Monday, February 23, 2015

Interview with thriller author Matthew Peters

Welcome, Readers. Today’s special guest is thriller author Matthew Peters. He’s talking about writing and in particular, his religious thriller, The Brothers’ Keepers.

During his virtual book tour, Matthew will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a lucky winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too.

Dual diagnosed* from an early age, Matthew Peters dropped out of high school at sixteen. He went on to obtain an A.A., a B.A. from Vassar College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University. He has taught various courses in a variety of disciplines throughout North Carolina. He is committed to increasing the awareness and understanding of the dual diagnosed. In addition to The Brothers’ Keepers, he is the author of Conversations Among Ruins, which features a dual diagnosed protagonist. Currently, he is working on a sequel to The Brothers’ Keepers.

*The term dual diagnosed refers to someone suffering from a mood disorder (e.g., depression) and chemical dependency.

Welcome, Matthew, please tell us about your current thriller, The Brothers’ Keepers.
Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?

Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.

It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.

Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write The Brothers' Keepers  for two main reasons. First, The Brothers' Keepers allowed me to capitalize on my love of history, politics, and research. Second, it gave me a chance to examine some of the issues I struggle with on a daily basis: issues of faith, the role of religion in politics, and the role of truth in society. 

It is always said that the two topics one should avoid in polite company are religion and politics. So, it was quite natural for me to write a book that involves both! I really seek to challenge people's views, especially their unquestioned ones regarding established sources of authority, such as the Church and the state. I respect everyone's right to their opinions, but I challenge people to know the reasons behind them. 

Excerpt from The Brothers’ Keepers:
The bus moved up Viadotto and turned right onto Rene. Smells of fried food and burning incense wafted through the open windows of the bus. A left turn brought them to Emilia, past white stone buildings, statues, and street vendors, past the fountains toward the heart of Pisa. The further north they went, the closer they came to the Arno, where a vast migration of darkly-clad figures moved in the opposite direction, southeast toward Rome. It was a black exodus of grief, one of almost unreal proportions; swarms of people with lowered heads and bent postures, heading desperately, slowly, inexorably toward a common ill-fated destination. The dark edges of the black clothes stood out in stark contrast to the gray day that blurred the corners of buildings and churches. Rain fell, blended with human tears, and smudged the scene like a charcoal sketch. Open, dark umbrellas resembled the conical piles of volcanic ash upon which the country was built. On that gray morning Pisa wore a death-mask.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on the next book in the Nicholas Branson series. I can’t say too much, because I don’t want to spoil it, but it essentially picks up where the first book leaves off (with about ten months having passed in the interim).

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve considered myself a writer for several years, all through college and graduate school. But at that time I was reading and writing non-fiction. I didn’t start reading fiction seriously until a decade ago. Then in 2011 I changed careers and started writing full-time. I have considered myself a writer ever since.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write full-time. My day varies according to which part of a project I’m working on. On any given day I’ll be: 1) researching, 2) writing, and/or 3) revising. The Branson novels are research intensive. I spend anywhere from six months to a year (or more) researching and developing the story. So if I am at that point in the process, my day consists of getting up very early (usually by 4:00 AM) and reading for up to twelve hours a day, five days a week, sometimes more. If I’m writing, I start my day by writing. However, I only write in the morning, never in the afternoon or evening. Usually, if I am writing I spend the afternoon reading/researching. If I am revising, I get up at the same time and revise for most of the day, as long as I can take it. Intermixed through all of this is social media, and the necessary breaks needed to keep me sane.    

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
You had to ask, huh? Well, I’d say my most obvious quirk is that I wear different hats when I write to help get me out of myself and into my characters. I won’t mention all of them, but I’ll tell you two of my favorites. The first is a PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN hat, complete with dreadlocks. The second is a cap shaped like the head of a grizzly bear. It has ears on top which, when you squeeze, emit a grizzly bear roar.

