Saturday, December 13, 2014

Under the Influence – When you don't even know it.

I wear a lot of my influences on my sleeve.  As a child of the 80s (the 1980s, I should probably specify.  I'm not from the future.  At least not yet.  I am, however, working tirelessly to turn my Hyundai into a time machine), I was raised on a diet of Jim Cameron movies, He-Man cartoons, permed hair and big, puffy shoulder pads.  Good times, right? 

In terms of books, I've been influenced by the works of Clive Barker, Robert Jordan, and countless others. 

But there are times when I track down a film I've mostly forgotten—when I revisit a movie or TV show or a book that lives only in the comforting embrace of nostalgia—that I realize I have influences I didn't even know I had. 

Take RoboCop, for example.  I liked it well enough when I caught it on tape as a kid.  I barely remembered it as an adult, though.  I knew a guy got turned into a Creature From the Black Lagoon by toxic waste (toxic waste was huge in the 80s, btw).  I knew a guy got blowed up real good after snorting coke out of a chick's cleavage (cocain was also huge in the 80s, btw).   And I knew there was a giant, hulking cop who did super bad-ass stuff like punching terrorists through drywall. 

What I didn't realize, however, was how much this movie got into my head.  How much it stuck with me.  And I might never have realized this, had I not rewatched the film after picking up the original RoboCop trilogy the other day (the less said about the cringe-inducing second and third films, the better). 

My first novel features a man named Brandon Morales—a cop, no less—who dies at the start of the book, gunned down in the line of duty.  Sound familiar yet?

Okay, so that's pretty much where the similarities end between my book and RoboCop (Brandon doesn't become a giant, hulking robot who does bad-ass stuff like punching terrorists through drywall.  Instead, he gets sent to Hell, meets a chick who's far more bad-ass than he is, and together they try to escape the afterlife), but still... 

Reviewers have compared the novel to everything from “The Matrix” to “Dante's Inferno."  But RoboCop?  Yeah, that was unexpected.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Chicago Tribune Printer's Row Lit Fest - aka Selling Books for Fun and Profit

This last weekend, I got the opportunity to hang out with my publishers and five of my fellow Post Mortem Press authors at the PMP table at Printer's Row in downtown Chicago.  I'd already had the pleasure to meet Cynthia Pelayo (author of Young Adult award-winning novel Santa Muerte), Christian Larsen (author of the urban fantasy Losing Touch), and Brian Dobbins (author of the witch/detective historical fiction novel, Jasmine's Tale), but this year I got to meet Max Booth III (author of the darkly comedic Toxicity) and Josef Matulich (author of the newly released Camp Arcanum, which I heard him describe as a novel about “magic, sex, and power tools.”)   Oh, and I was also there selling copies of Try Not to Burn, a supernatural thriller which has been called "The Matrix meets Dante's Inferno."

From left, Josef Matulich, Cynthia Pelayo, Christian Larsen, Max Booth III, Yours Truly, and Brian Dobbins

Alcohol may have been consumed during the event, as Brian smuggled in bourbon, and Christian has recently taken to hazing his fellow authors with a beverage called “Malort.”  Apparently, only 1 in 49 people like the taste of it.  I was warned to step away from the table when I drank it, just in case I had a negative reaction.  After drinking it, though, I wasn't sure what all the fuss was about.  Perhaps I'm one of the 49, or perhaps it's because most hard liquor tastes the same to me (I'm more of a vodka man, myself), but I thought it tasted fine.  

This was my second year at Printer's Row, and each time I've gone, my publisher has sold out of the copies they brought of Try Not to Burn.  Thankfully, I always bring some copies of my own to events like this, just in case.  By the time I rode the train back home on Sunday, I only had 2 copies of my book left in the box.  

Closeup of my book at the PMP table at Printer's Row, right next to Cynthia's Santa Muerte

 Last year went so well I wasn't sure it could be topped, but somehow, this year was even wilder, with more authors, more books sold, and some wonderful people in the crowd.  The authors came from as far as San Antonio, Texas (where Max is located) to attend the event, Josef showed off his juggling skills at one point, and I lost count of the number of people who stopped for a photo opp with Max and Christian as they held up, let's just say they put together some “eccentric” signs that drew a few crowds.  A photographer from the Chicago Tribune even stopped by to snap their picture.  

