Krystle Matar has been writing for a long time, but things got serious when Tashué Blackwood walked into her life, an amber-eyed whirlwind.
When she isn’t arguing with him or any of his friends, she parents and farms. She has a lot of children and even more animals and one very excellent husband.
She is currently working on lots of stories set in the Dominion. She expects to exist in this universe for a while.
CONNECT WITH KRYSTLE
Welcome to SPFM, Krystle! Since we already have your bio, describe yourself in three words.
Eclectic, eccentric, inebriated—in other words, a writer
Summarize your book, Legacy of the Brightwash, using one gif.
If you could recommend three self-published books, which would you choose and why?
How about three authors? Everything by Angela Boord: Fortune’s Fool, Smuggler’s Fortune, Dragonmeat—and then there are some amazing books coming soon, like Fool’s Promise and Through Dreams So Dark. I’ve started reading Red in Tooth and Claw by Ryan Howse. It is INTENSE and fans of horror/fantasy will definitely appreciate the LOOMING ANXIETY. I believe he has a few other works that need my attention, if only there was an extra day of the week, dedicated to reading! Suzannah Rowntree has the absolutely stunning Watcher of Outremer series. I want to read them, but my husband stole them from me and he’s reading them first!
What is your favorite part, and your least favorite part of self-publishing?
My favourite part is the freedom. I get to make my own choices, I get creative control over my ideas, I get to choose my own editors, I get input with my incredible cover artist. (Hi Brad! <3 You’re the best!) My books sink or swim on my decision, on my shoulders. My destiny is in my own hands.
My least favourite part? The freedom. I have to make ALL the choices. I have to figure stuff out on my own—I can talk to other indies, of course, and they’re all fabulous, but ultimately I have to decide which direction to go. I have to do a bunch of different jobs. Some days I’m a little exhausted by all the people I have to be.
But it’s absolutely worth it. I love the indie community, I love the book that I made, I love the friends I have now. If this is what the rest of my career will look like, I am delighted. What an incredible crowd to be a part of.
How do you approach worldbuilding?
With my insatiable curiosity! If something catches my interest—some article, some random fact, some beautiful photograph (accounts like @WikiVictorian and @StuartHumphryes are great for incredible inspiration) I tuck it away in my “Magpile File,” the little space in my brain where I keep the shiny, beautiful, inspirational ideas. So then when I sit down to write, and I need something to make the world I’m building feel fully dimensional and lived in, I have all these random shreds of ideas that I can fold into the story, the world, the culture.
Food is an excellent tool for making a world feel lived-in. What kind of candy do they eat? What’s for breakfast? What’s on tap at the local pub? IS THERE WHISKY? You know, the important stuff!
What’s your process for creating fully fleshed out characters?
Well, I have spent a lot of time with some of these wonderful people. I first started writing about Tashué Blackwood 18 years ago now; I guess going on 19 soon. When you have that kind of history with someone, you really get to know them! Jason’s been around 15 years. Lorne maybe 13 years. Ishmael, 10.
But anyone who read Brightwash knows it’s a big book, crammed to the seams with a lot of people. A lot of new characters had to come to life to flesh out the big plot. Sometimes they come to exist pretty quickly, but sometimes I need to spend a lot of energy figuring them out. That usually means spending time scribbling madly in a notebook. Interrogating them about their lives, their hopes, their dreams. Their families, their careers—what they’ve lost, what they want, what they’re looking for, what they need. I know it probably sounds like a lot of work, and it sounds like I’m a little crazed—but honestly, I love doing it. I love the feeling I get when I’ve finally figured them out. When all the little pieces fall into place and I can see them as full humans. When all the clues they’ve given my finally makes sense, and I know who they are. They’re complex and they’re frustrating and they really test my skills sometimes, but getting to know them as multi-faceted people is why I write.
If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick and what would it be about?
I think just about all of them have interesting stories to tell ^_^ I can’t help myself. That time I spend in the notebooks? I can see stories spinning out behind them, stories I want to spend more time with. Folks who know Brightwash know how big and dynamic Ishmael Saeati is—he demands a book of his own. Ozra Sgèin is a character that walks into Legacy of Brick & Bone—he’s another one that I had to spend a lot of time with to get ahold of, and he has a heart-breaker of a story behind him. I’m excited to bring it to life. Lorne & Jason have my attempt at a meet-cute on the backburner. It’s cute in comparison to Brightwash? Whoops.
Sometimes the cities on the maps inspire ideas for spin-offs too. Right now I’m in Yaelsmuir, but I can stare at the map made by the fabulously talented Soraya Corcoran and write stories in my head for all the rugged terrain and various cities. I need to write faster so that I can get them all out!
How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
You might have guessed from my answer to the question above—if I finish a step on one project, I switch and start writing something else!