You literally wear different hats, that’s fun – thanks for sharing!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had a pretty rough childhood. My goal was just to get through it. So I’d say I wanted to be an adult when I grew up. This leads me to my response to your next question.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
There’s an issue I’m passionate about that I’d like to raise awareness of. It’s the issue of dual diagnosis. The term dual diagnosed generally describes a person who has a mood disorder (e.g., depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder), and some form of chemical dependency (e.g., alcoholism, and/or addiction to cocaine, heroin or prescription medication).

Approximately 6 out of 100 Americans have a dual diagnosis.

It is also estimated that 29% of those who suffer emotional/mental disorders have abused substances and that 53% of substance abusers have had a psychiatric problem.
Having a dual diagnosis differs, in terms of recovery, in that it is not just about refraining from alcohol, or taking anti-depressants. It is a synergistic condition where one illness exacerbates the other.

Famous individuals among the dual diagnosed include Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, Sigmund Freud, and Robin Williams. I, myself, am dual diagnosed with major depressive disorder and alcoholism. My mom was, too. My other novel, Conversations Among Ruins, features a protagonist who is dual diagnosed.

I think it is important that we talk about this issue, especially since there is such a stigma attached to each component of the diagnosis—that is, mental illness and chemical dependency. There is nothing to be ashamed about in having a mental illness and/or a chemical dependency. Dual diagnosis is a treatable condition. For more information, please see my website.

Other ways to connect:
Blog | Twitter | Facebook

To purchase the book:


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Unknown said...

Hi, Lisa,

Thank you for hosting me today.

I look froward to interacting with your readers!

All the best,

Susan Bernhardt said...

Fun, Matthew, about wearing different hats when you write. Hey, whatever works, and the hats must work because your two novels, are exciting and adventurous. Maybe the latter is due to the Pirates of the Caribbean hat. :)

Best wishes!

Unknown said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Susan!

The hat thing is a little outlandish, but really seems to help.

Thanks for your kind words regarding my books.

I started your latest amazing cozy mystery, Murder Under the Tree, this weekend,and I have to say, I'm totally hooked, just as much as I was with The Ginseng Conspiracy.

All the best,

Karen H said...

Just wondering as I was reading today's post that there must have been a tremendous amount of research to be done before writing could begin. OK, so what do you like best about the job...the research or the writing of the story?

Unknown said...

Hi Karen,

Great to see you! I hope you had a nice weekend.

That is a very good question. I have to say that the research is my favorite part of the process. But a close second is seeing the story gel.

I research for months before writing a single word. I love getting lost in books and seeing things connect as my knowledge of a subject gradually increases.

Then, when I start writing, after I've done a few drafts, I start to see the story connect, and that is almost as thrilling.

At some point I have to stop researching and start writing, and that can be difficult. I think my default mode is to read.

All the best,

Patrick Siu said...

what inspire you to be a author?

Unknown said...

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for coming by and commenting.

What inspired me to be an author was reading some great books when I reached a very rough spot in my life in 2005.

The work of authors such as Dostoevsky, Hesse, and Cheever really got through to me and inspired me to write fiction.

I feel I owe a significant debt of honor to all those writers who've come before, and made their words available so that others might benefit from them.

All the best,

J.Q. Rose said...

I love finding out about your writing process. Giggled at the many do you need to write a book? LOL I commend you for using your author platform to bring awareness to dual diagnosis. I'm enjoying your blog tour.

Unknown said...

Hi Janet,

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

At this point, I have about 7 hats that I can choose from. What I don't have is a miter, which would really help me get in character for the forces of the Church :-)

Yes, I am trying to spread the word about dual diagnosis. My goal is to create a safe environment for people to talk about it, and to get the help they need, since it is available.

All the best,

Unknown said...

Thanks for hosting, Lisa!

bn100 said...

nice interview

Unknown said...

Hi, bn,

Thanks for coming by.

I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

All the best,