Today’s guest author is Matt Chatelain to talk about his new thriller novel, the first in a series, The Caves of Etretat. Matt has a giveaway to a lucky commentor, too. Details are at the end of the interview.
Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, Matt. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Born in Ottawa, fifty-two years ago, I have been the owner of a used bookstore I opened in Ontario, since 1990. I have been writing since I was ten. Beginning with poetry, I quickly moved on to short stories and non-fiction pieces. I stayed in that format for many years, eventually self-publishing a franchise manual, as well as a variety of booklets.
Having semi-retired from the bookstore, I embarked on the project of writing my first serious novel, which I expanded to a four-book series after discovering an incredible mystery hidden within a French author’s books.
My interests are eclectic. I like Quantum Physics, Cosmology, history, archaeology, science in general, mechanics, free power, recycling and re-use. I’m a good handyman and can usually fix just about anything. I’m good with computers. I love movies, both good and bad, preferring action and war movies. I can draw and paint fairly well but am so obsessed with perspective and light that I cannot think of much else. I am too detail-oriented.
I have been around books all my life. In my mid-forties, I decided to focus on writing as my future job. It took me five years to learn the trade. Now I know how fast I can write and how to develop my story and characters. I always wage an internal war to decide if my next story is going to be a mild mystery or a big stake epic. So far the big stakes are winning
Please tell us about your current release.
Canadian bookstore owner Paul Sirenne is thrust into a quest for answers when his parents are found murdered, their bodies cut up into the letters H.N. A note sent before his father’s murder drives Sirenne to seek out the roots of a long-forgotten family secret.
He heads to the town of Etretat, France, on the trail of a hundred year old mystery hidden in the pages of ‘The Hollow Needle’, by Maurice Leblanc. Together with Leblanc’s great-granddaughter, Sirenne unearths puzzles, codes and historical mysteries, exposing a secret war for control of a cave fortress in Etretat’s chalk cliffs.
The Caves of Etretat is the first in a four-book epic adventure following Paul Sirenne, an average man unknowingly manipulated into becoming the key in the final phase of a complex conspiracy spanning millennia. Inextricably woven into history, the series re-writes everything we know in a non-stop rollercoaster of a ride where nothing is ever as it seems.
I tried to do many things in this series. Among others, I set a pace to rival Matt Reilly and a story to rival James Rollins. The story is complex, revealed in levels, through the four books. The story ends where it began, turning book one into book five of the series. My first attempt at writing an action/adventure series with a mystical edge, I hope it grips you from beginning to end.
What inspired you to write this book?
At first, I wanted to revisit my childhood love, Maurice Leblanc stories about Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-thief. Lupin was France’s answer to England’s Sherlock Holmes, a thief able to solve the most baffling of mysteries. Leblanc second book, ‘The Hollow Needle’ (free as kindle book) was a perfect starting point. Everything changed when I did research into Etretat. A historical mystery was hidden there.
Inexplicably, the trail I had uncovered led to Rennes-le-Chateau, the very place I had wished to avoid, the center of the Da Vinci Code controversy. Even more bizarrely, the research connected directly to my first attempted story, ‘The Greyman’. Unstoppably, ‘The Caves of Etretat’ turned into a four-book series explaining the origins of everything.
If you want to know more about the trail I followed, check my website for the file ‘Writing the Sirenne Saga’. I must warn you, there are a few spoilers about the series but I do go in some depth about the strange coincidences I encountered and other motivations not revealed here. I can say the result is a story that will affect everyone who reads it.
What exciting story are you working on next?
The skills I learned with the Sirenne Saga have prepared me for my next challenge: The ultimate action story. I have created an insane pace, a non-stop story and a roster of well-fleshed characters to torture. Along the way, I’m going to explore the reasons for the economic chaos we are suffering, as a subtext to the story. If all goes well, it will be ready for publication by the end of this year. I don’t want to give too much away yet but prepare yourself for the craziest rollercoaster ever.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was eight years old, I went into my brother’s room and saw a poem he had written. Instantly jealous, I decided I could write too. I went to my room and wrote two horrendous poems. I haven’t stopped writing since. Hopefully, I’ve gotten better.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
My first few years, I wrote part-time, my first book taking two and a half years to complete. I wanted to speed up the process and starting writing regularly, eventually settling into nine AM to noon as a regular schedule. The rest of my day is usually spent on regular life, no matter what I try to do. The second book took one year to write, the third, eight months, and the fourth, six months.
Last year, I stopped writing and took up editing full-time, to fix my series and to teach myself the finer points of the English language. No writing took place during that time but the effort was worth it. I feel as if I have made strong progress, giving me the confidence I need to continue improving in other areas of writing.
This year, I wanted to step up the pace, so started spending six hours per day editing or writing. I ended up burning my eyes from monitor glare, causing me to lose more time than I had gained. A month later, my eyes are barely back to normal. So breaks are essential for good vision. Promotions can also take up a lion’s share of your time, if you are not careful. Creative writing ends up on the back-burner more than I’d like.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Through books one and two (about three years), I exclusively listened to the ‘Voyager’ album by Michael Oldfield while writing (not editing). I believe the music’s heroic theme helped put me in the mood to write my heroic story (It’s my best guess and I should know, I’m the author). During books three and four (another two years), I listened exclusively to ‘The Wall’, album two, by Pink Floyd, Live Berlin Concert version. I am still listening mainly to that one album. Along the way, I found that Radio-Ga-Ga, by Queen, satisfied all my urges for heroic music. I could listen to it on a perpetual loop while writing also.
A side effect was that, when I travelled and listened to the same music, my mind was transported to my story and I would spend my time there instead of concentrating on the road.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to write. Books were part of my youth. I was a voracious reader. Later, I haunted bookstores, eventually opening my own. Reading was a search, looking for the perfect book, the perfect story. Eventually, I was driven to write the stories I never found. Recently, I have been examining my earlier work and found some very decent efforts, showing a direct path to my Sirenne Saga.
As time permits, I will revive some of these short stories and heroic poems and post them either as kindle books or PDF’s on my site. There are some earlier works there now but more will be added.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
My website has ‘Caves of Etretat’ audio excerpts and various interviews for you to listen to. It also has several radio plays I did many years ago, while at CKCU FM, the Carleton University FM Radio Station. It has many articles about the series. If interested, you will find a code to solve, from Leblanc’s journal in The Caves of Etretat.
I also have a contest to win signed copies of the series printed to date. The cost is to join my mailing list. There is one draw per month and you may re-submit your name every month. I plan to publish the four books of the Sirenne Saga within 2012, so, eventually, the prize will be a complete four-book series. Thanks for buying my book and, please, leave a message when you check out my site, I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for being here today, Matt.
Readers, Matt will be awarding a $20 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commentor during the tour, so comment here and at any of Matt’s other blog tour stops. The more times you comment, the more chances you have to win!