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“…I don’t know that I made a decision to step into any particular role, so much as I wanted to try to repay the kindness back into the community.

Meaning and Mentorship with Krystle Matar

Image of Krystle MatarKrystle Matar has got to be one of the indie world’s biggest cheerleaders. From celebrating new storytellers to ripping out our hearts with their own works, Matar really knows how to work their way into your soul. Not only is her work within The Tainted Dominion world some of the best fantasy fiction I have ever read, but their talent extends so much further than her books. Matar is constantly batting for and building up other authors in the indie sphere. Seemingly never without someone to cheer on, a YT live to take part in or a podcast to host, Matar is an absolute powerhouse in this world! It is an honor and a privilege to speak to them today about becoming a mentor for self-published authors from all over the world. A very warm welcome to Krystle Matar!

Q. First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to chat with me today! Can you give us an introduction to you, your work and where people can find you?

Thank you for having me! These days I find myself as somewhat of a jack of all trades in the indie space; I am a writer first, but also a reviewer for BWG and the leader of our SPFBO judging team, as well as a columnist for Grimdark Magazine (so honoured to get started!!) as well as the cohost of The Dripping Bucket Podcast with Grimdark Grandaddy Michael R. Fletcher.

My debut, Legacy of the Brightwash, was nominated for a pair of r/Fantasy stabby awards, is a SPFBO Finalist, a BBNYA Finalist, and an Indie Ink Award Finalist. The series is a genre mashup of Grimdark, epic political fantasy, Gaslamp, and romantasy. Oh and also it’s gay af. I’m currently working on a new series as well, whose first book shall be titled In the Shadow of My Bright Future which will be Prohibition era gangland shenanigans fueled by psychotropic a mushroom magic system and containing eldritch and threatening dormant dragon spirits. You know, as you do. It’s also probably more gay af than the Tainted Dominion series.

Mostly I’m a pest on Twitter but also I dabble in most of the other social media apps!

Q. I do want to talk briefly about your works before jumping across to mentorship if I may. Legacy of the Brightwash and the larger Tainted Dominion world is such a unique fantasy setting which blends several sub-genres at master levels. What were the inspirations behind such an epic body of work?

That’s such a simple question with such a big answer! I think if I try to track the inspirations, the genre blending came from a natural inclination to read across a lot of genres. I’m a genre polyamorist if you will. It’s also a reflection of how my own writing focus has shifted and changed throughout the years. I’ve been writing about Tashué Blackwood specifically for well over half my life, and trying to write fantasy even longer. For most of that time, they were two separate things to me. Tashué got contemporary novels, and fantasy got other characters. Eventually I got frustrated with my instinct that I had to separate them. Why couldn’t I do both?? No one was stopping me but me! And so, in Brightwash and the series as a whole, I can track the evolution of my relationship with Tashué and fantasy separately. He’s always been a father. He’s always been an artist. He’s always been ferocious and stubborn. The cop angle came later in our lives, but it wouldn’t fit the series long term, so it became a bridge between who we used to be and who we are now. Fantasy has always been a place where I examined my own feelings of otherness, as well as my longing to be seen, heard, and accepted. But so too has it always been a place where I talk about conflict on large scales, and the cost of it, even if the cause is just. It’s always been a genre that stood as a protective shield between me and real life, allowing me the time and space to process the real world in an existence that I have more control over.

Jason’s always been a giant pain in the ass.

Q. You are such an inspiring mentor in the indie scene! Hardly a day goes by where I don’t hear someone gushing about the help and love that you have showed on them or their works. Do you have a mentor of your own that paved the way for you wanting to step into this role? How did they shape your journey as an author and a mentor?

I think in a way, the whole community has been my mentor across various stages. When I was first coming in, I watched from afar. Authors I admired chatted with each other about their processes and their journeys, and it gave me the tools to take my own writing seriously. Eventually I got up the courage to make friends, and those friends chatted more personally with me! Sam Hawke (author of City of Lies) was one of those first friends, and I still fondly remember swapping baking recipes as well as querying advice. Through her, I met Nick Borrelli (Out of This World blog) who handed me my invitation into the indie crowd. Clayton Snyder (Cold West, River of Thieves, Norylska Groans) was a friend and confidant almost immediately. I wish I could name everyone who influenced me in those early years, but this would be a list of names of my friends as well as most of the SFF authors on Twitter since 2018!

I’m very much a believer that no one owes us anything. And because I don’t expect a certain amount of attention, I’m able to value the gift that is each moment of friendship, help, advice. If no one owes me anything, then everyone who stretches out a hand to me to help out, keep me company, or boost me up is giving me something precious, and I cherish it. I’ve been blessed with so many gifts, and so many amazing friends!

Q. Did you find yourself naturally gravitating towards being a support system for others, was it a conscious choice? When did you realise you had such a gift for helping others?

