Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Author Interview: Vivienne Mathews

Posted by M.L. Falconer on 5:25 PM

Hello Everyone!

The epic adventure stories of our time each have something that no others do, memorable characters, dastardly villains, grand treasure, dashing heroes, and/or epic storytelling; however, as great an adventure as he was, Ulysses, my friends, did not have a tail, and Captain Ahab did not have a giant bird who owed him a powerful debt. Otter Captain Marshall is the ultimate hero of a new generation and the secrets that await you in The Son's of Masguard and the Mosque Hill Fortune will challenge your perception of the meaning of the word epic as all those elements mentioned before are contained here, in one place.

It's a grand honor to introduce you to the best writer and storyteller that I have ever read. She is a good friend and my personal muse. Thank you, Vivienne Mathews, for allowing me to interview you for my blog. It is a true privilege to help spread the word of your amazing new book, The Son's of Masguard and the Mosque Hill Fortune.

The honor, dear friend, is all mine. I’ll beg you to forgive my slow responses as I’m currently nursing the mother of all bee stings. My left arm is roughly the size of an elephant’s leg, numb from shoulder to fingertips, and red as the day is long. Take a moment to let the visual sink in. It’s a work of art.

I know you're a hobbyist beekeeper and I suppose that's just one of the toils of the trade. Wasn't it the famous Chunk who said “I'm not all alone in the dark. I like the dark. I love the dark.” [He ducks and crawls under a tree branch] “But I hate nature! I HATE nature!”

I love nature, but bees give me the hebegeebies and make me do the sissy dance. (no I can't spell that word, and my spell checker cares little for it as well.)

You are an absolute riot with your wonderful personality and hilarious sarcastic sense of humor; I’d love for people to get to know you as I do. Please tell us a little about your self. Why do you describe yourself as the ice queen?

I'm a beekeeper, a wife, a mother, and an INSANELY dull person. I don't remember if the whole "ice queen" thing is something that was bestowed on me or if I came up with it myself, but it's a friendlier way of pointing to my (sometimes fairly profound) social phobias. Sadly, introverts are often seen as "cold" and "distant." At some point I decided to just own the labels and see where that got me!

From one hermit to another, I have come to own the notion of recluse due to my inability to be interesting, and I wish to assure you that, if you share similar voices in your head like the ones that keep me company, then you and I, surely, are not insanely dull. One or the other, perhaps, but not both. On second thought, I take that back, we are not dull at all.

Hehe, from one hermit to another... agoraphobia SUCKS, doesn't it? You make an excellent point, though. Being a tad on the wackadoodle side does liven things up, at least a little.

All the brilliant people are, or were as the case may be. Being normal is so boring. Who would want that?

Your new book, The Sons of Masguard and the Mosque Hill Fortune, is now available in paperback and for the kindle and kindle readers for smartphones. Could you give us a brief description of the premise.

Let’s see, I have to give the salesman pitch here, don’t I? *Clears throat.* The Sons of Masguard is an adventure-fantasy series in the vein of Wind in the Willows or Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. It has tall ships and pirates and the kind of magical artifacts you’d expect to see in Indiana Jones. As a matter of fact, Harrison Ford is in negotiations to play Masguard in the upcoming film.

…Okay, I made that last part up. The rest of it is accurate, though. I swear.

I have no doubts that, with your talent, the universe will conspire to make that last part happen. The epic trailer alone makes me want to see the movie. Your husband, Meral, does an amazing job with the voice over. A very talented man, he is, in his own right. (Take a look at the book trailer for yourself at the end of this interview.)

We have been friends long enough that I have seen first hand how wonderful of a mother you are. I know that your son is your world. Is he the inspiration for this series or for writing children's fiction in general?

He absolutely is my world. Probably because he takes after his father so much! He's been the inspiration for a slew of children's stories, although, I actually wrote the first draft of "The Sons of Masguard" in my late teens, years before he was born. It is definitely fair to say that he was inspirational in the rewrites, however.

He has grown so much since I've last seen him.

Yeah, he won’t stop doing that, for some reason.

Canned question from me to you, what in the world makes you so good and where do these amazing ideas come from? dreams? Little birds? Or bees, perhaps?

