Interview with crime fiction novelist Eric Matheny

Today’s
highlight is the legal thriller, The Victim,
by Eric Matheny.
Bio:
Eric Matheny was born in Los Angeles,
California, where he lived until he went away to college at Arizona State
University. At ASU he was president of Theta Chi Fraternity. He graduated with
a degree in political science and moved to Miami, Florida, to attend law school
at St. Thomas University. During his third year of law school, he interned for
the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, where he worked as a prosecutor upon
graduation. In 2009, he went into private practice as a criminal defense
attorney. He is a solo practitioner representing clients in Miami-Dade County,
Florida, and Broward County, Florida. He has handled everything from DUI to
murder.
In his free time, Eric enjoys writing
crime fiction, drawing from his experience working in the legal system. He
published his debut novel Home
in 2004, which centers around a successful drug dealer catering to the rich in
Orange County. His second novel Lockdown,
published in 2005, follows a law student trying to prove that an inmate serving
a life sentence in one of California’s toughest prisons might actually be
innocent. Eric’s latest novel The Victim, is a tense, fast-paced, legal
thriller/psychological suspense novel that centers around a young defense
attorney whose horrifying misdeed from his college days comes back to haunt
him. It was published by Zharmae in August 2015 and is available for sale on Amazon.
Eric lives outside of Fort Lauderdale
with his wife and two young sons.
Welcome,
Eric! Please tell us a little bit about The
Victim
.
Anton Mackey is a 32-year-old Miami defense attorney who has
tried desperately to forget about the horrific mistake he made eleven years
earlier while a student in college.  But
that mistake has come back to haunt him in the form a new client’s wife – a
victim of what appears to be a brutal act of domestic violence.  The fee is great and everything seems normal
until Anton realizes that this new client – rather his new client’s wife – is a
figure from his past.  What follows is a
nightmare as Anton frantically tries to keep this woman from destroying
everything he has built.  Though at the
same time, he begins to learn that this woman – the victim – may be connected
to an unrelated murder case.
What
inspired you to write this book?
A few years after I graduated from college, I heard a story
about a guy I knew from school who had been charged with two counts of
vehicular homicide after smashing into a disabled car on the highway, causing a
fire, and killing both occupants.  The
individual responsible got out of his car and began to run away on foot.  I thought, what if you did that and got
away?  Using my knowledge of physical
evidence from my career as an ex-prosecutor/practicing defense attorney, I
understood the technical aspects of how a person could get away with such a
crime.  Now what if that person went on
to live a normal life, perhaps became an attorney, and then the past came back
to haunt him?  I think all good thrillers
start with a “what if?”
Excerpt from The Victim:
Chapter 1
March 16, 2003
Payson, Arizona
He thought he
was dead.
Steam hissed
from the crumpled front end of the RV that had folded accordion-style against
the guardrail. His face stung from the punch of the airbag. His lungs burned
from that awful talcum powder that drifted through the cabin as the bag
deflated. The chemical dust, suspended in the air, seemed to be frozen in time.
His nose was
numb and swollen. He tasted blood trickling down the back of his throat like a
cocaine drip. He peered through the cracked windshield, his eyes adjusting to
the reddish glow of a desert sunrise. The crushed-in hood had jarred upward.
The chassis was off balance. The whole vehicle wobbled as he shifted his weight
in his seat.
Oh my God.
He cranked
the door handle and heaved his shoulder into it to pop it off the jamb. He
hopped down onto the highway. The winds were heavy and dry, rustling the sage
and scrub oaks that dotted the rugged landscape along the Beeline Highway. A
sliver of fiery light barely illuminated the peaks of the Mazatal Mountains,
which rose and fell against the horizon. Giant saguaros stood like sentries.
The back half
of a red two-door sedan lay beneath the shredded front tires of the RV.
Flattened like an aluminum can. On impact the RV must have bucked forward,
rolling up onto the rear bumper of the smaller car, coming to rest on its roof.
The significant weight of the RV crushed the sedan into something you might see
stacked in a junkyard.
The highway
was quiet. Just the rush of hot wind crackling the delicate spines of the
sagebrush. He got his bearings quickly, the initial shock of the crash having
passed. A sobering experience. Literally. Half a handle of Jack Daniels
coursing through his veins had been replaced by something stronger.
Panic.
He saw long
hair, a young female’s. How he could tell her age by the back of her head, he
would never know. Maybe by its length and sheen—bright, yellow-blond. Slick
with blood. Her forehead propped on the steering wheel. The driver-side window
blown out. The windshield was a shattered web.
The man
beside her—or boy, he was arguably young—was out cold, his body positioned in
the passenger’s seat in a gimpy, off-kilter fashion. The passenger side had
been thrust into the guardrail, which molded itself to the frame of the car.
His head lolled against the door. Blood leaked from his ear and ran down his
neck.
“Are you
okay?” he screamed, although he knew he would get no reply. His voice resonated
throughout the valley. “Hello?”
He braced
himself against the ruined front end of the RV. He felt a surge of bile and
whiskey come up in the back of his throat. He heaved forward but held it in. He
was lightheaded.
Oh God, please let this be a dream. Oh
God, please…this can’t be happening, this can’t be happening. This isn’t
happening. This isn’t happening…
 
