Today I'm interviewing Matthew Cox, author of Division Zero and Virtual Immortality! I was the proofreader for both books for Curiosity Quills, and they have a fantastic combination of paranormal and sci-fi elements.
Now: onto the interview!
Tell me three interesting facts about yourself!
Hmm. I don't really consider myself all that interesting, but I'll try. :) I'm a cat person - I've had at least one cat as a pet since I was about fourteen. I've been a fan of roleplaying games since grade school and have generally preferred to make up my own games/worlds rather than use off-the-shelf systems. In one year, I broke my addiction to WoW, lost over 100 pounds, and wrote two novels.
Summarize your book in one line.
Nina Duchenne, a once-idealistic government agent, pursues a pair of foreign spies--hoping to stop them before losing what's left of her humanity.
Tell me something cool/crazy/quirky about the book – it can be anything!
Virtual Immortality was my first attempt at writing a novel-length story after a long lazy period without much writing. The storyline was initially conceived as a plot for my tabletop RPG, and the first outline encompassed everything and would have resulted in a manuscript of over 500k words. I pared things down and changed them to fit the structure of a written narrative. The whole experience was a learning process, and after 12 edit passes of my own and two from Curiosity Quills editor Mark Woodring (much gratitude for his insights), I am hoping it came out okay.
Why did you decide to write this particular book?
For most of my life, people have told me they thought I wrote well. Between never taking them too seriously, and a nice swath of laziness, I did not do much with it. Whenever someone spoke of an author or writing, the story was peppered with woe of how hard it was to write a book. Claiming long, arduous months and even years to get something written. I never felt it to be that difficult to write speculative fiction (the research aspect is easy when I make everything up). Due to the creeping doubt that comes along with the feeling of something being "too easy", I did not think I was doing it right. A few years ago, a supervisor I worked with at my day job asked me if I had ever considered writing something (I was working email support at the time and he liked my writing there). At around the same time, I stopped playing WoW and was running this complicated plot for my tabletop group. One of the players remarked that it would make an awesome movie... It hit me at that moment to try and turn it into a book.
Best part of the writing process?
When I get into a groove drafting and stop perceiving words flowing along a page and fall into the scene in my head; seeing, hearing, and feeling it more than being aware of words.
Share one thing you learned writing this book.
Filler words were something that I struggled with when I got back into writing. It took me a long time to be able to break through that veil and recognize them for what they were. Somewhere between edit 6 and 7 the light switch clicked, and the story shrank by 30k words without losing any meaning.
Tell me about one strange experience you’ve had. Again, it can be anything!
I am fairly sure the house I grew up in was haunted. I'd always hear footsteps moving around the attic at night, and whenever it was dark there was a pervasive feeling of not being alone. The basement was the worst for that, and even when I was in my early twenties, I disliked being down there alone. Sometime in the 80s, I was watching TV - my mother had the Olympics on - and she went to go get something from the kitchen. A free-standing lamp turned itself on at the exact instant she got up to leave the room. It might've been a loose contact triggered by the floor shifting - but it was freaky.
Name one fictional place you’d love to visit.
Name one real place you’d love to visit.
Share one sentence/mini-excerpt from the book!
I haven’t had a good day in almost a year. Nina sighed. “There’s not a whole lot left of my soul, and these two morons aren’t worth losing another slice.”
Dale’s voice distracted from her gloomy stare; he had rounded to the front of the statue and looked back at her with an expectant raised brow.
“All postings and references to the seminar are updated to the new presenter name, everything looks squared away.”
She turned away from the bronze, catching up. “Good. What kind of idiot came up with I.M. Boring? They might as well have labeled it a seminar on clandestine government operations.”
“I figure it’s one of two possibilities.” His blush receded. “One, an idiot was trying to make people not want to go. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would enjoy a seminar on basket weaving…” His chuckle died at her lack of response. “Second thought is that command wanted to see how you would react. If this is a low importance job, they may have done some things wrong on purpose to see if you’d catch it.”
Nina scowled at the white van with the logo of Floyd’s Bakery on it. “My credits are on the second option, and that’s just me hoping against hope that we don’t employ anyone that stupid.” She shook her head at the slogan on the side of the vehicle. “The most mediocre bagels you’ve ever had? The moron theory is picking up credibility.”