Christian and Max doing their best hobo impressions...If anyone asks, I don't know them.

I also lost track of the number of fire trucks that raced by throughout the weekend, but I'm hoping the event is just located close to a fire station, and that the apocalypse wasn't actually happening somewhere in the city, because it almost seemed like it at some points.  

The weather managed to behave itself this year, which I was thankful for.  Last year, there was a bit of a drizzle on Sunday, and this year, rain was threatening to fall on Saturday, but we had clear skies all the way through.  

If you were at the event, thank you so much for stopping by for a chat and/or to buy a book, and for making the weekend such a wonderful and unforgettable time. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lineup Announced for the Racine, Wisconsin Barnes & Noble Local Author's Day

Here is the list I was just sent of the authors who will be appearing at the Barnes & Noble in Racine, Wisconsin on August 16th, 2014.  (Schedules permitting, of course.)

My fellow Post Mortem Press author, Christian Larsen, will be there as well.  (He's the one who gave me the heads up about the event.  Thanks again, Chris!)

Adult Authors:        
1 - Michael Matula (author of Try Not to Burn)
2 - Richard Thomas (author of The New Black)   
3 - Anita Meyer (author of The Primordial Language—Confirmation of the Divine Creator)    
4 - Carol Schaufel (author of By the Grace of God and You: An Autobiography)   
5 - Christian Larsen (author of Losing Touch)    
6 - Diana Kanecki (author of Summer Love)    
7 - George Fennell (author of Racine, Wisconsin: Drum and Bugle Corps Capital of the World)    
8 - Michael Major (author of One Man’s Castle)
9 - JoBe Cerny (author of Red Cin)   
10 - Marcie Eanes (author of Passion’s Zest)    

Children’s book authors:        
1 - Sandra Nowicki (author of Sparkles the Rainbow Pony)     
2 - Karen Franco (author of Just Hold My Hand)    
3 - Linda Hocutt (author of Where’s Charlie?)

Picture book authors will take over the event from 10 am to 11:30 am (I think I'll be sitting that one out), then there will be a Panel of Authors from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm, moderated by the B&N community manager and featuring the Adult Authors listed above.  A writing workshop is scheduled for 1 to 2 pm, and then audience members will be able to stretch their legs and mix and mingle with the authors from 2 to 3, during the "Open House" portion of the event. 

I'm very much looking forward to it.  Hope to see you there, if you're in the area. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Of Ghost Stories and Haunted Pez Dispensers

My contributor copy for Sekhmet Press' recent anthology, Wrapped in White, arrived in the mail just the other day.  I took a couple of snapshots of it (as one does), but when I was developing the film, I noticed a rather odd image superimposed on the photo.  Some people have told me it might be a spirit trying to communicate with me from beyond the grave.  I tend to believe it's a small hunk of plastic that caught the light a certain way, simply making it look like an otherworldly presence. 

In either case, I thought I'd share the image, so you can see this mysterious and rather baffling presence for yourself. (Cue X-Files theme music.)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ever Feel Like You're Stuck in a Time Loop?

This latest review is the 2nd time my work's been compared to Groundhog Dag in the last month.  Hmm...I'm starting to feel like I'm stuck in some sort of loop, with no means of escape...

Anyway, here's a snippet of that review, which I recently received on Amazon for my supernatural thriller, Try Not to Burn

"The setting and tone is wonderful. I pictured an urban setting of metallic run down apartment buildings, with tunnels underneath. It was vivid as a scene from the movie Sin City. The Gral are like policeman of the state, and straight out of a Halo Xbox game. Along with some big slippery snakes and demons in disguise, they make wonderful monsters. It seemed a melding of the earthy caverns of hell with a sci-fi like metallic science fiction, and an almost steampunk technology.

World-building ruled the day, and it is an awesome world with wonderful implications. For example, if you live and make it to the night time bell, you wake up the next day 'reset' with your original belongings. Groundhog Day meets the Matrix."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wrapped in White is now on Amazon!

Check out my latest story, "You'll Thank Me By Tomorrow," in Sekhmet Press' brand new ghost anthology, Wrapped in White. Other authors featured in the anthology include Allison M. Dickson, Patrick C. Greene, and Bryan W. Alaspa (so if you're a fan of authors with middle initials in their names, then this is the book for you.)

