Interview: Robin Matchett, Author of Apocalypta

Robin-Matchett-headshotEveryone, please slap your eyeballs together for Robin Matchett! He’s here to chat about favorite authors, scientists, utopian societies, and much more. Join us for an entertaining read. And don’t forget to check out the giveaway (scroll to the bottom)!

How does modern pop culture influence your work? Do modern cultural references date a piece or add touchstones for the reader?

Modern pop culture has very little influence on my work other than its evolution from time immemorial, meaning there is very little gathered from the present that can’t be gathered from the past. Trends are ephemeral and reflect at the basest level the fickleness of the human condition and vanity, as opposed to its higher sense and the need for innovation and search for truth. If a writer manages to get a novel written for a contemporary theme the pop culture has already begun to change so nothing really captures the perfect moment in time. In my work there are bits of pop culture painted in to show the times as authentically real. For example, in Apocalypta, the story goes back in time from the distant future to the present or near history during the 1990s where various parts and characters are shown to be commensurate with that time.

Over the years, are the changes in society reflected in today’s villains and heroes?

I think the term ‘same old’ can be applied. As for villains, thuggery and immorality, cruelty and sociopathy never change, just as their disguises never change. Take Putin: many of his people think he’s a smiling hero for bringing back ‘dignity’ to Russia after the collapse of its empire; but to the West, he’s another brutal dictator prepared to engulf the world in violence for his paranoid, totalitarian and geopolitical mindset, as per the war in Ukraine. In regards to heroes, the same could be said – someone who makes a stand against evil, or puts their life on the line to save someone from a disaster or act of violence will always be the ubiquitous hero – someone who appears and makes an instant decision to help with no regard to their own well-being or safety. Inversely, that someone could be considered a traitor for revealing extremely sensitive information for what he deemed the greater good, as per Snowden, who many believe to be a hero for exposing government eavesdropping. If anything changes in terms of villain and hero today, it is simply the template of the times but nothing to do with the complexity of human character and destiny.

Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

My favorite aspect of self-promotion is simply to create a novel, movie script or sonnet. I am of the school of the adage: no need of a sign for the goodness of the wine. This may seem untenable in a spurious market-driven economy and likely is if one wants be to noticed. Perhaps gone are the days when a doting powerful patron who knew all the right people made it happen, or at least put it out there for publication and review. Today, it may still apply within various literary social scenes, but more likely an individual will promote themselves incessantly using all the available online media tools such as social networking. As for me, its not in my DNA. I have a hard time finding time to write let alone advertise myself out to rampant consumerism. And living a rather bucolic solitary existence doesn’t lend itself to media charm! But I have no problem with the freedom and uses that the internet offers and wishful thinking feels good. Miracles anyone?

Who are your non-writer influences?

There are many ‘whos’ and in no particular order and some ‘whats’ as well; here’s a short list:
Giordano Bruno – 16th century monk-scientist-martyr
Medicins sans frontieres (doctors without borders)
Claude Berri – for his films Jean de Florette and sequel Manon des Sources
Raoul Wallenberg – diplomat who rescued jews in war and was martyred
Vincent Van Gogh – painter artist
Amadeo Modigliani – painter artist
Hedy Lamarr – movie actress who escaped Nazis – beauty and brains – helped develop original GPS
John F. Kennedy – visionary president who tried to take down Johnson and Shadow government
Nephilim – people of the sky mentioned in Genesis taken from Sumerian history
Alien life in the universe
Johan S. Bach – harmony and counterpoint
Jerry Garcia – Grateful Dead – moving minds
Kurt Rosenwinkel – jazz guitarist
Djivan Gasparian – Armenian duduk
Erkan Ogur – fretless guitar
Swimming in the fresh waters of northern Ontario
French culture – calvados, multifarious cheeses, wine, food…history of Gaul
Astrology
Vegetable garden
Pocahontas
Mathematicians

In writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

As far as bad guys or gals or sociopaths are concerned they don’t care what people think because of their demented arrogance and ignorance. Readers should see such a character for what he or she is and take no pleasure in it because they are altogether real and live among us. There is generally no redemption with warped egos, but conversely, its recognition can determine that bad and good can interrelate for better or worse. In another sense in terms of future paradigms certain behavior may be seen from our present time to be bad, such as alien-human hybridization (also ancient), when it could be survival and the advent of better health and longevity – or in our own time stem cell panaceas to cure disease. A magical moment can come with the discovery of self-awareness, and that consequences of personal drive can cause terrible blow back – karma. Mass psychosis is another matter, for example Nero’s manipulation of the mob to lay blame on the Christians for the burning of Rome, when he himself had Rome destroyed, or the Christian instigated genocide of the Cathars of southern France in the thirteenth century, and many other evils incarnate. If readers find joy in evil, then they are puerile and cynical.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

