Author Interview: Matthew Dale

(Note: Kelly is written by Kelly Blanchard, and Matthew is written by Matthew Dale.)

Kelly looked around the garden of Cuskelom—away from the palace itself. Mist rose from the creek, but dew hung heavy to the leaves of trees and plants. She wondered what the forest looked like through eyes of magic as her character, Lorrek, often saw, and she made a note to ask him sometime, but approaching footsteps informed her she was no longer alone.

Turning, she saw Prince Heldon leading her visitor to her. Not many guests ventured this far into the wooded part of the gardens, but it surprised her that Heldon was here. Usually Lorrek liked meeting those she brought over from her own world, so she looked at Heldon puzzled. “Where’s your brother?”

Heldon gave an wave of his hand. “Magicked away. He said there was something he needed to take care of, but here, I brought your guest unhindered.” He smiled as he motioned to Matthew Dale.

Kelly nodded her thanks and greeted Matthew with a smile. “Hi! I’m glad we managed to fit this interview in the schedule. Timing can be chaotic.” She then gestured to the man beside him. “And that is Prince Heldon—twin to Honroth, King of Cuskelom. They’re characters in my story ‘Someday I’ll Be Redeemed’, and they’re very gracious to let me borrow their gardens…and library, and study for these interviews.” Her smile brightened.

Matthew nodded politely and bowed to his escort, and Kelly both. “Thank you, I am grateful that you were willing to work with me. It’s difficult trying to get free time with a new job.” He turned to Prince Heldon, “And you, your, Highness, thank you for your hospitality.” He stops, surveying the woods truly for the first time, taking in the sights, sounds and smells. “This is truly one of the more beautiful place I’ve been to in quite some time.”

“Oh, that is not the best part of it.” Heldon smirked, but Kelly gave him a stern look.

“Shh! And shoo!” She waved away the prince. “I’m going to show what you’re talking about. Don’t spoil anything.”

Prince Heldon laughed but then bowed his head to his author before nodding to Matthew. “Have a fantastic conversation.” With that, he left, and Kelly focused on her guest.

“So yeah, if you want to see something neat, follow me. We can talk while we walk.” When he nodded, Kelly turned and led the way—leaping over the small creek and heading deeper into the woods.

In the shadows of the forest garden, Kelly let her mind wonder through questions she would ask Matthew. “So, how long have you been writing?” She cast him a glance as they walked.

Matthew smiled, already excited by the sense of mystery surrounding this place and eagerly followed Kelly deeper into the forest. “Actually, I’ve been writing off and on since the third grade.” Matthew said, stumbling a little as he tried to jump across the creek, clearly lacking the grace of his host.

“But have you become more steady with your writing?” Kelly raised her brows, ducking under a branch as she continued on her path.

Matthew chuckled, “Yes, I have actually! I try to set aside aside at least one day a week where I can sit down and write.” He said, gazing up at the canopy of the trees. “It would be more if I didn’t have to spend so much time away from home.”

“Do you have a smartphone? You can always write that. Not easy, but it’s doable.” Kelly shrugged, and finally they headed up a hill in the woods.

“That…is not a bad idea actually!” Matthew stopped in his tracks as he processed the idea. After a moment he realized he was falling behind and picked up his pace.

Kelly looked back at him and lifted her brows. “You honestly haven’t thought of that before?” She then glanced ahead once more and shrugged. “I’ve written novels on my iPhone—emailing my writing to myself. It’s not a lot, but at least it’s something.”

At last, they came to the top of the hill, and Kelly moved aside to let Matthew step beside her and look down. “There—the Garden of Ruins. This seems to be a favorite place for those who know of it.”

At the bottom of the hill stood the ruins of a small castle—most of the walls were broken down, but one tower remained intact while archways and pillars still stood. Grass and tree roots cracked the foundation of the castle, and vines draped from pillar to pillar and crept up the archways.

