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Friday, August 5, 2011

Blog Tour: An Interview With Matt Xell

Hi! Thank you for visiting our part of the tour! This is Sabrina and today I'm with Matt Xell, the author of Tower of Parlen Min. Please give him a warm welcome! (Read my review here) Caution: Might be a Harry Potter Spoiler Somewhere.

How did you get the idea for the Tower of Parlen Min?

I came up with the idea for Tower of Parlen Min after waking up from a very vivid nightmare that I had back in september of 2006 when was I was 18. Then I merged the concept of the nightmare (which was a bizarre mash-up of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and House on Haunted Hill movies) with another story I was working on at the time called The Narrow Escapes of Ben Benns which was something like Lemony Sniket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events and the Dennis the Menace comics. Then Ves Asirin seemingly came out of nowhere and proposed to be the main character of the story, he was far more interesting and intriguing with his memory-loss thing going on so I had to let Ben go.

The Narrow Escapes of Ves Asirin  was originally meant to be an unending series of paranormal, mystery and suspense graphic novels, but after finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007 and not liking the way Voldemort killed himself (yes, of course, he killed himself) instead of Harry beating him to a proper duel, I decided I wanted to write a book where the main protagonist beat the hell out of the main baddie for all the pain and grief they'd caused everyone. So I made a prompt decision to turn Ves' stories into six novels which would end with the greatest badguy dusting ever. After about the fourth chapter, the book started to write itself for the most part ... and for a while it got out of hand. I introduced loads of fantasy elements as well as some sci-fi ones and it got to the point where I couldn't describe what genre the book fit into (I believe the most general one is Young Adult Speculative Fiction right now). After 2 years of rewrites, edits and cutouts (of which there would be many more), I completed the first draft of Tower of Parlen Min on my 21st birthday (which was sad-happy kind of thing) in 2009.

Was there any obstacle you had to overcome when writing Tower of Parlen Min?

Oh, there were loads, but I have to say now that I look back on the last five years of working on this project that, I was hands down, the greatest obstacle. Everytime that I became lazy, depressed, angry or acknowleged my 'non-existant' self-limiting beliefs of what I thought I couln't do, progress on the writing and marketing of the book would stall for months at times.

Which character could you relate to most to in your book?

I'd say Ves, without a doubt, at the time I wrote the book any way. Like Ves, I'm still kind of socially-retarded (that's a technical term by the way, lol) and part of Ves' recklessness and stubborness, I'd say comes from my own childhood. I frown a lot too and abuse the phrases 'or whatever',  'like I said' and 'what's the word'. And for the longest time I had a problem with looking at people straight in the eye,  I kind of still do. I guess it's a self-concious trait.

Could you tell us about the main character Ves?

To be honest, after I completed Tower of Parlen Min, I came to find that Ves was pretty much a mystery to me as well. I thought I knew him when I initally created him. At the start of the book he was pretty much an amalgam of various characters that I drew inspiration from: Harry Potter, Uzumaki Naruto, Edward Elrick from Full Metal Alchemist, Lain from Serial Experiments, Link from The Legend of Zelda, Haley Joel Osment in the Sixth Sense and A.I and Feild Cate (whom Ves owes a lot of his initial character designs to) in Placebo's Song to Say Goodbye music video. He was quiet, introverted and disliked most people. And initially, I didn't want the reader to like or even relate with him at all.

But after the seventh chapter, The Sword Challenge, Ves took on a life of his own and began writing himself. He pretty much said and did anything he wanted, some of what  surprised, shocked and awed even me. As he spent more and more time with Vikey Trishire's character, he opened up, became more friendly and had lot more to say about everyone and everything around him. He became a lot less humble and timid, and became more and more reckless and daring after the first Sword Challenge task. I had to rewrite some of the earlier chapters to smoothly introduce his endlessy questioning and curiosity driven nature. He also started to show a much softer side to him in the chapter Dairy of Mocto and as he got closer to Tammi Erik's Character.

Of course, the climax to the whole story would ultimately change Ves' life forever much more that anything else, and even I will have to wait to see what he's really like in Eclipse Over Atuwis Wood.

*Describe your book in only ten words.

An adventure beyond your wildest dreams, a nightmare beyond your wildest dreams (oops -- that's 12 words isn't it? My bad)

What can we expect in the next book?

For Ves, the next book, Eclipse Over Atuwis Wood,  will be about understanding what it means to be a Kero'ei. He'll be doing loads of training with his master, Eslo, and the secretive Seven. They'll be a lot more action, suspense and twists. Ves' dark teenage girl  and the new Shadow Ops will be making an appearance but she (and the Shadow) will not be playing a bigger role in the main story. They'll be some new and interesting supporting characters ( many of whom we'll be introduced in some novellas that I'm working on right now before the book's release) although the cast will be a lot smaller than TPM's. Also, because of the larger scale of the plot and setting, the story will be told from multiple points of views though of course it will focus more on Ves. The Eclipse in the title does not reffer to either a Lunar or Solar Eclipse. It'll have a lot less darker and happier ending.

Why did you call yourself Matt Xell?

Originally, I came up with the name Matt Xell for a character in one of my comic book plots. Later, I gave the character a normal name (Ryan Thompson) and made the name Matt Xell my pen name.

Although most people pronounce the last name, Xell, as 'Zell', in my case the name is pronounced 'EX - EL'. It was originally written 'XL' as in Matt of the eXtreme Legion (what the whole name means) which became the shorter Matt XL or MXL.But when I took on the mantle of 'Author of The Narrow Escapes of Ves Asirin', I thought Matt XL would look weird on the cover of my books so I extended 'XL' into 'Xell'.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

If you have have the time, money (not much even) and the patience for it, are open-minded, can accept constructive critism and have no qualms about selling the rights to your work, you should pitch your work to a literary agent and get traditionally published. In all honesty, it's the most legitimate, respectable and widely accepted way of doing things as a mainstream author.  And if your stories are great you'll make some great cash.

But if you have problems with all the above and think you're a free-spirit,  a rebel at heart, a Generation X/Y -- Millenial type thingy, and think that they're are no gate keepers to this industry and all men are equal under God and the Internet and decide to self-publish instead ... and work infinitely much harder than a traditionally published author  to get your work out there ( you've been warned) ... then you're looking  for a  lovely woman named Joanna Penn - that's, she'll make it easier, save you some money and time.

Just For Fun Questions

Why does the Easter bunny carry eggs?

The guy that invented Easter originally had a chicken in mind for the Holiday's mascot, but the board and the guys in distribution, branding, sales and marketing thought a bunny would be cuter and appeal more to kids under five than a chicken. They kept the idea of eggs in the basket, though.

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

Whoever heard of round boxes? That's scientifically and mathematically incorrect and improbable.

Do you have a pet?


Favourite drink?


Favourite book?

A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot

Favourite author?

J.K Rowling


Action RPG Video-games

Giveaway Time!

Thank you again for joining us! As a reward, we're having a giveaway for (another) chance to win an ebook of Tower of Parlen Min! 5 lucky winners will be chosen. Giveaway ends at midnight on August 13th, GMT +8.

Click HERE to Enter!

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