To link it back to the last question about time being a gift, I don’t know that I made a decision to step into any particular role, so much as I wanted to try to repay the kindness back into the community. Having such an incredible circle of friends and connections lends me quite a lot of privilege in that my friends help me to build the platform I have. It would be too lonely to try to hoard all of these gifts and keep them for myself. I’d much rather share what I’ve been given in the hope of giving folks the kind of chances that I had!

Q. Now, you wear a lot of hats, between Before we Go Blog, The Dripping Bucket Podcast, SPFBO, your own books, helping authors on the side, not to mention family life! How do you keep track of it all?

The short answer is, I don’t XD The longer answer is that I have these conflicting needs of wanting a routine but also thriving on chaos. I write every day, I cook lunch every day, but also I need variety, surprise, deadlines, change.

So far it’s working out. Sorta.

Q. The indie world is something you are obviously very passionate about; can you share what your favourite/least favourite aspects of this world are?

My absolute favourite part is the togetherness, and the willingness to share rescources, tips, advice, skills. We’re all in this together. Bloggers are hustling their butts off to help us spread the word about our work. The work they do allow us to chase our dreams because they love books and stories as much as we do. And the other authors, of course: the great and wonderful Ryan Cahill will chat with anyone about marketing and how he got ads to work for him, because he’s so generous with his time and he genuinely wants other people to succeed, too. Authors who have figured out Canva will give you pointers to making your own marketing graphics. People who ~get~ TikTok like Andy Peloquin and Carissa Broadbent will share the ideas that worked best for them, help you sort out what’s going to help you. The list could stretch on forever. And though I’ve listed these wonderful pros and consider them titans of our industry, they’d all tell you they’re just people. Just writers and dreamers who got lucky (and worked really hard to be in the position to receive luck.)

Q. Now I have to ask, because the people want to know! What is next for you? What are you working on right now? According to your twitter handle you are currently working on … well .. all the WIP’s!

I made the decision to pivot my focus away from the Tainted Dominion for a short time. As I was working on it, I had a bit of an emotional crisis! Tashué and I have been working on this crazy dream for a long time. I think if I rushed my way through his series, churning out his books without pausing to appreciate each milestone, I would regret it in ways I can’t fully express.

Enter Frankie Zane, the main character of the aforementioned Prohibition crime drama + shrooms & dragons. Surprising no one, Frankie’s story is shaping up to be another genre-blender. It’s also become deeply personal in a few ways I didn’t see coming when I first started chasing the idea. Frankie is an interesting mirror to Tashué, and he represents different things. Tashué has always been sure of himself, no matter what genre he existed in. His confidence became a stand in for my lack thereof. Frankie, on the other hand, is a different kind of mess. He’s carrying baggage that’s more similar to mine than I intended, and while it was terrifying to set it to paper, it’s also been incredibly cathartic to make eye contact with it. He is, of course, his own man living in his own story (as far as I know I’ve never committed federal crimes for example) so of course it’s not a biography, but he and I have a lot in common.

In the Shadow of My Bright Future will have some familiar themes to those who’ve read my work before—Frankie is also a parent, and found family reigns eternal, and it wouldn’t be a Matar novel without queerness and its intersection with counter culture. But the crime angle is an homage to some of my favourite stories outside of SFF, like Lehane novels and movies directed by Scorsese and McDonagh.

Q. To end off for a bit of fun, as a whisky lover. Can you name your top 5 whiskies of choice? Bonus question, what is the most expensive drop you’ve ever tried?

I love Bruichladdich! Their classic Laddie is my go to. I’m also rather fond of a Canadian brand of rye called Lot No. 40. Sexton Irish whiskey is an easy drinker with one of the coolest labels I’ve ever seen. Gotta love Writer’s Tears! My husband bought it for me as a joke when I was struggling with early drafting efforts of Brightwash, but surprise! It was very good! And of course, gotta shout out to the heavily peated sluggers, like Talisker Storm. I think my most expensive bottle is the Octomore 11.1, which my husband bought for me to celebrate when I published Brightwash! (Which made another wonderful friend for me when my whisky sister Sara from Fiction Fans Podcast saw me celebrating with the bottle and decided we needed to be friends. She was right, we’re perfect for each other.)

Want to check out a review for Legacy of the Brightwash? Click Here!

Check out Krystle Matar on Before We Go Blog!
Check out Krystle Matar on Before We Go Blog!
Check out Krystle Matar on Before We Go Blog!
Check out Krystle Matar on Before We Go Blog!
Check out Krystle Matar on Before We Go Blog!
Check out Krystle Matar on Before We Go Blog!
Check out Krystle Matar on Before We Go Blog!
Check out Krystle Matar on Before We Go Blog!
The Fictional Escapist

Kris has been an avid reader for most of his life, forever escaping into various worlds, far beyond his imagination. Now at the ripe old age of 32, he spends his days in a sea of authors, review copies and unedited manuscripts; and he is having a blast!

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