An interview with Matt Maxwell

Written by / Interviews

Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Matt Maxwell.

About the author:

Matt Maxwell is the author of Queen of No Tomorrows (Broken Eye Books, 2018).

Click here to visit his official website.

About Queen of No Tomorrows:

Los Angeles, the eighties.

Cait MacReady is a part-time library scientist, part-time forger of books old and rare. Books of magic. Her latest, the Smoking Codex, is a work of complete fiction and all her own, nothing but vodka-fueled occult nonsense and heartfelt desire. It’s a fake - no history, no power.

Or is it? The book takes on a life of its own and someone wants it very badly. The police get involved when her ex-lover fence is murdered. Now Cait must somehow manage to stop a thing that has already happened: the book’s secret god is already known.

And its name has been spoken.


Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?

(Long, awkward silence)

I was born in California, which makes me kind of unusual. It used to be that people moved there from somewhere else to start over. But it’s all settled now. I learned to drive where they shot some of DEATH RACE 2000, in that crazy Babylonian-style ziggurat down in Orange County. Went to high school and university in the eighties and it wasn’t exactly the way everyone seems to be remembering it like. Even worked in an arcade in 1987, which I guess sounds glamorous to some, but lemme tell ya, it was just a crummy job fishing out stuck quarters and making change and telling people to stop smoking.

There’s no such thing as overnight success. I wrote my first novel (still unpublished) in 1991, watching the first Gulf War unfold and knowing that the US would be back there and stuck over there forever. I hate being right.

I’ve taught the sociology of death and ethnomethodology, worked alongside men who worked in the Manhattan Project, worked as an animator in Hollywood itself, designed websites for musicians (some you’ve even heard of maybe), played in a band that nobody’s ever heard of, raised two kids, been married for more than twenty-five years and probably spend too much time still playing World of Warcraft.

How did you become interested in speculative fiction?

Couldn’t tell you. I mean, I was always interested in it. I grew up on television in the seventies, which meant lots of reruns of THE TWILIGHT ZONE and NIGHT GALLERY and STAR TREK. I was nine when STAR WARS hit and never really looked back. I enjoy speculative fiction because you can address issues there with the camouflage of metaphor, say things that need to be said, but otherwise would make folks tune out.

Your crime horror novella, "Queen of No Tomorrows", will be published in December 2018. What kind of a novella is it?

Like you said, it’s weird horror and crime. Or is it urban fantasy? I mean, it’s firmly rooted in the urban setting of Los Angeles, enough that I’d have to make major changes to the work if it were set anywhere else. It’s about a whole lot of things: the struggle of creation, acceptance, unintended consequence, asynchronous worship and faith transactions, plain-old deception and treachery. And unknowable cosmic entities which have been called to Earth, or have they tricked us into creating them ourselves? I didn’t shy away from Lovecraftian themes, but it’s not written like a Lovecraft/mythos fiction. Hopefully it’s a combination that appeals to readers.

What inspired you to write "Queen of No Tomorrows"? Were any novels or stories a source of inspiration to you?

Tough to tell any one single thing. I’ve been running a series of posts over at my blog ( where I put up an influence map that covers a lot of QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS, the sorts of things that went into it. I guess the biggest single thing is that it was the kind of novel that I like to read, myself (not that I read my own work for pleasure reading - but if I did, it would be this sort of thing.) I wanted to work in this setting, both time and place and include a lot of things that I find interesting, some seemingly unrelated. You could say that the novels of Raymond Chandler were a big inspiration, though they were written some seventy years back. He knows his way around a simile. As much as anything else, my own time visiting and living in LA was a big inspiration. It’s a very weird place, unique, with its mix of hidden history and total fabrication of a new and artificial reality. But it’s also a very real place, though you can see glimpses of the fantastic everywhere you look there. Even in the Valley.

Is there anything you could tell us about the protagonist of this novella, Cait MacReady?

I wanted her to be a kind of anti-Lovecraftian hero. Educated, sure, but not intoxicated by history or the occult books that she (some might say cynically) forges and sells. She doesn’t believe in this stuff at all, yet she’s intrigued enough to try and see if her own, effectively, fictions can find any purchase amongst the wild-eyed believers. Hopefully I’ve managed to make her a real person, both fragile and resilient, no just any one characteristic, but a viable mix of them.

What is the target audience of "Queen of No Tomorrows”?

One of my faults is that I don’t really think about audience. I know. I’m supposed to these days. Really, I try and write these books with ways in that anyone would take. You’re a fan of crime? Plenty of crime hooks here. The fantastic? I’ve got you covered. I don’t really think about a male/female divide in readership, just try to stay true to the story I’m working on at the time. That said, I don’t shoot for excessive deep red levels of gore. I’d say that a smart thirteen year old would have no problem with QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS, and in my heart, I’m still writing for that smart kid who doesn’t really fit in and wants a place to escape to for a couple of hours, because I was that kid.

What can readers expect next from you after "Queen of No Tomorrows" is published?

Good question. I have two follow-ups planned, but QONT has to succeed first, in order for those to happen. And as much as I’m reluctant to say this, pre-ordering and purchasing are crucial to this.

I have a tentative agreement to work on a more space-opera set novel that doesn’t yet have a title. The whole cycle is planned under the title SOLARCHY, but that could change at the drop of a hat. Maybe a book in the middle of next year? It’s uncertain right now.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Nope. Thanks for having me along.

Artwork by Matt Maxwell.