Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Mystery Guest- Matt Chatelain

Today, I have Matt Chatelain visiting. 

'The Caves of Etretat' started off as a stream of consciousness ramble. It had no pace, no purpose. Research revealed two things. One, a real historical mystery in Etretat, a small town in France and the home of Maurice Leblanc, author of Arsene Lupin novels. Two, a connection to my first book, the Greyman, an early, failed attempt to express my spiritual views in an action format.

My first submission to an agent resulted in a rejection. No big surprise. The good thing was that it came with advice. My story was too long (150,000 words). It needed to be reduced by thirty thousand words. That was my introduction to the editing process. The agent also said my story had no pace. That too, was no surprise. I had no real antagonist. My second re-write introduced the most heinous serial-killer you could imagine, haunting the main character's footsteps (Paul Sirenne).

Now my characters had to hurry, to find the information, before the killer caught up to them. Pace was born. It had by no means matured. It took a few more years of editing to bring that about. My editing process was one of self-revelation, exposing my every error to the naked eye. Some of the revelations were very interesting.

Writing about action was challenging because it subconsciously connected to my own real fears of confrontation. When I wrote about Sirenne closing his hand into a fist and punching Norton in the jaw, my heart was jumping in my chest, as if it was I who was doing it. I felt real fear. It controlled my writing softening it, often stopping me from going as far as I should in the action scenes.

This inner resistance to action spurred me on to write more action scenes, to push myself, my real self, to open up. I succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. In book two, I developed the character of the antagonist, a monstrous serial killer. Here's a single quote from his book two journal:
                "I questioned him while filleting his feet."

Writing that line would have been originally impossible. In the end, I found it funny (still do), as opposed to horrific. My antagonist had infested me with his viewpoint on life. I have not killed anybody, so the take-over has limits, but it illustrates the changes that occurred within me during the series development.

After writing the four books, I find myself still bitten by the action bug. I always admired Matt Reilly, for his mastery of the genre. I decided that my next book will be an ultimate exploration of the genre. Hopefully, I will succeed.

If you want more information about four books, check out my website, . It has a 2500 word essay about writing the series. It has a few spoilers but it reveals many curious things that happened to me in the last six years. Drop me a note, or sign up for my free book contest while you're there. 

In 2007, Canadian bookstore owner Paul Sirenne is suddenly thrust into a quest for answers, when his parents are found brutally murdered, their bodies cut up and shaped into the letters H.N. Finding a note inside his father's copy of 'The Hollow Needle', by Maurice Leblanc, Sirenne is determined to uncover the roots of his long-forgotten family secret.

He heads to the town of Etretat, France, on the trail of a hundred year old mystery hidden in the pages of the 'Hollow Needle'. Falling in love with Leblanc's great-granddaughter, he deals with puzzles, theories, codes and historical mysteries, leading him to believe that Leblanc held a secret war against Adolf Hitler, fighting for the control of an incredible complex of caves hidden in Etretat's chalk cliffs.

'THE CAVES OF ETRETAT' is the first in a four-book epic adventure following Paul Sirenne, an average man unknowingly manipulated into becoming the key in the final phase of a complex conspiracy spanning millennia. Inextricably woven into history, the series re-writes everything we know in a non-stop rollercoaster of a ride where nothing is ever as it seems.


The moment his eyes dropped, I took off running, knowing exactly where I was going thanks to Coulter’s map. I had never broken any speed records before but, at that moment, I felt as if I were moving like a train, barrelling non-stop across the landscape, increasing my momentum and distance with every second. His pistol's barrel was too short for any type of accuracy. If he wanted to shoot me, he would have to catch me and I wasn’t planning to give him the chance!

Coulter kept scrolling the map on the screen, showing me exactly where I had to go, cheering me on all the while. I heard Norton yelling and risked a single glance backwards. He was hobbling after me at a decent pace, using his cane to lop forward, his pistol waving around with every step.

He looked angry.

I heard some car doors slam and more screaming in the distance. The Vallin brothers were in the parking lot, running all out toward Norton. They were both brandishing bats and waving them madly. I kept running, aiming directly for the cleft. I headed down, mostly sliding on one foot, dangerously out of control. Norton was closer behind me than I would’ve liked.

