It’s Casey Matthews on the blog today. Author of The Pygmalion Fail fantasy series, apparently Casey is the only writer on the internet who doesn’t own a cat. Be sure to visit www.caseymatthews.org/
1) Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a level 3 human with proficiency in writing and bardic knowledge. Extroversion is my dump stat. Not only do I have misophonia (rage when hearing people chew loudly), but so does my roommate. My house is full of skittish people constantly irritated at one another who have to hide in closets to eat.
Beyond my roommate there is also this girl in my life named Katie and she sleeps in my bed and plays with my hair and we spend a lot of time together. She is my everything and she is totally not imaginary.
2) Tell us about ‘The Pygmalion Fail’ trilogy. It revolves around paintings?
It revolves around paintings, geek culture, and RPGs. Isaac is a geek who gets sucked into his own fantasy world and has to deal with a wizard who’s jealous of his ability to draw things into existence. Isaac isn’t really the best at fighting off the minions of this wizard, though, so he needs help from some of his own creations—as well as his power-gaming best friend, Dak (initially Dak is back on Earth; later he’s sucked into the world with Isaac).
The story at its heart is about screwing up. Isaac’s creations are never quite what he intends: the bikini armor that doesn’t properly protect its wearer, the Queen’s (shall we say) ethical lapses—this world is a mess. Some of it is Isaac’s fault. Artistically, this story is about the messiness of creation. Culturally, it’s a love-letter to the fantasy genre that also pokes fun of the tropes a little.
The tone is light-hearted, the pace is quick—I learned a lot about story structure making it that way, and I’m proud of how it came out.
It’s also close to my heart, because it’s a proper bromance. The most important relationship in this story is between Isaac and his best friend, Dak.
3) Tell us about the upcoming ‘Blood and Factions’ series.
This one’s got a serious tone. It’s still sword and sorcery, but focuses more on adventure, deception, intrigue, and romance. If you like assassins, this one’s for you.
The story is about a conman-style assassin named Marlow, who has to protect the priestess Arca from a wicked tyrant who is contracting Marlow’s old guild to slay her. Marlow and his crew are pursued by his oldest and most dangerous friends; they’re chased across the world, and eventually take refuge in a foreign city where Marlow and Arca must pose as husband and wife (much to her chagrin).
I love the characters in this story. Marlow’s a charismatic asshole, principled and political, but almost too cynical to function. Arca’s past is troubled, but it’s made her courageous, and she suffers no fools. There’s also Rayk, a personal favorite of mine. He’s a Fae-blooded youth with the mindset of a particularly sheltered boy—and yet he murders easily and treats it like a game. He spends most of the story just being very excited to kill things.
4) How do you go about the process of preparing your books for publication?
I contract my editor early, alerting him to the work that’s coming his way, because mine is very busy and is usually backlogged. Editing is expensive and, if your person is good, it can take some time. I contract my cover art whenever I can, but at the very latest, a month or two before I anticipate the editing to conclude.
I do the formatting myself and at this point stick to KDP.
5) You released three books in a short period of time. How has that been helpful as a marketing strategy?
The theory behind doing a tightly staggered release is that people don’t have to wait long for the next story—so perhaps you draw more return readers than if they had to wait a year. My books are also fairly short and there’s a big plot arc that connects them, so I wouldn’t want people to wait more than a month or two in between each.
I’m not sure how much a marketing edge this is. Maybe it would have done better to bind them together into one large volume—I’m new to publishing and still experimenting with format.
6) Hmmm… So Spiderman is your role model?
When Spider-Man loses—and he loses a lot—he doesn’t give up. He goes back and studies his enemy’s weaknesses, he learns from his mistakes, and he goes into the next fight prepared. That combination of tenacity, adaptability, and use of mind make him formidable.
He’s flawed. He makes mistakes—sometimes very costly ones. But he tries, he puts himself out there every day, and even though he hasn’t got money and the press hates him, he does what he thinks is right. Not because it makes his life any better—it never does—but just because it’s right.
So yeah, I’m not half that awesome, but Spider-Man knows what’s up.
7) Any other interests besides writing?
I cycle between a few major entertainment sources: tabletop RPGs, novels, television and movies, and video games. I’m a pretty curious person and keep a stable of much smarter individuals whose blogs and brain scrapings I consume for pleasure.
8)Where do you think the world of indie publishing is headed?
Right now, I think most people who read indie books are looking for niche categories that mass market doesn’t address. Your prepper fiction, your lit RPG, your alien bodice-ripper romance—or hopefully in my case, humorous portal fantasy.
Point is, indie publishing can cater to demands that mass market won’t—because it’s too niche. And that’s where most of my books fall. They’re very good, but very niche.
There’s a quality problem in indie publishing, though. I hear a lot of folks complain that they want niche categories that are done better. And this is where it sucks not to have any gatekeeping: when everyone publishes, how do you tell the good from the bad?
Mind you, we shouldn’t just add quality filters. There is a strong case for bad fiction. Most bad books are still written with incredible passion, and many readers don’t actually care all that much if the grammar’s shoddy or the tropes are overdone. When someone makes a story with passion, and it finds some other soul with that same passion, the quality of writing is sometimes a distant concern. So while I’m very snobby about the quality of book I put out, I’m a libertarian snob and I don’t begrudge the success of bad books. If you didn’t cheat—if you actually wrote the book, and you actually pleased people with it—you deserve every five-star review, even if you don’t know how to use a fucking comma.
Amazon is a humbling teacher, and what she teaches me is that you don’t have to be Shakespeare to be read. Sometimes people are hungry for a story about an apocalypse-surviving badass, or a big, beautiful woman kidnapped by alpha male aliens.
But I’d like indie publishing to do a better job of rewarding good writing and good storycraft in conjunction with these niche categories. The technology right now allows us to easily identify genre and what a story is about; it’s not good at identifying the high-quality stuff within that genre. The review system kind of sucks; the “look inside” is a little better, but even then, it doesn’t give you a good feel for the work’s total worth.
It’s difficult to prove quality in indie publishing, and unless that changes, I don’t think it goes much further than it has right now. I can’t foresee a solution to the quality problem. Maybe good writers organize into guilds that screen for quality? Maybe a major publisher opens up an “indie publishing” wing that screens quality? I haven’t read up on the Kindle Scout program lately, but I’d watch efforts like that and see where they lead.
9) What has influenced your writing the most?
Comic books and superheroes. Most of what I write is secretly about superheroes, even if there aren’t any capes or costumes.
10) Anything you’d like to add?
Enjoy “The Accidental God”!
The world of Rune is just a series of fantasy paintings, or so Isaac Myers assumes; he’s even started adding some new art of his own to the seemingly abandoned project. He learns better after a frustrating night of gaming with his best friend, Dak, culminates in a one-way trip to Rune itse…
A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India writing mostly in the fantasy genre. His historical low fantasy short “A Song of Blood” has released and is being acclaimed by reviewers.
To download his fantasy novella “The Drabird” for free CLICK HERE!