Of course I had some burning questions for Matt Doyle after reading Addict. I mean who wouldn’t have a million questions with all the tech and the mystery? Plus, I may have gotten the scoop for those of you who were wondering if there were more books planned.
What drew you to writing about a private investigator?
Honestly, writing a PI was something new for me, and it wasn’t initially planned. What basically happened was, I was playing the fighting game BlazBlue Central Fiction online on my PS3 – read as ‘getting destroyed by people across the globe’ – and during a particularly brutal loss, something in the back of my head just said, “We’re writing a mystery novel next.” And who was I to argue? The thing is, I always loved the noir detectives of old; they were stubborn, and they certainly had their own moral compass, but they always seemed to be pushing towards (what they at least viewed as) the greater good. So, when it came to writing about a PI, my mind went to there. At the same time though, I tend to write with a grounding in science fiction, even when the books themselves don’t fit neatly into that genre, so it really felt like I should try to work that into the setting. When I was searching for inspiration, I basically just sat down and did a marathon re-watch of the films The Maltese Falcon, L.A. Confidential, and Blade Runner. That solidified in my head that using a PI as a protagonist for this tale was the right way to go. It’s been interesting too, as I’ve seen readers not only comparing the story to both The Maltese Falcon and Blade Runner, but also to characters like Jessica Jones, Veronica Mars, and Claudia Valentine. It’s really heartening, because people are finding similarities with all this awesome stuff that they enjoy, but without the book becoming a pastiche of these works.
What gave you the idea for the tech shifters?
Now, that I actually had a good idea about from the get-go. I’d been reading a lot of urban fantasy novels – stuff like the Mercy Thompson and Otherworld series – and wanted to work shifters in, but with a tech-infused twist. As a result, I went back to stuff I was familiar with. I build costumes in my spare time, and these have ranged from simple clothing modifications to full-blown mascot style fursuits. The world of fursuiting is really varied too, with everything from the cartoony humanoid costumes that people generally think of to quad-suits designed to simulate quadrupedal movement. So, I took that concept and had a look at the way different builders are already incorporating tech into the costumes and worked my way through how a future version might look.
Meanwhile, the reasons that Lori has for Tech Shifting came from some documentaries I’d seen on pup-play (and pet-play in general). The way I saw it, people would have many different reasons to want to use Tech Shift Gear, so understanding why we do similar things already was a must. It’s also really different to what springs to mind for most when you mention kink.
Where did you get your inspiration for all the tech for you book? You’ve got to be tech-minded.
I knew from the get-go that, while I wanted a futuristic setting, I didn’t want to go too far into the future. The world in The Cassie Tam Files is pretty dark at times, and I wanted to leave people thinking that it could be a viable reality. That included the tech. So, I started looking at the stuff that we have now and what we’re seeing growth in in terms of usage, then started brainstorming ideas as to where that stuff could end up further down the line. I am fairly tech-minded, but a lot of the time, I simply research what I’m wanting to work with and go from there. Moving forward, you can expect some other bits and pieces to pop up that utilises modified versions of existing tech too. The key for me was to try to understand some of the science behind it and make sure that everything was at least theoretically possible.
t’s a really interesting part of the BDSM scene too, because it’s not sexual for a lot of people. It’s also really different to what springs to mind for most when you mention kink.
Obviously there’s plan for more books. Are you going to explore the BDSM aspect and the tech shifters more? One of your characters, Lori, said something that was so important. It’s about trust and I wanted a little more insight.
Yeah, unless plans change, there should be at least five books in the current run. NineStar Press has signed both the second and third book already, so I’m hard at work on editing those and planning out the fourth now. As to what we’ll explore … a lot of stuff. The BDSM part is only touched upon in the second and third book, as Cassie is still a little wary about the Tech Shifter community, and it kinda spills over for her. It really is all about trust, and when you’re still unsure about something so important for your partner, that can make things a little difficult. We do get to learn a little more about why it’s difficult for Cassie though, as well as seeing her try to get her own hang-ups about it under check. There will be a resolution to this, so I’m hoping to build up towards doing a little more about that part of the world, but at the moment the focus is on Tech Shifting itself rather than the BDSM side of Lori’s application of it.
The thing with it is, there is a bigger story going on in the background. Each book is its own self-enclosed case, but all of them drop breadcrumbs for something bigger until we hit the book where Cassie starts investigating the bigger mystery. My main goal has been to touch on things as and when it seems natural to do so. I want everything to feel like it slots into place by the end, if that makes sense? So, while the kink scene is a part of New Hopeland, it won’t be the main focus.
How did you come up with Bert? I need more Bert in my life. He had sass and snark and the most he said was, “Caw.”
You know, it’s really amazed me how popular Bert has been. I love that he’s so well loved by readers, but it wasn’t what I expected to happen.
I had wanted to have a futuristic pet in the book and being a fan of gargoyles (from the actual statues to the cult Disney cartoon series), I figured that a mechanical gargoyle would be a good way to go. His general attitude and behaviour came in because I was trying to picture what sort of pet would both infuriate and endear itself to someone like Cassie. As a result, we ended up with the lovable little menace that is Bert. There will be plenty more of him going forward though. I’ve been careful not to have him turn up for the sake of it, I want to keep the same feel for him in all the books, but he’ll definitely be a mainstay.
What’s to come?
Book 2 – The Fox, the Dog, and The King: Cassie and Lori have a night out at the theatre to watch a professional Tech Shift performer named Kitsune. What should have been a fun night out soon turns into Cassie being lumbered with a missing dog case, and that in turn spirals into something far bigger that has the potential to effect not only Cassie, but the whole of New Hopeland City.