Well, we’ve been working on this book for a while, and I’m pleased to say we’re very close to having a polished product fit for publication!
My name’s Matt Thomas, and I’ve been moonlighting as a writer for the last ten years or so. I got my start covering Manhattan’s music and nightlife beat for a slew of small magazines and websites, including The Village Voice and CBS New York.com, which was a fun but EXHAUSTING gig. In that time, I published some essays as well, but I just kept on gravitating toward short stories and novels.
As a kid, I devoured graphic novels and fantasy stories. Loved them! Once I hit high school and read Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, however, I sought out texts that had deep character development within an engrossing plot, but they were so hard to find. So, I decided I’d write my own stories that had such a mix at their core. THE COMPASS FROM THE RED LANDS, my new novel being released by 48Fourteen later this year, is one of those stories. Earlier drafts were either too long, too dark, or just too hard to follow. After countless rewrites and a slew of major overhauls, I sent a version to the good folks at 48Fourteen, and they gave it a home.
Now, even if you’re unfamiliar with me and my writing, here are a few thoughts that will hopefully get you excited about this fantasy novel:
1. 48Fourteen edits . . . hard! Each time I thought the book was done, polished, ready-to-go-and-bring-joy-to-the-masses, 48Fourteen editors found more things to work on, fix, tweak, polish, or rethink. They’re never satisfied, and that’s such a good, and rare, thing to find in any publisher. They’ve made this book as good as it can be, and I’m a better writer as a result.
2. It’s a fun and wild ride –As we’re putting the final touches on the manuscript, I’ve just been really enjoying reading this story. Yes, yes. I know! I’m the author. Of course I’m going to say that. But one thing that we kept on coming back to is whether or not this would be a novel that both adolescents and adults will find engaging. Does it have the right mix of plot and character? Are the fantasy elements grounded in a believable reality? Is it an adventure? Yes, yes, and yes!
3. It’s a modern-day retelling of one of my favorite King Arthur stories –This story is loosely based on the Arthurian tale of Gareth and Lynette. Gareth was the younger brother of the knight Gawain, and he wanted to be just like his brother. So, be begged his mother for permission to go to Camelot where he would train to become one of the knights of the round table.
His mother wasn’t too keen on the idea, but she eventually agrees (sorta) and allows him to work in Camelot’s kitchen (seriously!). Gareth is none to thrilled about being a bus boy of sorts, but he’ll take it. Lynette enters the fold seeking a knight to rescue her sister from the Red Lands. Arthur assigns Gareth to the job. Lynette essentially laughs this off as a joke (Really? An adolescent bus boy is going to rescue my sister from a foreboding realm?), but she has no choice.
During their journey, Lynette is pretty critical of Gareth, but he proves himself to be quite capable, especially when he defeats the Red Knight of the Red Lands and rescues Lynette’s sister. In some versions of the poem he marries Lynette. In other versions, he marries her sister.
THE COMPASS FROM THE RED LANDS is very different from this plot, but it has its roots in the adventure and coming of age genres. The spirit of a young man not only trying to prove himself to those he cares for most, but to find his place in the world was the driving force behind this story, and I think that comes through.
The cover art should be making its way to 48Fourteen’s Facebook page pretty soon along with an official synopsis. Keep an eye out for that those (#excited!). Also, I’ll be posting some giveaways and excerpts on my updated Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMattThomas). Thanks for support, and I hope you look forward to reading THE COMPASS FROM THE RED LANDS!