FLOW: It sounds like you had a lot of time to use your imagination. Is that why your writing predominantly focused on fantasy rather than other genres? Was it escapism or did you always know it was something more?
M.R. MATHIAS: I would like to write a definitive masterpiece of fantasy. I have it brewing in the back of my mind. It will be called Harthgar and be a standalone novel of about a thousand pages. And if you have read any of my series, you will have heard of that distant place. It is a fantastic city/continent, but only mentioned vaguely. I am sort of planting the seed for it in my readers now...lol that’s what convicts do. We think ahead. Way ahead.
FLOW: How far ahead? Is it akin to the lifetime work of the Tolkein universe or something a little less consuming?
M.R. MATHIAS: Far less consuming. It will come easy or I will write something that does instead. I hate struggling to write. Luckily I have found inspiration when needed and usually my steady work ethic carries me through. Harthgar won’t be a reality for several years, but it’s a story that I think will have to be freed from my mind.
FLOW: Thinking ahead like that has lots of practical advantages. How does this ability help you with your writing?
M.R. MATHIAS: When I wrote the Wardstone Trilogy I had never heard of a Kindle or an eReader. I think that’s why people like it. It’s pure. I wrote it for my sanity and published it so my mom and dad could be proud again. People respect that. Its real. The thought of success and making money as an author had no part of the process.
FLOW: Have you been able to hold onto that outlook or has being on the outside and having to earn a living changed things?
M.R. MATHIAS: I write for a living now. I have published 16 titles in less than two years. My work ethic speaks for itself. I try very hard to stay on top of things and keep my own rigid deadlines. Few people who get into self-publishing haven't heard of me. That is because I am serious about what I do, and as my own publisher I try to do a good job of putting my name and work out there.
FLOW: One of your novels, The Butcher’s Boy, is a complete departure from much of your other work. What inspired you to write this? Do you have any plans to write anything else in this genre?
M.R. MATHIAS: I think I may have covered this already. I love writing real life people in our time. I will write more stuff like The Butcher's Boy. Maybe less horror and more mystery/thriller, but who knows.
FLOW: Looking forward to seeing it! Meanwhile, you have been putting together Dragon Poem anthologies for charity. Could you tell us how this came about, the charity itself and what inspired you to champion it?
M.R. MATHIAS: One year I won three thousand dollars in a poker tournament in New Orleans. It was just before the holidays and my mom had been researching charities that actually use the donated funds for charity. She suggested I donate, as a way to keep my karma good, to smiletrain.org and I donated. It is one of the best donation direct to purpose charities out there. The idea that those kids have no smile is appalling to me. There are other charities that need money, and some closer to home, but those kids are helpless and a smile is such a terrible thing to have to live without. Anyone who reads this should write a silly dragon poem, and more importantly, put the anthology on your kindle. The first anthology made less than $100 last year and one cleft reparation operation is $250. I donated the rest of the money, and will do so every year until the anthologies start making enough. L.M. Stull, author of A Thirty Something Girl, is a fantastic person. She hosts and does the judging. I sponsor the event and make sure (upfront) that a surgery is paid for.
FLOW: What a marvelous charity and way to raise money for it. If it is an open competition, where should people submit their dragon poems?
FLOW: It sounds to me like you are more than ‘repaying your debt to society’ and could really be an inspiration to both prisoners and former prisoners alike. Have you ever thought about giving talks either in prisons or for former prisoners re-entering society? Is that something that would interest you? Donating your books to prison libraries?
M.R. MATHIAS: I've thought about it. But the idea of going back to a prison, even as a speaker sickens me. I might start speaking to addicts, and people who have been newly released. I also have an idea for an inmate reading program that Amazon and Createspace, as well as many of the great indie authors could benefit from. It’s still forming in my head though and might come to fruition after Wardstone III is on the shelves.
FLOW: So who is Mr. Stubbs and why is he so irreverent on Twitter?
M.R. MATHIAS: Mr. Stubbs is a blue eyed charmer with a potty mouth and people seem to love him. Someone even made a Mr. Stubbs fan club with t-shirts. He's just my dog. He is real popular with my younger cousins and one day I opened up a Twitter account for him. He tweets stuff for dogs and funny stuff. The idea is to cause a smile or get a laugh. Also to promote stuff like Dragon Poems, or new releases from fellow authors. Sales of certain books, reviews too. He tweets things like: "I can lick my own nuts. What can you do?" You would be surprised at the thousands of twitter responses his tweets get. It takes hours to go through them, and I had to stop responding just to be fair. Never-the-less his following has grown into five figures now I think. He's a popular dog. If he would quit eating my shoes while I'm out he might get a milk bone.
FLOW: Sounds like a great dog! J Thank you very much for giving us such wonderful insight into your work and plans for the future. Is there anything else you would like to add?
M.R. MATHIAS: Yes, Write a poem about dragons and enter the contest linked above. Buy the anthologies and tell a friend. It’s just a buck and a child with a broken smile gets the profit. Thanks for the interview. It was my pleasure answering your questions.