Here's what one reviewer on Amazon said of the story:

"You’ll Thank Me by Tomorrow by Michael D. Matula
Liam and Molly are trying to enjoy a little naughty week away, and the temperature is getting a little hot when the screaming starts.

This story is very much Groundhog Day for horror lovers, as three people and two rooms rotate in varying fashions to kill each other. It’s exhausting reading in a fantastic way.

The ending is amazing and I think this was my favourite story."

The anthology is available in paperback and on Kindle. I believe it's also available on itunes, kobo, and nook.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Interview with Mark Cain, Author of Hell's Super

Mark Cain is a writer and musician living in the Austin, Texas area. His third novel, HELL'S SUPER, a comic fantasy, has been published by Taylor Street Books. It is available as a Kindle eBook or paperback. HELL'S SUPER is volume one of a new series, CIRCLES IN HELL. Volume two, A COLD DAY IN HELL, will be published in the Spring of 2014.

Hi, Mark! I'm so glad you could join us here in the blog studio. Make yourself comfortable. Would you like some cider?  Freshly baked churros?  Help yourself.  And let me know when you're ready to begin. This is a combined interview and game show, where prizes may be awarded for great answers. The grand prize, should you win all of the questions, is a signed copy of my brand new sci-fi epic, “Grover Cleveland: Time Traveler.”

Churros, huh? Yeah, let me have some of those. Yummmm.

When did you start writing fiction? Was there anything in particular that sparked your interest?

I started writing my first book when I was 11, but it was really in my late 20s that I started writing seriously. Stephen Donaldson's LORD FOUL'S BANE, part of the CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT series, was really hot then, and it influenced my choice of genre and, at the time, my writing style. My first book, in fact, was a sword and sorcery epic fantasy called DEMON IN THE FLAMES. It's still in print.

For people who haven't checked it out yet, what's your novel about?  Twenty bonus points if you can fit in the word “turbulent” into the description.

Well, let's give the title out here at the forefront. HELL'S SUPER, the book is called HELL'S SUPER. And, well, it's about Hell. The title is a turbulent play on words. (Ten point penalty for gratuitous use of the word, "turbulent.") Steve, the protagonist, a former economics professor, is consigned to Hell after death, which I suppose is better than being consigned to it before death. His eternal damnation is to be HELL'S SUPERintendent for Plant Maintenance, essentially Mr. Fixit to the Underworld. (I hope all of your readers got this incredibly clever play on words. No? Sigh. Well, it seemed funny when I thought it up.)

Steve's challenge in this book is to fix Hell's Escalator, which carries damned souls from Gates Level (Pearly and Infernal) to the bowels of the Inferno. To do the job, Steve must fly through the turbulent atmosphere of the Nine Circles of Hell in the company of a giant vampire bat, the infamous Bat out of Hell, aka BOOH. Along the way, he spends time with famous historical figures, including Orson Welles, his assistant, and Florence Nightingale, his would-be girlfriend. Oh, and of course, there's more than the occasional devil and demon to make his turbulent afterlife even more turbulent. (turbulenter?)

The whole thing is really very silly, but it has some heart to it.

Which character of yours is the most fun for you to write?

Hmm. Tough one. I really enjoyed writing Flo (Nightingale), but I also liked Satan, Beelzebub, Putty Face (a spoiler, sorry, I can't tell you), and Uphir, who is a creepy little demon running Hell's Hospital.

What's your favorite (or favourite, if you prefer) book of all time?  And if that’s too difficult, then what’s the last book that really stuck a chord with you?  Double points if you have an answer to both.

Another toughie. I have lots of favorite books, though like many fantasy writers (HELL'S SUPER is sort of a comic fantasy, though many consider it a satire), The LORD OF THE RINGS is probably my favorite.

The book that moved me the most? Kurt Vonnegut's SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE. I read it almost every year.

Do you have a preferred genre to write?  If so, what appeals to you most about it?

Epic fantasy. I get to use my very best prose in epic fantasy. HELL'S SUPER was a blast to write, and it probably has more appeal than anything else I've written, but I told it in first person from the prospective of the main character, so my prose is dumbed down.

