My short story The Clash at Jagged Canyon is included in the Beyond the Shadows grimdark fantasy short story anthology.
Matthew Johnson, my fellow short story author – also known by the moniker Professor Grimdark – kindly agreed to answer some of my questions about his story in the anthology, his latest writing projects and just who is Professor Grimdark.
Q. Please tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Matthew Johnson and I love stories. I grew up in a place where the cows outnumbered the people and town was five miles away, which was far for someone who only had a bike and a large hill separating him from the town line.
My parents owned nearly 70 acres of what was once an old sheep farm and it had an orchard and creek, a perfect place for a young boy to run around and create stories. I grew up reading comic books, playing the hero in my imaginative play.
Then I was introduced to Stephen King when I was fourteen, and that’s when I began to understand that the world was full of monsters.
Q. What is your favourite book and why?
When I was younger, my favourite book was The Stand by Stephen King, because being a teenager who was quiet and reserved, the world always seemed on the verge of ending.
Q. What got you into writing?
What got me into experimenting with writing was the novelization of The Death and Life of Superman. I created my own superhero, and hand wrote almost an entire notebook of the novel.
It wasn’t very good and I knew I had to get better at writing, but I had planned on a career as a veterinarian. After two years in the pre-vet program at college, I knew that wasn’t going to happen.
I switched my major to English and there launched my love affair with writing.
Q. Your story in the Beyond the Shadows grimdark anthology is called Beholden, can you tell us more about that?
When I was approached to write a story for Beyond the Shadows, edited by Stefan Nardi, I didn’t have one in mind.
I was talking to an author friend about wanting to write a story with a female protagonist and then the idea formed about a woman tasked with finding a special book in exchange for the assassination of her husband, who was also trying to kill her.
An entire dark fairy-tale developed to fill in the back story around the book.
Q. What did you most enjoy about writing Beholden?
Creating the myth of the Green Goddess for Beholden was very exciting. I minored in mythology in college, so being able to use my knowledge about myths was greatly beneficial.
Q. As well as being a writer, you are also known as Professor Grimdark, studying grimdark fantasy as part of your Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) – can you tell us more about that?
I not only write grimdark, I read it.
In fact, I have a YouTube channel called the Professor Grimdark vlog where I talk about all things grimdark and interview authors.
The adventure began when I entered my Master of Fine Arts program in Riverside-Palm Desert. I needed a topic to lecture about, so I decided to define grimdark fantasy.
Q. What, in your opinion, makes a fantasy story grimdark?
You can find my lecture online here and this vlog breaks grimdark fantasy down into seven qualifiers.
I have written dozens of papers on the topic, and I recommend you check out my lecture to find out more.
Q. If you could suggest three books to a reader who has never before read grimdark fantasy to get them started, what would they be and why?
The essential books to read for Grimdark are Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy, Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire trilogy, and Richard Morgan’s A Land Fit for Heroes trilogy.
There are plenty more out there, but that is where I would start since they exemplify the qualifiers for grimdark fantasy.
Q. What writing projects are you currently working on / excited about?
Currently I am editing my novel, finishing a short story for another anthology and have started work on a horror novel.
I’m very busy since I teach high school English all day and then write in the evenings and weekends. I also write plays and have several 10-minute plays in the works.
Ultimately, I would love to find an agent and see my novels on the bookshelves.
Q. Where can readers find out more about you?
For those who are interested in following my exploits and adventures, you can find me at www.professorgrimdark.com, on Facebook, Twitter or my YouTube channel.
Thank you, Matthew!
Beyond the Shadows is out now. The ebook is currently £0.99 \ $0.99 (as of 21st January, 2019) and available from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia and Amazon Canada.
My story in the anthology, The Clash at Jagged Canyon, is set in the same world as grimdark epic fantasy Melokai (In the Heart of the Mountains #1). The action takes place five years before the events of the novel. You can read the opening scene of The Clash at Jagged Canyon here.
>>My debut novel, a grimdark epic fantasy called MELOKAI, is out now! Available from Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play Books, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Read more about my books here.<<
Click here for your free ebook of my fantasy novella THE FALL OF VAASAR.
Click here for my Book Review Policy.
Are you on Goodreads? Let's be friends! Find me here.
Subscribe to my email mailing list to be notified about new releases, giveaways, price promotions, free books, free short stories as well as exclusive extra content.