“Nope, never. I’ve gotten so used to a keyboard and pen and paper that I hadn’t even considered my phone…” Matthew trailed off as the ruins came into view. He stood beside Kelly, jaw agape, remembering his last experience in ruins like these. After a moment he finally managed to utter “Wow!”

Chuckling, Kelly motioned for him to follow her down into the ruins. “This is older than the kingdom of Cuskelom itself. No one really knows what its function was. A castle being at the bottom of the hill isn’t necessarily the best tactical defense…” She shrugged as they stepped into the ruins.

“You’re welcome to explore, but if you fall and hurt yourself…” Kelly placed a hand on her hip. “Well, I’d ask Lorrek to heal you, but he’s away right now, so be careful—and within hearing range, so I can continue asking questions.”

She watched as he began to explore but voiced another question, “So, you said you’ve been writing since third grade but have gotten more serious about it. What inspired you to get more serious about writing?”

Matthew let out a laugh as he followed. “If I fall and hurt myself, I can walk you through how to patch me up at least, unless I’m unconscious, in which case I’m just screwed.” He climbed up onto a crumbled section of wall, still within line of sight of Kelly as he considered her question. “Honestly? I got more serious about writing because it was a tool to procrastinate from my school work.” Matthew walked along the wall, keeping his arms outstretched to keep his balance. “My college classes were either too simple, or too complex. It was no challenge, or too much challenge. I would sit in class and daydream, and before I knew it, I had three or four different stories running through my head. I needed a way to get them out.” He hopped down, dropping to a knee and bracing with his hands to keep from eating dirt, and stood up beside his host. “After a while, it wasn’t just procrastination anymore. I was doing it because I needed to get these characters, these stories on paper.”

“Writing as a means of procrastination?” Kelly laughed as she moved to sit on a huge boulder and folded her arms. “I must say, I have never heard that one before. Most writer procrastinate from writing, but I’m glad you, at least, chose a good form of procrastination. So, do you read a lot then? Or are you too busy writing?” Her eyes sparkled with humor because she knew the latter was true for her.

Matthew propped himself against a wall and faced Kelly. He smiled and laughed with her. “Actually, yes. I’ve always loved to read. Sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, classics. If I have the choice of spending hours reading a good book, or watching Netflix, I’ll take the book. Every time. Now my day off for writing is exclusively for that. I may turn on the TV for background noise, but most likely, I have music on instead.”

Kelly leaned forward, clasping her hands together getting into the conversation. “Then tell me, of ALL the books you’ve read, what is one scene that you can vividly remember? Preferably something that’s not something you read recently.”

Matthew interlaced is fingers behind his head, and leaned back, gazing skyward as he considered her question. “There are a couple actually. The first book I ever read on my own was White Fang, by Jack London. That’s really where all of it began for me. Reading, writing, everything. The scene near the end, where White Fang has been taken into this man’s home, and saves his life from an attacker always stuck with me.” Matthew stopped to stretch, and popped his back and neck. “The other one is from the Dresden Files. Harry is quoting Tolkien about Wizards being subtle and quick to anger. He says Tolkien was only half right. He blasts open a door with magic and…” Matthew pauses, trying to find a way to edit the quote into a more appropriate word for being in the presence of a lady. After a moment he finally says, “‘Screw Subtle’ I started laughing uncontrollably.”

Kelly laughed. “I’ve never read the Dresden Files, but I saw clips of the show. It looked great!” Finally she pulled back and conjured another question. “So what kind of writing do you do? Short stories? Novels? What exactly?”

“It started off as short stories when I was little. The first thing I ever wrote was a story about being a fighter pilot. It was terrible, but I was little, so it’s okay. In middle school it was fan fiction, I was a huge Resident Evil fan, so that’s what I wrote about. In High School and College is when I really started trying to write a novel. I actually have four of them in the works right now.”

“Have you finished any novels yet?”