You feel uninspired and you’ve sat at the computer for an hour without conquering any words. How do you get your creativity flowing?
If I’m stuck and my wheels are spinning, that means it’s time to tend to the Magpie File. Some research, some photos. Some maps, some random facts. Inventions and weapons and the history of patent medicine. All these little ideas help to refill my creativity, my inspiration. I am getting into a big revision for a section with Stella Whiterock & Ozra Sgèin for Legacy of Brick & Bone—to get pumped up for it, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the rugged beauty of the Adirondack and the Appalachian Mountains. I’m EXCITED to get some snow and rocks and mountain trees and hidden lakes into this book!
Alternatively, I spend some time in the notebooks. You know that stereotype of writers who collect notebooks and never touch them? Only half of that is true for me. I have great piles of notebooks, and I abuse those badboys! If I’m stuck on a plot point, I’ll scribble in it for a while, trying to grasp the things I know and the things I’m missing. Or I’ll spend a little time with a character that’s giving me a hard time—Ishmael, I’m looking at you, punk.
And read. Read, read, read. Read whatever catches your eye, read a bunch of different genres. Venture outside what you THINK you like—you might find some surprises out there!
How did you know you wanted to write this genre?
I love fantasy. I admit, I spent a bunch of time away—after David Gemmell died, I couldn’t find any other authors that filled his shoes, so I wandered off to other genres. Historical fiction, mysteries, thrillers. But while I was away, the fantasy community shifted and changed in stunning, amazing ways. Anthony Ryan’s Bloodsong brought me back. But it was just the first step along an amazing path, a path that lead to indie fantasy. And here, I feel like I’ve truly found my community. People like me, people with my same aspirations, people with my same ethos. People who want to write their heart and souls into their work, people aren’t afraid to nail their identities to their books. There’s something really magical happening in indie SFF right now—coming into the community felt like coming home.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Firstly, thinking of yourself as ‘aspiring’ undercuts your value and your dedication! It doesn’t matter if you publish, doesn’t matter if you show another soul, doesn’t matter if you don’t finish projects or don’t do anything with them when they’re done. If you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, or voice to dictation software) to produce words—whether it’s poetry or fiction or nonfiction or a memoir—congratulations, you’re a writer! Welcome to the party, friend. We’re all a little cagey around here, in the very best way.
Secondly, listening too closely to advice can handicap you before you even get going. Sure, you should know the rules and the industry standards—but the reason you learn them is so you can break them most effectively. Don’t pay too close attention to the threads where people talk about what they hate—if you love it, write it! You’re writing for yourself first, and if it makes you happy, go for it.
But don’t be afraid of growth! Don’t be afraid of people who want to challenge you (kindly, gently, and from a place of love.) If you can, surround yourself in people who want to help you evolve. You are the best advocate for yourself and your work, but having friends who love you, want to nurture you, and help you level up will push you to heights you didn’t know you were capable of. Be brave, be nice, good luck out there!
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Oh geez, hand me the list. Hiring a sensitivity reader was an absolutely incredible and humbling experience. It was amazing to work with them and get to know them—they really brought depth to Brightwash that I couldn’t have accessed on my own.
Next, an editor. Trinica helped me polish Brightwash to be clean and professional. She’s amazing, guys. If you’re looking for an editor, check out @saltandsagebook—they have an amazing lineup of fantastic people who love books and want to help you polish your work so it can shine.
And of course, Brad Bergman. I look at my book cover a lot in order to market it and shout about it and just generally bring it to people’s attention! So having a cover that I absolutely adore really helps that process feel like a little piece of magic, every single time. I love that cover so much. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but that’s what covers do now. They give people a promise of what they’ll find inside. So, working with Brad was a joyful experience overflowing with creativity and enthusiasm, and I couldn’t imagine a better result. He put the time and effort in to really understand what I was trying to communicate and did a stunning job capturing the vibes.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer 😉 I think kid-me would be pretty pleased.
Favorite writing snacks?
I’m fuelled my Smashmallow marshmallows, a lil too much cheese, and lots of salty things. Does beer count as a snack? Cause there’s a bit of that too.
About Legacy of the Brightwash (Tainted Dominion #1)
Follow the law and you’ll stay safe. But what if the law is wrong?
Tashué’s faith in the law is beginning to crack.
Three years ago, he stood by when the Authority condemned Jason to the brutality of the Rift for non-compliance. When Tashué’s son refused to register as tainted, the laws had to be upheld. He’d never doubted his job as a Regulation Officer before, but three years of watching your son wither away can break down even the strongest convictions.
Then a dead girl washed up on the bank of the Brightwash, tattooed and mutilated. Where had she come from? Who would tattoo a child? Was it the same person who killed her?
Why was he the only one who cared?
Will Tashué be able to stand against everything he thought he believed in to get the answers he’s looking for?