Welcome! Thanks for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. I look forward to finding out a little about you and the work you do. Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
I had critique partners and beta readers for The Brothers’ Keepers. The critique partners consisted of the three other members of my writing group. Their feedback was essential in ironing out the weaknesses that existed early on. I also had beta readers, a group of people that ranged from teachers to truck drivers. Finally, my girlfriend and her mom are my toughest critics. My girlfriend not only read and critiqued my work, but through many stimulating conversations helped develop it.
Plotter or Pantser? Why
Plotter. As The Brothers’ Keepers is a thriller/historical mystery, it would be difficult to write it without a large degree of plotting. I needed to know what happened at the end before I started, so I could place all the pieces in the middle. I do scene cards for each chapter prior to writing. Having said that, I do allow ample room for creativity to transpire during the writing process.
Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?
Yes, I have to listen to music when I write, classical music mostly. My favorites are Bach, Beethoven, and Mahler. But my taste in music is quite eclectic. While I have a large collection of symphonies and concertos, I also own just about every recording AC/DC and Iron Maiden ever made. I should add that the overwhelming majority of my classical music collection is on vinyl. One of my favorite things to do is to go to thrift shops and buy old records. I have a need to listen to “new” records when I write new material. It’s almost a superstition with me.
What were the challenges you faced in bringing The Brothers’ Keepers to life?
I faced enormous challenges in bringing this story to life. First, I had to master a good deal of history, both of the early Christian Church and the subsequent sects that developed out of the Roman Catholic Church. Second, I had to familiarize myself with scripture, not just the Bible, but also books excluded from the Code of Canon Law (the various Books that make up the Bible). Third, I had to describe places I’ve never been to—n this I was greatly aided by books, dissertations, YouTube and Google Earth. Fourth, I had to tackle a very controversial subject matter as respectfully as I could. Finally, I had to deal with some challenges to my own faith over the course of the research and writing.
What are you passionate about these days?
I am passionate about bringing the condition of dual diagnosis to public attention. The term dual diagnosed generally describes a person who has a mood disorder (e.g., depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder), and some form of chemical dependency (e.g., alcoholism, and/or addiction to cocaine, heroin or prescription medication).
Approximately 6 out of 100 Americans have a dual diagnosis.
It is also estimated that 29% of those who suffer emotional/mental disorders have abused substances and that 53% of substance abusers have had a psychiatric problem.
Having a dual diagnosis differs, in terms of recovery, in that it is not just about refraining from alcohol, or taking anti-depressants. It is a synergistic condition where one illness exacerbates the other.
Famous individuals among the dual diagnosed include Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, Sigmund Freud, and Robin Williams. I, myself, am dual diagnosed with major depressive disorder and alcoholism.
My other novel, Conversations Among Ruins, features a protagonist who is dual diagnosed.
Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?
I love this question! Yes, I have lots of advice for beginning writers, and I give it in the spirit of trying to save others valuable time and resources.
First, read the classics and as much good literature as you can get your hands on. Read widely, too, from poetry and plays to science and politics. If you don’t read well, you can’t write well.
Second, realize that you may have several stories or even novels in you that you must write in order to get them out of your system. In many cases, these will not be salable. That’s okay. Most of us have a lot of bad writing inside of us that needs to get out before we get to the good stuff. Growth for writers is a process. Be patient with yourself.
Third, don’t be a perfectionist. I think perfectionism kills. Realize that unlike other professions, say neurosurgery, writers don’t have to get it right the first time. We have the luxury of being able to revise our product as much as we wish. Realize that, and let it free you up in the writing process. Write junk if you have to, but write. Hemingway said that, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Indeed. Most first, second, and third drafts are pretty lousy. But that’s okay. Give yourself permission to write and to not be perfect. You can always revise later.
Fourth, it’s okay not to be in love with writing every second of every day. It’s natural to resent it at times. Don’t stuff these feelings. Take a break if you can, and then come back to it.
Fifth, join a writing group. Make sure others read and give you feedback on your writing. Make sure someone other than your parents or significant other reads your work. But also be wary of taking too much constructive criticism from too many people, especially too early in the story writing process—too many writers can spoil the plot (among other things).
Sixth, and I’ll stop here, before you submit your work to an agent/publisher or self-publish, make sure it is free from typos, grammatical, and factual errors. If you can afford it, have a content editor and a copy editor go through your work and polish it until it shines. Don’t submit anything for publication until it represents your absolute, best effort. I think you’ll be surprised how much that will distinguish you from other writers.
The Brothers’ Keepers
by Matthew Peters
Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?
Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.
It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.
Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.
Father Rawlings drained his cup and set it on the table. “What I’m about to tell you may sound ridiculous and melodramatic. At best it will seem the stuff of conspiracy theories and spy novels. However, I assure you it is not.” He fixed Branson with a steely gaze. “As God’s soldiers, we are engaged in a battle, Nicholas. As real as any battle ever waged. The war we fight has raged for centuries, but the battle we fight now could well be the last. And we, you and I, the Roman Catholic Church as a whole, must emerge victorious. Nothing less than the foundations, the stability of the Christian world is at stake.” He smiled again, this time with bitterness.
“Of course it sounds unbelievable, even paranoid, but believe me, it is neither. I choose my words carefully. I don’t make bold assertions I cannot support. I assure you I am telling you exactly how things stand, exactly what is at stake. Before I go on, however, I must demand a pledge from you, your promise to help the Church in the epic struggle in which we currently find ourselves. We require your guarantee, your warrant if you will, that you will use all your energies, resources, and powers to secure the interests of the Church, and that you will let nothing deter you from the task at hand. With this binding agreement comes an inexhaustible supply of resources: anything and everything you deem necessary to accomplish your mission. But I must have your pledge before we proceed.” Rawlings rose from his seat, motioning for Branson to stand as well. “Before you give me your answer, listen again to Jesus’ words: ‘He who is not with me is against me.’ Nicholas Branson, tell me now: Are you with our Lord, or against Him?”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Dual diagnosed* from an early age, Matthew Peters dropped out of high school at sixteen. He went on to obtain an A.A., a B.A. from Vassar College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University. He has taught various courses in a variety of disciplines throughout North Carolina. He is committed to increasing the awareness and understanding of the dual diagnosed. In addition to The Brothers’ Keepers, he is the author of Conversations Among Ruins, which features a dual diagnosed protagonist. Currently, he is working on a sequel to The Brothers’ Keepers.
*The term dual diagnosed refers to someone suffering from a mood disorder (e.g., depression) and chemical dependency.
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1q8gsMs
MuseItUp Publishing: http://bit.ly/1l90G1B
Matthew Peters will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.