Quite a question, as there are so many. The first and foremost that spring to mind are:

1-Edward de Vere, 17th earl of Oxford (aka Shake-speare as so much evidence suggests) – a child prodigy, court poet, playwright and wit, comedian, historian, Italianate, martial elite, familial relations with Elizabeth who loved him, used dumbman (foil Shaksper from Stratford) to publish, expunged from history because of Royal Succession from Tudor to Stuart. His bastard son, 3rd earl Southampton, Henry Wriostheley, was Tudor Prince either son of or grandson of Elizabeth, de Vere being either lover or bastard son of the queen.

He would like tender spring lamb marinated in olive oil, lemon, salt, garlic and mint, served with broccoli and greens, some good burgundy or claret (Bordeaux) wine – crusty French baguette on the side with churned butter.

2-Yeshua David (Jesus) is the spiritual and iconic figurehead of the Christian Church, and apparently revealed to have written the gospel according to John. This has been discovered by Dr. Barbara Thiering and supported by other biblical scholars by the decoding of the pesherim, an interpretation concealed in the text of the Dead Sea scrolls and gospels by the Essenes, the strict monastic order centered in Qumran on the Dead Sea. Yeshua was born within this community as the dynastic heir to the line of King David, but considered a bastard by the Pharisee priests because his mother and father did not procreate at the formal time according to the rigid Essenic dictums. Therefore the mother Mary was not given the status of full mother (wife), but almah which meant espoused, and misinterpreted as ‘virgin’. Yeshua went on to reject the strict Essenic ways to adopt a more liberated doctrine which in essence evolved into early Christianity. The pesherim goes on to reveal that Yeshua survived the crucifixion and lived until about 60 CE.

He is content with sundried olives, dried fish, bread and water, but will have a taste of the spring lamb, vegetables and wine. Cheers…!

3-Sappho is a brilliant poet and claimed to be the leader of a community on the Greek Isle, Lesbos, of dispossessed girls and women, either from abuse, poverty, war and divorce. She had children, at least a daughter, from a wealthy aristocrat, and was apparently once banished from her island for political reasons and moved to Syracuse in Sicily for ten years. Plato was known to have once remarked that she was the tenth muse for her beautiful lyrical soul of mercy and love.

Sappho chooses the Mediterranean diet of olives, fish and greens with bread, and like Yeshua is happy to try the lamb.

4-Sylvia Plath is a strangely fascinating woman – a poet through and through her every fiber – the high priestess of poetic martyrdom. Her sometimes deranged and dark allegories haunt one to the point of shock. Yet beneath is a sensitivity crying out for liberation of self and society. Undoubtedly narcissist, insecure, delicate, but willing to throw herself into the fire of passion with a ferocious imagery unrivaled. Suicidal and psychotic ultimately leaving a trail of pain, yet known to be gentile, sweet and kind.

Sylvia wants to start with fois gras and wild grape jelly, a large tumbler of calvados, then filet mignon Chateaubriand with Bearnaise served with pomme frites (fries) and Brussel sprouts, and Crème Caramel for desert. And more calvados.

5-Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the nobel-winning author known for his surreal almost stream-of-conscious realism – creating a rarefied air of magic and mystery. His Latin roots and social compassion is in effect through his writing an on-going commentary of deep counterpoint between the of beauty of love and life and the ugly corruption of power, entitlement and violence, all with a pathos and humor. Originally a journalist who waded into trouble with political authorities, he found his voice in fiction – a fiction so engrossing to capture the imagination of the world, and therein making known his fidelity to his social conscience.

Gabriel is in the mood for a few rum-pineapple liqueur-angostura-lime cocktails , with a hot avocado-shrimp salad with puffed cheese bread, then chicken with rice with vegetables, wild honey spiced ice-cream and lots of coffee with cream.

The Apocalyptic Collection: what books make it into your trunk and why?

