Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Michael Robb: The IAN Interview

Michael Robb Mathias has made a name writing epic fantasy novels under the pen name M.R. Mathias. His Amazon, and Barnes & Noble Bestselling e-books:
The Sword and the Dragon, Kings, Queens, Heroes, & Fools, and The Dragoneers Saga have taken on a life of their own as masterworks in the fantasy genre.

Michael's newest release, The Butcher’s Boy, is not a fantasy. It is a terrifying Haunted House/Murder-Mystery/Chiller.

In order to maintain a distance from the YA fans of his popular Dragoneers Saga, this frightening tale has been released under the pen name:

Michael Robb

IAN. How long did it take to write The Butcher’s Boy?

MR. An odd question. Years? More like 5 weeks in long hand. The NaNoWriMo rewrite and edit went fast. About 60 days, with the editing help of Derek Prior doing the chapters as I finished rewriting them.

IAN. What inspired you to write the book?

MR. After reading until I had read every book in the cell house I decided that I could write a book. I just started writing to keep from going crazy. During that incarceration at James V. Allred prison, I spent 9 months straight in a solitary cell for fighting. Later I would spend 2 calendar years in solitary at Michael’s Unit in Tennessee Colony, Tx. That’s where I wrote the 700k word epic Wardstone Trilogy and a lot of the short stories I have published under the pen name M. R. Mathias.

IAN. Talk about the writing process. Do you write at night or in the morning?

MR. At the time I wrote ‘Butcher’s Boy’ my process was to try and read 300 pages and write ten pages a day, every day. Like I said, I was in a high security solitary cell and had nothing better to do. Now I get in different grooves, sometimes writing after my morning run with my tweeting dog @MrStubbsSays, but mostly at night when it’s just me and the radio.

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

MR. I wrote the first draft while doing time. It was a 125 page tale called Buxly House. I dug it out last year for NaNoWriMo and turned it into Butcher’s Boy. So I suppose that first draft was an outline of sorts.

IAN. How is your book different from others in your genre?

MR. It is actually gut wrenchingly scary without being overly gross. But more than that, it’s such a “twisty” and disturbing tale that it just can’t be explained without spoiling some part of the book. Even the synopsis on the book page is inadequate. Read the reviews especially the 3 star review on

I like that all the reviewers say “I figured out who the killer was, but...” The main reason the book gets so scary is because of time you get to spend inside the point of view of the killer. I had to divulge him. It was intentional. You also get to spend time in the POV of the ghost, and Lucy-Fur, the Rottweiler. The dog and the ghost have an epic battle of wills too.

IAN. Is your book published in print, e-book or both?

MR. Both

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

MR. I hope the reader is entertained, thrilled, terrified. Fiction is virtual reality escapism in its purest form, projected on its best most complex screen. No HDTV or movie theater screen can compare to the mind’s eye.

IAN. Where can we go to buy your book?

MR. Everywhere that eBooks are sold online. Amazon and B&N have the nice 6”x9” paperbacks. A few book stores in Texas and Louisiana.

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

MR. Michael Robb is currently M.R. Mathias and working on the next Dragoneer novel.

IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?

My three websites:

M.R. Mathias/Wardstone Homepage:

M.R. Mathias/Dragoneers Homepage:

Michael Robb/Butcher’s Boy Homepage:

@Michael_Robb on twitter

The Butcher’s Boy by Michael Robb

360 pages

Genre: Paranormal Horror

Publisher: Michael Robb Mathias Jr.

Excerpt from book:

From Chapter 8

Normally Oliver would have said something reassuring like, boys will be boys, or he can’t be far, but he sensed Janet’s distress and held his tongue. Instead of comforting her, he charged around the front of the house, down the driveway, and into the backyard, calling for Michael and the dog as he went.

*** * ***

Janet stood in the front yard and turned a slow circle, first searching down the road toward the neighborhood beyond the intersection, then out into the field across the street. She needed to know that Michael was safe and was trying hard not to panic.

Am I going crazy? She asked herself. She hoped she was just stressed out and over reacting. The thought didn’t lessen her anxiety, and she ended up jogging toward the row of pine trees that separated her property from the newer houses. All that newspaper crap had her paranoid, but as she got to the end of the block, she decided it wasn’t paranoia she was feeling. It was fear. She was flat out scared. The cold lingered on the skin of her neck like a film, and she had a lump of worry like a snow ball sitting in her gut.

