I’m pleased to welcome Matt Tomerlin, author of the pirate adventure series, The Devil’s Fire. The third and final book, The Devil’s Horizon, is set to be released on July 3, 2013, just days away!
Matt, thanks for stopping by and taking the time for this interview. Let’s get started.
Your female characters, especially Katherine (Kate), are smart, strong, and ruthless. I love it! Kate needed to evolve in order to survive, but was her strength and ruthlessness your original intention when you started the story?
I knew Katherine would have to shed much of her innocence in order to survive. And not just survive, but assuage her guilt and learn to respect herself. Over the course of the first book, she often surprised me. Some readers did not appreciate her final decision, and I won’t tell them they are wrong to feel that way. Kate became her own person in that moment. I did not plan that ending out in advance, it just happened as I was writing the final chapter. When I wrote the final line of dialogue, I knew it was the right choice for the story, thematically. I don’t believe a central character should always do what the reader would do.
By the second book, it’s easy to forget how young Kate is, which is why I allowed her moments of immaturity. I did not want her to turn into a completely cold individual. She is still a fun person, if a very dangerous one. As long as you don’t cross her or do anything to jeopardize her freedom, you’ll be okay.
I wanted the other female characters to be equally interesting, but very different. Annabelle has been negatively transformed by every bad thing that’s happened to her. She has seen the worst of the world, and she no longer believes in anything else. She gets a taste of power, and she enjoys it a little too much because she’s never had any kind of power other than sex, and she goes overboard.
Jacqueline Calloway is a much younger character, both physically and mentally. She’s far less sure of herself than Kate, and she’s subconsciously jealous of that. She doesn’t have a handle on herself, even though she thinks she does. She has a lot of growing to do, but she’s struggling with some extreme family dynamics. Wink wink.
I read that you initially wrote the first book over five years ago, then put it away. You then picked it up again and began revisions in 2011. Was it always your goal to self-publish the book/series?
I wrote the story with the intent of selling it to a publisher, but I got distracted by life. And then the eBook boom hit, and I decided, “What the hell?” It quickly drew a nice little fanbase, and they all wanted to know what happened next in Kate’s life.
I never planned The Devil’s Fire as a series, which is why so many of the characters don’t survive. If I’d planned it out in advance, I probably would have let more of them live. The first book’s ending is frequently misinterpreted as a cliffhanger. It’s not a cliffhanger. It is the natural conclusion to Kate’s evolution over the course of the story.
You use multiple points of view in this series. Is there a reason you chose to write the books that way?
I’ve read a few books that used that style, and it always appealed to me. At the time, I was reading George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, and he specifically uses character names as chapter headers, and strictly adheres to that character’s POV for the duration of the chapter. But while Martin tells a sprawling tale with often unrelated characters spread all over his fantasy world, I wanted to try POV chapters with a tighter, linear narrative. I was not interested in telling Devil’s Fire from just one perspective. I wanted to get into the heads of the pirates, even the worst of them. It was a challenge, but it keeps the story from becoming stale. And it naturally warms the reader to characters they wouldn’t normally warm to.
I like your new ebook covers! I think the colors, texture, font, and weaponry represent the stories well. Which software did you use to do the design?
Thank you! I’ve been through many covers, trying to find the right tone for the series. I designed them in Photoshop, with the help of an artist. There’s also a fantastic trilogy edition cover that’s coming in July, with Captain Griffith’s ship, Harbinger, floating in the torrential waves of Kate’s red hair. I can’t take any credit for this one. It was created by a very talented artist named Brendon Mroz. I was impressed with how perfectly he nailed the symbolism.
On average, are you spending more time writing than you do as a freelance graphic designer?
Lately I am spending more time writing, but I still take graphics jobs when they come in.
I understand you’re currently working on a young adult sci-fi/fantasy series entitled Arcturus. Can you tell me anything about that?
Arcturus will happen eventually, but I’ve set it aside for the moment in favor of another idea. I’m not far enough along to reveal it just yet, but I hope Devil’s Fire fans enjoy it, as it will have similar characters who can’t necessarily be categorized as good or evil. And at some point in the future, there will be a Devil’s Fire #4, but it’s going to be a bit different. A couple of subplots are already written, but it’s got a long way to go. I’ve managed to release each Devil’s Fire book a year after the last, but the fourth book needs more time to gestate.
The Devil’s Horizon is going to be released on July 3rd. I’m eager to find out what happens next! Please tell me about this final book of the series.
I wanted to conclude certain plot threads while opening the door for new possibilities. This one is very much about the complicated links between the characters. Everyone has their own agenda, but the one thing they all have in common is that Kate is the key to their success. So Kate is surrounded by people that want to use her to achieve their own ends, and she’s exhausted with that. But she is still young, and she’s not perfect. She makes mistakes. In The Devil’s Tide, she learned that she cannot abandon those she considers friends. But even her “friends” are a constant danger to her.
Pretty much every character who survived The Devil’s Tide will return. Gabe Jenkins, who was introduced as a side character in the previous book, is now a POV character with a crucial story arc. He’s the handsome rogue, with a twist.
There are plenty of surprises. When I finished writing The Devil’s Tide, I had a very clear objective for where everything was going, and it was satisfying to see it all come to fruition in The Devil’s Horizon.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about yourself or your books?
I hear from a lot of Devil’s Fire fans that they don’t normally read pirate fiction. I like to think this series appeals to them because I don’t approach them as pirate novels. Sure, there’s plenty of pirate action, but the character arcs and twists seem to be of greatest interest to readers. I do a lot of historical research, but I try not to let that overwhelm the people at the heart of these stories. I think readers appreciate that.
Thanks for being a guest author on my blog, Matt. I’m looking forward to reading The Devil’s Horizon. I’m someone who had never read a pirate novel before yours and had never seen a pirate movie.