September 21, 2011

Unread Interview and Giveaway - Matt Xell

First of all, please do not forget my Blogoversary and Followers giveaway (click on the button to the left)

Please welcome Matt Xell for this week's Unread Interview! Matt is promoting his book, Tower of Parlen Min!
Unread Interview is a series where I feature authors whose books I couldn't accept for review because of time or logistics issues.

Summary: Ves Asirin wins a trip to the Tower of Parlen Min. There, with 19 other children, he competes in the Sword Challenge; a series of puzzles and tasks, for $12 million. As fantastic and glorious as the tower seems to be, Ves finds that it keeps a dark and secret history that he has been connected to for over 150 years, a secret that will define his destiny ... if he can escape 'The shadow'.

It can be bought on several online vendors: Amazon (where it was split into 3, for the kindle, but don't let that hold you back), Smashwords and Lulu.

Also, I will be giving away 3 copies of Tower of Parlen Min to 3 lucky readers - all I ask of you is that you comment with your name and email (use the Disqus name/email option) and I will draw a number with on October 14th.

This post is part of a Virtual Book Tour, you can keep up with all the posts at the Facebook Event or Facebook Page.

Have you ever wanted to be a writer?

To be honest, if you went back in time and told me back in Junior High that I'd be an Author, I'd probably die of shock or try to kill you. I'd always liked  fantasy literature and the visual arts, and back then I used to do a lot of penciling (I was terrible at it) and what little writing I did were comic book plots. What I wanted to be when I grew up was be an IT speacialist; a software programmer or a web developer. So, no, novel writing or any serious kind of writing was never on my life-time-to-do-list.

When did you start writing "seriously"?

After I failed the ninth grade (why, yes, I did). After that year, my self-esteem and much of the ego and personality attached to it at the time took a massive dip and so too did my love for expressing myself using art -- I absolutely loathed having my artwork criticised.

My friends weren't interested in my written comic book plots so no one criticized them like my art. I turned to writing more and more as the years went by, my handwriting became more and more minuscule so I could better hide my work, so small that even I can't read my earlier works. By the time I was in my final year of High School, I'd filled out several 180 page A4 notebooks with comic book plots and scripts. At the time I didn't know there was a proper format for scripting, so I wrote in novel prose. So all my earlier works read like novellas.

Do you read much?

I'd say a fair bit. I'd say I've only read about 50 to 70 books in my life. Which is why being a 'natural' (he boasted) at writing when I've read so little is just as surprising to me as it is to anyone else.

What kind of books do you usually read?

Young adult fantasy novels (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, The Golden Compass, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Artimus Fowl; and old stuff like Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Secret Seven, The Hardy Boys, Oliver Twist, Huckleberry Finn and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ) and Adult mystery/suspense thrillers ( Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, The DaVinchi Code and The Lost Symbol and Stieg Larsons Millenium Trilogy). My Favourite book though is surprisingly a french romantic novel set in during and after World War 1 called A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot.

What are your favorite or least favorite scenes to write?

My favorite scenes to write are action scenes; realistic and gritty, play-by-play, choreographed action scenes. I'd say those are my forte. I love writing mystery and suspense scenes a lot as well.

My least favorite scenes to write are drama and romantic scenes. Drama, because being partly introverted for most my life, I can't say I know various kinds and types of people well enough, and what their emotional and psychological reactions to certain scenarios, themes, conditions and settings. So for most of my writing, I'd say I draw a lot of influence from what I've seen from drama movies (I saw a lot of Academy Award winning movies that were boring during the writing of Tower of Parlen Min). Luckily a of the characters in my book kinda wrote themselves, and so I never know if I did a good enough job with the drama in Tower of Parlen Min.

Romance, obviously because I'm a man (too much on the masculine side I think), so I can't say I understand even a quarter of why Twilight and other paranormal romances sell as well as they do. But I want me some of those millions so you can bet that when I figure out that secret, I'm taking over the genre :)

Do you relate more to any of your characters?

Yes. In all my stories, my main protagonist is somewhat a vague version of myself. So I relate with Ves the most in Tower of Parlen Min


In every story I write  I always like to ask an important question and hopefully get an answer at the end of the story. I feel I wrote The Narrow Escapes of Ves Asirin to ask, 'what is the meaning and point of life if we are just going to die at the end of it all?'. And I feel Ves and Zenis are the best characters I was ever going to write that would help me answer this question. Because Ves, when he was at the orphanage, was pretty much living a drab, boring and uneventful life until he went to the Tower. There he competed in the Sword Challenge, saw many fantastic things like Jinn fire falling from the sky, interacted with the Canids (sentient wolves), saw Wicca (magic), saw ghosts and spectres, made friends for the very first time in his life, and found that even he was not as ordinary or rather as sub-normal as he thought he was. For the very first time ever, he was vividly aware of his life and the world's wonders ... then of course came The Shadow which is in the business of killing and taking life on a massive scale.

Which genre do you feel it would be a challenge to write?

Romance of course and comedy. The reason I think comedy would be a challenge is because it's subjective to certain cultures, people and languages.

What inspires you?

And I'd say a lot of what influences my writing isn't from novels and books but from art, movies, comics, video games, manga (japanese comics) and anime (japanese animation).

And how's your writing environment - music, place, etc.?

I'm not so much strict or partial on enviroment. I think can I write in any place peaceful enough and provided I have the materials I need. Solitude and silence is a requirement only when writing serious and dark scenes, a lot of the mystery/supense scenes. The music is dependant on the specific genre I'm writing; for Tower of Parlen Min I listened to a lot of alternative rock like Placebo, AFI, Asian Kung-Fu Generation and Billy Talent.

What would you say about the book - your words, no blurbs! - to convince someone to read your book?

If you're bored to death during this summer and want a temporary escape into a fantastic world, get a copy of Tower of Parlen, it's a thrilling 'rollercoaster' of a read, filled with action, adventure, suspense, mystery and horror. If it's your kind of book, it'll keep you hooked to the end!

What are your plans for the future, writing-wise? New books, sequels, publishing deals, etc.

The current state of both the traditional publishing  and self-publishing industries scare me a whole lot. And this is because the internet and social networking are pretty much changing how content is being delivered through all media, and everyone is pretty much both a consumer and a producer at this point. So at the moment I'm an Indie author and I'm publishing and marketing Tower of Parlen Min with a few good friends. I'm going to hold onto the rights of the book for a long while until a compromise between the two sides of the industries is found. I'm looking into distribution licenses and how I can pitch that to interested publishers as opposed to selling the rights outright, because I don't (I won't say never) think that's going to happen.

I'm still plotting the second book in The Narrow Escapes of Ves Asirin series; Eclipse Over Atuwis Wood. I think I'll start writing that in april. And I'll be releasing a lot of novellas based in Everlon (Ves' world) which will be introducing some characters that feature in later books of the series, some from the series distant past. Some will be free for download (or set your own price) and some will sell for only 99 cents.

Thanks for your time and patience with me (as I had this interview for a month in my inbox *shame on me*)!

You can also find Matt Xell at several social networks (and he's a really nice guy): Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Formspring and, of course, his blog.