Michael David Matula is the mind behind the book Try Not to Burn. Those who click on his image will be taken to his blog site where people will find out he is from Chicago. I state this as me being from Wisconsin there was a possible conflict when it came to our NFL Football teams. Although he is in the land of the Bears and me in the land of the Packers we worked things out and I got to read a great book. So with that bit of foolishness put a side please enjoy his responses to the questions.
What inspired you to write Try Not to Burn?
I was working through some issues at the time. Matters of faith, death, and what my purpose was—what anyone’s purpose was, really. It all ended up whirling up into a single idea.
Is there any significance to the name names of your main characters?
The name Brand (short for Brandon Morales), does definitely fit the theme of the book. I still can’t remember if that was intentional or not. I think I might have just thought “Brand” sounded cool.
And the mystery man who acts as the group’s guardian angel is called “Clarence,” after the character in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but that’s not his real name. It’s just what Sam and Jane start to call him, and the name ends up sticking.
There is significance to a couple of other characters, as well, but that’s it for the main ones.
During the writing process did you find yourself thinking about any of your memories?
I did. The book is heavily fictionalized, but I drew on quite a few moments from my past to form the characters’ experiences. I won’t say exactly what parts I used, as I like to keep some things a mystery, but this is a pretty personal book for me.
What were some of your favorite books growing up?
The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander is the first book that always comes to mind. It was the first book I remember my mother reading to me as a child. As a teenager, Nancy A. Collins’ Sunglasses After Dark was a revelation, and it helped steer me towards horror. I also loved Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, the Narnia books, and read every Michael Crichton book I could get my hands on.
Do you hear from fans of the book, and if you do what do they say?
I love to hear what people think of my writing, even if it’s not always complimentary. Whenever someone takes the time to message or tweet at me about what they thought of the book, or review something of mine, it’s incredibly encouraging and it helps to motivate me. It lets me know that I’m not just pouring my soul out into a black hole, and that other people out there have read it.
One of the things I hear the most is that people can’t wait for the sequel. Another thing I hear quite often is how much people have come to care for the characters. It could be just because I torment the characters so much in these books, but readers really seem to root for them. They’re not alone, either. These characters are all very close to my heart, even though it may not seem like it when you read the book, considering all the things I put them through.
What was the feeling like when you saw the very first printed version of your book?
Relief. I’m a bit of a cynic at times, and I kept expecting to get an email from the publisher saying “Sorry, dude, but we’ve changed our minds. Not gonna publish this one, after all. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” Or I worried that they’d go belly up before the book saw the light of day. Thankfully, though, Post Mortem Press is still going strong, and has been getting more successful year over year.
Do you continue to write?
Definitely. I’ve recently finished writing the sequel to Try Not to Burn. I also write short stories when I can find the time, and one of them appeared in “Wrapped in Red,” a vampire anthology from Sekhmet Press, which was released on October 29. I have a number of other projects in various stages of completion, including a spooky Middle Grade book that I’m almost finished with.
What is the message you are want people to take away from the book?
Everywhere–even in the darkest depths of Hell–there is hope, and there are people worth fighting for. And no matter how bleak your situation seems, no matter how hard the floor is when you hit rock bottom, all that matters is the climb back up.
If you could envision a future for your main character, what would it be?
That’s a tough question to answer. There’s a sequel coming, and the fates of the characters are yet to be revealed. I really, really wish I could say more, but I don’t want to spoil it. I like to keep readers on their toes, and the story takes some turns that people might not be expecting.
Who are those in the dedication of the book, and their importance to you?
There’s just one person in the dedication, and that’s my mother. I never could have gotten that book published without her support. I would’ve given up and gone onto something else long before. But she believed in me, even when I’d stopped believing in myself.
The + 1 Question:
If you had any one place in the world you could travel to for a book tour, where would that place be, and why?
There are so many places. England and Australia are two countries I’d particularly love to visit on a book tour, though I’m not a big fan of air travel. For this book, though, I’d have to say San Francisco. It’s where Brandon Morales is from, and even though the city itself doesn’t feature too heavily in the book, I still feel very attached to the place, having been in Brand’s headspace for a couple of years. It might also help that my dad grew up there.
Additional ways to connect with Michael