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 Jakens – Matt Jakens is a freelance writer and independent music reviewer. With a fascination for science fiction whether in print, TV or the movies Matt lives and loves the sci-fi/fantasy genre. A big fan of roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons and Vampire the Masquerade he has written many adventures in this genre too. Now entering the world of sci-fi by releasing his debut novel The Last Guardian of Sedelta – Book 1 in September 2015 on Amazon Kindle, he hopes to thrill readers with the first instalment of his series with a gay lead and action hero, and an exciting new alien galaxy.
Thanks so much, Matt, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Matt Jakens: Good at writing? …Well, that remains to be seen, but the feedback I’ve had from Good Reads, for instance, is positive!
I’ve always enjoyed writing stories for as long as I can remember, but my first attempt at a novel was when I was 19; I still have the manuscript written in longhand scrawl in an A4 envelope somewhere. Then I later wrote a parody of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called Ditsy the Demon Destroyer for a friend who was in hospital; that proved popular and loads of friends, and friends of friends, read it, even a publisher got hold of it at one point and thought it was a good start but needed work. I still have that somewhere too. I’ve always been a prolific writer, although only recently have I ever thought to publish anything, after promising myself that this time I would bite-the-bullet and self-publish.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
MJ: My genre is definitely sci-fi/action & adventure, but saying that I have dipped my toe in the paranormal/fantasy side of things. Even my most recent work includes dragons of a sort, predominantly it is sci-fi, but like I said I steer towards adventure, like Star Wars, rather than anything cerebral, I don’t have the brains for that!
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
MJ: My first ever published work was for a band called Enemy Unknown; I would write reviews for unsigned bands, which were then published on venues and band’s websites. I don’t remember a great deal about the actual article, but when you follow around Heavy Metal bands it’s a wonder that you can remember your own name or where you live after a night out with them!
JSC: What’s your writing process?
MJ: I spend most of my time writing in Starbucks, I find I can concentrate better while I’m out (and enjoying a large caramel machiato). I started writing this way as there was too many distractions at home. I spend about four hours a week there and average 3000 to 4000 words each week.
JSC: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.
MJ: I’m such a Star trek nut that I have the Enterprise tattooed on my wrist.
JSC: Do you write more on the romance side, or the speculative fiction side? Or both? And why?
MJ: I can’t say I write romance at all, I will be including some more of Jake and Marcus together in my new book, but still, don’t expect anything steamy as I aim my books at the teen market trying to give them gay fiction they can read as well as adults, and leave the sweaty, sticky stuff to reader’s imagination.
JSC: What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names? Pictures?
MJ: Thankfully, I don’t have that problem, I do have a cat and she is quite anti-social unless she wants feeding, and I don’t often take her to Starbucks; she’s more a tea person. Her name is Tuscan, a black cat; I don’t have any pictures of her as she has the superpower to absorb light in all its forms, leaving me with pictures of black blobs with scary luminous green eyes and vampiric teeth.
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
MJ: I am most definitely a plotter; I like to have an idea of where I am going in a story, but do reserve the right to throw it all out the window! I keep a notebook (call me old fashioned) for each story, and always have it on hand to scribble an idea or two.
JSC: If you could create a new holiday, what would it be?
MJ: It would have to be May 4th… Star Wars Day! I can’t understand why this hasn’t happened yet, maybe this year…
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
MJ: I am currently working on the sequel to The Last Guardian of Sedelta, I don’t have a working title for it yet, but it follows on from the first book about a month later. Check out my Facebook page for updates! I’m on chapter 9 of the first draft and it’s going well.
And now for Matt’s new book: The Last Guardian of Sedelta:
Jake is happy with his life aboard the Edgeward Hub space station. That is until his father, a nefarious smuggler, sends him an urgent message.
His father has stolen an artefact that will reveal a plot to unearth a super-weapon capable of destroying a planet or even a star, and Jake learns some shocking truths about his heritage too.
