Damaged Beyond All Recognition follows a man who is unwilling to accept an afterlife that provides nothing more than eternal self-awareness. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this novel?
I finally got around to reading The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut just before I started my novel. I was blown away by Vonnegut’s masterful handling of such a complicated story. It was the type of book that I had always wanted to write. So, I thought I would give it a try and see what would happen. I had a short story idea about a fractured afterlife, and I took it from there.
I enjoyed reading about your unique take on God and how the Creator is dependent upon others. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing about this topic?
I always found it interesting that humans have such wide-ranging views about God. Some think that God controls our every action while others think He doesn’t even exist. We read about how God created man in His own image, but I haven’t run across too many who see him as another guy. What if He just has the necessary job experience that would come from living countless lives through the Planes of Existence?
I loved Paul and Maggie Mae’s relationship and admired their dedication to one another. Did their relationship develop organically while writing or was it planned?
That relationship is based on a college romance that I had with the real-life Maggie Mae. She is the subject of a chapter (“There’s A Little Black Spot On The Fun Today”) in my first book, Damaged Right Out Of The Box, a humorous and wistful autobiography of sorts. The description of how Paul and Maggie Mae met and how their relationship flowered tracks what really happened. And it was my girlfriend’s career drive that prompted me to walk away. I couldn’t see myself playing second fiddle at the time.
But now I regret what happened and how it happened. So, I thought I would extrapolate the what-if. What if Paul and Maggie Mae said goodbye, but not a forever goodbye? What if he would wait for her while she proved to herself that she could be all that she could be?
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on the sequel to Damaged Beyond All Recognition. It’s entitled Damaged And No Longer Under Warranty, and it continues the story of whether the Paraverse was really the answer to preserving eternity. I hope to have it out in about 18 months or less.
Paul Tomenko is no stranger to the improbable. He became a magazine sweepstakes winner and celebrated counterculture writer by age 19. Now, after reaching for a can of Chef Boy-ar-dee spaghetti and meatballs, he’s traveling to and from God’s library somewhere outside the Universe to prevent the end of eternity.
Because of a DNA flaw, humanity no longer can ascend through the Planes of Existence after they die. They can’t access memories from countless past lives in previous versions of the Universe or acquire new recollections. That means no one will have the needed expertise to replace God when He dies. And, to complicate matters, Paul must enlist the help of his two lovers–Maggie Mae Monahan and Allie Briarsworth–because of their unique abilities. But the trio discovers the preservation of forevermore can turn someone’s soul inside out. Literally.
The novel chronicles the life of an ordinary man under extraordinary circumstances. Paul is unwilling to accept a broken Afterlife that provides nothing more than eternal self-awareness. He is also reluctant to choose between Maggie Mae, a brilliant geneticist who has the uncanny ability to “connect the dots,” and Allie, a novelist who inexplicably senses past and future events in the cosmos. The unexpected is to be expected from an unusual cast of supporting characters: Cher the Gatekeeper and Katharine Ross the Librarian, figments patterned after two celebrities for whom Paul has lusted; Gronk and Grita, two “resurrected” six-year-old neo-Neanderthals who are the most intelligent humans on Earth; Tsutomu Yamaguchi, an innovative bioengineer named after a Japanese man who survived nuclear bomb blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and Dr. Peter Lexington Townshend, the head of a genetics laboratory that already has prevented the Russians from stripping politicians in Washington, D.C., of all their memories.
Be prepared for a book that examines our metaphysical questions with a mixture of mind-bending possibilities, laughter, and tears.
Posted in Interviews
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Dave Matthes’s irreverent, profanity-laced, often hilarious novel, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard, is a fascinating work of writing. It’s half sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, and half a thoughtful and thought-provoking look at suicide and how it affects family and friends around the incident. Sleepeth Not, the Bastard follows two separate but surprisingly intertwined characters: Lew Ferranna, a deadbeat dad, drunkard, and generally unsavory character, and Sarah Fox, a famous drummer and rockstar from the all-female rock band, The Bastards. Matthes reveals in the opening pages of the story that Lew’s son committed suicide at the age of seventeen, and spends the rest of the novel’s tumultuous pages examining how that incident affected not only Lew and his family, but also how Sarah’s hardcore band, The Bastards, and their wild, rough-living producer, Wolfgang Stephanopolis fits into the mysterious puzzle of life.
