The Forest Beyond the Earth
Matthew S. Cox
Publication date: February 6th 2018
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult
Under the watchful eye of the Mother Shrine, twelve-year-old Wisp ekes out a simple, but challenging life with Dad, foraging for food and losing herself in old books from the world that came before. She loves the Endless Forest ― except when the Tree Walkers come for her.
In ages past, the great rain of fire and ash destroyed the Earth, wiping out the ancients and everything they had made. Nature has reclaimed much since then, spreading out in a vast forest full of wonder and dread. Ever in fear of being taken away, she follows Dad’s rules without question while learning to survive off the land.
No longer a small child, she accompanies Dad on one of his treks, her first time more than a few steps away from the cabin. A day exploring with him is the happiest time of her life, but joy is short-lived.
A monster follows them home.
Safe in her Haven, she hides while Dad goes outside to confront the beast. She wakes alone the next morning, and waits. Alas, her hope of his return fades with the daylight. Desperate, she breaks his strictest rule and goes outside alone. Not far from the cabin, she discovers his rifle abandoned next to the monster’s strange footprints.
Afraid but determined, Wisp sets off on her own into the Endless Forest to find Dad ― before the Tree Walkers catch her.
Today we welcome the author for an interview!
1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
It took me forever to figure out it. I never really did “figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up,” and coasted around a few things until writing became more than a hobby. I suppose the signs had been there at least in terms of creating worlds and characters for a long time, as I’d been heavily into roleplaying games as a kid. Unfortunate experiences with mandatory summer reading lists rather soured me on the idea of reading (prior to that I did often read for fun). It wasn’t until I was teasing forty that I started thinking about writing long form fiction.
2. How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
The time can vary quite a bit depending on how strong my inspiration is. The more into a book I get the faster I go. I used to be addicted to playing World of Warcraft, and I could go for twelve hour benders without thinking twice about it. Now, that same energy goes into my writing. I think the fastest book I’ve written has to be Citadel: The Concordant Sequence. A reader asked me to write “more post apocalyptic stories with a young protagonist.” (Which is also what The Forest Beyond the Earth is). I spent a Wednesday developing the outline of the story, which I finished in a day. On Thursday and Friday, I wrote after the day job. Saturday and Sunday saw pretty much all day in front of the computer. I lost Monday/Tuesday to doing an edit on someone else’s book that my publisher needed fast. Taking Wed-Fri of that next week off work let me finish the book by Saturday. So basically ten days from zero to finished first draft for that one.
By contrast, the longest one was Virtual Immortality (also the first one I finished) which took me about three months.
3. How do you come up with themes for your stories?
The novels set in the Divergent Fates universe are using the setting for a roleplaying game world that I have been developing since 1996. They’re not “litRPG” books since I’m only using the setting. No one is ‘playing a game’ so to speak. With that setting comes a lot of story potential, some of which includes storylines modified from old game sessions. Other books hit me as the muse fancies. For example, I was in a Barnes & Noble doing a book signing for The Summer the World Ended, when something made the title Nine Candles of Deepest Black hit me. That title simply came out of nowhere, and I liked it, so I sat down and came up with a story to go with it.
4. Do you have a schedule of when you write?
Nothing more organized than “if I’m not at the day job, eating, sleeping, or spending time with friends, I write.”
5. How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
Simple. There aren’t many other aspects :|
6. What elements do you think make a great story line?
A protagonist the reader can empathize with going through situations that a reader can find relatable even if fantastic. If there’s a person antagonist (as opposed to a hostile environment), their motivations should be complex enough that from their point of view, they are doing the right thing. Of course, every now and then a “this guy is just bad” type antagonist can be fun to read about but it can get stale fast.
I also think having the protagonist evolve over the course of the story and end up in a different place (mentally or emotionally) than where they started makes for a great story.
7. What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
The waiting. Waiting for beta readers to give me their feedback, waiting for cover art, waiting for everything to come together. Of course, I may have brain damage as I tend to enjoy editing.
8. How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
Counting co-authored novels, I’ve recently completed number 52. It’s difficult to pick a real favorite out of all of them as I like them for different reasons. Though, it’s probably a close tie between The Forest Beyond the Earth and Prophet of the Badlands.
9. Do you have a favorite character?
Althea from Prophet of the Badlands. She’s so fun to write… a combination of significant power, total innocence, and curiosity.
10. Where do you write?
11. When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took?
Most of my books are published via a small press, Curiosity Quills. However, as of late I’ve decided to take a stab at publishing myself. Given the current state of things, it’s becoming more and more difficult to see the benefit of small presses. Self-publishing is more work and more initial out-of-pocket cost, but the returns can be better and maintaining control over the book is also quite nice.
12. Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
Not yet. I don’t have a lot of family left, and if any have read my work, none have told me about it.
13. What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I used to dabble with illustration but not so much these days. Video games, movies, also roleplaying games… but that, too, has kind of fallen aside with age. It’s difficult to get the group together.
14. What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?
Grab a copy of Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King. Also, seek out unbiased critique partners. When receiving feedback, don’t rush to change something the instant one person says it should be changed. If two people offer the same opinion, start considering it. If three or more people suggest a change, it’s probably a good idea to do it.
Also, writing isn’t a race. Some people like me can do 20k words in one day. Some are elated to hit 1000 in one day. The pace isn’t important at all (unless you’re looking at a publisher’s deadline). Just write.
15. What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
Hmm. I’d have to say Neuromancer by William Gibson. It inspired my love of the cyberpunk genre.
16. Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such?
Yes. I have quite a few wonderful people who beta read for me. In no particular order: Denise Keef, Dianne Webb, Danny Cox (no relation), David Cox (no relation), Louise Fegans, Leslie Whitaker, tend to do most of the beta reading. Denise also helps me out whenever I have questions about police type stuff.
17. Are you working on anything now?
Always. I have several projects swirling around at once. Out of Sight (a YA sci fi novel). The Menagerie of Jenkins Bailey (a MG urban fantasy), a few edits, and I’m working on the outline for the second Alexis Silver novel with J.R. Rain.
18. Tell us 5 things that make you smile
Cats. Videos of soldiers reuniting with their kids. Finding a new review of one of my books or having a reader tell me something in one touched them/made them cry/laugh. Realizing it’s actually Thursday when I’ve spent all day thinking it Wednesday. Coffee.
19. Tell us 5 things that make you sad
The news. Bad things happening to kids. Pictures of abandoned pets. The deaths of fictional characters I’ve come to like. Coffee mug being empty.
20. If you could travel anywhere in the world to visit a place so you could use it as a background for a book, where would it be?
I’d love to visit the UK or Ireland or Scotland. Likely quite a bit of inspiration for my Tales of Widowswood series there.
Thank you so much for being with us today, Matthew!
Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.
Hobbies and Interests:
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- after="" also="" and="" cats.="" deliberate="" fiction="" fond="" happens="" he="" intellectual="" is="" it.="" life="" nature="" of="" p="" questions="" reality="" science="" that="" the="" what=""> ->
a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway