My Blog

Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Interview With Matt Madigan

I recently read Matt Madigan’s “Her Name Is Violence,” and was fascinated with the concept. The story involves a detective agency in the 1930s, and their top investigator, Reid Hollow. The book was published by Past Midnight Publishing, and was quite gritty. A true noir of the period.

Tom: What is your background in writing, and when did you first begin writing fiction?

Matt: I’ve been writing for quite some time now, under different aliases. But the time was right to use the Madigan name. I have been studying and training for this my whole life. Since I could hold a crayon I have been making books. My first influence really was Forest J. Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. Forry taught so many of us to love writing. My mother was an English teacher and my dad worked for a time in a paper mill. He was always bringing me homes reams of paper. My grandfather was a huge reader. I was bred for it.

But I study it like a craft, and I take it very seriously. I’ve examined and studied the masters of the novel, and still do. Everything I do, professionally, is to be a better writer. You never stop learning and discovering, both in technique and storytelling. You need to master both before you can really deliver something on the paper.

Tom: Who are your influences in this genre? It’s obvious that you are a fan of 1930s noir.

Matt: I have so many people whose writing I have studied, James Joyce and Thomas Pynchon especially. I also have a lot of film and musical influences. Hendrix, Queen and the Pixies are big for me musically. But one guy who influenced my writing tons is Bruce Lee, because of his Jeet Kune Do philosophy of the style of no style. Too often when you study in school or a writing class they try to have you adopt a firm or definitive style. Why should you? As Lee says, “be water.” In other words flow or become hard like ice, fit into a cup or merge into the ocean. Water is amazing because it does so many different things and takes so many different forms. If you flow like water you can always surprise your reader, and yourself. Free yourself from all form and substance and just be. It is Zen like in some ways. Certainly writing is one of the only times I reach a Zen status.

As for Her Name is Violence, I do love the noir genre. This book shoves it into another direction, which is hardcore noir. I am a big fan of James M. Cain. The guy wrote Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice. Most writers don’t write one classic, let alone two. People have asked me about Mickey Spillane, but I’ve only read I, the Jury and liked it just fine. He is a minimalist supreme. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? by Horace McCoy I really love as well. But to me the gold standard is Raymond Chandler. He is the one I really look up to. His dialogue is amazing and his writing is so sharp. He is unique in that he lets his stories lull, yet brings the reader along, then takes them up again. You just wait for him to take you up. He is a master in full control.

Tom: Reid Hollow is a detective who won’t stop at torture or killing to get the information he wants. Similar to The Spider in pulps, a man that fought fire with fire, and blazing automatics to reach his goal. Not a pretty picture, but effective, and in “Her Name Is Violence” the reader accepts his methods without question. Indeed, the case demands violence against the offenders. Was Reid Hollow patterned after anyone in fiction or reality?

Matt: No. Reid is no one in particular. All these characters come from my head. In some ways I view Hollow as the epitome of Nietzschean ubermensch. No laws apply to Reid because he has such a firm grasp on right and wrong. Therefore whatever methods he uses, he does for the greater good. That is really what Nietzsche believed a super man is. Not one who could do whatever they wanted because they just felt they could. He thought the true superman clearly knew right from wrong and therefore wasn’t held to the same laws as common men. Sadly, too many people – Leopold and Loeb, Hitler, have interpreted him incorrectly and with dire consequences. But Reid is absolutely nihilistic and atheistic, and sees the world around him as absolutely out of control. But in this chaos he creates order in one way or another. He might be an anti-hero to some, but to me, he is the purest type of hero. One not held by any standard, such as his priest brother or a police detective, but to his own, very moral, very high standard. There is a lot of self-loathing that goes along with it. Reid is not a simple cat!

Tom: “Her Name Is Violence” appears to be the first book in a series, when can we expect the second novel to be released? Do you have a title for it yet? Are any more planned down the road?

Matt: I think I might have tipped my hat a little too much in Violence that this is to be a series. So yeah, there will certainly be at least a few follow ups and one is under way. Few ideas for titles kicking around, but nothing solid yet. I’ve told the publisher to expect it around late October so we can get it out before Christmas. It is a challenge, because I am pretty proud of the first book, so this one has to be better. I just have to let myself flow, because sometimes you think, ‘well, is it gritty enough? Violent enough?’ You just have to let that go and write. Hard core noir is a tone and style. I feel like I am the progenitor of the style, so it makes me push so hard.

