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Author Spotlight: Matt Doyle

Matt Doyle

Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.

Today: Matt Doyle is a speculative fiction author from the UK and identifies as pansexual and genderfluid. Their work includes the Rainbow Award winning series, The Cassie Tam Files (Lesfic Cyberpunk Noir – published by NineStar Press), AILUROS (LGBTQIA+ Sci-Fi Horror – Published by Fractured Mirror Publishing), and multiple anthology appearances. Their most recent release is the LGBTQIA+ Epistolary Horror novelette, SurReality.

When not writing, Matt has spent a great deal of time enjoying a multitude of other projects. Most recently, Matt has been working on some voice acting projects, preparing for their debut as a scare actor at Europe’s longest-running Halloween Haunt, and blogging about everything from anime to video games.

Website: www.mattdoylemedia.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattdoylemedia

Thanks so much, Matt, for joining me!

J. Scott Coatsworth: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? 

Matt Doyle: Keep at it! This is going to take a few years before you find your voice, but what you’re doing isn’t bad. Ride out the rejections, keep developing, and an interesting idea is going to hit you that causes you to shift gears. That is when the fun starts.

JSC: How long do you write each day? 

MD: You know, that’s very variable. As it stands, I don’t actually write every day. The whole ‘write every day’ and ‘write x amount of words a day’ thing is something that works for some people. It really doesn’t for me though. Between the day job, the kids, and the ton of other projects I work on, I need to prioritise and split my day in a way that works for me. So, I would sum it up as I write what I can when I can. Some days that’s thousands of words, others, it’s none.

JSC: Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them? 

MD: I tend to write what I feel fits for the stories. The odd thing with that is that I tend to go in circles a bit, if that makes sense? Like, when I started writing as a kid, I started out in horror, then moved into sci-fi. Then, I went back to horror again when I started writing with the intent of getting published, then went back to sci-fi again. It was actually sci-fi that first got me published. Then, more recently, I started back into horror again.

Both of those genres are the ones I read the most growing up, along with fantasy. So, I tend to ground my stories in one of them, then mix in elements of other genres depending on the story. I find that mix to be important, because I do consume a lot of different media in different styles and genres. For me, it makes sense to stick it all in a blender to make a filling for that horror or sci-fi cake base.

JSC: What’s your drink of choice? 

MD: Tea! All the tea (with a handful of exceptions that I can’t stand). Mostly I’m doing decaff though. My housemate had to cut caffeine out for health reasons, and I dropped it too as a show of support, and actually feel a lot better that way. So, now I’ve reduced it a lot permanently. I guess I was overdoing it too!

JSC: How did you choose the topic for SurReality? 

MD: SurReality is actually a very old story. Way back on my first day of High School, we were given an English Literature assignment to write a short story, and anybody feeling brave enough would be able to read it out loud in the next lesson. The next lesson came around and one of the boys read out a story about themselves playing soccer in the park, getting spotted by a scout, and scoring the winning goal I the FA Cup Final for their favourite team. Next, one of the girls read out a story about themselves meeting someone, falling in love, and finding out the guy was secretly a Prince.

Now, at that point, I thought I’d done something wrong, because my story wasn’t about me. Thankfully, the teach said at that point that she sets this task every year, and every year, it’s the same thing: most of the boys write about playing for their favourite sports team or band, and most of the girls write about true love. She asked if anyone had done anything different, and I put up my hand.

I read Dreadlocks to the class and the reaction was…odd. The story was about a homeless person being chased by this strange girls with ginger dreadlocks, and in the end, his death at her hands. By the time I finished, the class was silent. I thought they just didn’t know it over – everyone else got a clap, after all – so I said, “The end.” It was still silent, so I looked up from my paper and saw everyone’s jaws o the floor. The teacher loved the story, and everyone in the school new me as ‘the weird kid that wrote that story’ for a few weeks after that.