Okay, we have to stop for a second because I need to give you an e-hug for saying that. *MASSIVE SQUEEZE!*
It's silly, but the initial inspiration for "The Sons of Masguard" came from an ostrich. My mother was teaching preschool children from a book with no pictures, so she asked me to illustrate the alphabet characters for her class. I was happy to do it -- I LOVE drawing cartoons. The book merged the letters "o" and "p" into a painting ostrich. I thought, "How lame is that? Couldn't they have done something clever... like an octopus pianist? Or an otter pirate?" It bugged me until late into the night, when I got out of bed to draw the first images of Captain Marshall and McKinley the Marauder.

That's partially what makes you so amazing. I love how your mind works.

So, as I just learned, you also do the illustrations for the print version of your book; there is no question that your talent for writing is inexorable, although, I had no idea you could draw as well. Are there any other talents you've kept secret from the world all these years?

Baha! Talent? What on earth is that? Would I know if I had it? I'm pretty sure I'd know if I had it. No, I dabble in a lot of things (paint, guitar, piano, voice), but I don't do any of them well. I do make a mean soufflé! That counts for something, right? ... I'm kidding. I actually have no idea how to make a soufflé. At all.

I have absolutely no idea what a soufflé is, but talent I know, and you have it in abundance. For as long as I’ve known you, it's been your nature to be your own worse critic, although, others will now see your talent for what it is … pure magic.

Now, something that I have always wondered, are you a student of the craft, or like Maybelline, were you just born with it?

Ugh, I'm a terrible student! I've tried, honestly. But a person could drive themselves mad trying to consume all of the tips and techniques and dos and don'ts on writing these days. For me, noveling (Is that a verb? It should totally be a verb.) is about the characters. Telling their story through their eyes. If I concentrate on how I'm writing, I completely lose sight of what I'm writing -- and the result is a big pile of beautifully structured words that don't lead anywhere. I tell the story first, work on the form second (and sometimes third, and fourth...), and rely on the beta readers to tell me whether I've gotten it wrong. It's amazing how much you can learn from the words, "This scene didn't really work for me."

Loveable characters are the key. When they want their story told and their voices begin telling their story in your head, craft generally goes out the window and you just write the character's story. Honestly, I think that is the true craft, not all the rules and knowing which to bend. I love your mind set and I think your notion is spot on.

You are one of those writers who puts other writers in awe of your work, writing things that others think "I wish I had written that", does your prose come off the pen as smoothly as it reads? You're so good and natural at this you probably don't even have to edit much.

There you go again, being an insanely kind person! I have a horrible tendency to be REALLY wordy. It takes somewhere around a zillion editing passes to filter out all the unnecessary crap that comes out of my fingertips. Hopefully, the end result is at least somewhat legible!

Your "unnecessary crap" is another writer's golden egg. It's an innate ability that lies within you to craft such realistic images with your words, words that remind me of classic storytelling. Your writing, to me, is not unlike the mastery of artists such as Algernon Blackwood, Washington Irving and, one of your favorites, Richard Adams; how do you craft prose with such precise word choice and imagery?

What an AMAZING compliment! I don't know that I could ever measure up to their works, but I've always been a huge fan of classic literature. I'd love to think that their influence bleeds through from time to time, but... well, I write about talking otters, so...
Yes, but you write about them as if they are the classic characters themselves.

Why, thank you! Maybe it's just that Masguard is every bit as wordy as I am... *Grin.*

An interesting thing stood out to me as I began reading; the notion of the clock face in the prologue is such a notable symbol, what is the significance of symbolism throughout the book and your writing?

Thank you so much! I try not to go overboard with the symbolism in this series -- readers tend to find that obnoxious. Luckily for me, Masguard is a bit of an over-educated chatty Kathy, so he can get away with saying things I'd otherwise have to leave out. In the opening scene, he's reflecting on his life, writing one last letter before he goes out to face *spoilers*, and he wants to make his words count for something.

Characterization is one of your many strong points, all of your characters are so well crafted it's difficult to choose a favorite.

Without divulging any plot twist, can you give us an idea of the premise of the second novel in the series?

Book Two picks up where Book One left off, on Marshall's ship, en route to Mosque Hill. Things get a little nuttier, a little more fantastical. Some of the lesser characters from Book One turn out to be not-so-lesser characters in Book Two. And of course, you get to find out whether or not I'm evil enough to have murdered everyone's favorite pirate.