I sometimes try to sneak in little inside jokes or references into my books which only a few people will actually catch (like the colors or mascot from my high school, or using birthdays in secret codes). Do you do this too, and is there an in-joke or a secret you'd be willing to share with us about your books?

Yes, I do this too, though usually the references are really obscure.

In HELL'S SUPER, there is a character named Tully who was the quarterback at Steve's high school. The quarterback at my high school was also named Tully. I didn't really know him, and he, as far as I know, is nothing like my fictional Tully, but I like the name Tully, almost as much as I like the word "turbulent."

If you could escape to any fictional setting, which one would you choose, and how long would you want to stay there?

I guess it's not fictional. Tahiti/Bora Bora circa Gauguin's time. It might be fictional though. In my mind, I have an image of complete calm for the soul, of cerulean waters, and of impossibly beautiful people who just enjoy this great gift that is life. And, if that's what it is/was really like, I'd want to stay forever.

What’s the dumbest question you’ve ever been asked?  It doesn’t have to be about writing.

Standing at a service counter, ready to help the next person, and that person comes up to me and says, "Are you open?"

Is there any advice you would give to writers who are just starting out?

Write out of love.

Can you tell us a little about your next writing project?

Well, there's the sequel, A COLD DAY IN HELL, about a breakdown of Hell's HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system. There are at least four books envisioned for the CIRCLES IN HELL SERIES, of which HELL'S SUPER is the first volume.

I also have a five volume epic fantasy completed plotted out. It spans over 500 years and deals with magic and immortality. Hey, what's not to like?

And the final question. This one's for one hundred points, and a chance to play for the grand prize. Remember that honesty is the best policy or whatever. On a scale of one to ten, where one is pretty awesome and ten is fully awesome, how awesome is Michael Matula?

Oh, gosh, and I know I'm going to lose the 100 points for this answer, but...11?

And now, please tell the folks at home about when and where they can find your books, and where you'd like them to look on the internet for your stuff.

The book is out there now. It came out in the fall of last year. The Kindle price is only 99 cents, American. My publisher and I did that deliberately, because it's the first in a series, and right now we want to build a readership. Profits are less important. The paperback is about $13. You can get it at some Barnes & Nobles, or you can order it through most major book distributor channels.

On, go to

And on

Thanks so much for joining us, Mark.  And congratulations on winning the interview!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Cover Reveal for Wrapped in White, an upcoming Ghost Anthology

Here's the cover for the upcoming ghost anthology from Sekhmet Press, titled Wrapped in White, featuring my newest story.  The collection of 13 stories is set to release March 25, 2014

In my story, You'll Thank Me By Tomorrow, a couple vacationing in paradise run afoul of a spirit intent on teaching them a lesson.  Liam will either pass the spirit's test and save his marriage, or he'll die trying. 

The anthology also features stories by Allison Dickson (author of Dust), Patrick Greene (author of Progeny), Bryan Alaspa (author of RIG), Michael Williams (author of The Withrow Chronicles), Cecilia Dockins, Patrick O'Neill, G. Elmer Munson (author of Stripped), Gary Buettner, James Glass (author of The Murdered Metatron), Joshua Rex, Solomon Archer, and Kelli Wilkins (author of Frightmares). 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Book Review - Girl on the Red Pillow by Angelika Rust

An average abusive childhood, a tendency towards depression. Annalee's life could be normal. If only she could get rid of the dwarf.
Annalee doesn't mind what people call her. After all, a name's just a name. What she does mind, though, is the dwarf trying to wall her in. Struggling between reality and hallucination, a black cat and a talking skeleton her only companions along the way, Annalee fights for her sanity, and a way out.

Delightfully quirky, funny, & exceedingly original. This novella is a psychedelic journey of discovery through one woman's mind and—quite literally—her soul, as she seeks to repair the damage of a difficult and tumultuous childhood. I really enjoyed this book, and I loved the offbeat cast of characters. Where else will you find a closet skeleton sidekick, or a manipulative dwarf with a skill for psychic masonry? The descriptions are vivid and excellent, and the story kept me hooked straight from the beginning to the satisfying conclusion. It's not always fun and games, as some dark and disturbing events do occur, particularly about midway through, but I thought this was definitely deserving of a full complement of stars.  The novella is available for 99 cents on Amazon. 

