Welcome to Dragonscale Clippings

Inside the mind of a writer...

My motto for 2012: Quality, not quantity

I am currently exploring the sensation of Sound...

Monday, 5 March 2012

Day One - About "Better Off Dead" by Matt Rowe

Today I would like to introduce the first of my guest authors on their blog tour here at Clippings. I take it you've all heard of Mad Max? I'd like to introduce Mad Matt...

Why is there a picture of a guy holding a cat by the scruff of its neck in a dragon's eye?
The "guy", as you call him, is Ramses Niblet 3rd, and he would probably object to being called a guy and then realise it is better than being called a girl, which is pretty much the only other option. He's a vampire and the world's first genuine cat burglar, in that he sneaks into people's homes and steals their cats, because he hates them. I won't go into why... that's for you to work out. He's holding the cat because he was probably about to see if it works as a frisbee, from a high building. He's curious like that. Yet, oh no! He's been interrupted by a hungry dragon! 

I wanted the cover of the book to convey as much about the story as I possibly could. An early idea was to do a huge complicated scene like Josh Kirby's Discworld covers, but that wasn't to be. We went through many ideas, me and Marisa Livingston (a talented artist I searched out and hired on deviantart, http://conniiption.deviantart.com/) and late in the process, after many awesome roughs and concepts, in other words, after she had already worked too hard, I had this idea. I decided I wanted a very simple image on a black background, with, if possible, gold writing.  The very simple image was a dragon's eye, on the black background. Then I put Ramses in the middle because it made the scene interesting and hints at cool things just out of the veiwer's field of vision.

I picked Marisa because she had a picture in her gallery that reminded me of Ramses and P-Head (his blood brother and rival). It looked a little bit like them, and I loved the style. So I asked and she said yes! Oh so happy! She's still with me and working on some other stuff. I hope she'll stick around, which will probably be as long as I have money, which is why people need to buy my books. Writers have overheads too people, and I'm not just talking about rampaging dragons!

What gave you the idea for Better Off Dead?

The original idea was just the characters. When I was a spotty teenager I played a roleplaying game - a proper paper, dice and storytelling one - in which I invented a cat burglar who actually stole cats, simply because I found it funny, that twist upon a familiar description. My friends invented and played as the other characters. After it was all over and we got lives, I still loved them so much (the characters, not my friends) I wanted to keep them going. So I wrote a story for them. The idea for the story was based on key scenes from their original adventures and on my desire to change peoples' expectations of the horror characters. Vampires were, at the time, either lonely, lost souls (a la Anne Rice) moping about how their lives are so pathetic or they were mindless monsters --- and now it's even worse because vampires sparkle! I wanted to write a story in which vampires enjoyed having super powers (and weren't complete Broadway dancing fairy nancy boys in glitter make up).

How long did it take to write it?
I had some rough notes from the roleplaying game. Then it took me 2 years to write the full novel. It was my first novel so it was difficult and I had some long periods of inactivity, when I got writer's block. I've edited it a few times since then. All in all, the process probably would have taken 2 years or so if I had worked constantly. I've learned a lot though and the next novel came much quicker. I think many other writers are the same there. During the writing, I shared it with a lot of people, such as friends, family, a small writers circle and an online writer's forum and I got some great feedback, even as rough as it was, and I got some great help in becoming a better writer.

Will there be a sequel?
Yes, I was stupid enough to announce the sequel in a teaser at the end of 'Better Off Dead'. I wanted people to know this wasn't the end for these characters and that I'm not a smelly and gigantic flash in the pan. I have a trilogy planned, and things are going to get a lot more interesting in this already crazy world. I've written about a third of the sequel. If the first book is about Ramses discovering responsibility and accepting it, the second book is about his problems adjusting to his new life and the things which try to stop him moving forward. What will he have to sacrifice? What will he have to adopt? This sounds kind of serious, but like a pill hidden in a chocolate cream doughnut, I'm hoping the adventure is such fun that people don't even see the message consciously. In fact, I probably think I did this too well. People will think the first book is trash. As long as they laugh I don't care. Ramses will get their cat. The sequel should be available next year. I have at least one more novel to release before then.

What kind of people have you aimed your book at and why?
Me. I wrote the story for me and my characters. Screw everyone else. Other people will like it. I know that because everyone who has read it has liked it. Maybe they lied but if so they will burn in hell, right? So that's their problem for being underwear pyromaniacs. I'm not being arrogant, it's just the truth and this is evidenced from an audience of young and old people. It's good for many people. Any people who like crazy random humour, anyone who is fed up of sparkling vampires or stereotypes but I think the Young Adult audience will benefit from it the most and that's who I started honing it for when I started thinking about markets. It has a message aimed at them and it has just an inkling of sex and healthy gloops of comic book style violence to tantalise their taboo hunting souls. At its heart it's just a fun, fresh adventure. Try it or not, I don't care. I'm just glad I could write it. Ramses is too. He told me over twitter.

Tell me about your road to publication
I started on Enthusiasm alley, somewhere near the wilderness of Confusion. I took a bus to Exposure park and there I found a huge picnic party. All the people were very friendly and tried to stab me with their swords. However, I learned how to absorb most of their attacks and turn them into my own power as a literary warrior. We helped each other grow and then, one by one we left. I walked down Confidence Road and ended up on Completed Street. I went knocking on the doors of agents and publishers, but no one answered. Well, I got a few mutters, but they were dismissals. So I trundled on down the road to Hermit Grove and ignored the art for a while because I was hungry and needed money to buy food. I was lost in this for a while, but I collected some of my stories and took them to Lulu at Self-Publishing Junction. The reviews I got for that were all excellent but I sold very little. Still, I hoped to use the evidence in another visit to the agents and publishers, but again nothing happened. Disheartened, I considered wandering back to the wilderness for a while, but instead I decide to visit Self-Publishing Junction again. I really didn't want to do this for every book, because I wanted to be successful if I got published, not a struggling self-published writer frowned upon like dog poop on a shoe, yet I felt I needed to move forward in my career. It was while releasing 'Better Off Dead; that I finally stopped looking down at my feet while I travelled and I saw out there in the world, that ebooks and kindles were everywhere and people were making money from them. I didn't have to be a hermit. So now I'm setting up shop at E-book towers and I'm going to publish independently from now on. I have control and easy access from here so even if only a few people ever read me, I can do things how I want to do them. It feels like a real revolution, but I'm not going to churn out rubbish just because I can. I'll always charge a little more for my books than the cheapest price, but they will be unique stories of quality, I can assure you. I can assure you of that.

Tomorrow you can find out how Matt develops his ideas into novels...
 If you can't wait and need to read more of his work and buy his book, click on the links below: -
Matt's Website


  1. Great interview Matt! I love your book cover by the way.

  2. Thanks! Me too. It's good to have an artist!