Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Gal's 2017 Halloween Frivolities Day 24: Among the Stacks with Matt Hayward


The other day, someone asked me if I still get excited about doing these interviews.... after four years, and all the authors I've met and interviewed during that time... and I answered her with an emphatic yes. Each time someone honors me with being on The Gal, I fangirl just a little bit. Okay, maybe a little more than a little bit haha.
            Matt Hayward is definitely someone I'm excited about. I know you're probably sick of reading this, but YES, I met him at Scares That Care earlier this year. It was awesome getting the chance to hang out with him, his sister, and his fiancĂ©... and I wish we had been able to get to know each other better. When he agreed to be on here, well... excited wasn't the word. Y'all are gonna love him.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Matt.  Welcome to The Gal.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Matt Hayward:
My name's Matt Hayward, and I'm an Irish horror author and musician.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Matt Hayward:
I'm a huge fan of stand-up comedy, and often turn to George Carlin or Bill Hicks when thinking of story ideas.  My dad owned the only talking raven in Ireland.  I was in the movie 'Reign of Fire' when I was a kid.  I once (unknowingly) ran a B&B for a drug lord named Hammerhead.  My middle name is Danial.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Matt Hayward:
The first book I read as a child was probably FANTASTIC MR. FOX.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Matt Hayward:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn't expect you to have liked?

Matt Hayward:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Matt Hayward:
I started writing after discovering J.F. Gonzalez' CLICKERS series.  I was working a dead-end job after a music project fell through, and those books came just at the right time.  I wrote one-thousand words a day and spent my evenings studying books on writing.  After three novels, I finally wrote something salvageable.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Matt Hayward:
I'll write anywhere, but usually just on my couch.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Matt Hayward:
Chain-smoking until finally managing to start.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Matt Hayward:
The business end is always challenging: keeping track of submissions, rights, staying on top of who's open for what, etc.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the most satisfying thing you've written so far?

Matt Hayward:
I think WHAT DO MONSTERS FEAR? because I wrote it off the cuff with the intention of just purging my system.  The novel was really for myself, so I was nervous about sharing it, and the fact it got such a warm response was very rewarding.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Matt Hayward:
Joe R. Lansdale for "voice," definitely, and discovering J.F. Gonzalez was the equivalent of discovering Nirvana as a teen.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Matt Hayward:
Good characters.  We need to care for a protagonist to believe in them, that's what makes horror effective.  If not, we're cheering the gore, and although that can be fun, I wouldn't call it 'good.'  Good horror for me is seeing people I care for getting through the worst.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Matt Hayward:
We take characters from our experiences, and readers can smell authenticity a mile away, so there's no phoning it in.  I love a character I know the author molded from a very real and awful place.  When an author fabricates a person second-hand, readers sense it.  They know when a writer lets their guard down or when they're playing their cards close to their chest.  A lovable character comes when the author gets vulnerable.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Matt Hayward:
Probably the main kid from MEETING GREGORY, a novella in BRAIN DEAD BLUES.  That was pretty much my childhood: the fishing, the spot by the river, the town... a lot of that happened.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Matt Hayward:
Absolutely.  I fell in love with the Leisure Horror line mostly due to the artwork.  A good cover can sell me in a heartbeat.
            As for my own, I made sure Kealan Patrick Burke was onboard for WHAT DO MONSTERS FEAR? because of his stellar covers for Bentley Little and Jonathan Maberry.  He nails it every time. Chris Carpenter did BRAIN DEAD BLUES and I hardly had to change a thing.  The color scheme was the only thing I harped on about, and only because I wanted it to conjure the feel of a Leisure title.  The font used was a direct nod to 90's rock album art.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

Matt Hayward:
To leave work at work.  Like most writers, I have trouble 'switching off,' but it's necessary to leave the words on the page and allow your subconscious to take over.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Matt Hayward:
Peter's introduction for WHAT DO MONSTERS FEAR? - I knew that would be like hell to write, but I'm glad I did it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Matt Hayward:
I think that's for a reader to decide.  I can only write 'em and hope they hit the mark.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Matt Hayward:
BRAIN DEAD BLUES came as a nod to 80s b-rated movies with a rock n' roll twist, which sums up the collection itself.  WHAT DO MONSTERS FEAR? was paramount to the plot, and I guess I just always wanted to use the word 'monster' in a title.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Matt Hayward:
I like both equally, but for different reasons.  With shorts you can concentrate on twists, and learn a lot about economic writing in the process.  Exploring a concept more so than a character is a great exercise and a good break from larger works, but creating three-dimensional and sympathetic characters in such a short space can be challenging.  That's part of the attraction, though.  With novels comes freedom, and really sinking into proper character development is something shorts can provide.  Both have their own magic.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your books.

