Hello Space Cadets! First, I wanted to thank everyone who helped make this writing dream a reality. Seriously, it’s a blast to think so many people (like anyone NOT related to me) are reading what I write. It has been a thrill to be able to show my sons that you don’t have to let your injuries and disabilities set you back. I realize that my injuries pale in comparison to others but for kids who don’t understand that level of granularity, the point is simplified for them. So again, my humble thanks.
Another update, I recently submitted a short story to the Roswell Anthology that was and will be the foundation to the Odera Chronicles. I’ll have more information about that as the time comes but there is more in the works for me after I finish The Sleeping Legion Series.
Now, onto todays topic. I wanted to introduce you to an author from my WARRIOR WEEKEND INTERVIEW SERIES. This will be the debut post in my Warrior Weekend Series, and I’m thrilled that it’s with someone I consider a friend. Matthew is an awesome guy, and a veteran of the Naval Combat Cameraman Corps. Meh, I probably got the specific title wrong but I’m a grunt… what’d you expect?
So let’s get into M.L.S. Weech! He was born in August 1979 in Rapid City, South Dakota. He fell in love with fantasy and science fiction at an early age. His love of writing quickly followed when he tried to write a sequel to his favorite movie. He clearly didn’t know what copyright infringement was. Weech can’t remember a time when he wasn’t working on some sort of project from that day forward. He went on to write for a junior high school (mostly called middle school now) project. The only way his freshman English teacher could get him to settle down was to let him start writing a book. He completed what he calls his ‘first manuscript’ when he was 17. He got a ton of feedback that was honest, helpful, and not much fun to listen to. Instead of quitting, he simply wrote another, and then another.
Weech fell in love with reading in high school, despite some of the horrible texts that are often foisted upon our unsuspecting youth the day he was introduced to Timothy Zahn and the Star Wars novels. Clearly this wasn’t an assigned bore-fests! Then Weech was handed Anne McCaffrey, Robert Jordan, Dean Koontz, Brandon Sanderson and so many more. He went from reading to complete homework to reading more than three books a month. Everyone loves an over achiever, right?
M.L.S. Weech then joined the U.S. Navy as a journalist in 2005. He served on aircraft carriers and destroyers. He served in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan. When he wasn’t taking pictures, or writing features or news stories, he was writing fiction. Photojournalism was a hobby he enjoyed getting paid for, but writing fiction has been and remains his true dream. He’s completed six manuscripts and is already planning a seventh. He took his third project to Archway Publishing, who helped him turn his life-long dream into a reality.
Now that you’ve heard me blather on about him, all man-crushing…. Let’s get to the questions!
Without further ado, let’s get this interview cranking!
Tell me a little about your military service?
I joined the Navy back in 2005 to be a journalist. I wanted to tell stories – wanted to write every day. Once I got out in the military, I started having more and more fun. I deployed on a ship, and I served on two combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The first six years were honestly a blur for me. Everything was such a combination of work and wonderful experience. I was a part of history. I was a member of the first team of Sailors to operate as a sea operation attachment assigned to a strike group. It’s complicated, but basically when the strike group (a bunch of ships that work together) needed a team of MCs, my team went to supplement their media department. I had the honor to document the funeral of Carl Brashear. It was just so humbling to see someone who was such a great part of American history be put to rest. I saw the transition of power in Iraq and Afghanistan. My last tour in the military was as an instructor for those who do the same work I did. I loved it so much that I left the military to keep doing it. (Also, there was this book I wrote…)
How do you feel that your military service has influenced your writing?
For starters, because my job in the military was writing, it made me a better author. I learned about the craft of writing, and I improved my basic mechanical skills. But more so is the inspiration my service has had. Most of my books have some sort of military aspect. I often describe Caught as Wes Craven meets Tom Clancy. I’ve seen a lot through my career, good and bad. It created a foundational background for my writing. This inspirational part of my life is most evident in my science fiction saga Perception of War. The short story Sojourn in Despair is the first thing from that series readers will see. Seeing combat makes one truly consider its ramifications. Perception of War investigates those ramifications on an epic scale.