Review score: 5 stars.



Friday, February 14, 2014

Christian Larsen Author Interview

As promised, here's my video interview of author Christian A. Larsen from CapriCon 34.  In the interview, Christian talks about his debut sci-fi novel, Losing Touch, and shares a few of his thoughts on running his own table at a show.

Oh, and I should probably note that the dealer's room was only open for 2 hours on day 1 (a Thursday), and it was as cold as a Dear John letter that night, so that's why a few of the tables are still empty around us.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

CapriCon 34

Having a great time this weekend at CapriCon 34 in Wheeling, Illinois. Spotted a TARDIS in the wild, tried to sell a book to a chick wielding a fire axe, and even interviewed local Chicago author Chris Larsen on camera. Will try to share the interview once I edit out the parts where I went brain dead and couldn't think of any questions. For now, here are some pictures from my first day of the con.

I'll be there again Sunday, February 9th, 2014, from 11:00 to 3:00. 


Monday, February 3, 2014

Character Interview: Drew Adams from Starting Over: Starsville Book 1

STARTING OVER: STARSVILLE BOOK 1: Max deals with high school the way she deals with panic attacks… deep breaths and denial. But denying her brother’s friend is another thing altogether. Her nickname is ‘The Kid.’ She’s small, she’s socially awkward, and she desperately wants to be left alone. For most of her childhood, Max was punished for speaking, or for just being in the way. Life improved slightly when her abusive father was no longer in the picture, but she still felt the need to be invisible. Her older brother, Nate, is extremely protective and refuses to leave her side. He shelters her so she won’t be hurt again. They had a good system until he introduced her to his new best friend. Drew wants to coax Max out into the world so she can move beyond the pain. The method each boy takes in helping Max cope with her anxiety causes more conflict than Max is prepared to handle… especially when the school heart-breaker offers her more than a brotherly shoulder to lean on.

Mike: Hello, Drew.  Tell us a little about the book you’re in, and how you fit into the story.

Drew: First of all, Mike, thank you for having me. I always thought my first interview would be after a hockey game, but this is cool. To answer your question, I’m in a series of books that aren’t really about me. I’m the best friend, the school heartbreaker, the captain of the hockey team, the rich boy next door, the popular kid… the everything really. But if I didn’t have a secret crush on my best friend’s little sister, I probably wouldn’t be very important at all.

Mike: What’s your background?  Is there anything people should know about you before they read your story, like where you grew up, or anything in your younger days that might have led you to this point?

Drew: I was born and raised in Starsville, Ontario, Canada. I met the majority of my friends and teammates in my toddler years, and I can’t really remember a time without them. Since Starsville has two universities and a college, I’m not sure any of us will ever leave. Why would we? It’s like party town!

Mike: How would you describe your relationship with the author?  For instance, is it a collaborative process, or does she tell you what to do?  And just between us—I’ll make sure to cut out this part, to keep it off the record—what are your personal feelings about her?

Drew: Hmm, I’m not sure I really have a relationship with the author. She pretty much lets me do whatever I want, so I play a lot of hockey and a lot of video games. Plus, she gave me all the best characteristics. Sure, I might have a bit of an ego, but I’m working on it. Maybe I should pass some of my confidence to the author; she could use some.

Mike: If you could star in any other book or film, which one would you choose?

Drew: Oh, I don’t know, Mike. Max is the book lover; Ty is the movie buff. No matter what I say here, I know they’re going to laugh.

Mike: Between adventures, what do you do to blow off steam?  Any hobbies?  Favorite vacation spots?

Drew: My family owns a cottage up north, so we go there a lot. I haven’t really been on any vacations, but I plan to travel around Europe someday. I don’t have a lot of steam to blow off. I’m pretty laid back. If I really need to get rid of some stress, then I hit the gym.

Mike: How has your experience been so far as a character in a novel?  Has it been challenging for you?

Drew: You know, until Nate and his sister showed up, my worst problem was trying to get the clingy girls to stop… well… clinging. Now, what I’d give to have that one particular girl cling to me. How can I be the popular guy and not even get noticed by her? Probably better. Nate would kill me if he knew.

Mike: Of your co-stars, is there anyone you simply can’t stand to be around, or anyone you could see yourself being friends with outside of this story?

