A warm welcome to today’s Spotlight Author, Matthew J. Metzger
Thank you for joining us and sharing more about yourself.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Okay, well, I’m Matthew. I’m a British guy living in Yorkshire at the minute, I have a monstrous black cat and a thing for cheese on toast, and I’m 27 years old. I’ve been publishing queer romance for five years now (holy hell, didn’t realise that until I wrote it down) and I’m cack-handed. There you go, mix of relevant and weird, seems appropriate.
What would people be most surprised to know about you?
I know what it is, but I can’t say what it is for privacy reasons. I supposed the next step down would be…I was a super quiet, good little kid. I’ve got this reputation as a gobshite (both online and in real life) and not taking anyone’s crap, but I was the invisible kid in the corner growing up. You’d never have known I was there, I never got in trouble, nothing. Kind of weird to think about now.
How do you relax?
I write…sad, I know! No, seriously, I do find writing a book very relaxing. But I also like to travel, to exercise, swim or hike somewhere, go explore a little bit—but the tablet always come with me, ready for the next session.
Do you have a favorite quote (either from your own books or one’s you’ve read)?
I have two literature quotes that I adore, both of which form tattoos of mine. The first is from The Hobbit, wherein Gandalf says, “The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there.” And the second is along a similar theme from The Long Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, in the lnes, “Do I dare / disturb the universe?” To me, both are what we all need to do more of. We need to step outside of our comfortable places and explore and experience, instead of sitting around and losing our precious time to things that don’t really matter.
How long have you been writing and what made you fall in love with writing?
Since I could hold a pen. I’ve always made up stories, I always played make-believe as a little kid, so writing was just an extension of that for me. As I got older and I started to want particular types of stories, stories about people like me from backgrounds like mine, it became a way to plug those gaps and that’s what I really fell in love with it, I think. I didn’t have to wait for someone else to maybe, by chance, write about someone like me—I could do it.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I’m not sure I always wanted to be, but I was always going to be. I was writing (crap) stories by the time I was four years old, so it’s always been a little bit of a given I’d try. Admittedly, I didn’t expect to be 21 when I got my first contract, but there you are.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Keep going, I guess? I’m not an ambitious author, really. I like to write, I’m good at it, so I do, that’s pretty much it. I’d like to step out of my go-to zones a little more, write a bit more widely across the rainbow, try my hand at sci-fi again, that sort of thing.
What’s your favorite part of writing?
Dialogue. I love it when my characters start ‘chelping.’ I just finish a pair of books where my main characters do nothing but wind each other up and flirt outrageously, and it’s so much fun to write. Save your slushy proposals and your page-long monologues, give me a wind-up merchant any day of the week!
Why did you choose to write GLBTQ romance?
Well, I’m asexual and transgender, so queer stories are kind of my area anyway. Romance came as a bit of a natural byproduct, because my fascination in writing is people. I love picking people apart and bouncing them off each other. My favourite TV shows are people-centric too, irrespective of the genre. I’m slowly moving back out into other genres, but at the end of the day, I am an author of people-centric stories, so romance is always going to come highly on that list.
Do you write any other genre?
As of…right now, I also write queer fantasy, it turns out! My next release is a fairytale retelling, I am 75% of the way through a steampunk novel, and I have outlines for a fantasy trilogy set in Islamic Spain, and a Rapunzel retelling. So I guess I don’t fit tidily into my genre boxes anymore.
Describe a scene in your writing that has made you laugh or cry?
There’s a scene in Walking on Water where Janez has been very badly wounded. When his brother, King Alarik, sees him, Alarik believes Janez to be dead. And this is a character who is very—he loves his family, but he is a king first and foremost and he puts his kingdom above them. He’s pragmatic and he’s logical and his kingdom come first, for the greater good. But when he sees what he believes to be his younger brother’s dead body, he breaks. And it was absolutely heartbreaking. He just shattered down the middle, completely collapsed in on himself with grief, and he didn’t care who was watching, what would be said, that there was still a war to fight. He just broke, and I did have a little bit of a sniffle when I was writing that part.
Give the readers a summary of your latest book.
Walking on Water is a queer retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. Calla is a mermaid who goes above her sky—the surface of the sea—to meet the legendary skymen, and falls in love with one of them. In being transformed, she becomes a man rather than a woman, and discovers that all her ill-fitting feeling is washed away by this new form. Thus Calla becomes Held—who is simply a foreign sailor who saved the prince’s life, in the skymen’s eyes. And Held is determined to hold onto his new life and love, even if it means abandoning everything he’s ever known.
