Hey there everyone.
We’re so close to the weekend it hurts!
So, let’s have an enormous amount of fun with a very witty Author Interview, as we feature Horror writer Matthew R. Davis, sharing with us thoughtful and hilarious insights into his writing life.
Thanks for reading and have a great time 🙂
Hi there Matthew, a sincere pleasure to have you here today to discuss your upcoming book release, along with your own passions, influences and writing experiences.
Firstly, let’s start with your new book which was released at the end of January this year, a collection of Horror Stories called “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep”. Can you give us some insight into what links the stories in this collection together and give us a summary of the gripping tales that we will find within?
There’s no overarching theme as such, and the stories don’t overlap, but there are some recurring motifs: loss, failed or broken connections, the weight of the past and the yawning gulf of the future. Otherwise, the thirteen stories cover a lot of ground: we have rash teenage girls stumbling into subterranean labyrinths, new songs and old dances awakening forgotten terrors, a TV star botanist on a mission of mercy in the last refuge of the unwanted, a mixtape that proves the heartbreakingly impossible to be true, and much more. The settings include derelict houses, train stops, nightclubs, country gardens, the Sunset Strip in 1987, unfamiliar homes, and beaches that aren’t what they were or will be. It’s probably untrue to claim that there’s something for everyone, but you won’t get bored of the same old characters and plots each time, that’s for sure.
If you could invite any one of your characters to dinner, which one would it be and what would you cook for them?
Ah, geez…one of the nicer ones? But then they’d keep nailing me with pointed questions like, “Why did you do that to me?” I think I’d like to keep a healthy distance between me and my creations. And anyone who knows me well would laugh at the thought of me cooking dinner – I’m afraid I’m generally more of a heat/eat/go kind of guy. But that said, I can whip up a mean pizza when the mood takes me; it’s not so much that I can’t cook, rather that I don’t care to when I have so many other things to be getting on with.
If any of your short stories were to be made into films (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?
Well, that wouldn’t be up to me. If it were, I’d have to give each story some serious thought… but I’m taking this too seriously, aren’t I? Okay, for argument’s sake, let’s say “This Impossible Gift” from my upcoming collection was being made into a film. The part of Amber could be played by Odessa Young from The Daughter and Assassination Nation – she’s Australian, which would help if the film were to be set where the story is, and she’s got an impressive range. Other than that, nothing really springs to mind. I don’t visualise my characters as actors (though they sometimes resemble people I know personally or have met, to a lesser or greater degree) and I’d prefer to let someone step into those roles and surprise me with their takes.
What would you choose as your own personal mascot or spirit animal when it comes to you and your style of writing?
Um… Robert Smith of The Cure.
What do you think most characterizes or defines your writing? Do you have any writing quirks or themes that constantly crop up in your stories?
That’s not really for me to say – I’m too close to the work, though I would like to think that it is characterised as heartfelt, genuine, intelligent, and gripping. (Your mileage may vary.) I do tend to come back to a few motifs time and again – heartbreak and loss, loves new and old, music and the people who make it – and a lot of my characters are creatives of some sort: photographers, musicians, writers, painters, dancers, graffiti artists. It’s possible that too many of them take on my own personal habits, good or bad, such as books, smoking, sarcasm, and redheads.
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
It’s just a big ball of confusion, really. Sometimes it’s all easy, and sometimes it’s all a struggle. Some stories pop into my head fully formed, whilst others have so many cool ideas and beats that I spend years trying to put the final pieces into place and never manage it. Sometimes I have the perfect title in mind from the get-go, others I find myself combing the manuscript looking for some phrase that jumps out and sounds cool because there’s no way I’m settling for the boring name I gave the first draft file. Often, the hardest part is just parking my arse in front of the computer and making myself do the work, but once I do, it all comes flooding back; apparently that’s a lesson I need to continually relearn. I will say that, for me, ideas are easy – I have far more than I’ll ever be able to use, and they keep coming – but honing them into the right shape for a story can be an incredibly frustrating process.
Who are some of the authors, musicians, poets and/or historical figures that inspire you?
I’m going to keep this really, really brief, or else we’ll be here all day. The last books I read were a couple of Doctor Who tomes by various authors, I was listening to L7 today, the last poet I engaged with was Alison Paradoxxx, and the historical figure I most recently researched (by whom I’ve been intrigued and inspired for a long time) was Elizabeth Bathory.
Do you listen to music when you are writing and if so, then what type of music do you listen to?
