Today I would like to share an interview with Matt Manochio, he was kind enough to take a few minutes to talk with me here at The Scary Reviews on the heels of his latest release Sentinels. Matt Manochio is an editor of business-related reports by day and a thriller writer by night. He has more fun at night. He spent 12 years as an award-winning newspaper reporter at the Morris County, N.J., Daily Record, and worked for one year as an award-winning page designer at the Anderson, S.C., Independent-Mail. The highlights of his journalism career involved chronicling AC/DC for USA Today: in 2008, when the band kicked off its Black Ice world tour, and in 2011 when lead singer Brian Johnson swung by New Jersey to promote his autobiography. For you hardcore AC/DC fans, check out the video on his YouTube channel.
The Scary Reviews: When did you begin writing? What was the driving force?
Matt Manochio: I began writing in college in the mid 1990s. I studied journalism and became a reporter in 1999 a few years after graduating. But I didn’t start writing fiction in an attempt to one day get published until 2007. I always wanted to get a book published and just went for it, and it took a while (2014) to finally get there with The Dark Servant. That was after writing terrible first drafts (because I didn’t know what I was doing), getting rejection letters left and right, rewriting, trying to understand what I was doing wrong and what I could do better, making contacts in the industry (through a book deal that fell apart), and eventually getting a contract. The driving force was me getting a contract in 2010, seeing it collapse through no fault of my own, and wanting to get back there. And I did.
TSR: What writers were your early inspiration? And who are your inspirations today?
MM: My favorite books include Jurassic Park, The Hobbit, ‘Salem’s Lot, so I guess you could say King, Crichton and Tolkien, in no particular order. I’ve actually read more Crichton than King. My inspirations today vary. I’m interested in reading more of Adam Johnson’s work. He won the Pulitzer for fiction a few years back with The Orphan Master’s Son, and he has a short story collection on the shelves now. He’s doing an appearance in New Jersey later this month and I hope to get the book there and say hello. I can’t say I have an author whose work I must run out and get the second it’s published. But I will say I thoroughly enjoyed King’s Mr. Mercedes, and have Finders Keepers floating around in my Kindle, waiting to be read.
TSR: What are the themes you like to write about?
MM: I can’t say there’s any one particular theme that draws me in. Good versus evil is the easiest one to cite. Sentinels revolves around internal conflict, grappling with how far you would go legally to protect your loved ones, and justifying it when you break your own moral code.
TSR: Halloween brings out the best in many writers. Why do you think that is? If you don’t agree, tell us what holidays bring out the best in you.
MM: Perhaps it does in some people, but not in me. I write when inspiration strikes or when I’m really into a story. So holiday really has nothing to do with it.
TSR: What genres do you prefer writing in?
MM: My first book, which I got a deal for but saw it die when the publisher went under, was a straight crime thriller, and that was simply because that’s what the story called for – no supernatural element needed. My first published book was inspired by Krampus because I’d never heard of the legend and instantly knew I had to write something. And certainly it screamed horror and supernatural. I suppose I enjoy writing supernatural fiction because reality is more easily broken and the laws of physics need not apply (sometimes).
TSR: Tell me how art and/or photography influences your work, especially when picking a cover or an illustration.
MM: It doesn’t. Simple as that. I don’t create the covers. My publisher does. But I am allowed to offer my input and suggest different directions if I don’t like something. I think the Sentinels cover turned out exactly how I envisioned it.
TSR: If you could (or have) write lyrics for any music artist or band, who would they be? And why?
MM: My favorite band is AC/DC, so I suppose it would be easy enough to write a bunch of lyrics related to drinking, women and sex. But I’ll leave that up to them.
TSR: Tell us about your new book or the book you are working on.
MM: I’ve not started either yet, but I like the idea of revisiting Krampus one more time, perhaps an origin story. I’ve also been toying with a vampire novel. I’ve even gotten 20,000 words into it but still haven’t settled on a direction. But it’s coming to me. And no, this vampire will not be friendly.
TSR: Let’s close things with a few words for struggling or upcoming writers. What obstacles can they look forward to overcoming and how have you overcome them?
MM: Don’t give up. There are always going to be writers who are good and/or lucky and hit it out of the park that first time. But that’s not the rule, it’s the exception. Most of us, me included, have gone through rounds of rejection. It’s important to understand why you’re getting rejected. You could have a fascinating, well-written story, but it’s just not to an agent’s or editor’s liking. Other times you have to take your lumps and learn that you’re not telling your story through dialogue, or larding up your manuscript with needless adjectives and adverbs. I learned those lessons, and still am. I want constructive criticism of my work so I can better understand why might be off-putting to readers. Learn by doing. It’s clichéd, but it’s true.
Thank you Matt for a really great interview and taking the time to talk with me today. Congratulations on the release of your new book Sentinels and all the best to you on your up coming vampire story.
These are no ordinary killers.
They don’t distinguish between good and evil. They just kill. South Carolina’s a ruthless place after the Civil War. And when Sheriff’s Deputy Noah Chandler finds seven Ku Klux Klansmen and two Northern soldiers massacred along a road, he cannot imagine who would murder these two diametrically opposed forces.
When a surviving Klansman babbles about wraiths, and is later murdered inside a heavily guarded jail cell, Noah realizes something sinister stalks his town. He believes a freed slave who’s trying to protect his farm from a merciless land baron can help unmask the killers. Soon Noah will have to personally confront the things good men must do to protect their loved ones from evil.
Biography, Matt Manochio
Matt Manochio was born in 1975 in New Jersey and graduated from The University of Delaware in 1997 with a history/journalism degree.
He spent the majority of his 13-year newspaper career at the Daily Record in Morris County, New Jersey, where he won multiple New Jersey Press Association Awards for his reporting. He wrote about one of his passions, rock ‘n’ roll giants AC/DC, for USA Today and considers that the highlight of his journalism career.
He left newspapers in 2011 for safer employment, and currently lives in New Jersey with his son.
Praise for Matt Manochio
“Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller.” -Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Savage Dead
“A real page turner. Matt Manochio has gained a fan in me!” -David L. Golemon, New York Times bestselling author of the Event Group Thriller series, on The Dark Servant
“Beautifully crafted and expertly plotted. A clockwork mechanism of terror! Highly recommended!” -Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of Shattered, on The Dark Servant
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