Today I am interviewing Matt Ferraz, the author of The Convenient Cadaver. I have also reviewed the book. I would like to thank Matt for taking the time for the interview. Keep reading to find out a little bit about Matt and his new book.
What drew you to the cozy genre? With so many cozy books being published, what do you think makes your book stand out from the crowd?
I’ve always had a passion for crime literature. I found out I wanted to be a crime writer when I was nine and my school teacher introduced me to Agatha Christie with Death on the Nile. My first literary efforts were in cozy mysteries, but after a while I started writing in other genres, especially neo-noir, and left those quirky detectives aside.
What drew me back to cozy was, interestingly enough, a Stephen King novella called Big Driver, which is featured in the collection Full Dark No Stars. King always liked to have authors as main characters, and in this novella the protagonist is a cozy writer named Tessa Jean. I hadn’t tought about cozy for a long time, but this novella made me remember all the fun I used to have with this kind of literature, and I went back to reading and writing it.
Yes, there are so many cozy novels being released every single day, and many of then are amazing. How to compete with that? My strategy is to keep the focus on the human nature of my characters and how they interact. I believe I could write a compelling book about Grandma Bertha and her family even if there was no murder to solve. But of course the murder makes everything more interesting.
Where do your ideas come from? Are any of the characters based on people you know in real life?
I took inspiration in my own grandmothers to create Grandma Bertha. I’ve always been close to them, and always wanted to use their quirks to create a character. Thankfully they loved the idea, and have supported me throughout this proccess.
Another great inspiration for this book was my dear friend Silvia, an old lady who loved dogs, beer and horror movies. Cozy characters usually read a lot of crime fiction, but I decided to do something different and create this old lady who loves to watch films with zombies and serial killers. Silvia also loved to be turned into a detective, but unfortunately she passed away before she could read the book. I miss her very much, and the book is dedicated to her.
Please give us an insight into Grandma Bertha. What do you think makes her special?
Grandma Bertha is an old lady, a widow who lives in a small shed on her son Todd’s backyard. She has the company of her three dogs, Rufus, Castor and Mustafar, but spends most of her time alone. She has a beautiful rapport to her grandson Stu, but Stu’s mother, Lydia, wants to send Grandma Bertha to a retiring home. One day, a dead girl with three bullets on her back appears near their house. Grandma Bertha decides she’s going to prove her value by finding out who the killer is. Even if that means going against the wishes of her family.
I think that what makes Grandma Bertha special is that we all know someone like her. An old person we like and visit once in a while but don’t really think about during our busy day-to-day life. Someone who’s told that they have done everything they had to do on their life, and now just have to kill time and wait for the Grim Reaper to come. But Grandma Bertha doesn’t want to be just that, and she’s determined to find a new meaning for her life, despite her age.
Do you work from an outline or plot or do you just see where the characters take you?
A crime writer should always make a very careful outline of his book, and, of course, know from the start how the crime took place, who did it and how the detective will solve it. That makes everything easier for the author and helps him not getting lost in his own plot.
But I’m crazy, so I just create things as I go. Okay, I’m not being fair to myself! I do make an outline, but it’s usually after I’ve written the first ten thousand words. I like to know my characters very well to decide which one was capable of killing another human being. After that I do an outline, and follow it until the end. It’s harder to work that way, but I find it more rewarding.
Do you read much and if so, who are your favorite authors?
Yes, I do read a lot, though not as much as I’d like to. I’ve already mentioned my two favorite writers, Stephen King and Agatha Christie, but I’m also a big fan of Dashiell Hammett. I’ve read many different cozy novels from different writers ever since I came back to the genre. The funny thing is that, when I was a kid, there were few options, because I couldn’t read in English (my mother language is Portuguese) and there was no such things as Kindle or Audible. I’m now overwhelmed by the huge variety of cozy authors I’m exposed to, but I can mention Kerry Greenwood as one of my favorites.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
You’re not going to sell anything if you don’t promote it right.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Writing your first book is an amazing sensation, but if you want to be a real writer, you have to do more than that. Don’t think that you’ll get rich and famous for writing just one, two or even three books. Unless you are Harper Lee, which I guess you’re not.
Also, get to know the publishing market. Read about it, attend to workshops and learn everything you can about this industry. It’s gonna make a huge difference in your career, believe me.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I wanna release a Grandma Bertha novel every eight months. People ask me how many books this series will have, and I say: as many as I can write. The ending of The Convenient Cadaver gives a good idea of what’s next for Grandma Bertha. I don’t see myself killing her one day, like Agatha Christie did to Poirot. It wouldn’t feel right.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?