What genre does it fall in?
It’s a historical fantasy romance, so a significant step outside of my contemporary box.
Share a few words about your latest book other than the usual blurb.
I’d say if you like languages, you’re going to like this. It’s based in north-east Europe and the human love interest is a German. So that’s what our hero hears whenever the humans are talking. I played around a lot with the way German and English can relate to one another in this book, and you can pick up some pretty niche German sentences if you want!
Give us a little insight into your main characters. Who are they?
The couple at the core of the story are Janez and Held, formerly Calla. Janez is a prince of a coastal Germanic kingdom, formerly heir to the throne but gratefully pushed aside by his baby nephew. Unfortunately his kingdom is at war and an alliance is needed to protect their borders, so it’s Janez who is being sacrificed to get married to a foreign princess he’s never met. Janez is very dutiful but also quite impetuous and romantic, so he really struggles to cope with both his duty to his people and his love for Held, who can’t protect their kingdom from anything the way an alliance can.
Calla is a curious mermaid who gets turned into human man to pursue Janez. After she’s transformed, she realises that her new male form is the answer to why she’s always felt so strange and ill-fitting, and so Calla becomes Held, a simple foreign sailor in the eyes of all the other humans. While Held is quite quiet and curious, he can get pretty savage about defending both himself and Janez if push comes to shove. (He’s also deeply offended by Janez wanting to brush his own hair, as that’s Held’s job, apparently.)
Will we be seeing these characters again any time soon? Is this book part of a series?
No, this one is a stand alone. And given it’s my first fantasy, I won’t even be doing my Easter egg trick that I have for my contemporary novels, where a main character from another mention sails through in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo. These guys exist on their own, and probably always will.
Which actor would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
I don’t really think in this way so I have no idea, I’m afraid!
Tell us about your writing style.
A bit weird? I write more as I speak, to be honest. And I play with language a lot. (You can snarl a word. You people aren’t using your mouths properly.) A line I remember from years and years ago in a favourite book described a very loud man entering a cavernous space, and the main character thinking it was about to ramp up the volume significantly. And the next line was: ‘Sure enough. “Welcome!” the captain rock-concerted.’ You can see what’s happening. You can feel it. That’s what I try to do, I don’t give a damn if Bob has the antecedent or it’s not fashionable to use adverbs right now. Can you understand it, and does it convey what you want it to convey? If both yes, job done.
What does your writing process look like?
I get an idea. I jot down a few notes about the idea. I shriek about the idea to my betas, my SRs, and my writer friends. I write the title and ‘Chapter One.’ Then I write more. In big chunks. Usually in order but not always. And I keep going until I lose interest or I’m finished. Ta-da!
When/where is your favourite time/place to write?
I write at weekends and usually all in one go, so I’ll spend all Saturday in a cafe in the city centre just smashing out words. There’s a couple of cafes I go to in the middle of Leeds, because I work really well with a lot of hustle and bustle around. Except for maybe that one time when the couple at the next table got divorced…
What genre/s do you enjoy reading?
I’m mainly a non-fiction reader, though historical fantasy will sometimes get my attention. For someone who writes a lot of romance, I barely ever read it!
What was the last book you read? What did you like about it?
I’m currently busy with the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian. It’s the story of a Royal Navy officer, Jack Aubrey, and his best friend, Stephen Maturin, who is not only the ship’s surgeon but a spy for the British government. It’s set in the Napoleonic era and while it’s a bit of a slog as O’Brian is so interested in the technical details of sailing and naval warfare, it’s fascinating. I’ve just reached The Fortune of War, so a long ways to go yet.
Have you held any interesting jobs while working on your books?
I’ve been working an interesting job from the very beginning!
What hobbies do you have outside of writing?
I’m very outdoorsy, I’m always off hiking or mountain biking. If the weather’s crap, which is always, I’ll be down the gym to get my exercise fix.
Thank you for telling us more about yourself and good luck with the new release.
Matthew J. Metzger is an asexual, transgender author dragged up in the wet and windy British Isles. He writes queer characters living all manner of lives, but especially likes to write the stories from the pub, the beautiful game, and the terraces where he lives and works today. Although mainly a contemporary romance writer, Matthew has recently been found straying out of his zone and playing in other genres’ sandboxes.
When not writing, Matthew is usually at his day job, working out, or asleep. He is owned by an enormous black cat, so should generally be approached with either extreme caution, or treats.