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The Sirens of Suspense




Matt Coyle grew up in Southern California battling his Irish/Portuguese siblings for respect and the best spot on the couch in front of the TV. He knew he wanted to be a writer as a young teen when his father gave him THE SIMPLE ART OF MURDER by Raymond Chandler.

It took him a few decades but he finally got there. His debut novel, YESTERDAY’S ECHO, won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the San Diego Book Award for Best Mystery, the Ben Franklin Silver Award for Best New Voice in Fiction, and was named one of the Best Mysteries of 2013 by DEADLY PLEASURES MYSTERY MAGAZINE. The second book in the Rick Cahill Crime Series, NIGHT TREMORS, comes out June 2, 2015. Matt lives in San Diego with his Yellow Labrador, Angus where is currently working on his third book.


Find Matt on Twitter and Facebook.



I know authors who say they have to write every day, like it’s a biological imperative. I don’t doubt them and I admire them. I’m just not one of them. However, external and internal deadlines demand that I do write almost every day. If I don’t write on a particular day it’s because travel for my day job won’t allow it or I’m doing marketing work on a soon to be, or just, released book. Although, I do get a little cranky if I don’t write for a couple days.

Even so, the easiest thing in the world for me to do is to not write. I have at least twenty years of experience at it. My bio states that I knew I wanted to be a writer as a teen when my father gave me THE SIMPLE ART OF MURDER by Raymond Chandler. True. So much so, that I studied English in college and told everyone I knew that I wanted to be an author. I even began to write a novel after I graduated. That lasted a couple months until I realized I didn’t like the “starving” part of starving artist. I got a job and had a hard time finding the time to write. That’s actually not true. I found the time, it was right in front of me. I just didn’t use it to write. So for the next twenty years, I’d dabble occasionally with pen and pad but never finished anything. All the while, I continued to tell people, even myself, that I wanted to be an author.

Finally, about thirteen years ago, after the golf company I worked for went out of business, I gave myself an ultimatum: write a novel or stop talking about it. I was unemployed and couldn’t hide behind the no time to write defense anymore. Long story, long: I wrote the first draft of what would become my debut novel, YESTERDAY’S ECHO, in five months. Of course, it took another ten years of rewriting to get it in good enough shape to be published. But that’s hardly news to any author.

So that should be the end to my Lazy Writer confession, right? Wrong. Once I got over my laziness and started writing every day, I discovered a different kind laziness that became part of my writing process: I don’t like to think when I write. Or least, not consciously. Like almost every mystery writer I know, I have a day job. Unfortunately, I have to think to perform it. I read online, so we know it’s true, that the average person makes 35,000 decisions a day. 200 on food and beverage, alone, which seems low to me. That’s a lot of thinking. For me, a lot of those decisions involve me thinking about the book I’m writing when I’m not sitting in front of my computer. Well, maybe in front of my work computer, but keep that between us.

By the time I do finally sit in front of my writing computer, I don’t want to think anymore. I want the prose to just flow through my fingers into the keyboard and onto the monitor. Alas, it doesn’t happen that way. Maybe it would if I were an outliner. I’d have everything choreographed and just have to fill in the lines. But I’m a blank-pager, better known as a pantser, ie, writing by the seat of your pants. I start each writing session revising what I wrote the day before and then have to make up new stuff. However, I’m not writing completely in the dark. I know where the story has to go. I just don’t know how to get there. I really tried hard to outline before one of my revisions of YESTERDAY’S ECHO. Weeks of wasted writing time. For me. Too much thinking.

Now, I spend about the first two hours of writing time mostly thinking. What would the character do if this happened? Why did this character do that? Is this believable? What should I make for dinner? Damn food thoughts. So, in the first couple hours I rarely get more than two or three hundred words done. Just about the time I’m convinced I’ve wasted valuable writing time my subconscious kicks in and I stop thinking and the fingers start flying. Usually, in the third hour I’ll at least double the word count of the first two. I love that third hour. If every hour were the third hour, this writing gig would be easy.

By the way, NIGHT TREMORS, the second novel in the Rick Cahill crime series comes out June 2nd. I hope you’ll take a look. A lot of thought went into it.




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