Matt Horton is a fiction writer and author of the several books, including the Donovan Chase series, Missing Person, Warsaw, He's All That, and Legend of Prosperity Ranch. He also gives great interviews, like the one below:
What keeps me going is the true belief that I can and I should, even if nobody else believes in me. My vision is large and, at times, it seems that most people don’t understand that because they don’t know how much work it takes to be a writer. Being a writer is one of the loneliest, most dejecting “professions” unless you’re in the 1% that gets recognition for it. But you HAVE to keep writing. Keep talking. Keep sharing. Writing is something that I feel I have to do, even if I’m never famous or if it never becomes my primary source of income. I’m doing what I love so I’m living the dream.
On Facebook you've hinted that you're working on the fourth book in your Donovan Chase series. How has that been going? Care to share any details?
The fourth book has been slow. I’m working on several projects at the same time. There’s one original project called A Silent War which deals with domestic violence, and I’m working on the sequel to another original book (Warsaw) as well as the origin of one of the characters from the Donovan Chase series. That one is Blackhawk, which I referred to before. I’m a perfectionist, so I want anything that I put out there to be perfect, so the fourth may take a while but I’m really excited about the direction that it’s heading so far!
You've published at least ten books so far, which is incredible. When you're working on a project, what's your schedule like?
I’ve actually only done seven (I have a few which are only different formats but show on my page separately, which is unfortunate, but I don’t have much control over linking them. Amazon has been a HUGE learning process). But yes, it feels amazing to have my books out there.
When I’m working on a project, it can be chaotic, especially when I’m editing. I read everything over and over and over (and over) again. I work full time, I’m married, and a college student, so life is pretty hectic. But the thing is, you MAKE time for it. Sometimes writing inspiration can be hard to find (it took me six months on War Thr3e), or perhaps you’ve written yourself into a corner, but when it flows, you run with it, and generally just hope what you’re putting out there isn’t complete crap. I’m joking (mostly); I do feel like I have an idea of when something is good, though, because I know what types of stories I’d like to read.
Who are some of your influences? What have you read that has impacted you as a writer?
Ted Dekker. I LOVE his writing style. He was the one that inspired me to write. Actually, that’s wrong. I have a friend who is a screenplay writer and we’d send each other things back and forth over the years. I think I tried my hand at a screenplay first but then realized that it wasn’t good. But Ted Dekker’s style, man, and the way he contrasted light and darkness... killer. I always, always use the things that I write about to tell important truths, to show right vs. wrong (which some may argue because we all have different worldviews). I think it is a good platform to do so, but to do it in a fun, positive way while telling a story. I’m currently reading Thr3e by Dekker and I think that he is a great role model for Christian writers like myself.
I also love Marie Lu. Her Legend series is AMAZING. She makes it seem so simplistic and you can just get lost in the worlds she’s created, I aspire to be like that. I’m working on the third book in the series currently.
On your Goodreads, you mention were working on spinoffs and origin stories. How did you go about choosing which character backstories you wanted to elaborate on? Did any of them surprise you?
Honestly, my sphere of projects I take on changes constantly. I have a very distant vision of a spin-off for a Donovan Chase character, but with the direction I’m going on the fourth installment, it might end up being better to tell it there.
As far as the origin stories, the two I have in mind so far are... The Legend of Prosperity Ranch (originally titled The Devil Lived Here), which I wrote right after Blackhawk. This one was loosely based on an experience I had in a boys’ rehab program in the mountains of Mexico when I was sixteen. I revised it to tell the story from the perspective of the two main characters, Mac Brenner and Maddox Hill (who is also a main character in Donovan Chase: Sandstorm and Exodus). The latter, I’ve already mentioned, Blackhawk, is the origin story is Deacon Fox and Gunnar Styles (who is in Exodus as well). I think it’s SO much fun, though! I’m able to reference these stories in the series, so if you’re reading them, you’ll have an idea of what to expect and where each character came from, so there’s no surprise. That way, also, I’m not “wasting” any project I’ve done that I believe has potential. It’s also a really good way to judge how far I’ve come as a writer. Blackhawk, I’m COMPLETELY not sure about currently but I’m in the process of re-writing it to see if it is good enough to put out there. So, we’ll see what happens.
What are some of your favorite spinoffs?
Hmmm... I honestly can’t think of any off the top of my head (sorry!) but I think of spin-off stories like movies, like Aquaman, or something. I think that they can either be well done (in cinema or in writing), or they can be TERRIBLE. That’s part of the reason why I’ve been a little stagnant in putting them out there. I want them to be done well and I want readers to enjoy what they’re reading. If I can bring someone to the point where they forget reality for even a few minutes, or perhaps, it causes them to think deeply on the important issues of life, I believe I’ve done my job.
What do you believe attracts readers to dystopian fiction? What do you think attracts writers?
My gosh. I think it is the complete open horizon of possibility there. I like it because it allows me to stretch my imagination beyond what may really be possible or what could happen. I think readers like heroes and villains and dystopian usually involves both, and they’re generally just fun stories to read.
I think authors are attracted to it for two reasons. 1) People want to read them, and 2) they’re fun to write!
For me, the Donovan Chase series was such a progression. Yes, there are elements of mind reading (or eye reading) in the first book and there’s some telekinesis (which I really don’t believe in, but was fun to write about), but I generally tried to keep it in the realm of what COULD actually happen (in America, and then the world)? Exodus was by far the most fun to write because I didn’t have limits. World War 3 already happened. The government is already corrupt. So what’s next? Donovan Chase is brainwashed and the face of a rebel movement. Obviously. ;) And it deals a bit with Biblical end times events, so it was very cool to be able to incorporate that in as a way of interjecting my faith into it (though I do that in everything I write, honestly).
For me, it’s just pure creativity.
Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
Honestly, just that it is a grueling, rewarding, beautiful process and I don’t know if that’s often appreciated. I don’t think people often recognize your work until you get big.
Social media, especially, can be the worst, and I’m thankful that I don’t base my self worth on what I write, what people think about what I post on social media about it (or how much), or how many likes a post will get on Facebook. In the end, it’s about what I love to do, the stories I want to tell, and (hopefully) the impact that it might have on another person.
Missing Person was my first foray into the subject of child abductions and I even was able to start a small fundraiser for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in the process, and it has been such a good, simple way to tell a story in a delicate way about a very serious issue and to shed light on some of the darkness in this world. Child abductions and sex trafficking are very real issues and they are subjects that I am very passionate about, aside from writing. This is reality for a LOT of people in this world and it is heartbreaking. I did a lot of research in writing this and some of these stories are just horrific. My current writing project (A Silent War) deals with domestic violence, and will most likely be released next year some time.
I’ve discovered, though, in regards to social media (yes, that was quite the rabbit hole), you have to be on it; that’s why I rejoined Instagram after a seven month hiatus. You simply have to keep talking, keep promoting your work, and the cool thing is that there are SO many supportive, like minded people on there (IG) who really help and encourage you along the way! I’ve, honestly, near given up on Facebook about my writing because I honestly believe that people would rather see memes, GIFs, and inspirational quotes (and that’s okay! Facebook isn’t what it was in 2007 when I joined it). All in all, social media is a necessary evil (haha), but I’ve found it can also be a good thing.
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