“Yeah.” Dale slid open the driver side door and climbed in. “We’ve been using Floyd’s for a while now; they didn’t want a lot of foot traffic at the store, so they tried to make an unappealing slogan.”
“The average idiot probably won’t think about it―but operatives would see that stick out like a red flag. Who would ever advertise in a way that would reduce business? That will need to be changed too.”
“It might not be worth it, the Floyd’s cover is going to be retired after this op anyway. We’ve had it for six months and it was due to end in two more. Warner’s been the most interesting thing to happen in a little over a year.”
“We should still conceal that slogan. I don’t want our cover blown at the wrong moment by something so foolish.”
She came through the armored door from the back, and sat in the passenger seat. “At least the electronics suite works.”
“Have surveillance teams one or two reported any unusual activity?” Nina glanced over the files.
“Nothing. Karl Warner is still at his residence, no sign of any outside contact. No sign of Nemsky or Korin.”
“It’s German,” corrected Nina. “Pronounce the W like a V. Var-ner, not War-ner. Anyway, it looks like the network team came up empty handed too. Neither one of them have left much of a trace in the net since their shuttle passes came through at Edmondson Memorial Starport.”
“It’s sad that it’s easier to get into the UCF through Mars than just crossing the ocean.”
He eased the van around a corner, turning north towards Sector 86 and the Imperial Hotel.
“There’s something that’s just not making sense about this.”
“There you go again, stating the obvious.” Nina looked over.
“Well, think about it. You have two foreign nationals, Itai Korin and Anatoly Nemsky, who are at best mercenaries and at worst clandestine operatives. Both of them turn into ghosts as soon as they land. The files don’t say anything about either one of them being skilled hackers. Hell, Nemsky looks like he’d just as likely eat a deck than plug into it.”
“Yeah…” She wanted to punch the dashboard but held back.
The pair had been almost impossible to trace save for a fleeting glimpse of a credit transaction here and there. The most credible evidence came from a few surveillance camera recordings that put them near Karl Warner’s diplomatic residence. Of two possibilities, both of them smelled like rotten potatoes.
“Either they’re both exceptional spies that are masters at covering their tracks in the real world or they have a hacker working with them that’s good enough for us not to know about him… or her.” She grumbled. “Either way, it points to something larger here than a playboy diplomat from Germany.”
Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.
Hobbies and Interests:
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it.
He is also fond of cats.
Most cops get to deal with living criminals, but Agent Kirsten Wren is not most cops.
A gifted psionic with a troubled past, Kirsten possesses a rare combination of abilities that give her a powerful weapon against spirits. In 2418, rampant violence and corporate warfare have left no shortage of angry wraiths in West City. Most exist as little more than fleeting shadows and eerie whispers in the darkness.
Kirsten is shunned by a society that does not understand psionics, feared by those who know what she can do, and alone in a city of millions. Every so often, when a wraith gathers enough strength to become a threat to the living, these same people rely on her to stop it.
Unexplained killings by human-like androids known as dolls leave the Division One police baffled, causing them to punt the case to Division Zero. Kirsten, along with her partner Dorian, wind up in the crosshairs of corporate assassins as they attempt to find out who – or what – is behind the random murders before more people die.
She tries to hold on to the belief that no one is beyond redemption as she pursues a killer desperate to claim at least one more innocent soul – that might just be hers.
Available now at:
Nina Duchenne walked away from a perfect life of wealth and ease to pursue a noble idea. Unfortunately, her hope of becoming a forensic investigator drowned in two years of mandatory street patrol. After one tragic night shatters her dream, she finds herself questioning the very nature of what it means to be alive.
Joey Dillon lives at the edge of a perpetual adrenaline rush. A self-styled cyber cowboy that chases thrills wherever he can find them, he is unconcerned with what will happen twenty minutes into the future. Lured into a dangerous region of cyberspace, he soon has the government of Mars trying to kill him. After fleeing to Earth, he takes refuge in places society has forgotten.
When two international agents threaten the security of West City, Nina gets command of the operation to stop them. Joey just wants to find his next meal. Voices from beyond the grave distract Nina from her pursuit, and send Joey on a mission to find out who is responsible. His suspicions lie grounded in reality while she hopes for something science cannot explain.
The spies prove more elusive than expected, convincing her they have help from a master hacker. Joey falls square in her sights with the fate of the entire West City, as well as Nina’s humanity, at risk.