Interview with Matthew Cory

Like GlassJen: This weekend we are excited to have Matthew Cory as our guest. Welcome Matthew. Will you please share a short bio with us?
Matthew: I was born, and mostly raised, in El Paso, Texas, where I live now with my wife and our two “kids” (a three-year-old beagle named Chloe and a two-year-old cat named Charlie). My parents divorced when I was young, and my mother and I moved around a lot — mostly in southern California, and eventually to a small town in Washington (state). I’d stay with my father during the summers and my mother during the school years, until my mom moved to Washington; then I switched off and spent high school in El Paso, and the summers in Washington.

During and immediately after high school, my creative focus was on the piano, something that comes out in Like Glass and more so in the sequel that I’m working on for it (tentatively titled Shattered). I spent a small part of a semester at Texas Tech in Lubbock as a composition and piano performance major, then moved back to El Paso and went to UTEP. I switched up entirely from the creative world at this time and started studying computer science. I didn’t graduate, but spent a lot of personal time studying software development, and currently make a living developing software for Philips Electronics in El Paso.

Jen: Tell us about Like Glass and where it’s available.

Matthew: Like Glass is — and always has been — difficult for me to describe briefly. Every time I try, I make it sound like a soap opera, which definitely was not my intention in writing it. Here’s the gist of it though, I guess: we’ve all, at one time or another, been so angry at someone that we wished they were dead. Well, what would happen if they really died?

That’s what Like Glass starts off with — Rob Jackson gets a phone call from his brother’s wife, Janet, letting him know that his brother is dead. Rob had been hoping for that call for a long time, because a few years ago, he and Janet had been briefly (but fiercely) in love, and he never forgave his brother for stealing her from him. He goes up to Washington state (where Janet lives) for the funeral, and things just kinda go downhill from there. It’s really a great story; I just hope I did it justice in being the one to write it.

It’s currently available through my website, http://chocolatefordogs.com.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.

Matthew: I’ve been writing off and on since middle school at least. I mean, “extra curricular” writing, not just school assignments. The most recent bought — the one I’m in right now, and the one that’s had the greatest effect on my life — started in 2006, when I my dad had found some of my older poems and short stories. He told me they were really good, and that I should keep it up. So I started writing a couple of short stories just for kicks, and before long it kinda took over.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.

Matthew: Emotional, real, regular life.
(Okay, that’s four words; I hope I don’t get docked too much for that though…)

Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?

Matthew: At the moment, the most challenging aspect I find is keeping focused. I’m working full time, and I’m trying to market Like Glass, while still maintaining a quasi-normal family life. It’s tough to keep my writing and my day-job separated; I find when I have free time at work (which is rare, unless I’m forcing it) I’m working on my novel. And, when I start working on it, something always comes up, someone has a problem of some kind that I need to either take care of or send off to someone else who can do something about it. It took me two weeks to get the rough draft of Like Glass finished, working on it full time; Shattered has so far taken almost three, and I’ve only gotten nine chapters out of a planned forty-five chapters.

The easiest part of writing for me is actually just writing. Once I’ve got a scene in my head — when I’m not distracted, and I can visualize it — it just flows out like water. Sometimes it’s a little tough to get that next scene, of course, but when it comes, its out before I can really stop it. It’s great.

Jen: Did you do anything special to celebrate the sale or release of your book?

Matthew: I’m having a “release party” at my dad’s bar, Shooter’s Billiards in El Paso, Texas, to celebrate more that I’m able to market the book now. The book’s been available for almost a year now, but I haven’t had a chance to really push it at all. Now things have levelled off a little, and I can focus on it more, so I’m throwing a party. It’s open to the public too — anyone who happens to be in the area should stop by. It’s a great little bar, if nothing else.

Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write?

Matthew: I’d love to write stories that are more supernatural or fantasy-like — I don’t mean like elves and orcs necessarily, but stories that are in a more “not-quite-as-normal” universe. I’ve got one novel of this nature collecting dust somewhere, but it’ll be a while before I get back to it. This gets back to the focus thing though — it’s harder (for me, at least) to create something that’s entirely made up, rather than something that could be happening next door as you’re reading this.

Jen: Who has inspired you as an author?

Matthew: Stephen King, most definitely. I love the way he writes — it’s like sitting down and talking with your buddies, almost. No — or at least, very little — pretense, very down-to-earth. The way he connects with the reader — with me, at least — is great, and isn’t something I ever got out of most things you’d find in more “high-brow” stuff.

More recently, I’ve been reading the The Chronicles of Narnia as well, and C.S. Lewis is definitely a great writer (yeah, I’m behind the times; people have known that for ages, I’m sure). And again, it’s because of the connection he brings; it feels like I’m sitting by the fire, listening to a grandparent tell a story, rather than sitting there reading a book. It’s wonderful.

Jen: What’s next for you?

Matthew: Like I said, I’m currently working on Shattered, the sequel to Like Glass. I also have in mind several other books I may write around other characters in Like Glass — more of a “group” of books than any kind of sequel/prequel series. I have a few other stories in mind that I feel need to be told as well, though I’m not sure when they’ll decide they want to be written — that’s not something I can control.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?

Matthew: I maintain a blog at http://chocolatefordogs.com, where I mostly talk about writing, events around my books, and software development (though I’m moving away from the software stuff at the moment). I’m also on FaceBook, and I’m always looking for more friends, so be sure to look me up there.

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Matthew: If a train leaves Boston going 55 miles per hour …

No, I can’t really think of anything to ask, but if you don’t mind me getting a little preachy for a minute, I do have something I’d like to say that’s a little off topic and probably more than a little corny.

Every day, everyone — myself most definitely included, and probably worse than most — gets so caught up in stupid stuff: work, bills, money (especially money), got to be here, got to get there. We lose sight of important things. Family. Friends. Life. Life isn’t about paying bills, or about making that next paycheck. Life is about waking up in the morning and telling the person you love that you care about them. It’s about deep breaths and sunsets and all the other things we like to make fun of because we don’t take the time to let ourselves enjoy them.

We speed down the freeway so we get to work three minutes early — trust me, the building will still be there when you get there, and the odds are you’ll spend those three minutes waiting on the elevator anyways. We rush through our day, forgetting that, even though we may be at the office, that day is still special, it’s still a one-time gift from whatever higher power (if any) you choose to believe in. We get home, nuke dinner, gripe about our lives while the TV blares in the background, and go to bed so we can do it all again the next day. That’s existing, not living. And I want to reaffirm that I’m probably more guilty than a lot of people.

What I’d like to tell people is to slow down. Enjoy life while you’re here, and, contrary to what Madison Avenue will have you believe, you don’t need a fast car, the latest high-tech gizmos, a big house, or lots of money to enjoy life. Those take away from life. I know that from experience. As a wise man once said, “Life is what happens while you’re making plans.” Make your plans, but don’t forget to enjoy the little bits and pieces in between.

Okay, I’ll get off the soap box now.

Jen: Matthew, so much for joining us this weekend. Readers, we’re holding a quick contest for a copy of Like Glass. Leave a comment here or ask Matthew a question and you’ll be entered in the contest. I’ll draw a winner on Sunday, November 2 at 8:00 pm PDT.