A Writing Whirlwind: Guest Author Wednesday
A few years ago I joined London Writers Society where I met a whirlwind named John Matsui. When you check his bio below you’ll see he absolutely deserves that descriptive word along with many others such as ambitious, helpful, kind, talented, broad thinking and clever. When we sat in my living room a week or so ago I could see that his cross genre writing was expressing itself in an historical way and I eagerly suggested he join me as my Guest Author for December. You will definitely learn some new and exciting things from John. Here he is to start the process.
John Matsui: My Guest Author Today:
What the heck is the author of dark fantasies doing writing a guest blog for Elaine Cougler?
My name is John Matsui and after a working life that careened like that silver marble in a pinball machine — journalist, business consultant, internet entrepreneur — I’ve turned to writing speculative fiction that specializes in not being specialized.
What held and still holds all parts of my working life together is a love of writing sprinkled with creativity. It was always a tough go holding back my imagination as a daily newspaper reporter/editor/columnist. When I entered the world of business as a PR consultant and marketer, I found my notions of stuffy, old business types in the corporate world to be just plain wrong. The top folks in the biggest corporations welcomed my whimsical side. The smaller the business and the lower the rank, the more conservative the thinking.
As usual, I digress. Back to how all of the above fit with Elaine’s focus on historical fiction.
I love sci-fi, fantasy, horror, thrillers, detective mysteries, and, of course, historical fiction and I blur most of them in all of my novels. What’s great about historical fiction is the discipline needed to create fascinating characters and weave their stories into the tapestry of real people and events. When history is brought to life accurately through riveting historical fiction as Elaine Cougler has done in her Loyalist Trilogy, the reader wins in two ways: 1) a thrilling and empathetic voyage through the eyes of another; b) insight into historical events and players that our formal education missed.
While my novels’ main characters range from a guy people call a vampire and a celebrity chef who sniffs down murderers on the side, they nudge their way into historical fiction because my skeptical side doesn’t buy a witch’s curse or demon spirits as the raison d’être for my pseudo vamp and my chef’s preternatural sense of smell.
My vampire Dragul Mangorian (Late Bite and Lycanthrope Rising — Books 1 & 2 of the Toronto Vampire Chronicles) is the last of the Homo Sanguinus, a subspecies of Homo sapiens. He was born and raised in what would become Canada among a people who fled the Old World across the Bering Land Bridge 10,000 years ago to avoid never-ending warfare and genocide at the hands of humans.
In the New World, the Sanguinus co-existed with other First Nations most times in peace but usually in mutual fear. I touch on the 17th Century Beaver Wars (French and Iroquois Wars) in Lycanthrope Rising and plan to explore it in greater detail in upcoming novels.
As kin to humankind, the Sanguinus interbred with Sapiens until forced separation of the subspecies severed the genetic link for successful reproduction. Scientists now say Homo Neanderthalensis interbred with our ancestors and many of us carry a sloped forehead gene in our DNA.
And the vampire part? The Sanguinus consume blood to live with their preferred beverage of the human varietal. However, like most parasites, they prefer not to kill their hosts because that’s plain wasteful.
Chef Nathan Sherlock, star of my foodie thriller Gravity Games, possesses an extraordinary sense of smell that allows him to select the best ingredients and blend them in palate boggling ways. What only he and business partner/love interest Bonnie know is his olfactory abilities go far beyond what adoring fans of celebrity chef ‘Nate The Nose’ suspect.
Suffice to say that a special Canada-U.S. anti-terrorism squad recruits the duo to sniff down perps who have weaponized gravity and left the world hanging in suspense.
Historical fiction comes in via the back story of a villain in Gravity Games where his upbringing behind the Iron Curtain warps his mind and sets his direction in life. The financial collapse that led to Occupy Wall Street in New York City’s Zuccotti Park then spread to over 951 cities across 82 countries puts the driving forces in Gravity Games into motion.
Why do I turn to historical events and characters of the past for my fantastical yarns?
First off, I‘m not so creative that I can imagine an entirely new world in all of its multitudinous dimensions. I find it easier to start with a basic premise and then use the real world and real history to flesh out the details even if I reimagine them e.g. The Crusades and other conflicts were thinly veiled wars within wars. Humans and Sanguinus populated the forces of both sides to disguise wide-scale killing.
I could be a lone voice here but my second reason for entwining my stories with historical fiction is credibility. I believe that even the most speculative of sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal tales needs grounding for average readers to step aboard. Harry Potter needed a miserable home life with his aunt and uncle. When motivation is spawned within real events, in my opinion the plot and the characters gain authenticity.
As writers, our primary role is to create characters that our readers fear, love, hate, and worry about. There must be an emotional attachment to the characters. How do I get readers to empathize with a non-sparkly, fearsome, blood-drinking vampire? I portray him as a member of a First Nation, the lone survivor of historical / anthropological genocides. He’s the victim.
I mentioned discipline earlier. There’s nothing like history to focus a writer’s explosive creativity like a demolition expert directs impact. History creates a dance partner to keep characters in step. History also fixes events, perfect opportunities for actions to reach a climax.
If I can use historical events to create empathy for a fearsome vampire, I think they have a place in almost any genre of fiction.
John Matsui “Someone to Watch” (Goodreads.com) bio:
John Matsui is a former daily newspaper writer, turned public relations guy, turned business consultant, turned Internet entrepreneur, and finally author of thriller mashups that stick to a single genre like confetti in a hurricane.
His storylines and characters, like his work life, rush everywhere at once and still arrive at the finish line with all plot threads neatly and satisfyingly knotted or so readers have told us. Unless you have a habit of reading the last pages of a book first, you clearly enjoy this form of topsy-turvy, jigsaw mystery. That or you decided to see how far from the beaten path John could go.
People who [enjoyed] [hated] [laughed] [cried] [got sick over] [have no idea what to think about] John’s writing are invited to visit https://johnmatsui.com/ or email the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him they [loved] [despised] [shared] [ripped apart] [borrowed a copy of] [bought a copy of] his books and that they plan to [buy his other books] [recommend him] [start a bonfire with it] [spread it as fake news].
John’s novels include: Late Bite: Vampire On Trial: Lycanthrope Rising: The True Story Behind The Vampire-Werewolf Wars; and Gravity Games, A Nathan Sherlock Foodie Thriller. They are available as eBooks through most popular online vendors. The paperback version can be ordered on Amazon.com or clicking the link on John’s Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/John-Matsui/e/B00L8GIQ2E
He’s currently working on the third book in the Toronto Vampire Chronicles (Late Bite and Lycanthrope Rising are Books 1&2), a YA steam-punk time travel novel Girl Out Of Time, and Dark Matters, a collection of twisty short stories.
John and wife Judy live in Wortley Village, a quaint neighbourhood in London, Ontario, far from Toronto’s clash of vampires, werewolves, superheroes and high housing prices.
For more information about the author and his writing go to:
“Fun with antigravity” Amazon.com
“More please” Goodreads.com
“Eye-popping” Literary Titan
“Keeps readers guessing” Midwest Book Review
“A path-breaking novel” Lovelaughter.net
“Kept me up all night” Amazon.com
“Quite a ride!” Bookmagiclove.blogspot.ba
“Recommend it to anyone, vampire enthusiast or not” ReadersFavourite.com
“Pure entertainment” CityGirlScapes.com
Click on the Loyalist Trilogy books below for more great historical stories: