Today’s author, Josh Matthews, is here to share how he wrote his debut novel Hell Gate, which came out this past October. I hope you’ll find his advice as useful as I have.
Here is the blurb for Hell Gate:
Sixteen-year-old Jason McCreary is living a nightmare within a nightmare. Not only is he trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by demons from Hell, he also shoulders the burden for humanity’s fate as it was his mother who opened the gates in a scientific experiment gone wrong.
In a last ditch effort to redeem his family name and erase his guilt, Jason joins a squad whose mission is to travel to Paris and close the Hell Gate. Once there, they discover an environment more frightening than anything they could imagine and demons more terrifying than they had ever encountered before.
Time is now against them.
Can Jason gain his redemption along with the respect of his peers, or will a new web of lies threaten to rip apart his world and jeopardize his team’s only chance for success?
- Can you tell me a bit about your book?
It’s essentially a story about coming of age during the apocalypse. Jason is trying to figure out who he is as an individual while the world around him collapses. Yet he still must deal with normal teenage angst, the excitement and uncertainty of his first romance, and somehow manage the guilt he feels because his mother caused the end of the world. Jason is going to grow up quickly. Through the series he will learn about redemption, duty, and honor, and will be forced to make life-and-death decisions most adults will never have to face.
- What part of the story came to you first?
I developed the entire series around the character of Sasha after I had seen a photograph of a young woman brandishing a minigun. I was intrigued with the idea of a strong, independent female character battling monsters with heavy weaponry, and around that concept the rest of the series formed.
- How long did it take you to get from first draft to published book?
From the day I started writing Hell Gate in the summer of 2013 until its publication in October 2016 was three and a half years, however that’s misleading because there was considerable down time in between. It took approximately six months to draft the original manuscript and revise the final version after receiving the beta reads. I then took a year hiatus from Hell Gate as I concentrated on other projects. When I submitted the manuscript for review in late 2015, it was accepted within two months, but I had to wait a year before my turn came in the publication schedule. I spent a month reviewing the manuscript with my editor and working with the cover artist on the jacket.
- What was the hardest part of writing Hell Gate?
The hardest part was getting correct the mindset of young adults. Granted, it’s a post-apocalyptic scenario, and all the young adults in the story have to grow up fast if they want to survive. There’s a certain teenage way of thinking I needed to tap into so the story does not come across as an adult pretending to be sixteen. I hope I was successful.
- Who are some of your favourite authors?
If I’m in the mood for dark horror, I prefer Graham Masterton, Ed Lee, or Brian Lumley’s Necroscope series. If I’m in the mood for lighter fare, I read Jeff Strand. Other favorites are Brian Keene, J.F. Gonzalez, and Jonathon Maberry. I’m also an avid reader of history, especially if it pertains to World War II.
- What are you working on next?
I recently completed the sequel to Hell Gate and have submitted it to Burning Willow Press. At the moment, I’m finishing up the first draft of the third book in the series and am plotting out the fourth, which I hope to begin writing by the summer of 2017.
Josh Matthews is a former New Englander who now lives in north Florida with his wife, teenage daughter, and four lovable but exasperating pets. Josh used to work for the U.S. Government where he had the opportunity to travel around the world and be exposed to numerous cultures, many of which will appear in the Hell Gate saga. He has always been a fan of horror novels and monster movies, and sees the Hell Gate saga as his way to share that love with a new generation of fans.