Matt Hayward:
J.F. Gonzalez' work got me through a rough time, such as bands like Alice in Chains and Screaming Trees did when I was a teenager.  If I can provide even a sliver of the comfort or distraction they provided me for someone else, my job is done.  Comedians like Carlin, Hicks, Stanhope - they all used their medium as a vehicle for personal ideas and satire, and I'd like to do the same.  My ideas are hidden inside a slop of gore instead of behind a joke.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Matt Hayward:
I threw away a novel called A DARK PLACE about a 17-year-old who loses his father only to be haunted by shadows.  Shadow men and a talking crow.  That thing sucked.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's in your "trunk"?

Matt Hayward:
I have two finished novels gathering dust, THE FLOOD and LIGHTS IN THE VALLEY.  In my mind, I'm already four projects ahead, so I don't know when I'll get around to polishing them, but I do want to.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Matt Hayward:
I have a collaboration with Patrick Lacey due next summer called PRACTITIONERS.  Another novel, THE FAITHFUL, is with my publisher now, and I'm just about finished with a coming-of-age book titled FROM UP HERE.  Another collaboration with Bryan Smith is in the works, and Robert Ford and I have also been throwing back and forth some ideas.  I have a dozen shorts on the way, including one in CLICKERS FOREVER: A TRIBUTE TO J.F. GONZALEZ, which sees my character The Fisherman within the Clickers universe.  I have a comic coming out with one of my favorite bands of all time, and after I wrap up FROM UP HERE, I'm starting on a due of novels that I'd originally penned as graphic novels called THE SUICIDE KING and THE SUICIDE KING PART TWO: THE GOD EATER.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (STaLKeR links.)

Matt Hayward:
I'm on Twitter and you can also go to my website.


About the author:
Matt Hayward is an Irish, Wicklow-based author and musician.  His debut collection BRAIN DEAD BLUES released May 2017 via Sinister Grin Press and his first novel WHAT DO MONSTERS FEAR? in July through Post-Mortem.  PRACTITIONERS, a collaboration with author Patrick Lacey, is set for release in 2018 through Blood Shot Books, and another collaboration (with author Bryan Smith) is in the works.  Matt received a nomination for short story of the year from Penguin Books, and his work has appeared in CLICKERS FOREVER: A TRIBUTE TO J.F. GONZALEZ, TALES FROM THE LAKE, DARK MOON DIGEST, THE HORROR ZINE, TALES TO TERRIFY, and more.

About the books:
From the author of What Do Monsters Fear? comes a thrilling debut collection of short fiction.  Included is an exclusive novella, God is In The Radio, in which an ageing rock-star pens a song with help from a peculiar old man, one that leaves his fans itching for more... one he calls "Brain Dead Blues."
            Eleven additional tales of monsters, murder, and the supernatural lie within these depths that will not only entertain you, but send chills up your spine.
            A young girl discovers that a monster does, in fact, dwell beneath her bed.  An antique store owner stumbles upon a circus artifact that local down-and-out's are just dying to see.  A bare-knuckle boxer tries his luck in the ring one last time, only to fight tooth and nail by light of the full moon.  A starving man sees only one option to survive the zombie apocalypse - by taking a bite of the undead.
            These stories are only a sampling of the horror that lies in wait for you, should you choose to enter the mad brain child of Matt Hayward.  Prepare to grit your teeth.

The Thing meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in Matt Hayward's thrilling debut novel...

After waking up one too many times in a puddle of his own mess, Peter Laughlin, a thirty-five year old rock musician, has decided to kill himself.  However, after catching an advertisement for rehabilitation in the back of a local newspaper, coupled with the fact that his one night stand with old friend Bethany resulted in pregnancy, Peter decides to try and clean up his act.  Again.  Only this time, things will be different.
            At Dawson Rehabilitation, things seem idealistic.  Peter quickly befriends Henry Randolph, an alcoholic in his sixties, who, along with Donald Bove, Shelley Matthews, Jamie Peters, an da mentally-defunct man named Walter Cartwright, make up the rest of the guests.
            Something is wrong at Dawson Rehabilitation.
            Peter and Henry don't trust the center's councilor, a man named Jerry Fisher.  Jerry's hiding a secret.  One ancient and terrible.
            Tucked away in the Pennsylvania backwoods, in a remodeled farmhouse once owned by Dr. Harris Dawson himself, Peter finds himself in a fight for his life against Phobos, the great God of fear.  To defeat him, Peter will have to set aside his doubts and answer the all important question: What do monsters fear?

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