Over the months since I began this series, I have been privileged to interview several award winning authors. Few of them, however, have garnered as many awards as this week’s guest, Matthew Pallamary. His awards, and the works that earned them, are as follows:
International Book Award – Award Winning Finalist – A Short Walk to the Other Side
USA Best Book Awards – Award Winning Finalist – A Short Walk to the Other Side
International Book Award – 1st Place – Nonfiction New Age – The Infinity Zone
San Diego Book Award – Finalist – The Infinity Zone
Award Winning Finalist – National Best Book Awards – Spirit Matters
San Diego Book Award – Best Spiritual Book – Spirit Matters
San Diego Book Award – Land Without Evil
San Diego Writer’s Monthly Man of the Year Award 2000
2002 Independent e-book award — 1st Place horror/thriller category – Dreamland with Ken Reeth
Matt’s work has appeared in Oui, New Dimensions, The Iconoclast, Starbright, Infinity, Passport, The Short Story Digest, Redcat, The San Diego Writer’s Monthly, Connotations, Phantasm, Essentially You, The Haven Journal, and many others. His fiction has been featured in The San Diego Union Tribune which he has also reviewed books for, and his work has been heard on KPBS-FM in San Diego, KUCI FM in Irvine, television Channel Three in Santa Barbara, and The Susan Cameron Block Show in Vancouver. He has been a guest on nationally syndicated talk shows and a frequent guest on numerous podcasts, among them, The Psychedelic Salon, and C-Realm.
He has taught a fiction workshop at the Southern California Writers’ Conference in San Diego, Palm Springs, and Los Angeles, and at the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference for twenty five years. He has lectured at the Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Conference, the Getting It Write conference in Oregon, the Saddleback Writers’ Conference, the Rio Grande Writers’ Seminar, the National Council of Teachers of English, The San Diego Writer’s and Editor’s Guild, The San Diego Book Publicists, The Pacific Institute for Professional Writing, and he has been a panelist at the World Fantasy Convention, Con-Dor, and Coppercon. He is presently Editor in Chief of Muse Harbor Publishing.
I could go on for pages with more of his accomplishments, but I’d rather introduce you to the man and talk about his recent release, CyberChrist, a science fiction thriller. This brief introduction will give you a feeling for it:
Ashley Butler, a prize winning journalist at the San Diego Times receives an email from a man who claims to have discovered immortality by turning off the aging gene in a 15 year old boy with an aging disorder. The email has pictures showing a reversal of the aging process and the names of a scientist and a company to investigate. Thinking it a hoax, she forwards the email to friends. Though skeptical, she calls to investigate and gets a no longer in service message. When she leaves her office she overhears a news story about the death of the scientist mentioned in the email. Ashley checks out the company mentioned in the email and discovers a gutted building. At the deceased scientist’s address she has a confrontation with an unfriendly federal investigator. Returning to her office she finds him, subpoena in hand, confiscating her computer. He tells her that the scientist who sent the email is a killer that they need help catching. When her own investigators do more checking, none of them return. The forwarded email becomes the basis for an online church built around the boy, calling him the CyberChrist. The church claims that the Internet is the physical manifestation of the group mind of humanity and the boy is the second coming of Christ online. The federal government tries to shut down the church, but its website replicates faster than they can stop it. While church and state battle over religious freedom online, the media and the state battle over freedom of speech. Ashley battles to stay alive.
Matt, I can’t begin to tell you how pleased I am that you dropped by to talk with us. Will you tell us how CyberChrist came to be?
CyberChrist grew out of my fascination with the subject of immortality, genetics, and the too early death of a close friend, who I “immortalized” in print.
What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?
Keeping up with the rapid pace of technological change which I overcame by keeping abreast of breaking technological advances. CyberChrist needed to be as up to date as possible while being as timeless as possible.
What other novels have you written?
Land Without Evil, DreamLand (With Ken Reeth), Eye of the Predator, Night Whispers. I have also published two short story collections, a nonfiction book, and a memoir.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
No. I write, teach, and edit.
In this day and age, that is highly unusual. Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?
That was unexpected. Would you care to elaborate?
I was referring to the inconsistency of income. Sometimes it’s feast, but more often than not it’s famine. Being a novelist, you can’t depend on it for steady income, (unless you’re Stephen King or someone like that.), so if you are dedicated to it, you have to be doing it for the love. I write full time, but I also teach and edit to make ends meet and even that goes in feast and famine cycles.
Most of us imagine life as a successful novelist somewhat more romantically. This takes some of the blush off the rose. Clearly, you know it on a more intimate level. Getting down to the nuts and bolts—if you’ll allow me to mix metaphors—what is your single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a novel?
Staying focused and avoiding distractions.
Boy! Do I know that one. Distraction can come at you from all directions and in all sorts of disguises. You’ve come a long way as a self-published author. Will you tell us about your path to publication?
I have been through a few publishers and agents and now take great satisfaction in doing my own thing.
CyberChrist is a thriller and thrillers usually involve loss of life. If you were going to commit the perfect murder, how would you go about it?
By not telling a soul about it, or how I would go about it.