Thrust into a conspiracy that threatens another galactic war, Jake must race to discover where this super- weapon is. All the while evading a potent and deadly enemy hell-bent on finding the ancient weapon.
His first clue leads him to the planet Sedelta and a dormant volcano where, hidden inside is a shrine to an unbelievable creature. There, Jake begins his journey to find the Last Guardian of Sedelta and save the galaxy.
The following morning Jake had met Targ at the Crow’s Feet landing pad, apparently the Crow’s Feet had had its rushed makeover last night with the deck staff pulling a double shift. With that in mind, Targ was going over the new additions with a fine tooth comb. Jake knew Targ was enjoying himself even though outwardly he was grumbling about this and that, and since he’d been away someone else had been messing with his ‘baby’. Both Targ and Jake had crewed her for four years now, and were more than a little precious about the old bird.
Outwardly, just one thing had changed on the Crow’s Feet; it had been given a new paint job; before it was a jumble of mismatched panels that had been salvaged from older ships of the same design, now it was a dull matt black all over, but even this was a marked improvement for the Crow’s Feet. The paint was actually a special sensor reflecting coating, this would mask them from most passive sensors; so only the most determined scan might detect the little ship.
Still, Jake marked this as both a good and bad thing; how many maintenance craft do you see with stealth paint?
He also noted that the promised gun crew had not arrived yet. He thought he’d better contact ops to see if there was an update, maybe Marcus knew something. Jake keyed his wrist-comm and was about to speak Esteban’s name to initiate contact, when the Lieutenant appeared flanked by two intimidating looking alien officers, and Jake felt his blood run cold. One was female, and had cat-like features, in particular her amber eyes with slit pupils and her ears higher on her head than a human’s and pointed like a cat’s. She was a Ferini, the one race he’d been warned about by his father that were neck deep in this conspiracy.
The other was shorter than Marcus’ six foot frame by a good foot, his complexion was a green hue and instead of hair he had tentacles that bounced around his face, he also sported a tentacle beard too and this seemed to writhe with a mind of its own. Most striking were his eyes, two large round lidless orbs that sat on either side of his head, and now and again a special tentacle would wipe each one.
Marcus held up a hand in greeting,
“Good morning Lieutenant Cutter,” he called out formally, then as they met he introduced his companions, “May I introduce Major Trusger of station security, and…” he was cut off…
“Lieutenant, I am Agent Loriel Rackellen of Coalition Intelligence. I have been assigned to take charge of this operation and ensure your safety,” she explained, holding out her hand.
Jake looked at the outstretched palm of the Ferini woman and reluctantly took it,
“Pleased to meet you, ma’am. Major,” he greeted the other alien too, “I’m sorry, but what do you mean take charge? I am leading this mission, Commander Warwick…” Jake was also interrupted by Agent Rackellen.
“Commander Warwick has been overruled I’m afraid. Homeworld Command has requested a more experienced field operative be in charge of this crucial mission. I arrived this morning, I’m sorry if you have not been informed. Here are my orders,” she proffered her palm-pad,
“Now, is the ship prepped for launch yet?” she asked politely, but it was obvious she wasn’t about to accept an argument from Jake.
Jake gave Marcus a cold stare, but he simply shrugged his shoulders and gave the merest shake of the head. Jake knew what this meant; if he chose to dispute the orders he could well end up in big trouble and even taken off the mission,
“I have just arrived myself, Ma’am, I was about to go aboard. Permission to continue?” asked Jake through gritted teeth.
“Of course, Lieutenant, carry on,” she said silkily.
“Lieutenant Esteban, might I have a word, I’d like to go over my flight plan with you?” said Jake, making his excuses to get Marcus aboard and interrogate him.
“Certainly Lieutenant, I’ll be with you momentarily,” replied Marcus.
Jake continued on board, walking up the ramp in to the rear of the Crow’s Feet and disappeared inside to stow his gear.