Drew:  Jill. That answers both questions really. She’s blunt, outgoing, says what she means, calls it as it is, and is sarcastic as all hell. She pushes all my buttons. I don’t have many, but she’s found them all. But she’s awesome, means well, and will have your back to the death. She’s like my annoying little sister really… the sister I never had… but don’t tell her I said that.

Mike: Are there any actors who could do you justice in a movie?

Drew:  Brad Pitt… in like… his younger days… or, um, like him in Fight Club. Have you seen that movie? He’s freaking awesome! Except I guess they wouldn’t get an old dude to play a teen, right? Um… what about that guy from Glee? Yeah, I’ve seen a few episodes of that. I like their song mash-ups. Anyway, that one guy, he plays Sam something. I looked him up once… Chord Overstreet. Cool name. That guy would make a good me, I guess. He’s probably too old to play me too, but he can pull off the high school look. He can sing, play guitar, and dance… triple threat right there… or quadruple, I guess, ‘cause the acting too. I can’t dance. Chord would make me look good. He’s got kinda the same hair… or he used to anyway… so I guess he kinda looks like me. Can he skate? If so, then yeah, I’d choose him.

Mike: And finally, what are your plans for the future?  Any sequels you can tell us about?

Drew: Big plans, Mike… big plans. I’m going to get the girl… somehow… I haven’t figured it out yet but one day… and then, then maybe I’ll start my own business. I’m great with people and good with numbers. I think I could be real successful. If not, there’s always hockey.

Jaclyn Aurore is the author of young adult fiction books The Starsville Saga: Starting Over, Standing Up, Giving In, Hanging On, Leaving Behind, and the stand alone fantasy, My Life Without Me.

Her books have been described as "Wonderfully human", "Evokes the awkwardness of teenage life perfectly", "Heart-wrenching and heartwarming at the same time", "Twilight without the vampires", and "Nothing at all like Twilight".

She is a wife and mother, and lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, two children and two dogs.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Wrapped in White - A Ghost Anthology

This March, my next story "You'll Thank Me By Tomorrow" will be appearing in Wrapped in White, the new ghost anthology from the dark and twisted--but thoroughly lovely--minds at Sekhmet Press, who also brought you Wrapped in Red, a vampire anthology I was lucky enough to appear in. 

Here's a preview picture:

Contributors are scheduled to include:
Besides myself, you'll recognize a couple of the names from Wrapped in Red, including Patrick Greene, Bryan Alaspa, and Michael Williams. All told, it'll be 13 full ghost stories for your reading pleasure, just like Wrapped in Red included 13 vampire stories. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Samantha Reiss Character Sketch

I've been fooling around with some pencil drawings I've done recently for a couple of characters from my Paranormal Thriller novel, Try Not to Burn. So far, I've drawn Samantha Reiss and Jane Calrin. You can check out both pictures on the new page I added to the blog, currently called Try Not to Burn Art & Extras.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Citadel Review

A semi-autobiographical movie from Writer/Director Ciaran Foy, starring James Cosmo from Game of Thrones and Aneurin Barnard, Citadel is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in years.

I was surprised to learn how much of this Irish import was based in real life when I watched the behind the scenes featurette, with Foy mentioning he’d been attacked with a hammer and a dirty syringe as a teenager, which led to his struggles with agoraphobia.  In the film, it’s the main character Tommy’s pregnant wife who gets attacked with a syringe in their high-rise apartment, while he can do nothing but watch from behind the faulty elevator door.  The culprits behind the attack?  Feral children clad in dirt-caked white hoodies. 

Not long after, Tommy is alone and raising his infant daughter, Elsa, all but crippled by the terror he feels toward the outside world.  To make matters worse, the children in the hoodies aren’t your typical punk kids, and they’re coming back for Tommy’s child.  And worse still, these kids can see his fear, honing in on it like a shark with blood in the water. 

The film is shot in a way to make you feel claustrophobic, getting up close to the protagonist as he delivers a spellbinding, believable performance.  The characters are as likable as they are vulnerable, which is the best way to create suspense, in my eyes.  As is having something to protect, and something to lose.  Rarely did I find myself worried about Tommy himself, but that’s not the point of the film.  It’s not Tommy who was attacked to begin with.  His fear springs from his inability to defend those he cares for. 

