth. I will relish tearing you limb from limb. Slowly. You will beg me for death. You will do anything I want to bring an end to the pain. But I will not allow it. Your begging? Your pleading? They will mean nothing to me. Your pain and your screaming, however…” She threw her head back and laughed. Her voice went from deep and almost sultry to unearthly and guttural as her demonic face filled my vision and said, “Will be the stuff of legend.”
My name is Seth Gabriel. I’m in deep ****.

For those of you who like to win FREE STUFF:
http://bloodlettingrpg.blogspot.com/2013/06/blog-post.html
June 09, 2013 11:38 am

-Belinda-

While his stories are a bit darker than my liking, I'm so glad to see that I am not alone in finding that my characters turn out to be something other than what was originally planned! I often find that while a story may start out one way, the characters take on a life of their own, and do things their own way. Or, maybe I really am just crazy. LOL

June 09, 2013 01:41 pm

Nix Valari

I'm not normally a fan of horror, but he asked me if I would do a review for his books - so I accepted.  I was impressed, both times.  Especially with GoDP... which needs a sequel!

June 09, 2013 01:51 pm

Severian

Very good interview, and I loved that excerpt too! I want to read more now. June 09, 2013 02:20 pm

Nathaniel Wolfwood

Great Interview

June 09, 2013 02:37 pm

Nathaniel Tallios

This was a good interview and I feel nervous that there's gonna be hooligans in an upcoming book.

June 09, 2013 04:20 pm

Alexander Verictus

Very good interview! I'll definitely be looking for more books soon!

June 09, 2013 06:15 pm

Viva La Keivida

I absolutely love original horror stories. They're pretty rare seeing as it feels like once you've read a dozen, you've read them all. I'm interested in reading more now. lol 

June 09, 2013 09:25 pm

Karmil Zila

Awesome intereview and an even better writter! I've seen him around lately and have been wanting to give his stuff a shot, this was just what I needed! 

June 10, 2013 08:33 am

Miah Michelle

Great interview I can not wait to read his books

June 10, 2013 08:51 am

Twisted_Syn

Great interview

June 10, 2013 09:37 am

Necrilis

Good interview, liked words with fiends. June 10, 2013 11:27 am

Lenny Shultz

Great interview and a wonderful excerpt. June 10, 2013 03:31 pm

Fera Stillborn

Blood and guts? This pleases me.

June 12, 2013 09:15 pm

Araignee Venimeuse

Something I'd read at night, by candle light, when I'm all alone, so every noise I hear gives me goosebumps! *snickers*

June 14, 2013 10:39 am
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