November 12, 2014

Krampus His Style: an interview + giveaway with Matt Manochio, author of "The Dark Servant"

Matt Manochio is the author of The Dark Servant (Samhain Publishing, November 4, 2014). He is a supporting member of the Horror Writers Association, and he hates writing about himself in the third person but he’ll do it anyway.

He spent 12 years as an award-winning newspaper reporter at the Morris County, N.J., Daily Record, and worked for one year as an award-winning page designer at the Anderson, S.C., Independent-Mail. He currently works as a full-time editor and a freelance writer.

Matt’s a dedicated fan of bullmastiffs, too. (He currently doesn't own one because his house is too small. Bullmastiff owners understand this all too well.)

The highlights of his journalism career involved chronicling AC/DC for USA Today: in 2008, when the band kicked off its Black Ice world tour, and in 2011 when lead singer Brian Johnson swung by New Jersey to promote his autobiography. For you hardcore AC/DC fans, check out the video on my YouTube channel.

To get a better idea about my path toward publication, please read my Writer's Digest guest post: How I Sold My Supernatural Thriller.

Matt doesn’t have a favorite author, per se, but owns almost every Dave Barry book ever published, and he loves blending humor into his thrillers when warranted. Some of his favorite books include Salem’s Lot, Jurassic Park, The Hobbit, Animal Farm, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

When it comes to writing, the only advice he can give is to keep doing it, learn from mistakes, and regardless of the genre, read Chris Roerden’s Don’t Sabotage Your Submission (2008, Bella Rosa Books).

Matt grew up in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and son. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a bachelor's degree in history/journalism.

About The Dark Servant: Santa's not the only one coming to town ...

It's older than Christ and has tormented European children for centuries. Now America faces its wrath. Unsuspecting kids vanish as a blizzard crushes New Jersey. All that remains are signs of destruction—and bloody hoof prints stomped in snow. Seventeen-year-old Billy Schweitzer awakes December 5 feeling depressed. Already feuding with his police chief father and golden boy older brother, Billy's devastated when his dream girl rejects him. When an unrelenting creature infiltrates his town, imperiling his family and friends, Billy must overcome his own demons to understand why his supposedly innocent high school peers have been snatched, and how to rescue them from a famous saint's ruthless companion—that cannot be stopped.

Find it on and Samhain Publishing's Online Store.

Gef: Where did you get the inspiration for The Dark Servant?

Matt: From my boss. He came into work in early December 2012, and, knowing that I’m a fan of obscure pop culture, asked me if I had ever heard about Krampus. I hadn’t and he directed me to I was both horrified and amused to the point of laughter when contemplating that Saint Nick would discipline bad children by unleashing a monstrous horned beast from Europe on them. I remember that day because it marked the first time in a while when the writing bug infested every part of my body. I couldn’t wait to explore a story with this creature set in the United States.

Gef: How has the process of working with Samhain in getting the book ready for release been an eye-opener for you?

Matt: It’s the first time I went through the process from start to finish. I submitted the manuscript to my editor in May 2013 and got an offer a few weeks later. I signed the contract in June and delivered the “final” manuscript on July 1, 2013. I received the cover art that same summer and was allowed to give input as to what I envisioned it would look like (which was nice). So, from essentially July 2013 to July 2014, all I did was query established authors for blurbs, and had success getting 10 of them. I also wrote another book. Things really picked up in August 2014. My editor sent back his marked-up, copy-edited version of the book. I was allowed to review it, make small changes (nothing to the plot/no major rewrites), and then resubmitted it in about a week. I received the advance reading copies (ARCs) a week later, along with the cover copy and blurbs to proofread. I was busy sending out ARCS to reviewers and bloggers in September 2014, now eagerly awaiting my pub date of November 1. I’m glad I went through the process so I know what to expect (knock on wood) the next time. One thing people must know about commercial publishing—it takes a while, and the waiting can be excruciating. And when things finally happened, they happened fast.

Gef: How intensive was the research process for you? What little tricks have you picked up with approaching the research phase of writing?

Matt: Not very intense. I visited websites that worshipped Krampus to get a feel for the creature’s origins. It was entirely Internet research. I searched for US news stories (there weren’t many) that chronicled the monster, just to get a feel for how the US media approached the legend. While I wanted to give readers Krampus’s back story, I didn’t want to overwhelm them with every tidbit related to him, just enough to familiarize them with the monster, and to keep the story humming.

Gef: What's the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?

Matt: I haven’t received any advice, solicited or otherwise, that stood out to me as being bad. Nobody told me that I should outline my book before writing, and I know there are authors who religiously outline stories before going to town on the computer. I’m not saying outlining is bad. I prefer to simply sit in front of my laptop and fire away, let the story develop as I go.

Gef: What kind of guilty pleasures do you have when it comes to books or movies or whatnot?

Matt: I’m a Star Wars nerd. I followed The Clone Wars on the Cartoon Network until it abruptly ended following Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm. I was bummed because I dug the show—and I wasn’t the only one. I’m now getting into the new animated Star Wars offering, Rebels. I have a toddler, which means I rarely can simply pick up and go to the movies. For me and my wife to go to the movies sometimes takes months of planning in advance. Parents reading this who have toddlers know what I mean.

Gef: We're coming up to the end of the year, which means everyone and their mama is writing a year-end lists. So what book, movie, game, show, song, or dirty limerick has found its way to the tippy-top of your favorites this year?

Matt: Godzilla, which my wife and I saw in Florida on vacation (our son was with grandma and grandpa in New Jersey). You see what I mean? For my wife and I to see the eagerly awaited Godzilla, we had to fly to a different state. (At least that’s what it felt like.) I’m looking forward to seeing the final installment of The Hobbit in December. I’m negotiating with a babysitter now.

Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

Matt: I’m eagerly awaiting word from my editor on revisions I made to my second book, hoping he likes what I did enough to sign me up for my next Samhain book. It’s a supernatural Western set in South Carolina during Reconstruction. And that’s all I’m saying for now. I’d love for people to follow me on Twitter, visit my Facebook author page, my Goodreads page, and sign up for my newsletter. And they can do all of that by visiting my website:

Tour Giveaway!
For everyone! CREATE a PINTEREST board by choosing one of the following themes: Krampus, Old World Legends, Vintage Holiday, Old World Christmas, Christmas Around the World, Traditions and Legends,  Myths, Monsters, and Horror, or something very similar.
Second rule: You must pin Matt's book cover and Amazon purchase link or Samhain Horror Purchase link. Third Rule: Follow Matt Manochio and Erin Al-Mehairi.
Third Recommendation: Extra points for pinning extra things about Matt, such as tour page, articles, etc.
Your board will be judged on the above PLUS your creativity and effort in the project! Send Erin at your Pinterest page to enter by Dec. 8. Of course you can continue to use it through the Holiday if you wish!
Prize: A "Santa Checked His List and I'm on the Naughty Side" package. This will include your choice of Krampus themed apparel (t-shirt or sweatshirt, men or women, visuals to come) and a signed paperback of the book.

1 comment:

  1. Krampus is a great one! Brom did a huge book on him and I still can't look at the cover on that :-/ I find it interesting that the author took the European legend and set it in the US, too--sounds like a cool story.