Thursday, March 25, 2010

Charles Matthews- Guest Profile

Since I covered creating the book cover to Pinesport Divide on this blog, I thought it would be interesting to introduce you to Charles Matthews, the talented author. Below are a few questions I asked Charles about his book. Comments are welcome.

1. What inspired you to write Pinesport Divide?

My family and I recently moved to Maryland, landing us near some truly excellent historical Civil War sites. In fact, it wouldn't be terribly farfetched to imagine gray or blue suited ghost soldiers marching across my front yard during the quiet hours of the night. This history-rich environment has given me a renewed interest in what I consider America's first great Divide. Add this to my addiction of the History Channel and stories about leaders who have risen to power and you might begin to understand how my idea to write about a Civil War in the Twenty-First Century evolved.

One of the guilty pleasures in my life is people-watching. Human nature, in general, fascinates me. I find our inability to co-exist peacefully on this small planet curious. There is an instinctual nature inherent in certain individuals, which drives them to seek power that I find fascinating. I recently read a novel series about the life of Julius Ceasar that chronicled his life from the time he was a small child through his rise and fall as a leader of Rome. I often ponder what it is about people like him, who (almost) magically appear to command loyalty and respect.

Pinesport Divide is a story that amplifies the tiny cracks in our society which can ultimately lead to disaster ... like a Civil War. In the book, I theorize answers to questions such as how an unperceived threat can escalate into something substantial (remember the holocaust), how greed corrupts the soul (undeveloped minds being won over with gifts), and how it is never too late to find redemption. The story I’ve created revolves around the lives of adolescents, during their coming-of-age years, who eventually rise to important roles in the unfolding war. Their experiences in this book will shape decisions made later and mold them into the people they are destined to become.

The real American Civil War has been recanted more than enough times, so I decided a twist was needed for this one. My story has been put in a setting that I feel the youth of today's ever advancing social environment might better relate to. Please be prepared though -- like any war -- there is no guaranteed happy ending.

2. Define the difference between a Lectrol and a Loor.

Although both groups possess abilities beyond that of a Normal person, they are still considered human. Said another way, a Lectrol or a Loor is nothing more than an ordinary person who has elected to enhance his/her body.

The methods utilized for these procedures, however, are quite different. Turning Lectrol requires advanced equipment to be able to ‘connect with’ and modify our biological makeup; whereas becoming Loor requires nothing more than the power of the mind. And while the prior requires a lot of complex outside stimulus, it is still a much easier feat to accomplish since it does not involve all of the training and knowledge necessary to become Loor.

The first Lectrol was transformed in 1968; the first Loor followed shortly after in 1970.

Lectrols may sound Super-Human, but they are not. A good way to understand them is to consider what it would be like to exercise your body and mind 24/7. Eventually, your body would peak in performance ability, and undoubtedly, you would be stronger, quicker, and mentally sharper than most Normals. Of course, there’s not many people who could sustain such a regiment. Turning Lectrol allows this maximum potential without all the hard work.

Loors, on the other hand, are concentrated on the body’s energy force to harness and manipulate it in ways mankind has never experienced before. The potential exists in all humans, however it requires many hours of strict study and discipline (not to mention a spiritually open mind) to attain that power. Considering these obstacles, it requires a very devoted type of person.

Based on these differences, it is easy to understand how conflict might arise from their polarizing core values.

One last point to note about Lectrols and Loors is that neither group can be positively distinguished for their true identities with the naked eye. There is one exception though: Lectrol’s eyes shimmer blue in the dark.

3. What challenges did you encounter while writing this book?

Where do I begin? For starters, this was my first novel, and with that came all the challenges every writer experiences with their first book. If I had to pick the top two challenges, they would be Time and Details.

These go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly, or Abbott and Costello (yikes - I can’t believe I just referenced something that old!). Getting into the details takes time – a whole lot of it. With the science fiction element of Lectrols and Loors, it required the creation of a whole new environment filled with all sorts of new rules, procedures, terminology, and visuals. It was easy enough getting through chapters until about the tenth or eleventh when I started searching through previous chapters to remind myself what a specific type of move was called, or what class a particular teacher taught. Eventually, I started a journal to keep all these little details in one spot for quick reference, because the devil really is in the details.

