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01 June 2012

Welcome special guest: author Matt Chatelain ( #FF @GoddessFish )

Today we have author Matt Chatelain visiting. Matt says, "Born in Ottawa, fifty-two years ago, I have been the owner of a used bookstore I opened in Ontario, since 1990. My interests are eclectic. I like quantum physics, cosmology, history, archaeology, science, mechanics, free power, recycling and re-use. I love movies, good and bad, preferring action and war movies."

So, Matt, what inspired you to become a writer?
When I was nine years old, I went into my brother's room and saw a poem. Instantly jealous, I decided that I would be a writer too. I went to my room and wrote two horrendous poems. A writer was born. I've gotten a bit better since then.

When did you attempt your first story? What length was it? What's become of it?
In high school, I teamed up with my friend Michel Zybala (can't believe I remember his name), to write our first book together. It was called 'Oceanus Homines' (Ocean Men), a story about two teenagers irradiated by a meteorite and changed into water-breathing creatures. We wrote about fifteen thousand words. I remember Michel complaining that he only got to write the boring parts, probably the reason our partnership broke apart. I was already hogging the action scenes back then. I still have the story in a file folder somewhere. I suspect it will remain there for all eternity.

How many stories did you complete before you sold your first?
I've written thousands of poems and dozens of short stories. I did not go beyond writing, never graduating to publishing or promotion. About twelve years ago, I began writing short stories and self-publishing them by printing them on my computer and selling them in my store. Can't say I ever made any money. It was brutally hard to sell them. They weren't the most sophisticated of things, containing offbeat humor. I consider that a pre-training period.

What genre(s) do you write in? What drew you to write in it/them? What’s your favorite genre of all to write in?
The series is an action/adventure/historical mystery/mystical thriller. That's the full cross-genre description. I have written poetry, epic poetry, and non-fiction (how-to mostly). In fiction, humor was my favorite genre for years. When I decided to write my first 'serious' fiction book, it naturally evolved into an action genre, but its roots were definitely historical mystery. My next book will be an ultimate exploration into the action genre. It fascinates me the most. I think the reason is that I can do all sorts of things that I would never do in real life.

What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?
The best advice came from my brother, a few days after I had submitted 'The Caves of Etretat' to Amazon's breakthrough contest. He said:
   "My God, you can't publish that. It's terrible. Not the story. The story's good. It's the writing."
   It began a year of grueling editing, transforming the book into a gem, and teaching me the importance of editing.
   The worst piece of writing advice I received was from the anonymous reviewer whose review eliminated me from this year's Breakthrough contest (after an entire year of editing). He said he would not have written this detail or that, using the short medium of a review to suggest his own versions. By the time the excerpt had gotten into his hands, the book had more than ten re-writes. Every sentence had been torn apart for purpose, meaning, clarity and necessity, balanced against the multitude of storylines developed and concluded in the series. The reviewer had read fifteen thousand words of four hundred and fifty thousand, yet felt competent to suggest minor alterations to key details, making this his reason to comment on my 'amateurish mistakes published authors would not do.' I was a tad frustrated by the advice but could not contact the anonymous 'professional'. Luckily, this blog has given me a perfect opportunity to 'express my viewpoint candidly'. How can I refuse?

How do you celebrate/deal with acceptance/rejection letters?
Originally, I would float to the ceiling waiting for them to arrive, then crash to the basement after reading another rejection. Now I see them as pragmatic lessons. Rejection is the norm. Why get excited about it? They are lessons in what is not working, a reflection on imperfect query letters. These days, I have trouble seeing the value in the agent process. One of them sent this comment in his rejection letter:
   "When you reach a million in sales, contact me again and we'll see."
  Excellent concept for him but rather useless for me, wouldn't you say? I'll wait for my self-promotions to succeed and wait for the publishing companies. If they ever come knocking on my door, chances are, I won't need them. (I might say yes anyway, what the heck.)

In regard to the book you’re promoting, which actor and actress do you envision playing the roles of your hero and heroine? If there’s a villain or other characters who are pertinent to the story, who would play those parts?
My main character, Paul Sirenne, could probably be played by Chris Pine. Sirenne is surrounded by three friends. Of these, Liam O'Flanahan, an irascible, argumentative irish publisher of conspiracy books, should be played by Paul Giamatti. I haven't pinned down the others yet. I don't have a contender for my heroine, Raymonde Leblanc. She is a busty, raven-haired beauty, strong-willed and opinionated, with deep black eyes. Any suggestions?

The book you’re promoting, is it a stand-alone story or part of a series? If it’s part of a series, please list the order the books need to be read in for maximum reading enjoyment.
'The Caves of Etretat' is the first of a four-book epic series. The series is written, though not all are published yet. It must be read in sequential order. ( 1)The Caves of Etretat, 2)The Four Books of Etretat, 3) The One Book of Etretat, and 4) The Greyman. I had only planned one book but research revealed a real historical mystery in Etretat. It connected to a previous book I had written, 'the Greyman'. To turn it into a series, I had to write two bridging books. It took me six years to write the four.

*** Now for some fun info… ***
Are you a cat, dog or both kind of person?
I am a cat person. I have had dogs and they are just not for me. I am too lazy. My flat feet don't like walks. I prefer sitting at my computer. Cats are better, less intrusive, more easily satisfied. You just have to be careful not to let them train you into bad habits.

Are you a morning person or night owl?
Years ago, I would have said a night owl. Now, I'd have to reply a morning person. My best writing happens between the hours of nine to twelve noon. I think age is the main factor for the change.

If you could live anywhere in the universe, where would it be and why?
I would live in a faster-than-light spaceship, traveling to every corner of the universe. I've had that dream ever since reading the book 'The City and the Stars' by Arthur C. Clarke. There was such a spaceship in there. If only fiction were real. Sigh.

*** About Matt’s book/series… ***
I wrote the series thinking it was fiction. Research kept insisting it wasn't. That was weird because the root goal of the series was to prove that reality is an illusion. Throughout the series, odd coincidences occurred. Story elements I had invented turned out to be history or science. Missing story elements would appear exactly when needed, through bizarre coincidences. It made me wonder if I was the writer of this incredible, complex, all-encompassing story, or was I just its scribe, writing what was already there. You be the judge.
   The Caves of Etretat is already available, in Kindle for $3.95, Hardcopy ( for $14.99. It is also available through Smashwords markets. Book Two of the series, 'The Four Books of Etretat' should be available by the time this interview goes on your blog. Books three and four will be out in August 2012 and October 2012 respectively. That's right. No waiting for this series. All books will be out in the first year. What more can you ask for?

In 2007, Canadian bookstore owner Paul Sirenne is suddenly thrust into a quest for answers, when his parents are found brutally murdered, their bodies cut up and shaped into the letters H.N. Finding a note inside his father's copy of 'The Hollow Needle', by Maurice Leblanc, Sirenne is determined to uncover the roots of his long-forgotten family secret.
   He heads to the town of Etretat, France, on the trail of a hundred year old mystery hidden in the pages of the 'Hollow Needle'. Falling in love with Leblanc's great-granddaughter, he deals with puzzles, theories, codes and historical mysteries, leading him to believe that Leblanc held a secret war against Adolf Hitler, fighting for the control of an incredible complex of caves hidden in Etretat's chalk cliffs.
  'THE CAVES OF ETRETAT' is the first in a four-book epic adventure following Paul Sirenne, an average man unknowingly manipulated into becoming the key in the final phase of a complex conspiracy spanning millennia. Inextricably woven into history, the series re-writes everything we know in a non-stop rollercoaster of a ride where nothing is ever as it seems.

   The moment his eyes dropped, I took off running, knowing exactly where I was going thanks to Coulter’s map. I had never broken any speed records before but, at that moment, I felt as if I were moving like a train, barreling non-stop across the landscape, increasing my momentum and distance with every second. His pistol's barrel was too short for any type of accuracy. If he wanted to shoot me, he would have to catch me and I wasn’t planning to give him the chance!
   Coulter kept scrolling the map on the screen, showing me exactly where I had to go, cheering me on all the while. I heard Norton yelling and risked a single glance backwards. He was hobbling after me at a decent pace, using his cane to lop forward, his pistol waving around with every step.
   He looked angry.
   I heard some car doors slam and more screaming in the distance. The Vallin brothers were in the parking lot, running all out toward Norton. They were both brandishing bats and waving them madly. I kept running, aiming directly for the cleft. I headed down, mostly sliding on one foot, dangerously out of control. Norton was closer behind me than I would’ve liked.
   “Watch it, you’re going to lose it, you’re going to lose it... No... You’re fine, doing good, now be careful, here’s the stairs...” Coulter yammered on in my ear, keeping up a running commentary. I had to slide to a desperate stop right above the rusty steps. They were clogged with silt and sand that had come down from the cleft. I saw signs warning tourists off and bars blocking the staircase. Coulter screamed:
   “Just go for it, Norton’s right behind you.”
   Incredibly, Norton was sliding down the cleft on his good foot, using his branch to balance himself. He was coming down fast, still holding his gun, determined to catch me.

***Find Matt here***
My website, , is the central for everything. I am also on Facebook (!/profile.php?id=100003486781507) if you wish to become my friend.

Thank you for joining us here today, Matt! It was a pleasure getting to know you and your work.

Contest info: Matt will be awarding a $20 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during his tour. For other tour stops, visit: Also as per Matt ~ Anyone can go to my website and sign up for my monthly free hardcopy book contest. First draw ends on May 31, with winner announced June 15, 2012. You can re-submit your name for the monthly draws. Details of prizes and contest rules can be found on my website (


marybelle said...

Such a very open response to the interview questions. I loved your best & worst advice answer.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Matt today.

Matt Chatelain Author said...

The excerpt available today is also available as an audio excerpt on my website. It has sound effects and the Coulter, Sirenne and Norton voices are all mine. It's quite good and leaves you hanging.

There are four audios related to the Caves of Etretat. Two excerpts and two interviews, both with story characters, O'Flanahan and Coulter.

If nothing else, it's an easy way to spend 20 minutes. If you like, check out my website pages with old radio plays. You'll find plays and comedy I did thirty years ago, when at CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa.

I've cleaned them all up as best as possible. They came out pretty good. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to check out the radio's a genre too few people explore these days! Great post...


Michel Zybala said...


I cant believe you remembered my name either! I distinctly remember some of the other stuff you wrote, including detective stories where your protagonist spouted words of wisdom such as "Why not? A spider always spins a web!".

Just by way of keeping up. I have spent the last 25 years as a member of the Canadian Forces Military Police, having accumulated two operational tours in Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as another two tours of duty in Afghanistan (namely in Kabul and Kandahar). An aspiring writer in my own right, I am currently working on a novel entitled "The Cursing Stone" which is about a malediction that follows three generations of soldiers through three World Wars.

Anyways, glad to see that you are finally enjoying success at one of the most wonderful crafts ever devised by mankind. I wish you every success, mon ami.

Very respectfully,

Michel Zybala

Anonymous said...

Hey Michel Zybala:

I can't believe you found this blog. I'd love to hear from you. Contact me through my website, if you get the chance.

Take care.