The plot felt a bit reminiscent of After Earth, the recent Will Smith & M. Night Shyamalan collaboration, which is all about overcoming fear, but in a much different manner.  In this movie, it’s understood that bravery doesn’t come from the elimination of fear, but in persevering despite it. 

If you like suspense, or if you just like well-crafted movies that draw you in and feature great performances, then definitely give this one a try. 

Favorite line from the movie: “If you don’t wanna get dead, hold my hand.”

Rating: 5 stars.  


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Indie Book of the Day Award Winner

Hey, I just found out I won an award!  That's always fun, isn't it? 

The fine people at just awarded Try Not to Burn as the "Best Paramormal Thriller to Listen to Enya to While Sipping a Latte".  Well, not really.  They awarded it as the "Indie Book of the Day" for January 25, 2014.  But that's still pretty nifty.  Now, I'm just waiting for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to hand me the key to Chicago and proclaim January 25th as the official "Try Not to Burn" day. 

Now, I just need the mayor to start returning my calls.  Guess he took that whole "You tried to include yourself as a write-in candidate and didn't vote for me" thing personally. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sale on Kindle Version of Try Not to Burn!

$3.99 Kindle Paranormal Thriller Novel

It doesn't happen very often, but Post Mortem Press has seen fit to lower the cover price of the Paranormal Thriller, Try Not to Burn, for a limited time. Grab it while supplies last!  (Technically, it's an ebook, so supplies aren't really a factor, but...well, it's fun to say, isn't it?)

Mia Darien, author of the Adelheid Series of vampire novels, says, "I’m always fascinated by unique or different depictions of Hell and Purgatory, the darker and unusual settings. Matula provides an interesting scenario, blending the spiritual, the emotional, the physical; merging past, present, future; bringing religious concepts without necessarily any specific religion, so it has a general appeal and fascination without being “preachy.”  This book brings in another thing I love: characters living in the moral grey. You know from the start that our Main Characters would not be there if they hadn’t done something to earn it, but you root for them anyways; even after you learn what they did. You’re still there with them."

Angelika Rust, writer of the mafia-inspired fantasy novel, Ratpaths, calls the book, "A very well thought-out, action-laden story. I'm truly looking forward to the sequel."

And Top 500 Amazon Reviewer Kacunnin says: "A mash-up of 'The Matrix' and Dante's 'Inferno.' I recommend TRY NOT TO BURN for fans of epic horror stories set in strange and convoluted worlds chock-full of mind-bending rules and God-driven tests of faith and character. This is a very big story, even though the focus is on three very small people. In Dante's version of Hell, he reveals that the only way to salvation is through an understanding of sin. It's the same with TRY NOT TO BURN - only through immense and harrowing trials can Brand and his friends move beyond Hell City to whatever awaits beyond." 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Character Interview with Steve Minion from Hell's Super

Humor novel on Amazon by Mark Cain

Mike: Tell us a little about the book you’re in, and how you fit into the story.

Steve: This book is completely ridiculous. I'm Hell's Super, that is, Superintendent for Plant Maintenance. It's my job...well, in the interest of full's my eternal damnation to serve as Hell's Handyman-in-Chief. I hate Mr. Fixit jobs, always have, so naturally Satan stuck me with this assignment when I got down here. My author named the book Hell's Super. He thinks it's a clever play on words. Hmmph. He wouldn't feel that way if HE were Hell's Super, or if HE were in Hell, like me.

Anyway, in the book, Orson and I have to fix Hell's Escalator, which runs from Gates Level (Pearly and Infernal) all the way down to the Eighth Circle of Hell. Orson is my assistant. That's Orson Welles, and yes, he's THAT Orson wells.

I get help from some other famous historical figures, at least one mythological creature, and a large and lovable vampire bat. I get grief from devils and demons, of course, as well as some other historical figures who are, well let's just say they are not my friends.

Mike: What’s your background?  Is there anything people should know about you before they read your story, like where you grew up, or anything in your younger days that might have led you to this point?

Steve: I'm from New York. In life, I was a tenured professor of economics at Columbia. Being a professor, I suppose, led me to this point. I was the dissertation advisor for a grumpy graduate student, who blew my brains out with a revolver.