I hope you don’t have anything of that sort in the works. Have you ever dispatched someone in a book and then regretted it?
I never regretted it as it was necessary for the story, but it broke my heart on more than one occasion.
How many people have you done away with over the course of your career?
After CyberChrist, what else are you working on?
I have another nonfiction book titled Phantastic Fiction – A Shamanic Approach to Story, which will be released this coming June at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference where I have been teaching a Phantastic Fiction workshop for twenty five years.
Very nice. Will you tell us what has been your greatest success in life?
My novel, Land Without Evil and the amazing aerial stage show that came from it.
Here is a link to the preview.
What do you consider your biggest failure?
One of my best friends is a huge fan of the Mythbusters show. I have watched it a number of times with him. They have a motto, which I will paraphrase here.
There is no failure, there is only data.
Who have been your greatest inspirations?
My Mom, Ray Bradbury, Sparky Schulz, Barnaby Conrad, Chuck Champlin, as well as Sid Stebel and David Brin, who is a good friend of mine.
Is there anything we haven’t touched on you want to make sure potential readers know?
I have been writing for over thirty years and have been teaching and leading writing workshops at major writer’s conferences for over twenty five years, so I am not someone who jumped on the self-publishing bandwagon without any skills or experience. I was blessed to have Ray Bradbury as a mentor as well as Charles (Sparky) Schulz, Barnaby Conrad and the late, great Charles (Chuck) Champlin, the L.A. Times leading film critic for twenty five years. I was very pleased to see Chuck honored at the 2015 Oscars tribute. Together they adopted me into the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference family.
Very nice. Before we present a sample from CyberChrist and tell our visitors where they can get your books, let’s do very quick Lightning Round. In as few words as possible, answer the following:
My best friend would tell you I’m…
The one thing I cannot do without is…
The one thing I would change about my life…
The last woman I was married to.
Here is a quick peek at CyberChrist, followed by various links you can use to learm more about Matt and his work.
Ashley Butler set her chamomile tea and bran muffin down on her desk and hit the power button on her computer. While the little electronic monster under her desk beeped and chattered to life, she brushed ringlets of long brown hair from her face and pulled them into a pony tail, then she leaned back in her chair and watched the never-ending activity from The San Diego Times newsroom through the tinted glass wall of her office.
Mounted close to the ceiling above the doors, half a dozen TV monitors lined the far wall showing CNN, MSNBC, local, and national news. Smaller computer screens glowed from rows of cubicles below them. The steady clicking of keyboards filled the air while phones rang and people scurried in and out of offices.
Less than a year ago Ashley had occupied one of those cubicles until her prize winning story about the murder of an environmental terrorist brought her from reporter to feature writer. Her editor and mentor Scott Miller had worked through the assignment with her, pushing for more revisions. His suggestions helped pull things together, sparking a close father-daughter relationship that made her eager to please by giving him nothing but her best work.
Her computer played the opening strains of Virginia Woolf by the Indigo Girls, signaling the log-on screen. Ashley nibbled her muffin and tapped in her password with one hand. Her email popped up showing seventeen messages. She recognized sixteen of the names. She had never seen the seventeenth. It had an enclosure.
Dr. Justin Stephens — Subject: Immortality
“What’s that all about?” she muttered, double clicking the mail icon. The message screen appeared, but it had no words. She clicked on the enclosure. Pictures and algebraic equations filled her screen.
The first picture showed a wizened sexless countenance with wrinkled, ashen skin, no eyebrows, and a bald head that seemed too large for such a small face. A beaked nose and receding chin looked as if the mouth would swallow them. Jagged teeth sprouted from red gums and milky blue eyes protruded under lashless eyelids.
Ashley’s breath hitched when she read the caption beneath it.
Diagnosis/Prognosis: Chris Daniels, age 14 presents with Progeria, an acceleration of the aging process to approximately seven times the normal rate. Symptoms include heart disease, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, stunted growth, and premature aging. Applied gene therapy has resulted in the isolation and turning off of an inverted insertion in the long arm of chromosome one. The miraculous results of the administered protocol are shown in the following photos.
More pictures followed, their sequence appearing to go backward in time. In the second picture, Chris’s eyes looked clearer. His or her skin appeared softer with a flush of color; as if it now held moisture, and the child’s teeth had evened some. Ashley thought she saw peach fuzz where eyebrows should be.
The child’s face looked fuller and more feminine in the third picture and the teeth looked straighter. Ashley saw hair on Chris’s head and the kid definitely had eyebrows. The fire in Chris’s now ice blue eyes burned brighter.
The two pictures that followed looked younger and more perfect somehow; androgynous with brighter eyes, a normally proportioned face, and fully formed eyebrows. Feathery lashes, a thickening head of long hair, and healthy skin tone accented everything else, giving Chris an angelic countenance.
I’ve seen this trick before, Ashley thought. They Photo-shopped these to make it look like the person ages at warp speed.
In the last picture, Chris’s hair had grown down to his or her shoulders. Other than tiny crow’s feet around the kid’s eyes and indeterminate sex, Chris looked like a normal teenager, only this kid was beautiful. Ashley couldn’t believe the caption under the picture.
Chris Daniels – Age:17
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