Interview with L.A. Matthies
Surviving Curtis Hall: The Lure of Blood
L. A. Matthies
Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age 14) for Reader Views (5/13)
Born and raised in the “Three’s Company” generation, Linda Matthies started out as a fairly awkward introvert. Never quite catching on to fashion or popularity during her childhood, Linda opted for drastic change in her teen years. In order to combat her painfully obvious shyness, she chose to pursue a career in Hairdressing & Cosmetology. Talk about coming out of your shell....
Through this avenue, Linda was able to cultivate her love for people, advertising and promotions. At the very pinnacle of her career, she once again changed course, finding the yearn for a family to be an overwhelming draw.
Three children and fifteen years later, in the midst of what could be considered a contentedly crazy life, fate intervened once again. Linda found herself fighting for a cause very dear to her heart. Although it appeared at the time that the solution to her predicament was evasive, she found her greatest comfort in writing. The more she wrote, the more real it all became, and so “Surviving Curtis Hall” was born.
Linda truly believes this has been a life-changing experience for her, and she is unspeakably grateful to writing for “Saving My Sanity,” which anyone who is raising three children would comprehend. Linda shares a home with her husband and three children in New York.
Tyler: Welcome, Linda. I’m curious to learn more about “Surviving Curtis Hall.” First of all, I understand Curtis Hall is the boarding school where the story takes place. What made you decide to use a boarding school setting, and why did you think it would be good for a novel?
Linda: Hi, Tyler. I’m excited to have the opportunity to spend this time with you! The boarding school setting of Curtis Hall is essential to the story because it really helps to increase the element of the unknown. One group of my characters, all sharing history and tight bonds of friendship, are accepted based primarily on their lacrosse merit. We follow the story through their eyes as they struggle to adjust, fit in, and sometimes stand out in this new environment. I especially enjoyed writing from the different point-of-views because each character has a distinctly different voice; it also encourages the reader not to get stuck in one perspective.
Tyler: Where did you get the idea for the boarding school? Is it based in experience?
Linda: I personally have no boarding school experience; however the whole concept of this setting appealed to me because it is so self-sufficient. When the characters step onto the campus it is a separate entity from anything that they have known before or are accustomed to. They were the big fish in a small pond before and I wanted to create an extreme difference for them. I love that because everything is so different and strange to them, they don't realize exactly how to interpret some of the people they come in contact with or events that occur.
Tyler: Will you tell us about the main character Tristen? Who is he when he arrives at Curtis Hall and what leads him to the boarding school?
Linda: Tristen is a sixteen-year-old lacrosse player who’s got a penchant for writing poetry. Not always as confident as he appears, he’s a fiercely loyal friend and strives to make his parents proud. After numerous drug arrests and a bomb scare at Hibernia High, Tristen’s parents, along with those of his friends, seek the greener pastures of the prestigious boarding school.
Tyler: Will you tell us also about some of Tristen’s lacrosse playing friends?
Linda: Billy Morrow is Tristen’s best friend and a hell of a goalie. Being raised by a single mother after the tragic death of his father, Billy looks to Tristen in times of uncertainty and considers him more of a brother.
Justin Scott, Tony Steel and Paul Greco are school friends who have played on the same lacrosse team with Tristen and Billy since they were first introduced to the game by Billy’s father.
Pierce Ferrari is a new acquaintance of Tristen’s, a senior and captain of the Curtis Hall team. He’s bright, focused and driven while still possessing all the friendly mentoring qualities Tristen aspires to.
Tyler: I understand Tristen soon becomes involved with the beautiful Marcella Venier. What can you tell us about who she is?
Linda: Marcella is quite the stunner with her long black hair and blue eyes, but she’s much more than just a pretty face. Posing as a research assistant, she lives a clandestine life hiding the fact that she is not human while attempting to reproduce an elixir to protect her kind.
Tyler: My goodness! Not human! Can you tell us more about what is “her kind” or would that be giving too much away?
Linda: I usually don't like to give away much, but in this case I'll make an exception because readers who don’t appreciate supernatural creatures won’t enjoy this story the way it’s meant to be enjoyed. Marcella is a vampire fixated on furthering her own designs while blending into an environment which provides the perfect camouflage. One of my readers referred to her as “an ambiguous type of vampire,” and in my eyes, that’s a perfect description.
