This week I meet up with author Josef Matulich, to discuss his fantastic novel, Camp Arcanum, a horror/comedy that will leave you wanting more.
What is your book about?
“Camp Arcanum” is a horror/comedy about sex, magick, and power tools.
Marc Sindri, prankster and contractor, comes to Arcanum Ohio to build a renaissance faire in only seven months. A man with a reputation for delivering on miracles and a bad history with crazy people who believe in magical conspiracies, he soon finds himself in a small town filled with magick and intrigue. In spite of the recurring pain in the back of his head that reminds him of what happens when pretty girls smile, he gets caught up in a love triangle between Brenwyn, head of the local Wiccan coven, and Jeremiah, her demonologist ex. As Marc tries to meet his impossible deadlines, he navigates a landscape of witches, demons, power tools, and undead skinless bunnies.
What inspired you to write this book?
I used to work in an EPA lab, testing water and sewage samples from municipalities all over Ohio. I kept getting little plastic bottle marked “Arcanum, Darke County” and I would tell myself that something extraordinary must be happening there. After ten years, I started on “Arcanum Faire” as a screenplay. Two-hundred and fifty pages later, I realized I was writing a series of novels. I’m wrapping up the third book and I’m still doing the first draft in screenplay form. It helps with keeping it as a “show don’t tell” document.
Who is your favourite, and least favourite, character in the book?
I think Eleazar, the womanizing ren faire performer, is my favorite. He is an absolute loon and a law unto himself. He’s inspired by a close friend. I knew I could never be half as suave and charismatic as he, but I could at least reproduce it on paper.
I like all of my main characters, even Jeremiah Stone, my big bad. The only ones I have no affection for are the pure NPCs like Jeremiah’s Goth hangers-on. Them I beat with a shovel without remorse.
What draws you to this genre? Do you write in any other genre?
My worldview is generally horror/comedy: events around me are sometimes too horrifying to deal with and the only way to react is with inappropriate humor. Like reading “Bunnicula” to my premature daughter in the NICU and having to speak very loud over the drone of the device filtering and oxygenating the blood of the infant right next to her.
Is this a standalone book, or can we expect more?
This is the first book of the Arcanum Faire trilogy. I have the shadows of other books in this universe in my mind, but nothing specific just yet.
Tell me about you and what drew you to writing? Are there any authors who inspired you to become a writer yourself?
My father used to commute into New York, over an hour each way on trains and buses. He’d go through at least a paperback a week, everything from Great White Hunter adventures in Africa to Lord of the Rings, and I’d go through them all second hand. He didn’t altogether approve of my pursuing a career as an author, he was an actuary, but he certainly started me on my way with a huge library for inspiration.
One author we both read a lot of in the sixties was Frederic Brown. He’s known to modern genre audiences as the author of the “Arena” episode of Star Trek, but his “Nightmares and Geezenstacks” practically invented horror flash fiction in 1961. When I’m not working on full-length novels or screenplays I am most comfortable with quirky little tales of one-thousand words or less.
Other than your own book, what is your favourite novel?
“World War Z” was the book that got me excited about the genre again. It took the obviously ridiculous concept of the reanimated dead and applied callous, hilarious logic to the apocalypse and its aftermath.
Have you written other books we should know about?
I have the sequel to “Camp Arcanum”, “Power Tools in the Sacred Grove”, released last spring. More sex, more magick, and OSHA’s inspecting the power tools.
If you could advise aspiring writers on only one aspect of authordom, what would your advice be?
Just keep writing. Don’t wait for alpha readers. Don’t wait for five-star reviews. Don’t wait for the check in the mail. Finish something you love. Stop re-writing it. Store it in the mail and start on the next thing.
Where can we find your book?
Where can we find out more about you?