Well, it’s been a busy week but yay for weekend. Today, I have the fab Matthew J Metzger visiting, for the first time I might add, so am very excited to find out more about him 🙂
WelcomeMatthew *waves* So, let’s start with you telling us a bit about yourself.
Well, I’m an asexual transman with six tattoos (and counting!) and a distinct lack of height. I’ve just moved back to Yorkshire in the UK, and my accent is slipping accordingly! I’ve been writing since I was three, and my first book came out when I was twenty-two. I write primarily LGBT fiction, both adult and young adult. When I’m not writing, I’m usually working or planning to travel. My next major holiday is going to be a month in New Zealand, but I’m hoping to make some of the US romance conferences before then. Will that do?
That will do fine! I’m a Lancashire lass originally, but shall try not to hold the Yorkshire thing against you 😉 Was there a specific moment where you first knew that you wanted to be a writer?
No. Like I said, I was making up stories when I was still figuring out what my feet were for (clue: not putting in my mouth) and writing them down since I could hold a pen. Writing books was more or less a natural extension for me. And as I never wanted to make a living or a career out of it, I never had that ‘aha!’ moment for it.
Do you have a particular writing routine, or any special rituals?
Again, no (wow, I am really boring…). I just kind of…do it. Mostly in bits and pieces after work, but I’ve lost a few weekends here and there. There’s no real rituals or special places I do it.
Lol, don’t worry, I tend to be the same way – my writing rotuine consists of ‘when I have time to do it’. Tell us about the genre you write in, and what drew you to it.
I write primarily LGBT romance. Romance because it’s so character-focused, and LGBT because I’m queer as hell myself and I always had more interest in writing queer characters. I write both adult and young adult books, usually just depending on what the particular story wants to be. And I write a surprising amount of sex for an asexual guy…
It’s interesting what comes out that you don’t expect, isn’t it? Are there any particular authors or books that have really inspired you?
I…don’t read much. Haven’t for years. And I never read romance to begin with, so…yeah. I’m a bit of a strange one in this genre.
Hehe, well at least you know you aren’t being influenced by any other writings – though I must admit I don’t know how I’d cope sometimes without a good book to destress with. If you’re not a big reader then, what five things could you never do without?
The internet, my phone and my laptop. Easily the top three, not in any particular order. I’d probably put the laptop first because I can’t write without it. I think my day job as well, I absolutely love it and it keeps me happy when the writing world can drive me mad and make me distinctly unhappy at times. And for the fifth…I don’t really know. My lungs? Pretty sure I couldn’t do without my lungs.
Nope, I think they might be on the necessary list 😉 So, tell us a bit about your new release.
Thicker Than Bone is a story about Ali, a perpetually nice kind of guy, being asked to donate bone narrow to his older brother, Tony, who has cancer. And usually, Ali wouldn’t even need to be asked for a stranger, never mind his own brother. Except that Tony is an extreme racist, and nearly murdered Ali’s partner several years earlier for being of Muslim extraction.
The book is really a joint look at the phrase ‘blood is thicker than water’ and the ethical question ‘if you could save a life, no matter whose it was, would you?’ And Ali faces both. He has to decide whether blood is thicker than water, or whether his love for Yazid is even thicker than that. And he has to decide whether he can ethically save or condemn the man who nearly killed his boyfriend.
It was a lot of fun to write in many ways, this juggling act between love and family that Ali is undertaking, and the balance between the very dark and serious aspect of their lives in relation to Tony, and the much more light-hearted, fun and loving way that Ali and his partner, Yazid, interact with each other.
Wow, that definitely sounds like a thought-provoking read. Where did your inspiration for it come from?
The oddest little place — I had a daydream in my head with a guy at a kitchen counter, doing something. I didn’t know what he looked like, who he was, or what he was doing, but he was there. And in sneaks his boyfriend, who just tiptoes up behind him and then attack-hugs him. It was just this silly, slice-of-life scene about this two guys messing around and being a bit daft.