Tyler: Why do you think Tristen finds himself attracted to Marcella?
Linda: Tristen’s experience with women has been limited up until this point to the close friendship he shares with Sasha and the “fan worship” of the girls at his old school who want to date him because of his lacrosse success. Curtis Hall is a fresh start. He literally bumps into Marcella in between classes, at which point she doesn’t appear all that interested. She’s beautiful, intelligent and he likes the challenge.
Tyler: The plot thickens when a student is lost in the subterranean tunnels beneath the school and Tristen is believed to be involved. What can you tell us about the tunnels and why are they beneath the school?
Linda: The subterranean tunnels were built beneath Curtis Hall to help speed traveling across campus, especially during foul weather. Since the campus and property are adjacent to the old mines, at some point, the tunnels also intersect with each other providing more opportunities for hiding out and places to get lost in my story.
Tyler: Linda, the book’s subtitle is “The Lure of Blood” so am I correct in calling this book a horror novel, or would you define it in some other way?
Linda: Actually, it’s really not a horror novel but more of a fantasy. In my story “The Lure of Blood” refers to a vampire’s basic need for blood; however, it primarily factors into the potency of the Elixir which several characters are attempting to recreate.
Tyler: I’m curious about this elixir. What kind of power does it have?
Linda: The Elixir began as a myth that Marcella was introduced to; it was fabled to enhance the abilities of the vampire while allowing them to walk in daylight unharmed. Difficult to reproduce, the formula also contains ingredients only available in small pockets of the world. It just so happens that some key ingredients are indigenous to the mines in New Jersey.
Tyler: I mentioned above that you’re a cosmetologist and this is your first novel. Have you always wanted to write? What inspired you to write this novel?
Linda: I was inspired to write by my oldest daughter. In becoming a teenager, she had withdrawn from our relationship, so as a way to reconnect, I suggested we form our own book club. This worked out so well that I thought if I could write a YA novel, wouldn’t that be a wonderful experience to share with all my kids? I’m happy to say they have been my strongest supporters.
Tyler: Since “Surviving Curtis Hall” is a young adult novel, have any of your children read it, and what do they think about Mom being an author?
Linda: My oldest, now 17, has read it several times. My two younger kids, 10 & 12, are still working up to some of the vocabulary. They all think it’s cool that Mom has a book in print and they encourage me to keep pursuing my dreams.
Tyler: Linda, when I introduced you, I mentioned that you claim writing helped you maintain your sanity. What do you think it is about writing that you enjoy or that helps you to cope with the world?
Linda: Tyler, we all deal with stress in different ways. Most of the time control is an illusion that we create for ourselves, it can be comforting on many different levels. I know that I don’t really have control of the people around me or the world in general, but my words are one-hundred percent under my control. So are my characters, plot, poems etc. Writing is a wonderful venting mechanism, a powerful escape and a thrilling creative process that leaves me feeling accomplished, fulfilled...happy!
Tyler: Do you have plans for any future books, and if so, can you tell us about them?
Linda: That’s a great question; I’m currently working on a sequel to “Surviving Curtis Hall.” Tristen and Marcella’s relationship will have a chance to bloom, while readers will also have an opportunity to discover more about her evil brother Pietro.
In addition, I’m working on another YA novel, more of a dystopian society story, my version of what becomes of the U.S. after we discover the cure for cancer and are forced to deal with the issues of overpopulation and starvation.
Tyler: That sounds like a really interesting book, Linda. I hope you’ll come back when your next books are published to talk to us again. Thank you again for the opportunity to interview you today. Before we go, will you tell us about your website and what additional information we can find there about “Surviving Curtis Hall: The Lure of Blood”?
Linda: Thank you Tyler, this was really fun! My website www.SurvivingCurtisHall.com is a compilation of the characters and more details about them. Some of my favorite links can also be found there, and of course, my blog, which is where I like to write my book reviews.
Tyler: Thanks again, Linda, and best wishes for the success of “Surviving Curtis Hall.”