I hope that isn't too graphic for your readers.

Mike: How would you describe your relationship with the author?  For instance, is it a collaborative process, or does he tell you what to do?  And just between us—I’ll make sure to cut out this part, to keep it off the record—what are your personal feelings about him?

Steve: One thing I appreciate about my author is that he lets me tell my own story, in my own words. I'm a former economist, not a great writer, and I suppose he could have jazzed things up with lots of adjectives and all, but he didn't do that, or not too much anyway. (One exception: "mellifluous." The author stuck that in, but what the hell does "mellifluous" mean anyway?)

I'm a pretty strong personality, and I think he knows that. So generally I tell the story. I try to be informative by telling readers how things work down here, I keep things moving along, and I do my best to add some levity to the situation.

Between you and me, my author is like most writers. He thinks he's F. Scott Fitzgerald. He's not though. I know Scott Fitzgerald, Scott Fitzgerald is a friend of mine (he lives down the block from me in Hell), and I can tell you for sure, Mark Cain is no Scott Fitzgerald.

Don't tell him, though. He's writing a sequel and could make my afterlife even more miserable than it already is. Thanks.

Mike: If you could star in any other book or film, which one would you choose?

Steve: Probably Casablanca. I think Ingrid Bergman is really hot. Besides, I look good in a white dinner jacket.

Mike: Between adventures, what do you do to blow off steam?  Any hobbies?  Favorite vacation spots?

Steve: I don't get much time off, being damned and all. And the fire pits and Sea of Thorns are not exactly trendy destinations.

Occasionally I play poker with some of the boys, though I always lose. Funny, we all always lose. You'd think that wouldn't be possible, but anything's possible in Hell, as long as we're suffering. Oh, sometimes I play Twenty Questions with my neighbors, including Sam Morse. The games can get pretty tedious, because Sammy insists on using Morse Code. Ugh.

Generally, though, it's work work work. My workload is hell. Sort of by definition.

Mike: How has your experience been so far as a character in a novel?  Has it been challenging for you?

Steve: It's hard to be a hero when you're in Hell. You know, it's hard to win the day. Satan tends to frown on that. In the long run, all of us poor, damned souls are losers. Of course, that's to be expected.

Still, while I have a tough time being a hero down here, I have my moments.

Mike: Of your co-stars, is there anyone you simply can’t stand to be around, or anyone you could see yourself being friends with outside of this story?

Steve: There are a couple of early Twentieth Century industrialists who I absolutely can't stand. They hate me, and I hate them. Louis Braille and Allan Pinkerton are friends of mine, as is Orson, of course. We would all be friends in any story you put us in, I think. Then of course there's Flo. I'm, well, I'm sweet on her.

Mike: Are there any actors who could do you justice in a movie?

Steve: I'd like to see Chris Pine play me in a movie. I don't look anything like Chris Pine, but I hear he's very popular right now, and I'd like to see the movie make a lot of money.

To give you an idea of my appearance, I once won third runner-up in a Jimmy Durante lookalike contest. You know: big schnozzola, male pattern baldness.

Mike: What are your plans for the future?  Any sequels you can tell us about?

Steve: I've been told that there's a problem with Hell's HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning for the uninitiated) system. If that's true, man, it will be a bitch to fix.

My author tells me he's going to call the sequel A COLD DAY IN HELL. Obviously he thinks this title is hysterical. Har. Har. Funny as a crutch, if you ask me.



Mark Cain, Author of Hell's Super, a humor novel
Mark Cain is a writer and musician living in the Austin, Texas area. His third novel, HELL'S SUPER, a comic fantasy, has been published this fall by Taylor Street Books. It is available as a Kindle eBook or paperback. HELL'S SUPER is volume one of a new series, CIRCLES IN HELL. Volume two, A COLD DAY IN HELL, will be published in the Spring of 2014.

HELL'S SUPER has been variously described as satire, comedy and comic fantasy in the spirit of Christopher Moore, Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt and Douglas Adams. The entire CIRCLES IN HELL series, including A COLD DAY IN HELL, takes the everyday frustrations of modern life and expands them to Hellish proportions. You never know who you will run into in Cain's cracked Inferno. You might encounter a great inventor, a movie star and, of course, more than the occasional devil and demon.