Everyone, please welcome Josh Matthews to the blog today! Today he chats with us about his time in the CIA, his inspirations for Hell Gate, and plenty more. If you want to find out about the GIVEAWAY, then scroll to the bottom. Now, on to the interview!
If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?
I would want to be a walker on The Walking Dead. But I would want to be one of those prominent walkers who has an extremely bizarre and gruesome death and who has his own “name” in The Talking Dead’s In Memorium segment.
What makes you cringe?
Tidal waves, both the real ones as well as the monstrous tsunamis that appear in disaster/apocalypse movies. To me, the idea of staring up at a wall of water hundreds of feet high barreling toward you is the worst nightmare I can think of. What really left me cold and empty was watching the live video footage of the tsunamis devastating the Japanese coast following the earthquakes in 2011.
If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?
For TV, it’s a toss-up between Start Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. The writing on those shows was brilliant and the acting was superior.
For writing, it would be Brian Lumley’s Necroscope series. That series was a fascinating blend of vampires, paranormal activities, and Cold War politics blended around a vampire mythos that is truly unique.
What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?
The worst job I had was substitute teaching. I tried it when I first retired and moved to Florida to pick up some extra money. The first assignment I accepted I was sent to the toughest high school in the city and given a class where my only instructions were “don’t let them hurt each other.” I avoided any major incidents in class, but needless to say I never accepted another assignment again.
Where is the farthest from home that you have traveled? Would you like to live there?
That’s a tough question because I’ve been all over the world. If I use as the criteria the longest amount of time it took to travel to a location, I would have to say Manchuria in northeast China. I had a good friend who worked in Shenyang and I went to visit him for two weeks. We toured a lot sites related to Pu Yi (the last Emperor of China) and his pro-Japanese World War II puppet government of Manchukuo. Some of the places we visited had not been seen by Westerners in decades. And yes, Manchuria will be a location for a future Hell Gate book.
As much as I enjoyed Manchuria, I wouldn’t want to live there (no offense intended, Shenyang). If I had to live overseas, it would either be South Korea, where I spent three years living in Seoul in the 1990s, or Germany/Austria, which I have visited frequently and fell in love with.
Who or what are your non-writer influences?
This is going to sound cliché, but the biggest influence has been my mother. When I was in school, she never tried to make me conform to fit in with the other kids. She always nurtured my creative side and encouraged me in whatever I wanted to do. A lot of my friends’ parents used to get upset if they read horror novels or magazines. Not mine. My mother did not mind that I read nothing but horror novels in middle school, as long as I was reading. Of course, I think she was silently relieved when I added history to my favorite reading list, and decided to go into government service rather than be a serial killer.
The next influence was Darren McGavin as Karl Kolchak on the TV series The Night Stalker. I watched that show religiously as a kid. It wasn’t the monsters or the plots that thrilled me; they were cheesy as all Hell. It was a combination of Darren portraying Kolchak not as a hero but as a typical guy once again caught up in a terrifying situation, and his writing style on the show. Yeah, it was a throwback to the pulp fiction of the 40s and 50s, and was not very good, but to an impressionable twelve-year-old Kolchak was the epitome of cool. That TV show was what made me want to become a writer.
If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?
I already did the job I wanted to do—I worked for the CIA for twenty-three years. That job allowed me to travel throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East and gave me the opportunity to become familiar with such issues as nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, biological warfare, and cybersecurity.
If I gave up writing and choose another career path, I would like to be involved either in industrial espionage or crash site investigations.
If you could sit down and have dinner with 4 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?
H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe, because they are the true masters of horror and I want to see what made those minds tick. H.G. Wells, because so much of his writing is prophetic and I would love to know where he came up with his ideas. And finally, Forest J. Ackerman, the father of Famous Monsters of Filmland, the Bible for all Monster Kids growing up in the 60s and 70s.
They could order whatever they wanted to, my treat. Afterwards, I would provide whiskey and cigars so we could sit around and discuss writing for the night.
Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?
I really don’t want any. When I worked for the CIA, for several years I was in charge of Invisible Ink, the Agency’s writers’ group, and arranged for scores of authors, screenwriters, graphic novelists, and others to come and visit. They would talk to Invisible Ink for an hour or so, answering our questions, and then we would give them the grand tour of the compound, topped off with lunch in the Agency dining room and stop by the gift shop. Because of that, and my subsequent career as a writer, I have been fortunate to have gotten to know many celebrities on a personal level. That’s not saying I wouldn’t go all fan boy if I met the right people, like The Shatner or Milla Jovovich.
What is the first book you remember reading on your own?
That’s hard to answer. I used to watch all kinds of horror and science fiction movies back in elementary school, and would then read the original novels (I learned at a young age that “based on a story by” has a very loose interpretation). That is how I read so many of the classics as a kid—Poe, Wells, Verne, Stoker, Shelley. I remember being disappointed with many of the novels because they had very little connection with the movie.
However, the first book I remember having a major impact, and which I can still remember to this day, was Graham Masterton’s The Manitou, about an Indian medicine man who kills himself during the white man’s invasion of North America and then comes back in present day New York City to enact his revenge on the white man. A shaman fetus growing on the back of a young woman, deformed by x-rays to determine what it is. An elevator filled with butchered police. A nurse turned inside out when the portal to Hell opens. This all makes quite an impression on a twelve-year-old boy. It was also the book that got me hooked on modern horror.
About Josh Matthews
Josh Matthews is a former New Englander who now lives in north Florida with his wife, teenage daughter, and four lovable but exasperating pets. Josh used to work for the U.S. Government where he had the opportunity to travel around the world and be exposed to numerous cultures, many of which will appear in the Hell Gate saga. He has always been a fan of horror novels and monster movies, and sees the Hell Gate saga as his way to share that love with a new generation of fans.
Sixteen-year-old Jason is living a nightmare within a nightmare. He is trying to survive a post-apocalyptic world that has been overrun by demons from another realm, but it was his mother who opened the door in her experiment gone wrong. In a last ditch effort to redeem his family name and unload his guilt, he joins a squad whose mission is to destroy the Hell spawn around Mont St. Michel. When his team arrives in Paris to close the Hell Gate they discover an environment more frightening than anything they could imagine and demons more terrifying than they had ever encountered before. Time is now racing against them. Can he gain his redemption along with the respect of his peers or will a new web of lies threaten to rip apart his world and jeopardize his team’s only chance for success?
Buy the Book: Amazon
Josh is giving away one print book (U.S. only) and two Kindle versions (international) of Hell Gate. There will be 3 winners total. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments below: 1) What country do you live in? 2) If you could have dinner with a dead author, who would you dine with? 3) Leave a way for me to contact you. Giveaway ends Jan 17, 2017 midnight my time.