“Watch it, you’re going to lose it, you’re going to lose it... No... You’re fine, doing good, now be careful, here’s the stairs...” Coulter yammered on in my ear, keeping up a running commentary. I had to slide to a desperate stop right above the rusty steps. They were clogged with silt and sand that had come down from the cleft. I saw signs warning tourists off and bars blocking the staircase. Coulter screamed:

“Just go for it, Norton’s right behind you.”

Incredibly, Norton was sliding down the cleft on his good foot, using his branch to balance himself. He was coming down fast, still holding his gun, determined to catch me.

My interests are eclectic. I like Quantum Physics, Cosmology, history, archaeology, science in general, mechanics, free power, recycling and re-use. I'm a good handyman and can usually fix just about anything. I'm good with computers. I love movies, both good and bad, preferring action and war movies. I can draw and paint fairly well but am so obsessed with perspective and light that I cannot think of much else. I am too detail oriented. Takes too long to finish anything.
Born in Ottawa, fifty-two years ago, I have been the owner of a used bookstore I opened in Ontario, since 1990. I have been writing since I was ten. Beginning with poetry, I quickly moved on to short stories and non-fiction pieces. I stayed in that format for many years, eventually self-publishing a franchise manual (How to Open Your Own Used Bookstore), as well as a variety of booklets, such as 'How to Save Money at Home', 'Build a Greenhouse with Style' and the ten booklet series of Eddy Brock, Brockville Detective.

Having semi-retired from the bookstore, I embarked on the project of writing my first serious novel, which I expanded to a four book series after discovering an incredible mystery hidden within Maurice Leblanc's books.


Matt will be awarding a $20 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour as well as to the host whose post receives the most comments (excluding his or the host's) during the tour.


marybelle said...

It must be quite amazing to see your work changing & taking shape.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Matt today.

Leah said...

Interesting! I like conspiracies that have a historical element :)

Matt Chatelain Author said...

Hi Leah

There is tons of history in the series. All of it fitting into the biggest conspiracy you've ever encountered.

Check out my website for more.

Karyn Good said...

I love action and adventure and writing it is definitely challenging. I can relate to the need to hold back. Kudos to you for pushing yourself and opening yourself up. The Caves of Etretat sounds like a great book!

Anonymous said...

It must be gratifying to have a little research lead to all those connections. Great interview...


Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Matt, enjoyed learning about your journey. Adventure and villains are always fun to read! Keep up the good work.

Diana Mcc. said...

Great post, Matt. I visited your web site and really liked your post on "THE RECHARGEABLE BATTERY CONSPIRACY". Your books sound really interesting.

M. S. Spencer said...

The book sounds intriguing.I too am a librarian (& anthropologist & Francophone & writer--although I usually have to bulk up my books rather than cut them). This may sound odd, but I'd love to get hold of your booklet How to open your own used bookstore--there isn't a single one here on my key in Florida! Meredith

Caroline Clemmons said...

Thanks for sharing your journey to publication with us. Your premise is appealing. Good luck with sales!

susan said...

Your books sounds good. I am running a small community library and have a table for author's promo items..if you care to send me some of yours I will be glad to place them on the table. I think some of my visitors would love to hear about your books as I think they sound good and I do know what my reader visitors like. If you want send to: sue Leech, 1273 Strahan rd., New Columbia, Pa 17856. My library is non profit and we do not even charge late fees. It is books donated by myself from my own collections and from folks who were nice enough to help me get the project off the ground. I am retired and love people so this helps me keep in touch with human race. ha sue

Barbara said...

Good for you for not being discouraged with that first 'R'--for applying yourself and learning to do what needed to be done. Good luck with "The Caves...."

danita cahill said...

It was interesting reading about your editing process and learning journey. Thanks for sharing. And thanks for hosting Matt, Paty!

Matt Chatelain Author said...

Hi everyone thanks for your kind comments.

Matt Chatelain Author said...

ms spencer: contact me through my website to find out more about the franchise book how to open your used bookstore.

Matt Chatelain Author said...

Susan: Thanks for your offer. I'll email you.

Matt Chatelain Author said...

Diana Mcc: Thanks for visiting my site. Did you see the audio excerpts for 'the caves of etretat'? There is a hidden youtube video out there about the mythbusters battery conspiracy. totally hilarious.