You? Evil? Not sure I have reason to believe that. However, I do have reason to believe that the word hoary causes you to break down into uncontrollable, maniacal laughter .... where might you have heard that word before? Could it have been in reference to some hoary marmots? You know, hoary marmots would make excellent villains in the sequel. 

Hoary marmots, I love it! Also, an excellent name for a redneck poetry group.

Lol. I think we could organize one of those.

I was also thinking that, as my best writing friend, I can picture us going the way of Stephen king, Amy tan and Dave Barry; best friends before, during and after fame. Maybe we should start a band as well? The Mosque Hill Tender Hearts Jug Band. Has a clever ring to it, doesn't it? I have dibs on the washboard! 

LoL! I call the triangle! Can we start a band with only two instruments?  

Well, someone has to play the jug or it wouldn't be a jug band so much, would it? Sigh, no band then. let's start a club instead. For Hermits only, of course.

Good plan! Do we get a tree house? I’ve always wanted a tree house…

Absolutely! Wouldn't be complete without one. I look forward to the first annual meeting of the Hoary Marmots Writer's Club for Hermits. Oh, the Tom foolery we'll share.

It has been wonderful talking with you. In addition to being an amazing writer, Vivienne, you are an amazing person as well.

The secrets of The Sons of Masguard and the Mosque Hill Fortune are well kept, as well kept as your art. Your art should be in a shrine, my friend. Your writing is complex, powerful, concise, and hauntingly beautiful. It's a wondrous mix between classic styles and storytelling, and modern notions and imagery. It is an honor above all others, to consider you one of my best friends and more so, my muse. You are the reason I strive for greatness as a writer. The world is a better, more beautiful place with your art in it and very soon the world will know what I know. With all heartfelt sincerity, you my friend, are the world's best kept secret.

And with that, I have to leave. Because you’re making me blubber like a baby. Or a granny. Or a grown man with allergies. In any case, it’s getting difficult to see the screen.

I can’t thank you enough for having me on your site – and for being my friend! We wackadoodles need to stick together. In a tree house.

Yes, we sure do. We make the best company after all. Take good care of that bee sting. I look forward to the sequel with great eagerness!

Synopsis: The Sons of Masguard and the Mosque Hill Fortune

The first installment in a new series from Vivienne Mathews, this anthropomorphic tale is sure to strike a chord with fans of “Redwall,” “Watership Down,” and “Warriors.” Centered on a rivalry between two otter captains and the ancient threat that brings them together, it is an adventure-fantasy on the open sea, described by the author as “’Wind in the Willows’ with pirates.”


A haunting mist has settled on the harbor beneath Secora Tor. Tasked with unlocking its mysteries is the stoic otter Captain Marshall, an accomplished military figure and heir to the greatest explorer in the kingdom’s history. As he sifts through myth and reality, his dangerous journey grows ever more complicated when he learns that McKinley the Marauder – pirate, nemesis, and general miscreant – has ambitions that could put his mission at risk.

Now, accompanied by a gypsy mercenary, a dishonored knight, and a family of thieves – and tailed by the evil wolf Baron Von Ulric, who has ambitions of his own – their paths converge in an uneasy alliance, becoming a race against time as they travel to the legendary island of Mosque Hill, each of them hoping to reach an ancient artifact before it is too late. Each of them desperate to stay ahead of the secrets that they keep.

What will they lose along the way?

And where will they turn when they realize that nothing is as it seems?



The Sons of Masguard for Kindle on Amazon
The Sons of Masguard in paperback on Amazon
Vivienne Mathews Home Page Link  
Link To Vivienne Mathews Author Page On Amazon

Vivienne Mathews Social Media Links



Thank you so, so much for taking the time to tolerate my cheekiness, dear friend. This was my favorite interview to date! Probably because you're one of my favorite people. :)

And the sting is much better, by the by -- nothing a Benadryl-induced coma couldn't fix.


Haha--lots of humor in this post! You two have great digital chemistry ;-)

Where oh where has ML gone?

Just stopping to check on you. Hope everything is okay. :-)

Hi ML. Just checking in. Hope everything is good in your part of the universe. :-)

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