It seems the older I get, the quicker time flies, but I suppose it’s like that for everybody. Life gets complicated with a career, wife, kids, home maintenance, soccer practice, and … well – you get the picture. Stealing a solid hour here or there to bang out a couple of pages is no easy task, but being married to a very understanding and supportive wife certainly helps.

4. Describe your writing process.

It all started with a basic idea that I mulled over for a period of time (see my answer to what inspired me to write Pinesport Divide above). In this particular instance, I had the general idea rattling around in my brain for a good month before it was even put to paper. At first I knew I wanted to write about a Civil War, but I also knew it needed a twist. I thought it would be interesting to see how that kind of situation would play out in a High School. Whereas adults are somewhat predictable, teens, still in the mental development stage of their lives, are not. I was interested to see how a collapse in the social fabric of society would play out with them. That was plenty of substance for a book; however, my inner geek awakened, further convincing me to spice the story up with the Lectrol and Loor element.

With the shell of my idea fully molded, I then developed the basic elements that all stories consist of: characters, plot, setting, conflict, and resolution. This was very challenging and consisted of many brainstorming sessions to come up with the perfect type of environment for my story.

Once all that hard work was complete, it was time to let the funk out and have some fun. After having researched many methods on how to write a novel, I simply did what felt natural and started from the back. This made sense to me because the end is what the whole book builds to. Right? Therefore, I plotted key points, working my way from end to beginning. I identified about 35 key events that would lead me to the ending, and chapters were born. At that point I was hesitant to break it down further because I was afraid of hindering my creative spirit with an prescribed sequence of events, but I did wind up including three or four bullets per chapter to keep a tight story.

Once I started writing, a funny thing happened (funny to me anyway). I’ve always heard writers talk about how their characters take on a life of their own, to which my general reaction has always been one of disbelief, but soon enough my characters under mindedly changed my story. They even took control and changed my beloved ending … more than once.

It took roughly half a year working my full time job while writing feverishly on nights and weekends, but I finally finished. [Queue the light from above and an angelic choir with orchestra belting out a couple of Hallelujahs.] Like Frankenstein, I had created my Masterpiece … or so I thought.

Nobody told me about the revision process. As I read through my (perceived finished) novel for the first time, I had to keep a bucket close by with the threat of vomit escaping my mouth from each horrible sentence I had read. Perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit, but trust me when I say it was bad! That’s when I did a little research and learned that writing the book was the easy part; editing was a whole new beast. So I revised, and revised, and (this is the part where I take up half a page not-so-cleverishly writing the same thing over and over again). At last, six excruciating months later, The Pinesport Divide (later to be shortened to simply Pinesport Divide) was completed.

5. Now that Pinesport Divide is available in stores, what are you working on?

My recently created website – – is keeping me busy as I learn about website design and gather content to post, like sample chapters, a Q&A Page where I can post answers to reader’s questions about the book, and links to other fun sites that I am involved with. One of those links will take you to my new blog, Becoming an Author ( Here, I am chronicling my experience as I set sail to become an established writer. I also set up another fun blog site to publish my short stories ( At both sites, I welcome and encourage comments and feedback.

The planning stage for the next book in the Pinesport series is also officially under way. I am excited to see where this next book takes us in the saga. So far, my characters are keeping tight lips.

In some aspects, the past year feels like it lasted forever with all the work involved in making my first novel a reality, but then another part of me feels like it was over in a blink. I guess there was a little trade off in life happening there. Therefore, as my final order of business while I watch my new book hit the bookshelves, I am committed to spending some quality R&R time with the family before jumping in with both feet again.

Update There have been several inquiries on how to order a copy of Pinesport Divide autographed by Charles Matthews. If you would like to order one, go to Charle's website and click on the order button at the top of the page.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pinesport Divide Now Available!

Pinesport Divide (ISBN-13: 978-0984343799) by Charles Matthews and published by Metal Lunchbox Publishing is now available in paperback from Amazon and will soon be available in a bookstore near you. It is also available a an eBook from Smashwords or as a Kindle eBook from Amazon. You can also order an autographed copy of the book directly from Metal Lunchbox Publishing with a personalized message from Charles at no additional cost.

Earlier in my blog I went through the process of creating the book cover for this project. Stay tuned to this blog for a special interview with special guest Charles Matthews who will share some insight on Pinesport Divide as well as some behind the scenes information about his work habits.