Matthew cringes a little at the question and looks down at the ground. “I’m ashamed to say I haven’t. The farthest I’ve gotten is about a quarter of the way through my Fantasy novel. One of my weaknesses as a writer is an extremely overactive imagination. One minute, I’ll be writing fantasy, the next minute I’ll have a squad of Colonial Marines boarding a derelict ship floating in deep space, and a few minutes later, it will be a masked vigilante assaulting a drug den. And that’s just the ones that I’m actively working on.”

“Hey,” she waited until he lifted his gaze to look at her. “It’s okay.” She smiled reassuringly “It’s hard work to complete a novel. I have over 10,000 files in my computer that are stories of mine, and I’m willing to bet over half of those are unfinished.” She shook her head but then shrugged. “So, you said you’re working on four novels at once. No idea how you do that.” Kelly braced her hands on her knees as she sat on the boulder, and she stared up at the kaleidoscope sky through the trees before casting her gaze back at Matthew and smiling. “I have a very active imagination too but have a hard time focusing on more than one story. Is there one of the four you hope to publish first?” She raised her brows.

Matthew allowed himself a smile, her reassurance was oddly comforting. “My fantasy novel is the one I’m really hoping to finish and publish first. It’s really the star out of all of them. I’ve put the most time, effort, and research into it, and I’m more invested in those characters than any other.” Matthew reached into his pocket and pulled out an almond bar. Breaking it in half, he offered a piece to Kelly as he took a bite from the other.

While Kelly appreciated the offer, she shook her head but then realized what time it was and frowned. “We need to head back. Our time is about up.” She cast her gaze at their surroundings and sighed. “I could totally spend all day here, but oh well! I’ll be coming back. Sorry you won’t be!” She slid off the boulder and motioned for him to join her as she led the way out of here. “Since we only have a brief time, tell me a bit about this story of yours.”

Matthew followed, not allowing his posture or face to betray the profound disappointment he felt that his time here was nearing it’s end. “My working title for it is ‘The Apostate Saga’ it follows an elven sorcerer, Raynor,  who was born in a human controlled nation. This country fears magic, and heavily controls its usage. Anyone with magic, who doesn’t register with the Temple of the Six, their religious establishment, is subjected to some pretty harsh punishments.”

Kelly nodded as she listened. “There’s lots of competition trying to get fantasy works published.” She glanced his way as they neared the small creek. “What do you think makes yours stand out from the rest?”

“Well, I’m trying to get away from the Tolkien stereotype elves. The tall, blonde, immortal artisans who excel at everything they do. In my book, the elves are based more on a mix of Celtic and Viking cultures. They’re warriors, and raiders. They lack the immortality of typical elves, and are more varied in their appearance.” Matthew saw the creek up ahead and was determined to clear it this time, without tripping in front of Kelly again. He allowed himself a small running start, and jumped. his landing is sloppy, but he cleared the creek without falling.

Shaking her head, Kelly merely jumped over it. The creek reminded her much of the one in her woods back home, but she saw Heldon ahead, ready to escort Matthew out of the garden. She nodded to him, acknowledging him, but then focused on Matthew once more. “Well, that sounds fantastic! And I hope you the very best. It’s been quite a pleasure talking with you.” She smiled.

Matthew turned to face her one last time. He extended his hand to shake hers and bow once more. “The pleasure has been all mine, Kelly. I only wish we had had more time. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I hope you have a good day, and that we might speak again soon.” Matthew looked up and smiled at her one last time, before turning to acknowledge Heldon. He nodded at his escort out and turned back one last time, to wave and bid Kelly farewell.

Kelly waved as well and watched him go. This had been a fun chat.

<~>~<~>~<~>

Note: Matthew’s story ‘The Apostate Saga’ is still in the process of being written, but he plans to have the first draft completed by the end of the year. Meanwhile, follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

Facebook: Matthew Dale’s Author Page

Twitter: MatthewDale221

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