What
exciting story are you working on next?
A standalone crime thriller set in Los Angeles during the
April 29, 1992, riots.  Aside from the
standpoint of law enforcement, namely a tough female sheriff’s deputy,
the story examines a crime from several gang perspectives – a
violent South Central Blood set; a ruthless outlaw biker club; and the Korean Kkhangpae
(Korean Mafia) that maintains a stranglehold over its piece of the city. 
I lived in Los Angeles at the time of the riots and it was a
frightening and oddly fascinating time in history.
When
did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was 7 and I wrote stories on my mother’s word
processor.  Throughout my life, even if I
wasn’t putting words down on paper, I felt like I had a monologue going on in my
head, as if I could watch events unfold and then narrate them to myself.  I started writing seriously when I was 21.
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?
I am a full-time defense attorney, part-time writer.  I work all day, usually starting early in the
morning.  I try to bang out a page or two
before court and then I am off to handle my morning calendar, sometimes
multiple calendars in multiple counties. 
After the morning and once my pressing matters are handled, I go back to
my story and crank out a little more.  I
try to write 2000 words a day. 
What
would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I almost always know the title of a story before I begin and
the first thing I do before I put down a single word is find a quote to start
the book. 
As a
child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A detective, a fighter pilot, a cardiovascular surgeon, a
sports agent, and finally – a criminal defense attorney. 
Anything
additional you want to share with the readers?
I have traveled through Transylvania and been to the house
where Vlad Dracul (the inspiration for Count Dracula) was born.  It is now a vampire-themed restaurant.  Folklore aside, Transylvania is one of the
best kept secrets of Eastern Europe. 
Driving through the Carpathian Alps, you will see real
horse-and-buggies, farmhouses that are hundreds of years old, and folks who
live without any modern conveniences. 
The scenery is breathtaking and full of real history – the hotel where
my wife and I stayed was the “new” building in town because it was constructed
around 1600.  I love Europe and have been
to many of the popular tourist destinations in the west – Barcelona, Vienna,
Amsterdam – but cannot stress enough the mystique and untouched beauty of the
east.  Plus Romania is still on their own
currency (not the euro) so the exchange rate is about four Romanian Leu to one
U.S. dollar.  While Eastern Europe is
relatively inexpensive to begin with, Romania is a bargain.  If you want something completely off the
beaten path, not touristy, and entirely unique, fly to Bucharest (no direct
flights from U.S., connect in Rome, London, or Paris), rent a car, and head
north out of the city.
Readers
can connect with me on Facebook,
Twitter, and Goodreads.  And to learn more, go to http://www.ericmathenybooks.com/
Thank
you, Eric!

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