I don’t listen to music when I write because I find it too distracting. When I’m not writing, I listen to an incredibly broad range of artists, far too many to number here. My favourite album of 2019 was Tool’s Fear Inoculum, but runners-up included Amanda Palmer, Baroness, Sunn 0))), Lana Del Rey, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, and so on. Music can be very influential on my writing, and acts like The Cure, Chelsea Wolfe, Ministry, and Electric Wizard have inspired entire stories.
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
Whatever is necessary. Sometimes it’s minor, perhaps finding a cool pair of sneakers for a sixteen-year-old girl to wear or checking aspects of ancient mythology against my ideas to see where they meet, but sometimes it gets pretty intense. I’m working on one story set in Birmingham, England, in 1988 – for this, I’ve researched maps of the area, period architecture, slang, historical photos, the types of liquor my characters would be drinking (and the names of the models on the range of cans that were out at the time), which episodes of what show were on TV, release dates of contemporary records, and so on. It’ll all be worth it if I ever finish the damn thing.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
Why do you breathe? Why are you alive?
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
In my experience, writer’s block isn’t so much a real condition as it is a self-imposed limitation or excuse not to put the work in. Maybe I’m just not feeling inspired, so I go do something else for a while and wait for the craving to return. This can be other creative work, or it can mean reading, watching movies and TV shows, spending time with dear people, anything at all. (That’s dear people, not deer people, though you’d have to be in a real slump to not get a story out of that.) Like everything else, you can sometimes take writing for granted and fail to remember how lucky you are to have that gift.
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell him not to bother meeting himself in the past, as this would create a massive paradox that would tear his own life apart and perhaps even the fabric of the space/time continuum itself – but by then, it would already be too late. Because telling myself to be more confident or more focused would lead to a different version of me that would no longer need to go back and tell himself these things, except to close an ontological loop that no longer makes any sense because the me that started it would no longer exist to do it in the first place…but I suppose I’m taking this question a little too seriously, as usual.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
Eating, sleeping. Reading, thinking. Watching DVDs, writing and playing music, drinking beer. Working and looking for more work. Buying more second-hand books than I’ll probably ever get to read. Watching gigs and shows and hanging out with friends. Exploring new places and old ruins. And increasingly, writing blog posts and doing interviews.
What are you views on audiobooks and would you consider having your book made into an audiobook? If so, then who would you get to narrate it?
I’m totally fine with the idea of my work being presented this way. As for the narrator…well, I’d probably suggest myself as I’m a bit of a control freak, but I don’t think anyone needs to hear that much of my voice, so…hell, at this stage, anyone who’s willing to narrate my work is welcome to it!
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
I’m always working on too many things. I have some short stories I need to finish, some more I’m planning out in my head in preparation to write, and a jumble of ideas that need sorting; I have a novel manuscript I need to be starting as soon as possible; there are a couple of albums I’d like to record; and I’ve signed a contract with a name publisher to release my first novel, though I can’t say any more about that just now…
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
Start as soon as you can. If there are any foetuses reading this, stop floating about and get onto it now – I accept that your work’s going to be pretty boring considering you have literally nothing to write about, but get those wheels turning anyway. Failing that, if you truly love writing and are compelled to do it, keep plugging away and never give up. Read widely and well, and always be open to inspiration from any source. Accept that you will be shit at first and realise that even when you hit a plateau and know you’ve drastically improved, you will look back in a couple of years and think you were still shit. Don’t worry about that, though – it just means you’re always improving, that you’re on the right track. Good luck!
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for entertaining us Matthew and we sincerely look forward to delving into the spooky stories within your books soon!
Photo credit: Red Wallflower Photography
Matthew R. Davis is an author and musician (plus sometime editor, visual artist, scriptwriter, composer and all-round Renaissance man) based in Adelaide, South Australia.
He writes dark fiction, horror for the most part, though he takes an eclectic angle to all things. His approach to writing is character-focused, broad-minded and averse to standard tropes. He cut his fangs on authors such as Stephen King, Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub, Richard Laymon, Anne Rice, Dan Simmons, Tanith Lee and Poppy Z. Brite, and these days he’s also drawn to folks like Alan Moore, Laird Barron, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Karl Edward Wagner, Joe Hill, China Miéville, Tom Piccirilli, Venero Armanno, Kaaron Warren, Joel Lane, Dennis Lehane, Livia Llewellyn, and Angela Slatter (to name just a few). So if you’re looking for a list of influences, there’s a place to start.
You can connect with him via the following Social Media channels:-
Facebook Page:- If Only Tonight We Could Sleep (FB)
You can buy his book here:-
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.