Do you think your military service, and more specifically your training, adds to the realism in your books? If so, how?
Absolutely! If I’m being honest, I don’t watch military movies or TV shows. They simply infuriate me. I’m also bothered by something I’ll call the impact of combat. Sure, in fiction, readers expect characters to be able to inflict and take more punishment than the “real” world, but sometimes it just gets ridiculous. Being in the military also gave me the opportunity to travel. I’ve seen so many amazing places, and I’ve used them in my writing. There’s no substitution for experience.
When did you start pursuing your writing more seriously?
I “went pro” when I was 17. That’s when I started dedicating a minimum of an hour a day, every day to writing. That was in 1997. I read Stephen King’s book “On Writing,” and it challenged me. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. After reading that book, I chose to take that dream seriously.
Of all your work, which was your favorite to write?
That’s a tough question. I’ll have to answer Images of Truth, the first full-length novel in the Perception of War saga. It’s a long way out from publishing, but I’m drafting it now, and it’s amazing. I can honestly say every book I write I enjoy writing more than those that came before it. I think The Journals of Bob Drifter is probably closest to my heart. It’s my first published book, so it means a lot to me, but I’m always excited to start my next project.
How many of your characters were inspired by your military service?
It would be far easier to name the characters that weren’t inspired by the military. Caught is covered in Close Quarters Combat. I’ve already mentioned Perception of War. The military is a major part of my life, so it’s only reasonable that it has a dominant presence in my work.
How many of the scenes you wrote were inspired from your service?
Just like with my characters, a lot of the scenes and settings are straight out of my own military experiences. The cool thing is it’s not just the awesome combat scenes. One thing people don’t talk about a lot is that we veterans are masters of “playfulness.” Sure, we fight and sacrifice, but man, I don’t think you can find a better group of people. Those scenes, scenes of brotherhood and camaraderie are equally prevalent in my work.
Do you feel like your writing has served any therapeutic value for you? Has it helped you process your experiences?
Writing is cathartic for me. Sometimes I’m not even aware I’m dealing with something until I’m writing about it. I think a professional has to eventually step out of themselves and focus on the story, but I’ll never deny that a lot of my work touches on things that matter to me. Writing has allowed me to explore issues and come to terms with situations that were frankly hard to face at times. I’d recommend writing to anyone, even if it’s just to find a positive outlet for times when life deals you a bad hand.
If you could serve with any of your characters, who would it be and why?
I’d absolutely serve with Dom from Caught. You’ll see a LOT more of him in Caught’s sequel. He’s so easy going and frankly awesome. He’s a dedicated individual too. There’s a lot of characters I’d like to hang out with or more, but Dom would be first on the “serve with” list. Honestly, I’d just want to go to the range with him. Plus, if I were a combat photographer serving with his unit, I’d pretty much be the safest journalist ever. Sal is probably a BETTER soldier, but he wouldn’t be as much fun to hang out with after the operation.
If you would want to avoid serving with any of your characters, who would it be and why?
I’d have to say that it’s only degrees of less fun to serve with. Steve would be hard to serve with. He’s so demanding of his people. There are a few other characters I wouldn’t want to serve with, but that would reveal some spoilers.
What are you currently working on?
I have a few things in the works, but my writing time is mostly divided between revising Sojourn in Despair and finishing Images of Truth. These are both from my science fiction series Perception of War. A lot of my projects are different from each other. This series gives me sort of a “home base” to work with. Perception of War is a series about a galactic war based on a blend between the War on Terror and World War II.
How can people find you?
If this convinced you to find out more, look up M.L.S. Weech. I hope you all had a great time getting to know about Matt. Don’t be afraid to say hello here or on Matt’s website. If they don’t respond quick enough, glitter bomb them! Mwahahaha!! Or, you can do something even worse… give their number to a telemarketer!!!
Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!
–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.