Remembering the train tracks and the woods beyond the neighbor’s house, she started back that way. Damn it! Where are you Michael? She was decidedly confused because she knew that Michael was responsible enough to tell someone before going too far. He always had before.

*** * ***

Oliver stopped and took a moment to think about where he would have gone if he was eleven years old. In less than a minute he knew. He approached the hole in the fence behind the garage. The patch job was nothing more than a tacked on board, and there it was lying to the side with a hammer and a coffee can full of nails. Michael could have pulled the piece of wood off with his hands. The hammer, Oliver figured, was to put the board back in place when he returned.

Although he was skinny from a dozen years of severe drug abuse, Oliver was still man-sized and couldn’t just squeeze through the hole. Instead, he used the top of the post that met the garage and pulled his body up so that he could throw a leg over. He nearly tore out the crotch of his jeans, and he was glad that no one was there to witness his awkward crash landing on the other side.

When he stood, his height allowed him to see over most of the rampant tangle that grew under the trees. Only a small portion of the yard had been taken care of, and as he took it in, he saw nothing that caught his eye. On his second scan he glimpsed movement through the window of a vine-covered shed that stood away from the house at the edge of the thicket. It seemed as if the yard were trying to camouflage the old structure, or swallow it up. He was lucky to have spotted it.

Oliver started easing over to the shed, careful not to alert Michael or Lucy to his presence. Pressing himself against the side of the building, he peeked through the glass. There was Michael, headphones on, intently trying to bust the lock on a chest that was standing against the wall. Lucy was sitting beside him, so content on watching what her boy was doing that she wasn’t interested in anything else. A few rusty tools hung from loops of wire that dangled from the rafters, and an ancient snap-jawed bear trap was nailed to the wall. It sounded as if Michael was pounding the lock with something heavy like a hatchet or a ball-peen hammer. Oliver couldn’t tell for certain because Michael’s body was in the way.

Trying not to alert Lucy with his giggling, Oliver poked his head into the partially opened door.

“What the hell are you doing in here?” Oliver yelled at the top of his lungs, then slammed the door shut and held it closed while laughing harder than he had in ages.

Oliver hadn’t really wanted to shut Michael in like this, but he was smart enough to know that Lucy would tear into him as if he were a t-bone steak if she could get to him right now.

“Let me go!” Michael screamed. He was plainly terrified and the pleading quality in his voice melted Oliver’s resolve. Lucy wasn’t barking yet, probably because she had recognized Oliver’s voice. Dogs know. Oliver had startled her so badly though, that she’d bolted into the corner of the shed and was only just now recovering.

“It’s me, Mike,” Oliver said through his laughter.

When he pushed open the door, Michael looked like his heart was about to pound right out of his chest. He found Oliver literally rolling in the grass holding his belly. Lucy poked her head out beside Michael’s leg and snarled halfheartedly, which caused Oliver to laugh all the harder.

“It’s not funny!” Michael huffed.

“You should’ve seen your face, boy,” Oliver’s laugh turned into a cackle. “I bet you shit your pants.”

Michael’s face flushed with rage and embarrassment, but he casually let his hand reach back to check. This caused another fit of hysterical mirth to explode from Oliver. Lucy bounded out and pounced on Oliver then started licking him playfully.

“That wasn’t funny,” Michael said again, his anger fading so much that the hint of a grin found the corner of his mouth. “I should tell Lucy to eat you.”

“She wouldn’t do it,” Oliver replied as he got to his feet and ruffled Michael’s hair. “Your mother is looking for you Mike. She’s really worried. Why were you burglarizing the old lady’s tool shed?”

“I was just exploring,” Michael said. “I wasn’t gonna take anything. I swear it.”

“Hey Mike, I don’t give a rat’s ass what you were doing over here.” Oliver put a hand on Michael’s shoulder and aimed him toward the hole in the fence. “Just don’t get caught messing around or you’ll get in some real trouble. I’m sure of it.”

“You won’t tell my mom?”

“Why would I do that?” Oliver looked down at Michael and shook his head. A few years ago he would have already cleaned the old lady’s house out for dope money. Not anymore. “You don’t snitch on your friends, Mike,” Oliver told him. “It’s just not cool.”

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