I think the trunk might be stuffed. Let me think; for starters: Laurence Gardner’s books specifically, The Magdalene Legacy, Bloodline of the Holy Grail, Genesis of the Grail Kings; the massive two volume Shorter Oxford English Dictionary; Shakespeare’s First Folio, and Hank Whittemore’s The Monument (a study of Shakespeare’s Sonnets); Colonel Philip Corso’s The Day After Roswell; Michael Wolf’s Catchers of Heaven; Dr. Barbara Thiering’s Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls, The Book That Jesus Wrote, Jesus of the Apocalypse; Phillip Krapf’s Contact Has Begun, The Challenge of Contact, Meetings With Paul; Alexander Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo and numerous others; Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Toiler’s of the Sea; John Le Carre novels Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and numerous others; Aldous Huxley‘s Brave New World, Island, The Genius and the Goddess, Antic Hay, The Doors of Perception…etc; Robert Harris novels Imperium, Conspirata, An Officer and a Gentleman, Pompeii, Enigma and others… Dr. Micheal Salla’s Kennedy’s Last Stand; Phillip Nelson’s LBJ: Mastermind of the Kennedy Assassination; Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago; Tolstoy’s War and Peace; Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, Mrs. Dalloway; Anais Nin’s Diary, Delta of Venus; Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind; Eugenia Ginzburg’s Journey Into the Whirlwind; David Satter‘s Age of Delirium, Darkness At Dawn; Jack Kerouac‘s Dharma Bums, On the Road; Harold Bell Wright’s The Eyes of the World; Alice Munroe various stories; Omar Khayyam’s The RubaiyatIris Vinton’s Look Out For Pirates; Herman Hesse‘s Siddhartha, Glass Bead Game, Steppenwolf, Demian, Journey to the East; Ursula Le Guin‘s Dispossessed, Earthsea; Wu Cheng’en‘s Monkey; Dylan Thomas’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog and many other authors I can’t think of for the moment – also the ones mentioned in the other questions.

Which post-apocalyptic/dystopian worlds would you like to visit? What would you pack for the visit?

I’d likely visit perhaps a post-Apocalyptic world that approached a more utopian system, but as for dystopian worlds I’d clear a wide berth unless supported and protected by a personal space ship with technology a few hundred thousand years beyond our present time. Most highly evolved galactic neighbors watch and contain dystopian systems especially if they aspire to travel in space with nuclear technology that could be a threat, our own earth is contained for instance. If I felt the need to visit such a world as ours I would not do it without an invisible cloaking device and transporter. I would help those in need to the best of my ability and attempt to influence various evil perpetrators to a higher calling, or failing that take out their ability to hurt people, and if necessary the evil doers themselves. But it is very difficult for a human being to project themselves into a highly evolved alien frame of mind that is possibly millions of years ahead of our time line. Ineluctably, we project our own baggage and generally emergent psychology onto a universe full of other species who are far more advanced than us that the dystopia/utopia theme has little relevance to them other than our containment until such time we are ready to be welcomed as a unified race to join the galactic community. Apparently space travel and the abundance of life-giving planets at every evolutionary stage changes everything – no more over-crowded terrestrial mayhem.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

One time I got into a heated debate about certain sci-fi novels time frame relative to actual earth time. For instance, the movie Blade Runner was based on Philip Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Notwithstanding the stupendous brilliance of Dick’s book, the time frame appeared to be ridiculous and moribund stating that by 1992 we’d have developed these androids. Huxley’s Brave New World comes to mind which is about a post-apocalyptic London ‘utopia’ however subject to Huxley’s time frame during the 1930s and the social ideology of the times, to which he had obviously some critical thinking. My point was that we cannot change as a society that quickly for good or ill. All one has to do is look at the march of history and various ideologies that founder on mass death and corruption (nazi, soviet, mao, pol pot). Of course sci-fi is the creators dream and the attempt to make it seem real is the challenge, but in terms of the reality of our ‘progress’ we usually fall short in regard to time frames. In the movie Blade Runner the year 2019 is when it happens! Is it possible? …..Hopefully not.

A little more about Robin Matchett

Rob (Robin) Matchett was born in Paris, France, in 1956 of Canadian parents, and moved to Canada at four years old. Apparently on the way, he spent hours in a porthole watching the sea, pondering existence. Now his life continues through a porthole – a regret being he didn’t remain in France a few more years. Though, embracing Canada he went native, steeped in the elements from where land-locked on the crest of a giant windblown hill, he commands from the bridge of a ship, foundered on springs, fields and forests. Still unreleased from the yoke of his servitude, he dabbles in the stars, unlocking secrets from history and the future. Many transfigurations have occurred, of which he has faithfully transcribed into various literary forms, including novels, poems and film scripts, and continues to do so. Among other eclectic interests, he is known to be well-read; enjoy wholesome kitchen garden culinary pursuits; calvados; has musical inclinations, and often known to be wired into the Grateful Dead. He is of a retiring nature, addicted to movies and documentaries, considered a professional obligation rather than lesser appraisals.

