Thank you Matt for this very interesting story. His book has really stuck with me, I keep thinking of whacky crazy ideas in that world. Be interesting to see where it all plans out. So much room for lots of things.
Addict – My Review
LF: What is your book about?
MD: Addict tells the story of Cassie Tam, a Chinese-Canadian PI working in the fictional near-future city of New Hopeland. She’s hired by Lori Redwood to investigate her brother Eddie’s death, and Cassie takes the case thinking that it’ll be easy money. Eddie was a virtual reality junkie, and the police have already declared his death an accidental overdose on synthetic stimulants, which is a pretty common thing in New Hopeland. The more that Cassie digs into things though, the more she realises that things are not as straight forward as she thought. To make things even more complicated, her client Lori is a Tech Shifter – someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal (in her case a panther) – and Cassie has always been wary around the Tech Shifter community. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person that she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with her ex.
LF: Why a futurist setting instead of contemporary?
MD: Growing up, I was always a fan of fantasy, horror and sci-fi. As a result, a lot of my stories have ended up with at least some form of fantastical element. Most of them have a grounding in science fiction though as that’s what I’m most comfortable writing in. In the case of Addict, I wanted to experiment with two things: one, what would happen if I threw an old-style pulp detective into a future setting, and two, speculate about where our current technology may head and how society will adapt as a result.
LF: Plans for the series?
MD: That’s the fun bit! I have a few hard and fast rules with each Cassie Tam book. First, each one has to be its own, self-enclosed case. I’ve written cliffhanger endings before, but I decided that this one should avoid that and let each case flow through in one book, as it felt like a better fit for the genre. Second, each book has to drop a few breadcrumbs that hint towards the bigger picture. There are actually a few things in Addict that are only slightly touched on and will crop up again later on. The key with this first book though was to introduce Cassie and the world she lives in. The upcoming sequel, The Fox, The Dog and The King will make it clear that there’s more to the world than has been revealed so far and will start laying some more solid groundwork for what’s to come. Meanwhile, I’ve just submitted book three (tentatively titled LV48) to the publisher for consideration. That one pushes things forward a bit more and features a new type of threat; if Tech Shifters are the future equivalent of werewolves and other shifters, the antagonist in this one is the vampiric equivalent. After those two, well … expect lots more of Cassie being snarky and digging where she shouldn’t. I actually have a file with details about 47 years of events prior to Addict, so there’s a lot of lore there to play with. 🙂
LF: Why was it so important to you to have a diverse main character?
MD: Growing up, I loved fiction. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld in particular was a huge comfort for me. The problem was that I didn’t really see anyone like me. I’m pansexual and gender-fluid but didn’t really know how to identify as a teen. Almost every LGBT character I came across in fiction seemed to either fit negative stereotypes, be the butt of jokes, or simply just not be like me. What I wanted to see diverse characters that were more than the stereotypes, and most importantly had already done the coming out and were now happy. I know how important stories about overcoming difficulties are, but what I really wanted was to see diverse people who just were who they were and didn’t have to struggle as a result. I wanted to see people I could relate to who would give me hope that whoever I was wasn’t going to be stuck in a mixed-up state of confusion forever. As a result, when I started writing seriously, I started writing diverse characters. The way I saw it, if I could create the sort of characters I wanted to see and place them in the type of stories that I liked, the chances were that others would like them too. The key is making sure that I write isn’t problematic though; For example, when you’re writing outside your own cultural experience, you need to take the time to understand not only how that culture actually behaves, but what things are often misrepresented. When writing in a future setting, I think that it also helps to look at how the culture appears to be changing. So, there was a lot of research to be done before writing this one, and a lot of what I found out hasn’t even been touched upon in the books yet. And as to Cassie’s orientation, I wanted to avoid falling into stereotyping. She’s actually more of a cross between a stubborn noir detective and an Urban Fantasy MC than anything else. That kinda goes back to what I was saying about wanting to see people who were already happy though. Rather than have a character struggling with her sexuality, or who faces a lot of criticism for it, I wanted to write someone who ‘just is’ LGBT and leave it at that. It’s part of who she is, but it’s not the sole focus, even when she’s flirting with Lori.
LF: How hard has it been to get your book out there?
MD: I’ve been pleasantly surprised in many ways. That it was accepted by NineStar Press was a huge thing for me, because it meant that I got to not only work with a very professional publisher, but one that focused on the LGBT community. I honestly expected a lot more trouble in that regard, as I was aware that a white male writing about a lesbian POC had the potential to be seen as a negative thing. It was the story that I wanted to tell though, and so far, no one seems to have had an issue with authenticity, so I’m working to the idea that I haven’t screwed up too badly! The post publishing stuff has been hard in some ways, as you tend to rely a lot on reviews to get yourself out there. There’s a degree of luck needed there because it’s very easy to catch potential reviewers when they’re swamped and can’t take on any other books, and then there’s the worry that nobody will like the thing. So, it’s been hard to get people to look at the book, but that’s more to do with timing than anything. More people have actually taken a chance on it than with my previous work, which probably has a lot to do with this one not being self-published. I think that the hardest part though is finding the right audience. The book is sci-fi, but it’s not hard sci-fi. It’s crime fiction, but it’s not a sprawling 200,000 word case. It’s got an LGBT lead but the focus isn’t placed there. There’s romance, but there’s no erotic scenes and the love story is built to be a slow-burning thing that spreads over several books rather than just this one. It touches on a lot of different things, but in doing so makes itself hard to classify solidly. All that being said, I’ve seen a lot of people saying things like they enjoyed it even though it was outside their usual genres, or that they really liked Cassie even though they aren’t LGBT themselves. So in that respect, I guess it’s reached out across a few different threads quite well. It’s just a bit of a marketing nightmare.
His site if anyone wants to check it out – https://mattdoylemedia.com/