Dark Ends: An Interview With Krystle Matar

by Justine Bergman

Today we’re joined by Krystle Matar, and we discuss her upcoming novelette Tainted featured in the Dark Ends anthology, her writing habits, why she’s the authorly equivalent of a magpie, and advice for reading Gemmell.

About the Author

Krystle Matar thrives on chaos and is starting a farm while working on her debut novel. She lives with her myriad of farm animals, her gaggle of children and one of the best husbands in the world.

Her debut novel, Legacy of the Brightwash is an adult grimpunk novel about the cost of convenience and what we are willing to do for the ones we love. She is working on it as fast as she can.

WEBSITE: https://www.blackwoodfarmcanada.com/

Care to tell us who are you in 10 words or less?

Writer, mother, wife, farmer. And I knit 😀

Give us a brief introduction to your Dark Ends story.

Glaen Forsooth is in love – but he’s a taint. In a world powered by the abilities of taints, they are people under strict supervision and harsh control. Can he be satisfied within the rules and regulations of the National Taint Registration Authority, or will he fight against them and risk everything he holds dear?

What was the inspiration for your ​Dark Ends​ story?

Tainted takes its inspiration from Legacy of the Brightwash. Glaen is a side character in Legacy of the Brightwash, but when the planning for Dark Ends started, I knew pretty quickly that it was a good opportunity to examine his story more closely.

Did you find it difficult to shift focus to a different character’s point of view for a story set in the same universe and timeline as Legacy of the Brightwash?

It was surprisingly difficult. Although I had a very well-detailed outline because I was following a sequence of events I had already written, the tonal shift was challenging. Glaen and Tashué are two very different men and their stories run contrary to each other’s. Tashué Blackwood is the antagonist in Glaen’s story and it has been a challenge to make that balance work. Some excellent beta readers have been very helpful!

What’s a day of writing like in the shoes of Krystle? Do you have any quirks/routines/rituals?

I like to watch something while I’m writing, believe it or not. Growing up, the TV and the computer were in the same room, so Dad would be watching something while I wrote – and it became a comfortable habit. It seems to help me focus. It keeps my eyes on the screen instead of letting my mind wander to all the other things that need to get done.

What’s the largest issue you face/have faced while writing?

The largest issue I face lately is definitely finding time. I need to spend time during the day thinking about my project so that I know what I’m doing when I get a moment to myself, but with so much going on it can be hard to devote the time I need to brainstorming. However, writing is a NEED for me. It must be done. If I go too long without writing, I can feel the pressure building in the back of my brain. So, in spite of all the many distractions, I do eventually MAKE time.

What was the hardest scene you’ve ever written?

That’s a hard question! I guess the scenes that take their tolls are certainly death scenes. A lot of emotion goes into those to get them right, and if I’m a blubbering pile of goo by the end, I’ve done my job! And then the most difficult thing to write was when I tried to write historical fiction. I struggled to keep track of what was possible during the time, or the exact sequence of events. Maybe writing “accurate” historical fiction isn’t for me…

What is the funniest typo you’ve ever written?

I can’t think of a funny typo exactly, but I do remember using the word “furrowed” a lot in an early draft. My husband still teases me about that.

Is there one particular book that you hold dearest to your heart? If so, has it played a part in guiding your writing career?

Anyone who knows me isn’t going to be surprised by this answer; Stormrider by David Gemmell is The Book for me. The Rigante series is what turned writing from a hobby to something I saw myself doing for the rest of my life. I hope his influence shows in my work in some little way… And I hope that one day, one of my books has that kind of impact on someone.

If someone was unfamiliar with Gemmell’s work, where would you suggest they begin reading?

That depends on what the reader likes! Gemmell’s older books – Legend, Waylander, King Beyond the Gate, the Jon Shannow series – tend to be very brief and to the point, great for a quick read. 

His newer stuff has more flesh to it, and tend to be my favourites. For people who like Bronze Age fiction, he wrote a beautiful retelling of the Trojan War, starting with Lord of the Silver Bow. The Rigante series is largely influenced by Scottish culture and mythology, which starts with Sword in the Storm. Winter Warriors is about old men forced into retirement, but fight demons to save the world. Echoes of a Great Song is about a culture struggling to make sense of themselves after an apocalyptic event nearly wiped them out. I better stop now or I’ll probably give a synopsis of all of his books!

If you could shadow one author for a day, who would you choose, and why?

I think I would choose Anthony Ryan (Raven’s Shadow series, Draconis Memoria series). His books got me back into fantasy after a long hiatus and I’d love to see more of his inspiration and his process.

You’re walking down a dimly lit alley, and out of the corner of your eye you see movement in the shadows. What do you do?

Well, I don’t know if I would go down a dimly lit alley at all! I’m way too chicken for that…

As a writer, what or who would you choose as your mascot?

I think I would choose a magpie. I gather shiny ideas that I like and hoard them away in the back of my brain. Maybe I’ll use them in a story someday.

Do you organize these shiny ideas in any particular way for potential future use?

That depends largely on how far the idea went. My computer files are meticulously organized, with the various drafts in labeled subfolders. Sometimes characters have a few attempts at stories, so they get their own folders of course. 

My notebooks, in the other hand, are just mad scribblings. I’m kind of spinning my wheels in notebooks to see if I can find some traction. The idea I end up writing tends to be very different from the idea that I scribbled. 

If I attempted to do historical fiction, there’s some research, but generally I have the research books I bought sitting on my bookshelves, staring at me, judging me for never seeing the project through. 

And some ideas don’t even make it that far. They float around in my brain, waiting for their chance. 

There’s generally no priority to things, at least not one that I can identify. Except maybe Tashué Blackwood. I created (met?) him when I was 14, and no matter how many other characters or ideas I try to work on, I always come back to Tashué eventually.

Are you currently working on any other projects that you can discuss?

I’d love to discuss Legacy of the Brightwash! I’ve been working on it a while now, but life keeps slowing me down. While Tainted focuses on Glaen, a taint suffering under an oppressive system, Legacy of the Brightwash focuses on Tashué Blackwood, a regulatory officer who trusts the system at first until his own life forces him to call everything he thinks he knows into question as things in the Dominion start to fall apart. Hopefully Legacy of the Brightwash will be ready for beta readers soon… and then we’ll see where it takes me.

Thanks so much for joining us, Krystle!

Dark Ends will be available this winter.

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