MatchettApocalyptaAbout the book Apocalypta

Apocalypta is a novel about a post-apocalyptic world at the cusp of the 25th century. With the discovery of a synaptic memory chip holding the memories of individuals in the past, there is an attempt to avert a return to the terrible conflagrations of the past. This chip – ‘the eyes of god’ – holds salvation through the truth. The main character, implanted with the chip, bids the reader to follow history back to our present time in order to understand the future. Moreover, humanity has a chance to become members of a galactic confederation, which through various species have been instrumental in our emergence from earliest times. Many unusual characters color this story, which is ultimately about the struggle for humanity to rise to a higher place in its long quest for survival.

Where to Find Robin Matchett

Webpage:           http://robinmatchett.com/
Facebook:           https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rob-Matchett/308245449351237
Twitter:                @RobMatchettAuth

The Giveaway!
1st Prize:  $50 Amazon.com gift certificate and autographed copy of Apocalypta
2nd Prize:  $25 Amazon.com gift certificate and autographed copy of Apocalypta
3rd Prize:  Autographed copy of Apocalypta

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Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card

Why I Read It: I’m enraptured by the Enderverse!

Where I Got It: The library.

969454Who I Would Recommend This To: Folks who enjoyed Ender’s Game would probably like this book – it’s a great complimentary book.

Narrators: Stefan Rudnicki, Gabrielle de Cuir, Scott Brick

Publisher: MacMillan Audio (2005)

Length: 15 hours 42 minutes

Series: Book 1 Shadow Saga

I know that I kind of jumped out of order in which the books were written, but I couldn’t resist going back to Ender’s Game through the eyes of Bean. It was actually pretty cool to read the two books so close together. If you’ve read Ender’s Game, then you already know that Bean is pretty darn smart for his young age; you have to be to end up at Battle School. So this tale is about Bean’s origins and his journey to Battle School and then tagging along to help Ender save the human race. If you haven’t read Ender’s Game, I would strongly suggest starting there instead of with Ender’s Shadow, and I believe both books would be an excellent read before the movie comes out.

Once again, Orson Scott Card shows his depth of understanding of the human heart and psyche. While not as moving as Speaker for the Dead, Ender’s Shadow still contained several poignant moments. Bean is yet another of the numerous orphans on the streets of crowded Rotterdam. He manages to join a small gang and comes up with a plan that changes the paradigm in his neighborhood. This, of course, brings himself and his little gang to the attention of the authorities who are ever searching for that talented few that will succeed in beating off the next Bugger attack.

Pretty soon, we are rocketing up to Battle School with Bean who has to learn a whole new way of life, including friendship and trust. Even though I already knew the outcome of the many confrontations from reading Ender’s Game, it was still nail biting suspense to see them through Bean’s eyes. Of course, there were a number of events that happened in Bean’s life that are not in Ender’s Game, keeping the reader interested even though the book’s ending is known.

My one complaint with this novel is that cleverness and knowledge seem to by accentuated in Bean’s character, even beyond what I would allow for a genious kid. Without spoiling anything, there is a scene where Baby Bean hides in a small thing of water for several hours. Now, putting aside the brain power and knowledge necessary to do so successfully, a hairless being that small needs to be concerned about hypothermia. These instances were few and small, but still I feel they detracted a bit from the overall novel, especially since I know what Card is capable of in Speaker for the Dead.

The audio production and narration was superb. The same crew played a role in this novel and that helps greatly in enjoying such a large branching series in audio format. Stefan Rudnicki, always a favorite, was Graff and he plays him so very well. It was great to have Gabrielle de Cuir and Scott Brick along for the read also.

readandreviewbuttonWhat I Liked: Bean has some good one-liners; learning about trust and friendship can be just as scary as having street smarts pounded into you; a good ending for Bean.

What I Disliked: A few exaggerated points that I felt were beyond even a genius child in a scifi story; why are there so few girls at Battle School?

This review is part of The Read & Review Hop hosted by On Starships and Dragonwings. Make sure to stop by over there to enjoy more book reviews.