I had the good fortune to interview Matt and Fiona about their new book, Splinters, published by Jolly Fish Press, now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and in local bookstores.
1. Why did you write Splinters?
Fiona: I’ve always wanted to write a speculative YA epic, like the books that inspired me as a kid and made me want to be an author in the first place. Matt and I together have some pretty eclectic tastes in fiction, especially where we’ve rubbed off on each other, so by crossing some very odd inspirations, we realized we could make ours pretty unique.
Matt: We’d worked together off and on for a while in our short story days, but had never really tried a novel together. Then one day in the middle of an X-Files binge (I’d been a fan back in the day, she’d never seen it before) we started thinking, ‘Hey, can we try to make a YA version of that for today’s readers?’ and from there, The Prospero Chronicles was born.
2. Was there any one person who was your inspiration for your main character?
Matt: Nobody from real life. Ben’s kind of an old-fashioned hero in a lot of ways. Very principled, strong, somewhat naïve but still savvy enough to make the right decisions when he has to. I like to think he’s something of an old school hero who’s grown up in a modern world, and throughout the series we’re going to see just what kind of toll that takes on that kind of mindset.
Fiona: No, I can’t think of any real life people the main characters are closely based on. They’re blends of things we are, wish we were, and are glad we’re not, with dashes of some of our favorite fictional characters and antidotes to our non-favorites.
3. As a writer, what would you say is the most controversial or compelling statement in the book? Why do you feel that way?
Fiona: This really shouldn’t be controversial at all, but wander into a movie theater at random and pay a little attention, and you’ll find that it definitely is: the idea that female characters can and should be as important, prominent, diverse, developed and interesting as male ones. I hope it at least goes more or less without saying why that’s pretty important to me.
4. What’s the most important thing readers will learn from Splinters?
Fiona: Other than what I’ve just mentioned? We’re not particularly didactic with it. They’ll learn a lot of very dangerous and impractical ways to protect themselves from otherworldly shapeshifters. Seriously, Mina’s an expert, and she’s fictional. Do NOT try this stuff at home.
Matt: I’d like to say how this book has an overall message that two opposites can work together for a greater common goal, and in a way it does, but its overall theme that you can’t trust anyone because they might just be an alien out to get you really kind of makes that point a little moot.
5. What problem do you feel the readers will identify with? What’s your best advice on how they can deal with that?
Matt: For lack of better wording, being a teenager sucks, or at least it feels like it does. A lot of the time it can feel like the whole world is out to get you, and though in this story it actually is, in real life that’s rarely the case. My advice on this is simple. Treat everyone around you like a bear; assume they’re really more afraid of you than you are of them. Of course this isn’t always the case, so you’ll have to play it by ear, but just remember that not everyone is out to get you because they’re usually more focused on their own problems.
Fiona: Ben and Mina both have to deal with choosing between what’s expected of them and what they believe in. They’re both smart and hardworking people from pretty well-off families. Mina has her issues relating to people (a problem in its own right I’m sure many can identify with), and Ben has to live with his mother’s wanderlust, but both of them should have had an easy time of building nice lives for themselves, acceptance by their neighbors and parents, good grades, an easy route to college, if they tried. They’d even have a fair chance of being left alone by the Splinters if they kept their heads down, but they both see the chance to help people, and they choose that instead. That’s one of the themes that definitely comes up throughout The Prospero Chronicles, the fact that the choices that will make you respectable and popular and successful in other people’s eyes aren’t automatically the right ones.
6. When do you write? Is it easier to write in the morning or at night? As you write as a team, do you discuss things and move forward, or do you write separate passages and then merge them?
Fiona: I write whenever I have a few minutes throughout the day, and then we both get most of our best work done in the morning and afternoon on the weekends. When we work together, we lay out a full outline first, and then every week we talk out the details of the next two chapters and then write our parts separately (he writes Ben, I write Mina). Then we swap and make notes to each other for edits to make it all work together.
Matt: Fiona and I are kinda opposites when it comes to how and when we can write. Give her a few minutes a day and she’ll put a chapter together slowly but surely. I can only really work on the weekends, and in weird fits and starts. Still, when I write in one of my writing binges, I can really write. It’s not uncommon for me to get 5,000-6,000 words of material done in a single weekend this way.
7. Who’s your favorite author?
Matt: I have some odd, eclectic tastes in authors, but Stephen King definitely has to top the list. Other favorites include, but are not limited to, George MacDonald Fraser, Max Brooks, George R.R. Martin and Alan Moore.
Fiona: I can’t choose, sorry, I love them for too many different reasons. First ones to mind are J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Lauren Oliver, Max Brooks, and I’ve recently been on a Shirley Jackson binge that might put her on the list.
8. Where can we buy the book?
Fiona: It’s in some stores, mostly in the LA area I think, and available to order from pretty much anywhere. And of course here’s the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Splinters-Prospero-Chronicles-Matt-Carter-ebook/dp/B00N6WPXK6/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1413133199
Matt: What she said.
9. What made you decide to team up to write the book?
Matt: It wasn’t so much a what but a when. We’d done a lot of projects together before, nothing really major, just some odds and ends shorts. We’d planned to do a novel together some day, but no idea really stuck, not until we got The Prospero Chronicles, and once we did get that together, it was just a matter of mapping and putting it together.
Fiona: We’ve been writing partners since long before we were married. Mostly we helped with brainstorming and critiquing each other, sometimes, as Matt said, teaming up for a short story (some good but none that saw publication). He taught me horror, and I taught him YA. We’d always wanted to do a big project together, and when the YA X-Files premise came up, it all clicked.
Thank you Fiona and Matt for stopping by. And good luck with your new book!
Jolly Fish is hosting a Rafflecopter Giveaway in honor of the new release:
Tags: book, F.J.R Titchenell, Matt Carter, Splinters