Only the intruder was definitely, right from the very beginning, from the Middle East. I just knew that, the moment he appeared in the daydream. And I found myself asking what his story was, this happy guy with a boyfriend and a nice kitchen. Who was he? Where was he from? What religion was he? Did his family know? Did his boyfriend’s family like him? Were they both British, or was he an immigrant? From where? Did they live somewhere with racial tensions, or was it all fine in their immediate area? Did he still practice any religion?
Thicker Than Bone was born around that scene, and yet, weirdly, that scene never appeared in the final book!
It’s weird isn’t it, how the smallest little snippet can spark so much 🙂 What did you find most enjoyable about writing it?
Weirdly, Tony. Tony was awesome to write. He was just so openly vile that I enjoyed every minute of him, and how the other characters reacted to him. I had strangers in bars telling him to shut up, I had Yazid being very withering about him even while his presence was understandably frightening for Yazid. I even had to Google more racist terms for Muslims because I ran out, and yet I could create these great scenes of Yazid being really scathing in return because Tony is so utterly stupid.
Lol, sometimes I find it quite liberating to write truly horrible characters, perhaps it’s about letting all my pent-up irritations out! What was the hardest part about writing it then?
Ali’s decision-making process. I’m a much colder person than Ali, and very quick to decide about ethical dilemmas. Ali’s prizing of family is a bit unfamiliar to me personally, so there were times I wanted to shake him and say, ‘Jesus, man up already! He nearly killed your boyfriend, strangle him with his own IV!’ But that wasn’t Ali, the character utterly refused to sway from his own morals, so I had to let him have his way. Git.
*sighs* characters – they never seem to do what you want them to! Speaking of which, who’s your favourite character in it? (I know, I know, favouritism!)
Yazid. Easily. He’s fun, he’s lively, he’s really still celebrating being alive. He’s the emotional bedrock of the novel, he provides Ali with both support and a kick up the backside when he needs one. He was just so completely likeable from the very beginning, finding a bit of humour in everything and being so upbeat when he had every reason to have walked out on the whole mess years ago. I loved him from start to finish, and he is probably my second favourite character of all time, and definitely the favourite in this book!
Aww, he kinda sounds like the friend we all wish we had. Just in case we’re not convinced already – why should we run out and buy it right now?
Because there’s a scene where Yazid dresses up as Princess Jasmine and gets utterly hammered at a party. And another where, after Tony walks in on them, Yazid loses his patience and threatens to give Tony a naked hug to make him go away. And a third in which Ali likens Yazid’s night-time cuddling to sharing a bed with an octopus. You kind of want to see how those three can fit in the same story, right? (Hint: it’s Yazid.)
Plus, there’s simply tons of hurt/comfort, so if that’s your thing, this is your book.
Hehe, well I think I definitely need to read those scenes. If you’re feeling the same way, the book details are here.
If you could save someone’s life, would you? Anyone’s?
Ali’s older brother has a swastika tattooed on his knuckles, a prison ID number for nearly beating a man to death for the crime of being Middle Eastern, and spent his teenage years ruthlessly persecuting Ali for being gay.
Blood may be thicker than water, but Ali has spent most of his life desperate to prove that he is nothing like Tony. A committed vegetarian, charity-supporter, and blood donor, Ali would do anything for anyone, and is frequently teased by his partner, Yazid, for being too soft-hearted. Ali may share parentage with Tony, but he is determined not to share anything else if he can help it.
So when Tony contracts leukaemia, and Ali is the only match for the urgently-needed bone marrow transplant, Ali is caught between two equally awful choices: to refuse, and condemn a man to death, or to donate.
And in donating, save the life of the man who nearly murdered Ali’s Iraq-born boyfriend?
Click here to find out more, read a sample, and (of course) buy a copy of your own.
And don’t forget to follow Matthew on social media at the following links:
Have a great Friday 🙂