Matt Manochio hit the horror scene with last year’s debut, The Dark Servant. That wonderful little Krampus tale warmed our bloody hearts and got us hip to this up and comer. Now, here at the tale end of 2015, Manochio is unleashing his next novel, a historical horror story called, Sentinels, and he’s following that up with a Christmas treat–his first novella, Twelfth Krampus Night.
I’m excited to catch up with this wonderful author any chance I get. He’s motivated, he’s determined, and he’s a pretty darn nice guy.
Glenn Rolfe: Nice to talk with you again. How have you been?
Matt Manochio: Hi Glenn! I’ve been busy with life stuff over actually writing. And that leads me and you to your next question.
GR: I know you’ve been through some personal stuff in the last year, how has that impacted your writing life?
MM: What the hell is this personally invasive inquisition?! I’m kidding. It’s totally cool. I got divorced in the last year (a very amicable one, my ex and I are on awesome terms) and that sort of sapped my desire to write (especially over the summer) because I was so focused on other things. I know many people might throw themselves into writing as a distraction or to serve as an outlet when something like this happens. I admire those who can accomplish that, but I can’t. However, I can say that I’ve fired up the jets, so to speak, and am about 5,000 words into my next book. So I’m really just getting started with it. But it’s nice having that feeling again, that anticipatory feeling of sitting in front of the computer screen and going to town.
GR: I’m reading your latest novel, Sentinels. Great, great cover, by the way. Really enjoying these characters. It takes place in the South just after the slaves were freed. That’s a great time period and choice of location for some natural tension in the story. Have you always been fascinated with that piece of history? What drove you to choose that era?
MM: I was a history major in college, and quite truthfully, the period of history that most interests me is WWII and not the American Civil War, the latter of which served as a perfect backdrop for Sentinels. So I started with very little knowledge of the period immediately following the Civil War. You hear about the Reconstruction Era, but not many people really know how horrendous it was. It birthed the Ku Klux Klan, and saw terrible violence by lawmen against freed slaves. I had no idea Northern soldiers were stationed in the South to keep peace (it makes perfect sense, but it’s not something I automatically thought about). It was that discovery that led me to having both Klansmen and Northern soldiers being massacred by some mysterious force.
GR: I was reading this at work and one of my co-workers asked what it was about. I told her the setup and she just stood there enthralled. She demanded that I tell her what happens and how it all plays out. That was pretty cool. Usually, when she asks what I’m reading and I start spouting off about ghosts and goblins and werewolves, she shakes her head and is gone before I can finish. That says something to me. There’s more to Sentinels than just another horror story. Would you say that’s accurate?
MM: 100%. There’s certainly a supernatural element involved, but the story largely revolves around the choices the human characters make. I became a father a little before I wrote Sentinels, and the theme throughout the book is what good people might do to protect his loved ones.
GR: You also wrote The Dark Servant for Samhain Publishing last year. And now there’s a Krampus movie coming to theaters! Was that cool to see or is it frustrating?
MM: Anything that spreads the Word of Krampus is a good thing. I’m curious to see the movie, and I know Kevin Smith of Clerks fame is supposedly working on one too. As far as books, there still really isn’t much out there, but I also expect that to change too as more people learn about the big lug.
GR: And of course you have next month’s novella, Twelfth Krampus Night. Was it fun dipping back into that world and can you see yourself going back for another merry round?
MM: Yes. I fibbed a little before, I actually wrote Twelfth Krampus Night during the first three months of 2015 while dealing with the aforementioned personal issues. But at the time, things hadn’t reached the point where we knew we were heading for divorce. So I can say I was able to throw myself into the book, and it felt wonderful because I thoroughly enjoy the character, and the other dark servants that are out there. I introduce a hag named Frau Perchta, who punishes bad kids around Twelfth Night by slitting open their bellies. The good kids get a coin in the shoe. Perchta certainly isn’t as well known as Krampus, but she has her own legend in Europe, so I was able to have some fun with that.
GR: For the folks out there that don’t know, which I’m assuming is many, we’re sharing a table at this year’s Scares That Care Horror Convention. Looking forward to that. What makes that Con so attractive to you?
MM: I’ve heard that Scares that Cares is THE convention where you can sell books. And that’s what I want to do. Many of our Samhain colleagues have gone there and had success, and I’m hoping we can too. I’ll have The Dark Servant and Sentinels for sale, and I can’t wait.
GR: Last thing, our publisher is going through changes…what’s your plan for 2016? Any new pieces in the works? Any stories already out there in the submission box? Or are you going to sit back and take some time off to see where it all shakes out?
MM: Even before Samhain began going through its changes I’d made up my mind to submit elsewhere, not because I’m not happy with Samhain Publishing—they’ve been great to me, and I wouldn’t yet rule out submitting to them again. But you can’t put all your eggs in one basket in this industry, especially when you’re starting out. So, yes, I’m firing up the engines on a vampire book (how original). But I hope this one will be. One thing is for certain: my vampires are not sexy and aren’t friends with shirtless werewolves who can’t act. My vampires will be bad in ways that go beyond blood sucking, count on it! The goal is to finish that book this upcoming year and submit toward the end of it.
GR: Thanks for chatting, man. Maybe I’ll see you in Cincinnati.
MM: That’d be great, Glenn. We gotta pick our convention battles because we don’t have Stephen King’s travel budget, but I loved going to HorrorHound in Cincinnati last year and am looking forward to going again this March.
You can check out Matt’s debut the Krampus novel, The Dark Servant, on sale right now for just 99 CENTS!!!! Click the cover below for the link!
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These are no ordinary killers.
They don’t distinguish between good and evil. They just kill. South Carolina’s a ruthless place after the Civil War. And when Sheriff’s Deputy Noah Chandler finds seven Ku Klux Klansmen and two Northern soldiers massacred along a road, he cannot imagine who would murder these two diametrically opposed forces.
When a surviving Klansman babbles about wraiths, and is later murdered inside a heavily guarded jail cell, Noah realizes something sinister stalks his town. He believes a freed slave who’s trying to protect his farm from a merciless land baron can help unmask the killers. Soon Noah will have to personally confront the things good men must do to protect their loved ones from evil.
Biography, Matt Manochio
Matt Manochio was born in 1975 in New Jersey and graduated from The University of Delaware in 1997 with a history/journalism degree.
He spent the majority of his 13-year newspaper career at the Daily Record in Morris County, New Jersey, where he won multiple New Jersey Press Association Awards for his reporting. He wrote about one of his passions, rock ‘n’ roll giants AC/DC, for USA Today and considers that the highlight of his journalism career.
He left newspapers in 2011 for safer employment, and currently lives in New Jersey with his son.
Praise for Matt Manochio
“Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller.” -Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Savage Dead
“A real page turner. Matt Manochio has gained a fan in me!” -David L. Golemon, New York Times bestselling author of the Event Group Thriller series, on The Dark Servant
“Beautifully crafted and expertly plotted. A clockwork mechanism of terror! Highly recommended!” -Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of Shattered, on The Dark Servant
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