Anyway, I was thinking on what to write next and thought it would be fun to revisit that story and see what the me of now would do with it. So, I reworked it. I fleshed out the homeless angle and the ginger dreadlock toting killer. I through in my love of cheesy paranormal reality TV, and of course, added in some LGBTQIA+ rep with the heroes. The idea to write it as a series of blog posts and news articles was a natural progression from the experimental stuff I did with AILUROS, and was kinda inspired in part by Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which I was re-reading at the time.

JSC: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them? 

MD: My main aim was to scare people, honestly. I’ve had horror elements in my books before – both AILUROS and LV-48 (The Cassie Tam File 3) have that air to them – but I hadn’t really done a straight horror tale outside a few anthology appearances. And what’s the most important part of a horror story? It needs to scare someone.

To make that work, I wanted to do something that felt like it could be a real urban legend. For me, urban legends always feel like there’s a grain of truth to them. This needed to feel that way too. The set-up with the reality TV team and the blog posts was an intentional thing to aid that; I wanted it to feel modern and relevant to today’s audience, while still retaining an old school spookiness.

Did I achieve that? Well, my editors said they felt chills at times while reading it, so that’s a good sign. Being a budget title, I’m hoping plenty of people will give it a chance though, and then I’ll find out for sure if this approach worked!

JSC: Who has been your favorite character to write and why? 

MD: The weird thing is, despite there being a lot of moving parts, the main character here is the audience. The thing is, this is a modern epistolary, and much like how you never spend time in Dracula’s head, this is all told from the point of view of people reacting to events that unfold. I basically had to come up with a couple of different types of viewer and figure out what they would make of what was happening.

Writing that way was different for me, and it was a lot of fun. It gave me a chance to try something new-to-me, and try to create a connection with readers while remaining disconnected from the story’s key events.

JSC: What other artistic pursuits (it any) do you indulge in apart from writing? 

MD: Oh, plenty! Most prominent at the moment is voice acting. I started taking this a little more seriously recently and have been cast in a couple of projects. I’m going to be voicing an off-screen, but important character, in the upcoming horror movie Demoniac. I was also cast in an upcoming audio drama, where I’ll be playing the Judge in a court case. That should start recording in a month or two.

Keeping with acting, I volunteered for some scare acting this year. I’ll be part of the team for Halloween Horrors at Fort Amherst. We’re the longest running Halloween Haunt in Europe, and one of the few left I the UK where the actors are still allowed to touch visitors. I can’t say what I’m doing yet – we’re sworn to secrecy before the event – but I’m looking forward to it. I got to help out with the first trailer for this year’s event too, so look out on my social media for me sharing that when it’s released. I’m also going to be at a local convention not help promote it too.

Outside acting, I occassioanly work on video games. I released a visual novel a little while back and am working on AI for another game. The AI is based loosely on the xenomorph AI from Alien Isolation. That has been a challenge, especially as a one-person-team.

I occasionally do some drawing as well. More recently, I tried my hand at some basic animation. It’s not perfect, but I’m getting there. Oh, and the cosplay. Halloween Horrors gives me a chance to work on some costume work, but I do enjoy building stuff for conventions too. If I make it to another one, you can bet I’ll be working on something there!

JSC: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

MD: A werewolf or a professional wrestler. I kinda did both. I wrestled from 2001 to 2010, and got to meet, train with, and work with some really great guys, some of whom make a lot of money wrestling now. Then, my more furry styled costumes are werewolf-like. Not to mention my entrance into scare acting means there’s the possibility of werewolfing around at some point I the future. I think young me would be happy with that.

JSC: What are you working on now, and what’s coming out next? Tell us about it!

MD: My current WIP is currently titled The Beast of Loughby Island. It’s a werewolf novella. That’s actually a big thing for me, because werewolves have been my favourite monster since I was kid, and I really haven’t written about them too much. A lot of that comes down to me not having the right story in mind to write a full-length piece. Honestly, it sounds odd, but I care far too much about the beasties, and wouldn’t allow myself to write a longer tale until this idea came up.

As to what you can expect with it…in some ways, it’ll be typical of me. There will be plenty of LGBTQIA+ characters, and humour will seep in at natural points. First and foremost though, this is a horror title. It’s designed to scare and make people feel uncomfortable. The kills are quite graphic in this one, and I’ve tried to do a few new things with them that I haven’t seen in werewolf stories before.

The werewolf lore is also something a little different, as I’m taking some cues from far older parts of the mythology for this one. My aim there is to make the monster feel a little fresher than we’ve seen in recent times. I took some inspiration from Clive Barker too in that regard, with the set up having some similarities to Rawhead Rex.

This is also going to be the most political thing I’ve written. You can absolutely read the story without worrying about the political message, but it is there. I’m taking a few shots at different things here that have been frustrating me with how people approach politics and rights in recent times. In that regard, this will be my angriest book.


SurReality - Matt Doyle

And now for Matt’s new book: SurReality:

Tony Cork and Benny Marks were ‘The Princes of UK Paranormal Television.’ Then, while investigating an urban legend for their 2015 Christmas Special, the couple found themselves torn apart by tragedy. Told through a series of blog posts written by the fans that loved them, this is Tony and Benny’s story.

Three murders over three days, the same time every year. These were the final days of the paranormal investigative show, SurReality.

Get It On Amazon


Excerpt

Thread: Anybody remember that Jackie Taylor show?

Hey. So, I was talking with this guy, and we both kinda remember something about a homeless woman called Jackie Taylor. We thought there was maybe a TV show about her, and the hosts got killed, or attacked, or something. Anyone else remember that, or are we totally misremembering this?
Posted by CRYPT0zoologist

Yeah, Jackie Taylor was an urban legend. They covered her on that old paranormal investigation show, SurReality.
Posted by TedLanza81

SurReality! That’s it! Is it really that old though? I thought it only ended in 2017.
Posted by CRYPT0zoologist

Yeah. Sorry, thought it was from 2001, for some reason. But you’re right, the hosts got kidnapped and one of them went missing. Barry, I think his name was.
Posted by TedLanza81

Benny, not Barry. Benny Marks. He went missing, and so did the show’s audience.
Posted by balkedonawednesday

To be fair, it was a really big deal when it all happened. Hey, CRYPTOzoologist, how’d this come up, anyway? Seems like a pretty niche convo.
Posted by KCrowe

Date talk. We both liked spooky stuff, and kinda remembered being freaked out by the story. The episode was filmed near us, back in 2015, I think?
Posted by CRYPT0zoologist

That was the first episode. Did you watch the follow-up in 2017?
Posted by KCrowe

There was a follow-up?
Posted by TedLanza81

Like Ted said, “There was a follow-up?” I wasn’t a big fan of the show. I remember it being kinda cheesy. I mean, reality TV isn’t real, obviously, but this was all sorts of ridiculous. I only watched that one because it was a local story.
Posted by CRYPT0zoologist

Oh yeah, they revisited it in 2017. It was like a big story arc, right?
Posted by PDUnreleasedOFFICIAL

PDUnreleasedOFFICIAL, I guess you could look at it that way.

CRYPTOzoologist, you seriously don’t remember all the news stuff between the two episodes? Or the murders?
Posted by KCrowe

MURDERS? NO?!?!? What happened?
Posted by CRYPT0zoologist

Wow…A lot happened. I covered it a few times when I blogged more regularly. I think I still have a bunch of archived stuff about the whole mess if you want to see it.
Posted by KCrowe

Wait, wait, wait. Are you Kayleigh Crowe, from Chicken GHOULash?
Posted by xox_stillfalling_xox

I would totally love to see that! It’d give me some good material for date #2.
Posted by CRYPT0zoologist

Mods, can you do something about xox_stillfalling_xox, please? She posts this every time she spots something by me. I haven’t even mentioned the blog for months now. It’s getting ridiculous.

CRYPT0zoologist, I’ll put it all into a readable format and post it up later. Seriously, though, if this sort of thing is good date talk, I think I’ve been swiping right on the wrong people.
Posted by KCrowe

Okay, here it is. I grabbed stuff from a couple of different news sources covering the build-up to the first Jackie Taylor episode, all the way up to…well…you’ll see. Enjoy!Posted by KCrowe

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