I have had the privilege of reading several of Matthes’s works, and he has a skill that I have only seen before in Kurt Vonnegut. He is able to create completely unlikable, frustrating, and obnoxious characters, and turn them into protagonists that, for some unknown reason, you find yourself pulling for. The two stars of Sleepeth Not, the Bastard are superficially very unlikable: Lew has abandoned his daughter and wife after their son’s suicide; Sarah is standoffish, erratic, and crude. But perhaps what’s appealing about Matthes’s characters is the fact that they are so relatable. Though hopefully few of us know people who would commit some of the frankly horrible acts that Matthes’s characters perform, it’s a fact of life that everyone has flaws. It is refreshing to see characters dealing with problems that we, as readers, have likely seen or experienced ourselves: the demise of relationships, parental-child fights, addiction, depression, and death.
Fortunately, though, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard is not all doom and gloom. In his solid novel, Matthes manages to create humor (albeit dark) in the absurd situations he places his characters in. Whether it’s a tiger outside of Vegas, a minivan driving through the garage door, or the insanely gaudy (and proud of it) producer Wolfgang Stephanopolis, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard manages to bring a smile to readers’ faces in the most surprising moments. The story lacks only in a few small facets that irritated me personally, specifically the lack of double L’s in all of Lew’s parts of the story (meaning “walls” would be written as “wal s”).
Though it covers potentially disheartening topics, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard will not dishearten readers. Similar to Matthes’s other works, it manages to address the most unpleasant topics of life while also instilling a positive and motivating force in readers. It often feels as if Matthes’s charactesr are saying to readers what we all know but sometimes want to forget: Life can be ugly, hard, and miserable; but life can also be beautiful, surprising, and wonderful. As a reader whose family has experienced the pain and loss of unexpected death by suicide, I found this novel to be painful, at times, but overall uplifting and a reminder to appreciate the beautiful moments in life.
Pages: 453 | ASIN: B00N53IMWW
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The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
My idea for The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies began when I was falling in love with the Steampunk sub-genre and I knew I wanted to write a series of short stories set in a fantastic, fictional university with the themes of sci-fi and fantasy that are often seen in Steampunk. As I was developing the stories I quickly realized that I wanted to incorporate paranormal and horror elements in order to give the book a darker edge. I was also in the midst of reading a lot of H.P. Lovecraft, which has certainly had an influence on my writing.
The story is divided into a number of different perspectives from each character. What was the inspiration for your characters and what themes did you try to use?
It all started with my friends from college. I have been very to lucky to meet a lot of interesting and diverse people with a wide variety of backgrounds and studies, which inspired me to write about a cast of characters who are all very different, but still wind up becoming the best of friends. The deeper themes of these characters wrestling with inner demons and overcoming fears and flaws actually stemmed from my own darker thoughts and fears, and over the years of writing and editing, the characters also took on lives of their own, evolving into the people you see in the final draft.
The University is an intriguing place that rivals Hogwarts and begs to be explored. How did you set about creating this imaginative world?
As a child I was definitely inspired by J.K. Rowling, so there is an element of Hogwarts about the University, but primarily this world began when I was actually in college and shortly afterward. I was – and continue to be – amazed by the latest breakthroughs in science and the fantastic expressions of artists of all mediums. As I began brainstorming ideas for a Steampunk University I could not help but imagine impossible, dark twists on real studies of arts and sciences. The world that the University is situated in is even more exotic, as it is inspired by the rich diversity of our own real world, as well as history and of course, sci-fi and fantasy elements from a life as a bookworm.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The sequel to The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies is still in the first draft stage. I have it all outlined and I am plugging away at writing it, one day at a time. The characters from The University will be traveling abroad – but I am not done with the University itself. I have an anthology book in mind with another variety of short stories set at the University, exploring more of the dark and creative studies there. The first sequel is undoubtedly at least a year or two away, but I am working on it as fast as I can. I am very excited to share my writing with my friends, family and anyone who enjoys sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal fiction.
At the University of Corporeal & Ethereal Studies meddling with unknown powers can be dangerous work. Courses in arts and sciences experiment with supernatural forces to solve the mysteries of the universe, but when school projects go awry, the students may discover more than they would like to about the madness of the cosmic ‘Beyond’.
Eight interwoven stories follow students whose school work, social lives and inner demons crash together, leading to fantastic and horrible experiences, supernatural powers, and a fuller understanding of the dark depths of their world.
Classes include subjects such as time travel, alchemy, oneironautics, psychedelic transformation, rogue automatons, cosmic ghosts, reality-warping crystals, and more.
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