A short while later, Marcus joined him in the cockpit and sat down in the co-pilot’s chair,
“I know what you’re thinking, but don’t start. She arrived this morning with orders from Homeworld Command, there was nothing Warwick could do about it; the orders were from the very top. This is why he’s assigned Trusger, he’s a decent and fair man, and will ensure your safety is top priority. By all accounts, Rackellen is a top agent with an exemplary record. She should be an asset to you,” explained Marcus.
“An asset, maybe, but I don’t need her sticking her nose in and complicating the issue,” harrumphed Jake.
“You mean stopping you from carrying out your ideal scenario. Jake, Warwick is right, we can’t go against the chain of command; you took an oath…” pleaded Marcus.
“Yes, when I thought I was human! If you knew what I know now, what the Eye is capable of, you’d be on my side,” Jake hissed in low tones, aware that there was movement below decks.
Marcus gave Jake a hurt look, “I am on your side, but you have to play this cool, Jake. Go along with it for now. If the Malac’ are indeed hot on the trail of the other parts of the Eye, Rackellen may have no other choice but to destroy a key piece.”
“See, that’s the problem; you can’t just destroy one piece, it’s the whole thing or you end up with another problem entirely,” Jake saw Marcus’ look of confusion and realised he had no idea what he was talking about, “it’s hard to explain, but the two parts; the Iris and the Ora, are incredibly powerful and sentient, the Tear; the command module piece, is also sentient and is the balance between the two parts, and is the most vulnerable, but destroying it will unleash the other two. I need to gather all the parts together then destroy them as one.”
“How come you didn’t explain this in the report to Warwick?” Marcus asked incredulously.
“He didn’t ask,” came Jake’s simple reply.
Marcus Esteban stood up to leave, “Jake, if you’re not going to share the information you have with our own commanding officer, then you’re asking for trouble. Maybe this could’ve helped your case, now… Now, you’re on your own. Good luck.”
Marcus was obviously disappointed with Jake’s attitude, but bent down and gave Jake a kiss on the lips, then turned and left the cockpit without looking back.
Jake watched his lover leave the cabin, and couldn’t help thinking that Marcus was disappointed that Jake hadn’t shared the whole truth with him. He was right, of course, but Jake was still disseminating the memories and wasn’t convinced he even knew that information until it spilled out of his mouth a moment ago.
He shook off the feeling of guilt and concentrated on completing the pre-flight checks.
Jake had just announced to the crew that the ship was ready for launch when he spotted the reflection of someone approaching from behind in the cockpit windows. He turned to find Agent Rackellen joining him, as Marcus had, sitting in the co-pilot chair,
“Lieutenant, I wanted to discuss our plan of attack,” she said, pleasantly, fitting her palm-pad in to the console interface.
“Of course, Agent Rackellen. Our first stop will be Sedelta, we will need to recover a relic that will give us direct co-ordinates to where all three pieces are hidden.”
Rackellen nodded sagely, “I see. And you know this because the Atlas artefact told you, Mr Cutter?”
Jake was surprised at her knowledge, she was very well informed, “That’s right. Once we have this we will be well ahead of the Malac’ and will be able to recover the Tear; the Command Module for the terraforming device. Once this is in our possession we will be able to control the other two parts and bring the device together.”
“It sounds like you have this all worked out, Lieutenant. Do you believe you can pull this off?” She asked, cynically.
“I wouldn’t be going if I thought it was impossible. It won’t be easy, but we have an advantage,” said Jake with a twinkle in his eye.
“Oh, and what would that be, Lieutenant?”
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Matt Jakens is a freelance writer and independent music reviewer. With a fascination for science fiction whether in print, TV or the movies Matt lives and loves the sci-fi/fantasy genre. A big fan of roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons and Vampire the Masquerade he has written many adventures in this genre too. Now entering the world of sci-fi by releasing his debut novel The Last Guardian of Sedelta – Book 1 in September 2015 on Amazon Kindle, he hopes to thrill readers with the first instalment of his series with a gay lead and action hero, and an exciting new alien galaxy.