Fridays 5 with Christopher Matson

C.B. Matson is the author of the historical action novel, "Broken Sky" along with the upcoming sequels, "Cloven Earth," and "Moonlight and Darkness." Former incarnations have included mining geologist, commercial fisherman, civil engineer, mess-hall cook, surveyor and international port consultant.

He has lived much of his life in Colorado, California and Virginia, but he has also spent considerable time in Moscow, Bogota, Nagasaki and Dakar. When he is not writing, he enjoys walking, tinkering, and "... simply messing about in boats." C.B. Matson and his wife live on the water in Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Visit C.B. Matson's web page, for story synopses and upcoming releases. You can also follow him on twitter at @cbmatson or contact him at

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

When? I could say always. That is, always serious about writing, about using it as a tool in my career and as a creative outlet in my life. My mother wrote, and my great aunt was a published author; I guess they just expected me to follow their lead. Of course, I didn’t. Rebellious child that I was, I became an engineer (and about a jillion other things) instead. But Richard, the foregoing dances around what I think you really want me to spill; that is:

When did I first believe I could publish creative fiction worth reading? Easy answer: 2013.
Longer answer: The key word is publish, that is write stories, and find readers; perhaps even fans. It was 2013 that I discovered the Mongoliad series of historical fiction by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo and others. I also discovered Amazon’s Kindle Worlds, a self-publishing platform that encourages fiction related to plots and characters created by well-known authors. That is, fan-fic with one huge improvement; Kindle Worlds publications pay royalties and generate feedback, just like any other e-publication platform.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

Easy. Back to Question 1, publishing. The hardest part about writing for any new author is getting published; getting read and discovered and enjoyed. Writing for one of the Kindle Worlds gets me promoted to those Amazon readers who are searching out the “host” series authors. My personal objective is to build some readership and find out what works and what doesn’t. To do that, I know I must give my readers the best I’ve got. After all, it’s their eight, ten, twelve hours of precious reading time that they are giving to me.

Click on cover for more info or to order!

Synopsis: It is the year 1227; Chinggis Khan, Scourge of the East lies cooling in his grave... His sons ride for Karakorum at the heart of the Mongol empire where they will vie for the succession. Yet beyond the knowledge of any in Karakorum an unwanted child of war is driven from her people and forced to take up a new life as the half-breed niece of a Mongol Khan. When young Cnán is branded a witch and condemned to death by her adopted tribe, she must capture the heart of a young warrior if she is to survive.

Far to the west, Raef of Livonia faces a difficult choice between his values and his desire for vengeance. In a world turned upside down, Raef joins a secret brethren of warrior priests. He must take on their fight to defend what remains of civilization against a rising wave of greed and lawlessness. The ensuing turmoil sweeps Raef from his home and drags him into a world of old gods, warring factions, and sudden death.

Between these disparate cultures, the esoteric league of Binders pursue their own objectives. They know that the Mongol nation will soon move against the weakened Empire of Rome and they fear a world in flames if nothing is done. Through their shadowy intelligence web, the Binders hear of a legendary Red Messenger, destined to stem the Mongol invasion. Somehow, the Binders must contrive to bring the Livonian boy together with the half-breed Mongol girl -- for only together can they summon the Red Messenger.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

Ha, I was so excited. The shy peeks at my manuscript, the loving touches; then, in that final moment of consummation: premature e-publication. What a let-down; the verbs were all passive, the prose was all stale, the typos triumfed, the run-on sentences ran rampant, and the adverbs prevailed valiantly. I’ve published two subsequent edits and have just finished another full comb-through of my first novel prior to issuing my second book in the series. However, having written and published (and re-written and re-published), I feel challenged to do it again and do it better. I’ve received great responses to my stories and requests for more (working on it, working on it…). All I can say is that good or bad, nothing can compare with the experience of that first novel hitting the street.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

Gotta be character. If the readers can’t identify with at least one character in your novel, they just won’t care what happens in your story. Love Gillian Flynn’s plot construction, fascinating; but in Gone Girl, her protagonists were exactly the kind of people I’ve spent my life avoiding. I finished the book and celebrated its dark conclusion, but didn’t really enjoy it. In comparison, I far preferred her Sharp Objects with its more vulnerable and sympathetic main character. I didn’t mean that as a criticism or endorsement of either book (and your opinions may differ). Rather, I mention it as an example of how character can engage some readers and alienate others.

Sympathetic characters are the most essential component of any Historical novel. The author must develop a team of protagonists who have a contemporary appeal, then place them in some fantastical setting of the past. Currently, I am writing about Medieval Asia Minor, where Mongol tribes clashed with the Egyptian Caliphate and secret societies were all that protected the civilized world. Add a bit of sorcery, a little dark religion, a few old gods, and then let loose the protagonists. Voilà, stuff happens… Oh, and what grand stuff; Historical has all of the wonder-factor found in Fantasy, but it comes with real artifacts and places one can actually visit. At the same time, Historical can provide many opportunities for plot action. If the story doesn’t move, then the characters will not develop and the all-important transformation of the characters cannot take place. Some books are “filled with sound and fury,” and that carries them along quite well, even if the protagonists remain static. I personally like plot-action and jam in as much as I can. However, before the end, the prots have just gotta step up and fight Dempsey or carry the ring to Mordor or somehow become astonishing if the story is to have any meaning.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

Richard, I guess those days I consider typical, are pretty dull: get up, jog (‘n think about next chapter), eat, commute, day job, commute, kiss dog and hug wife (or vice versa), dinner… and then write (yeah, I’m almost done with this chapter, Hon) write… (about another ten minutes, Hon) write… (okay, I’m saving and shutting it down now) snerxxx… In all truth, my family is very supportive of my madness, I just couldn’t manage without that. There is, after all a delicate balance between dedication and obsession. Isn’t there?

1 comment:

  1. I agree, Christopher. There is a delicate balance between dedication and obsession in writing. Someone once told Isaac Asimov it must take enormous discipline to sit at the typewriter for long periods of time. To which he responded (paraphrased) "Nonsense. If I had any discipline, I would move away from the typewriter once in a while."