Tom: Do you have any other series characters planned, and will they be in the same mold as Reid Hollow?

Matt: There are some ideas kicking around in my head, but right now I will stick with Reid until the stories dry up. I’ve got some plans for him. But if I do other writing, it will be in the same city, same type of thing. Maybe a reporter.

Tom: For the new writers just getting started, maybe you can help with this question. What do you find most difficult about your work-in-progress? Plot? Characters? Beginning? Ending?

Matt: Everyone writes in a different way, and I am not talking about style here. Everyone has their own particular creative process, so it is impossible to give one or two pointers. I start out with certain themes or vague ideas I want to write about and use my characters, whom I have really got a good grasp on in my head, to bring them out. I sort of knew I wanted a death film in Her Name is Violence and a guy who is driven by not money or sex, but by violence. I would say don’t worry about writing in a linear fashion. If you have some scenes that are for the ending, and you have only started, write those scenes, and connect them as you work through. Every time you write, even if it is a frustrating session, will hopefully bring you closer to what you want. Just a few days ago I was really depressed about how the new book was going. Then yesterday something popped into my head, I wrote it down, and the juice was flowing again.

Every writer has strengths and weaknesses. Most young writers struggle with character development. They either over or under develop. In the history of the novel, we see less and less information about the character as styles advanced. Look at how someone like Charles Dickens did it and compare it to Thomas Pynchon. There is such a huge difference. So study the masters and see how the novel and styles have progressed over the years.

Endings are hard, because a lot of new writers want to cram everything into it. In Violence you will recall, the ending is a wrap up, but it sort of filters everything out slowly. It is a come down after everything that has happened. I always thought Jim Thompson was an absolute king of the great ending. Read After Dark My Sweet, and see him at his most brilliant with a difficult ending. The Killer Inside Me is great for that and for character development. He uses first person, but lets everything develop at a great pace. He’s another guy who really influenced me. Another real champion of the noir genre.

Tom: What do you enjoy most about the creative process?

Matt: So much. It has just been with me since I can remember. It is a time, like I said, where I get very Zen and nothing else is out there. I actually enjoy creating more than the completed process. All I can see in my finished stuff is things I could have done differently. The completed stuff sort of drives me crazy.

Tom: Are you planning on moving into other genres, or stick with 1930s noir?

Matt: Right now I am happy doing this. Maybe move the years along with Reid. I only focus on what I am doing now. Looking ahead is a fine way to not pay attention to what you are doing now.

Tom: Tell the readers a little about “Her Name Is Violence,” and why they should buy it.

Matt: It is the first novel of the hard core noir genre. It is not for everyone, but if you like some of the writers I mentioned, and maybe want something with a bit harder edge, then this is for you. Great story, characters, setting. As someone wrote to me, this would not pass the Hays Code. But I want this book to also be known as a great mystery and suspense story. We will be holding a contest I heard to see if anyone can get the exact dates of the story. Tom, you’re pretty close so far.

Tom: What advice would you give to a person trying to get their short story / novel published in today’s market?

Matt: Just keep knocking on the door. Beware of bad agents and people promising you everything. An agent should only work on percentage, and not charge you flat fees or fees to send out manuscripts, etc. Ten percent is about the standard fare a good agent will take. Any time you can get something published anywhere half decent, do it. Build and build your resume. Never pay to have something published. Anyone who says give us so much and we will put you in our book is a crock. Just keep writing, don’t quit and keep reading. There are also a lot of places that will publish your book for free, but won’t promote and will take almost anything. Do your research on any place. If it seems shady, like accepting your book without reading it, take heed.

I really think self-publishing is the future. The hard part with that is the marketing.

But above all, don’t quit.

Tom: Very important, where may someone order copies of your books?

Matt: Amazon and Barnes & Noble. However, we are selling them right off of our site I just signed a bunch of matte covered trade paperbacks for them to sell. We also knocked a few bucks off. They use paypal to process all transactions, so you can feel comfortable that it is being handled by a reputable, secure site. Plus they are signed and numbered by me, and this is the only place to get them. So please check out our site.

No comments:

Post a Comment