Under The Blade: Author Matt Serafini talks to Kendall Reviews.

I grew up on a steady diet of horror movies and paperback fiction. It was no surprise that it quickly became a life-encompassing passion. In less sensitive times, my fourth grade creative writing assignments were almost exclusively Friday the 13th and Halloween slices of fanfic in which Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers brutally murdered my classmates.

Thankfully, this didn’t lead to enrollment in a child rehabilitation program, as my teachers were cognizant enough to appreciate it as a form of creative expression (granted, a somewhat macabre one). I did however get into trouble for doing an oral book report on “Jack Martin’s” Halloween II novelization in fourth grade after telling my teacher I’d be doing Treasure Island.

I continued to write throughout my academic career and it was no surprise to friends/family that my aspirations were to write horror fiction.

In addition to seven novels (a few of which are soon-to-be published), I’ve also written extensively on the subjects of film and literature for numerous websites. Many people have read me on Dread Central, and I’ve also contributed to Shock Till You Drop. Nonfiction has also appeared in print in the pages of Fangoria and HorrorHound magazines.

I spend a fair chunk of free time tracking down obscure slasher films and hope to one day parlay that knowledge into a definitive history book on the subject. Until I’ve had the opportunity to tell everyone about Ogroff: The Mad Butcher, I don’t believe my life’s work can ever truly be complete.

KR: Coffee?

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KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

I’ve been writing since 2012. I’m a father of two. In another life I’m a professional golfer.

KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

I’m a big movie buff so I try and get movies in whenever I can.

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

I was a pretty weird kid in that I was in a rush to grow up. My parents would bring home YA stuff and I never had much interest in any of it. I was always more interested in convincing them to bring me home whatever Zebra books were in my local pharmacy spinner rack.

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If I had to choose one kids book from back in the day, I’d give the edge to MY TEACHER IS AN ALIEN by Bruce Coville. Love that book and this reminds me that I need to grab a copy soon and read it to my oldest.

KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

Music is a huge part of my writing. I think that’s probably true for most authors I know. I like to build iTunes playlists for each project and I stick pretty rigidly to it during the writing process.

Favorite album? Don’t really have one. Most of the stuff I listen to now is synth wave.

KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director? 

My favorite movie has been the original HALLOWEEN for as long as I can remember.

There’s five or six directors all vying for the top spot on my favorite list at all times. I’m going to give that edge to Paul Verhoeven today.

KR: What are you reading now?

I try and alternate between a new book and then an older one that I missed. I just finished TRIPLE AXE by Scott Cole (out now through Grindhouse Press) and I loved every last word. Really funny, oddly sweet, and truly strange.

Now I’m onto an older work, reading Michael Crichton’s THE LOST WORLD for the first time.

KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

Let’s get everyone’s answer, Stephen King, out of the way first. Clive Barker was equally formative for me, though. And F. Paul Wilson is probably my all-time favorite writer. Their work still has the power to make me stop and appreciate the beauty of a well-constructed sentence.

Richard Matheson and Harlan Ellison cemented my love of writing while in high school. You know that time in every student’s life when the curriculum of books practically begs kids to stop reading? Well, Matheson and Ellison got me through that.

Bret Easton Ellis is one of my all-time favorites. His horror novel LUNAR PARK is one of the very best pieces of fiction from the 2000s. Gregory MacDonald’s FLETCH books taught me a lot about hiding the devil among seemingly mundane details. That series is a massive influence on me (especially one of my upcoming works) even though the books themselves are wildly inconsistent from entry to entry.

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Perhaps most importantly, I’ll talk about the guys I was reading in college. In many ways, their impact was most significant because it was at this time that I was thinking about trying my hand at writing a novel.

I was addicted to the work of Brian Keene, Bentley Little, Richard Laymon, Ed Lee, J.F. Gonzalez…to name a few. These are the people who perhaps most impacted my life because they were right there in my ear in a pivotal moment, and they all whispered for me to go for it.

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

It depends on the book, but I always try and have some idea of where the story’s going. That’s really just to make sure I don’t write myself into a corner, though. Sometimes I build an outline and then realize the story isn’t going there at all.

I’ll give one example: there’s a mystery at the heart of my horror/sci-fi novel ISLAND RED. One of the characters is looking for a missing girl on this tiny island off the coast of Florida. The community there is being terrorized by a killer shark that’s controlled by alien parasites (I know it sounds crazy, that’s why I wrote it), but he’s still trying to find the truth even as things around him are going nuts.

I knew how that mystery was going to turn out until I reached the end of the writing process and realized that one of the characters I really loved had done something terrible. I was legitimately upset, like a disappointed parent, to have to write that “revelation,” but it needed to be that way.

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I do too much research. Sometimes it’s a few days, other times it’s much longer. When I wrote DEVIL’S ROW, a historical werewolf story set in the 18th Century, I knew I needed a good handle on what the world was like at that time. I read a few books and countless articles on the reach of the Holy Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and what the societal landscape was like inside those territories. The real trick for me is putting enough of those details in the book so the reader gets the right sense of setting without boring them to death.

KR: Describe your usual writing day?

Writing is a discipline. I have two kids, so I don’t have the luxury of writing at a set time of day. As long as I get my words in (I shoot for 2-3k a day), I’m satisfied. Sometimes it’s the first thing I do that morning, other times it’s the last thing I do before bed.

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?

I have a short story called “Beat on the Past” in the upcoming WELCOME TO THE SHOW anthology coming out from Crystal Lake Publishing. It’s sort of a low-key relationship drama that happens to have some supernatural stuff in it. I describe it as Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” as a ghost story.

