Hello everyone! And welcome to another all-new author interview. Today I am speaking with another author from the Indie Eden Book Club, Matthew V. Brockmeyer about his horror novel, Kind Nepenthe. The book is about several different people who are all trying their best to do the right things in life, but are going about it in a way that can only spell disaster for them and the people they love.
Let’s see what Matthew has to say about his book, and if he has any tips for us on the writing process!
Welcome, Matthew! First things first: What is the one question that you wish people would ask you about Kind Nepenthe? (And what is the answer?)
What are the literary influences in the novel?
On the surface, as many readers have noted, it has similarities to Stephen King’s The Shining. I even put a couple direct references to The Shining in the novel, a little wink-wink to King fans. But I really see it as echoing the themes of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Misfit outcasts in search of better life, where they can live off the land and be one with nature, and the obstacles they face in that search and the tragedy that ensues. Steinbeck’s use of nature as metaphor is also a huge influence on me. The narrative structure of the novel was definitely influenced by Hubert Selby Jr.’s Requiem for a Dream. A montage of different characters whose stories intertwine, each seeking to fulfill a desperate dream but making terrible decisions that ultimately spell their doom.
That was really a great answer, I should have asked you that question! Which typical author interview question do you hate the most?
There’s no such thing as a bad question!
Good, then I don’t have to worry! You told us a bit about Kind Nepenthe in your first answer, but can you give us a short description of the book?
Kind Nepenthe is a story of bad choices made for the right reasons. Rebecca wants an organic farm where she can teach her daughter how to commune with nature and live off the land. Diesel Dan wants to be the father to his coming grandson that he never was to his own son. These are noble pursuits, but the characters pursue them down roads that can lead only to darkness. It is also the story of how the ghosts of the past can haunt and influence us, pulling us into their spell. The ghosts in this novel are really meant to serve as metaphors for the history of the land, from idealistic hippies who, in their pursuit of enlightenment and self-fulfillment, lost touch with their parental instincts, to the violent, outlaw nature of the Wild West.
I’m reading the book now, and what I like about it is that the characters are so human, and that the land seems to be a character in its own right. There is definitely a lot to discover and learn from this book!
On that same topic, your book is in the thriller/horror genre. What drew you to this genre? Do you also like to read books in this genre?
Horror is the ultimate genre for me. There is that rollercoaster thrill-ride aspect that I enjoy very much, but deeper than that there is an examination of who we are and what it means to be human. To exist on this mortal plane. In many ways our fears define us. I have a very broad definition of what horror is, and include a great many books within that umbrella that others would not consider horror. To me, The Lord of the Flies is a horror novel, as is Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. So, yes, I read within the horror genre, but I include many literary works under that banner that others may not.
Is there any famous author that inspires you, or that you admire?
Oh, geeze. So many. It would be difficult to name just one. I guess I’ll go with Cormac McCarthy because I admire how bold and unafraid he is. Not afraid to have unlikable characters, not afraid to explore the darkest and most sinister elements of humanity, to go places other writers would be terrified to tread. Even his style, unabashedly original, shows no fear. His lack of punctuation, strange word choices, lapses into poetic and rambling descriptions. I’d never dream of trying to imitate him. A true one and only. And so very, very American. Exploring the western landscape with an unblinking eye. Arguably the greatest living writer today.
Wow, I can really see why you admire him! On the opposite side of the spectrum, thinking about the people who read your work instead now, who is your target audience for this book? What do you think will appeal to them about Kind Nepenthe?
My target audience is anyone who enjoys a thrilling and page-turning horror novel. That being said, it’s not for anyone looking for a feel-good book with happy endings. It’s very dark. I eschew the black-and-white, good-versus-evil aspects of some horror and dark fantasy, for characters who lurk in realms of gray. Oftentimes, as a writer, my goal is to make the reader care for and even root for the perceived villain, while giving the protagonist questionable attributes. I try to add a layer of depth in this manner. I like to consider my work literary-horror, all of the characters are flawed, vulnerable and wounded in one way or another. So, I guess I’m also targeting intelligent readers well-versed in literature. I’d like to think so at least, lol.
I think the book will certainly appeal to that audience! So, when you write a book, do you plan out everything beforehand, or do you let the story follow its own course?
I am definitely a plotter not a pantser. I generally have a beginning, middle and end all worked out before I start. If not formally outlined, at least in my head. But, sometimes my characters will surprise me and act out in strange ways that change the plot. I like everything to form organically, so if the story takes a turn I didn’t see coming, I will go with it, though I generally try to steer it back in the original direction.
Do you have any quirky writing habits?
Yes. I always write in the nude with aluminum foil wrapped around my head so no one can steal my ideas. Ha ha, just joking. Nothing too quirky. Just standard writer’s fare, note cards and outlines tacked up everywhere, stacks of scribble-filled notebooks.
Haha! Now everyone will be wrapping foil around their heads! :P Aside from that, do you have any writing tips for other writers?
Read, read, read. Underline, highlight, take notes. Reread what you like and reread it again. It all comes down to a love of reading and story, doesn’t it?
Well said! Keeping on the advice tack, what would you say is the best way to market your book? With which method have you had the most success so far?
Still figuring this one out! I’ve written a lot of short stories and developed a small fan base that way. I suppose everything is about social media these days. Find and know your community. Become a good member. For me this would be the horror community, who really are a very warm and friendly lot whom I very much enjoy talking and interacting with.
How did your book come to be published? What was your journey to publication like? Did you get a lot of rejection letters before you finally saw your name in print?
Lots of rejection letters, yes. I queried agents for six months. Got a few nibbles but no one ready to fully commit. Then I hit the indie publishers. Black Rose offered me a contract and I took it.
Is being a published author everything you dreamed it would be? If not, how is it different? Is there anything you would change about it?
Well, I of course always dreamed of being published by one of the big five publishers and being flown to book-signing tours and seeing my work in all the major bookstores, reviewed by The New York Times, interviewed on NPR. Obviously that doesn’t happen when you are published by an indie publisher. But it’s been fun!
I think all of us fellow indie authors know exactly how you feel. Thanks for sharing some of your knowledge with us, and I’m sure everyone will be checking out your book!
About the Author
Matthew Brockmeyer lives deep in the forest of Northern California with his wife and two children. His work has been featured in numerous publications, both in print and online, including, among others, Infernal Ink Magazine, Not One of Us, Body Parts Magazine, Timeless Tales Magazine, Pulp Metal Magazine, Alephi, Cultured Vultures, and the anthologies The Edge: Infinite Darkness, After the Happily Ever After, and One Hundred Voices.
About the Book
Rebecca thought she’d find a hippie paradise when she moved to the desolate back hills of Humboldt County. A place to commune with nature and teach her five-year-old daughter how to live off the land. Instead she discovered a nightmare.
Coyote is a washed-up pot grower. Strung out on pills and dealing with dropping prices and looming legalization, he wonders if it’s even worth it anymore.
Diesel Dan abandoned his son for a life of methamphetamine and prison. Now he wants to make amends. He’s going to be a grandfather. But his son is on the same dark road of drugs and violence that once consumed him.
These characters will come together in an explosive ending that will leave you stunned and breathless. But more than just a gripping horror novel, Kind Nepenthe is a deep examination into the nature of love and greed, lost ideals, and the essence of evil in one of the last frontiers of the American West.