Some Thoughts with ... Matthew Zorich

3 Aug 2023

The Author/s

Matthew Zorich

Matthew Zorich

Matthew Zorich is based in Ohio and has always been an avid reader, becoming obsessed after nearly losing his eyesight in his twenties. He graduated college with a degree in journalism from The University of Akron. Comics, novels, and periodicals lay all over his house while several cats, his two children, and his incredible wife put up with his book hoarding. Along with reading, he appreciates long walks with loud music and enjoys a fine bourbon while gaming with his friends. His debut fantasy novel Bastards of Liberty is available at Amazon and other bookstores. His first self-published novel, Elegantly Wasted, created when he was younger, is currently off the market.

The Interview

1.- What made you choose self-publishing?
I chose self-publishing after querying over 100 different agents and publishing houses to see if they were interested in Bastards of Liberty. Started an Excel spreadsheet called “The Pit of Despair” and kept track of my rejections. After some time, I reached out to my close friend, horror author Ty Tracey, who is already self-published with an award-winning book in his portfolio. I started asking him how hard it was, how much effort was needed, and what I could do to get going. He helped me along the way.
Along with Ty, I spoke to other authors and writers via social media and decided to write this historical fantasy book myself. I wanted to take control of my own destiny and publish it myself. It’s taken a lot of time and effort, but I own it; it’s my work, and I’m proud of it. Still have a lot to learn, and that’s ok; I’m continuing to grow. 

2.- How did the idea of Bastards of Liberty appeared?
Oh, I started playing around with Runt, Angus, Duncan, and Alysha and their stories maybe five years ago. They were scribbled in a notebook and started and stopped in Microsoft Word late at night after working the second shift. A lot of fantasy is built of European history; Game of Thrones pulls directly from the War of Roses, Ken Liu’s The Way of Kings pulls directly from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and The Witcher pulls from Eastern European history and folklore. I wanted to take the dawn of America and play with its creation. I threw Runt, Alysha, and their older brother Benjamin as the main protagonists in this trilogy that I have planned out. When you write, though, the characters take you in many directions. 
I love politics, history, and how events are shaped, and I wondered what 1775 America would look like without gunpowder. What would an economy, government, and society feel like if they dealt with multiple groups of native peoples like elves, dwarves, orcs, and goblins, and how would humans treat them? I still have a lot to get into my book(s), as Bastards of Liberty is the first in what I hope to be a growing world to develop. The Red Coats are knights; there are different religions and groups of people vying for control of Vineland, and how that shakes down after the Crimson Struggle ends. This war lasted much longer than the 7 Years’ War in history, but it’s the starting point for Bastards of Liberty. Throw in a magic system and the abuse humans reigned upon witches and others for being different. Add the establishment of an early printing press, a university system, and other ideas, and the world bursts out. I can write what I want because it’s fiction, and I don’t need to hold to any rules, but it’s nice to have a solid foundation to start building upon. 

3.- Why did you prefer to create a secondary world for your historical inspired fantasy?
In historical fiction, the constructs felt constricting when writing something of that nature. The research and need to stay close to the historical facts wasn’t something I wanted but with historical fantasy you get to start with a baseline of knowledge and morph it into something entirely its own world but the reader will have a slightly prior knowledge of the events. There are no battle mages in colonial America but what if there were? That idea alone sparked half of my book and deviates from the historical nature of 1775 The reader will recognize some characters from history, places from history but with the ideas of fantasy intertwined knights, mages, witches, prophecies, native peoples like goblins and orcs and elves as I wrote it reshaped events, geography and the way people reacts to it. 

4.- How was adapting certain historical events to your fantasy world?
I knew the ending and knew the beginning of the book immediately. The beginning was the creation of a semi-noble family who would witness and sometimes participate in these world events they have no control over. The ending is a very famous historical event that a lot of Americans learned when they were very young. The book is a buildup to that event and as I wrote other characters that were supposed to be minor become so much more and they developed into their own stories and went on their own journeys. 

5.- From the whole self-publishing process, which parts would you say are the most challenging?
The writing is easy, I mean for most, I write in fits and starts and than have to go back and fix things. The hardest part is the marketing and questioning yourself on whether the time, effort and money is worth it. 

6.- You created several characters for Bastards of Liberty, would you say there is one that it is your favorite to write?
Such a difficult question. Alot of minor characters are a joy to write including Stitch and Cordial, they have some earlier stories to tell, and Doc Young, the made mage is a force alone in my book and just eats up lines and pages, I could write him forever but my favorite who’s story really shaped itself was Alysha.
She is something special, and I loved her growth, and the spirit she has as she developed over the book. I will say as I write the follow up, it’s interesting to see where some of these characters have gone too, and done. Some are sitting on the ground under six feet of dirt and others are fighting to survive, fighting the royal government and fighting for each other in Maiden of Storms. 

7.- How has been the experience of joining the SPFBO?
I learned about the competition via a podcast Wizards, Warriors and Words a few years back
and my book is the first of a trilogy, The Conspiracy of Crows Trilogy so it’s able to be entered. I read the blog and prepped everything, so it was ready to go. I work up early and as soon as was live I entered. I saw that it closed in a day last year so this year I bet it was going to close even faster. I think I finished up my submission 3 minutes after go live.
Overall, the experience, knowledge, and feedback from my peers and people I’ve met have been positive. I can’t say enough how fortunate I’ve been to be a part of SPFBO (Mark Lawerance’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off) and gained some terrific author friends. Did it ruin my TBR list? Yes, will I continue to support my author friends moving forward? Absolutely. They know and those that follow me on social media know I boost, reply, requote, and comment on the people close to me and even people I just met. SPFBO has shown me how vital the indie fantasy community is and how much we care about and lift each other up.
I’ve also learned a lot from my peers and know I have a long way to go to where some are now. This is my first fantasy book and I hope many more will come. My peers have been in this business for a while, and some have published dozens of books. I’m interested to see who carries on as the contest continues and who wins, and I appreciate being part of what Mark Lawrence created and the effort these blogs put in to review 300 books in a short time.

8.- What can we expect from Matthew Zorich in the future?
I hope to have Maiden of Storms out in early 2024. I am also going to get a map made of Vineland which I think a lot of writers will enjoy. After Maiden of Storms, I’d like to do a short novel based on three characters from Maiden of Storms which I think will get done pretty quickly. I also would like to rewrite the literary novel I wrote when I was younger and have about 20,000 words done in a YA horror novel about a ghost haunting a family.