KR: Do you read your book reviews?


KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?

Get out of your echo chamber. Your peers aren’t going to give it to you straight. Find readers who will. Real feedback is more valuable than anything else and the only way you’re going to get better is if you first learn where you suck. Nobody hits it out of the park early on. Find ways to keep improving your craft and work at it.

I don’t say this to be mean. Quite the opposite. The world needs more good authors. But in order to get there you need to work harder than you’ve ever worked at anything else. That means sacrificing your Netflix binges and video game sessions in order to develop your craft. If you’re not serious about this game, don’t ask readers to waste their time reading you.

KR: What scares you?

Social media. Dopamine highs from likes and retweets. I believe it’s altering our consciousness in ways we do not yet fully understand.

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

I love the convenience of ebooks. Picking up a story while I wait for a doctor’s appointment, or while I’m standing in line at the grocery store. Reading in bed while the wife’s asleep. You can’t beat the accessibility. Of course, when I know I’m going to be home for an extended period of time, or if I’m someplace lazy, like the beach, there’s nothing I like more than turning those physical pages.

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

My latest release is UNDER THE BLADE. It’s about the sole survivor of a madman’s killing spree who returns to the scene of the crime a quarter-century later only to uncover a host of small town secrets that somebody is willing to kill for in order to protect. It’s what happens to the final girl once she’s already survived the slasher movie.

KR: I have to say that Under The Blade is a superb book. I’ve read a few novels that fall into what I guess can be called the Final Girl genre and this is one of the best. Look for my review on Kendall Reviews.

KR: What are you working on now?

So much stuff. The problem is that I literally can’t talk about much of it. So let me give you the exclusive on the one thing I can discuss: I have an adventure/horror story coming out through Severed Press later this year called OCEAN GRAVE. It’s JAWS meets TOMB RAIDER.


KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?

Okay. This question really made me stop and think for a second. I have to choose someone from my fiction, a fictional character from another book, and one real life person who is not a family member or friend. So here it goes:

I’m going to choose Amanda Church from my first novel, FERAL. She’s resourceful, a survivor, and someone I’d want in my corner during a fight.

From someone else’s fiction, I’m choosing Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat. Desert islands are boring. He’ll liven it up for us.

One real life person who isn’t a family member or friend? Alice Cooper. We’ll turn that desert island into the best golf course.

KR: Thank you very much Matt.


You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattFini

You can find out more about Matt via his official website www.mattserafini.com

You can visit Matt’s author page here

It’s been twenty-five years since Cyrus Hoyt’s infamous killing spree at Camp Forest Grove. A quarter-century since teenage counselor Melanie Holden left him mortally wounded and escaped with her life.

Today, Melanie’s teaching career has bottomed out and left her with no choice but to return to the scene of the crime. Motivated by a lucrative publishing offer, as well as a desire to free herself from recurring nightmares, Melanie’s research into the murderer’s life brings resistance from all directions as she uncovers skeletons in Forest Grove’s past.

Because of Melanie, a long-held secret is about to be revealed—one that somebody is willing to kill for in order to protect. And Melanie is going to discover she has a lot more to lose than just her mind.

The stalk-and-slash suspense of Friday the 13th meets the small town mystery of Sharp Objects in this white-knuckle horror story of a final girl’s revenge.

You can buy Under The Blade from Amazon US & Amazon UK

It’s a species that has been around for 80 million years. It has over 300 teeth in 25 rows to trap its prey. It has very rarely been found in depths above 160 feet, meaning the frilled shark has never posed a threat to humans. Until now. The residents of Crystal Key, Florida didn’t think there was anything to worry about. A missing girl with a troubled past was easy to dismiss, but that was only the beginning. When fishermen disappear and two girls are attacked on open water, everyone assumes the culprit is a predator stalking their piece of the Atlantic. But as an offseason hurricane descends, and communications with the mainland are severed, Crystal Key is about to discover that terror doesn’t only come from below. ISLAND RED Hold your breath. Until it’s time to scream.

You can buy Island Red from Amazon US & Amazon UK

There’s a thin line between animal and man. A line that’s about to be crossed.

Jack and Allen need a break. They’ve decided to spend the summer before their senior year of college out in Western Massachusetts. But their quest for rest and relaxation comes to an end when they arrive in Greifsfield, MA. Their friendship is tested by a mysterious beauty and her razor sharp smile, then broken when they’re caught up in a rash of mysterious disappearances. How will these two friends cope with the truth behind a town that craves raw meat? And how will they survive beneath the glow of the full moon?

Werewolves are real and there’s no such thing as escape. This vacation’s about to get a little hairy.

The Howling meets 30 Days of Night in this furious, lightning blast of a novel.

You can buy Feral from Amazon US & Amazon UK

They hunted her to the furthest corner of the world and did everything they could to kill her.

But she survived. Elisabeth lost everything that night. Everything except her life. A life she’s using to hunt the mercenaries who want her dead. There’s only one problem: the wolf inside her has gone quiet, leaving this she-wolf to rely solely on her wits and killer instinct to survive. Standing in the way of her bloody vengeance is a war-torn 18th century countryside ravaged by a vampiric plague and home to a host of unspeakable horrors stalking the night.

When you fight evil with evil, there can only be one outcome…

A shifter’s lust for revenge puts her on a collision course with a band of witchfinders in this novel from acclaimed author Matt Serafini. Devil’s Row combines occult horror and dark fantasy and places it all in the universe first explored in Feral: A Novel of Werewolf Horror.

This is a standalone prequel, it can be read without first reading Feral. 

You can buy Devil’s Row from Amazon US & Amazon UK

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