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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author Matthew Cesca talks about his writing career and what inspired his latest book release, The Miranda Project.

the best creativity magazine in the UK, the best book magazine in the UK, the best arts magazine in the UK, the best entertainment magazine in the UK, the best celebrity magazine in the UK, book marketing UK, book promotion UK, music marketing UK, music promotion UK, film marketing UK, film promotion UK, arts and entertainment magazine, online magazine uk, creativity magazine

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed author Matthew Cesca about his life and career, what inspires his writing, and the story of his new book, The Miranda Project.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

Hi, my name is Matthew Cesca. I’m originally from Connecticut in the U.S., though I live in the Arizona desert now. I’m the father of a teenage son whom I co-parent and is growing up far too quickly.

I’ve spent most of my life working retail and customer service jobs, but I’ve always been an avid reader. I have other authors in my family (my mother and my aunt), and my great grandmother was a librarian. So, it’s fair to say that becoming an author was always in the cards for me.

Matthew Cesca on The Table Read
Matthew Cesca

I also play guitar and bass, run a Dungeons & Dragons campaign set in the word from my fantasy trilogy, and am surrounded by an assortment of extremely adorable cats.

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When did you first WANT to write a book?

I’m not sure I ever decided I wanted to write a book; it was just something that started happening. I actually started writing in high school, but those were primarily song lyrics because I was in a band at the time. Some friends of mine and I started a video game website a few years back and I’m the guy who was writing five-thousand-word reviews of games that took less time to beat than to review. I guess it just took off from there.

When did you take a step to start writing?

I didn’t really sit down to write my first novel with the intention of writing a book. I was going through a divorce and started writing as therapy. I ended up writing the first dozen or so pages of what became my first novel, The Stairs in the Woods.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

The Forbidden Scross by Matthew Cesca on The Table Read
The Forbidden Scrolls

About a year and a half. Realistically if I’d known what I was doing I probably could have gotten it out about six months sooner than I did—that’s how long I sat on it after finishing it before I worked up the guts to hit “publish.”

How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?

Much shorter than that first one! I usually average about a year between releases. My latest book, The Miranda Project, came together much quicker than that. The story is more fast paced than my previous four books and I really flew through the last half of it once I got going.

Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write The Miranda Project?

I actually started writing The Miranda Project while the second book of my Forbidden Scrolls Trilogy was in editing. I wanted something to work on that was very different from my trilogy. As with most of my writing, I started with a protagonist and a single scene in my mind. It all grew from there.

What were your biggest challenges with writing The Miranda Project?

I could go on and on about challenges I ran into with all my other books, but the Miranda Project actually flowed pretty smoothly. The pandemic played havoc with my mental motivation and release schedule for the previous book, The Last Sorcerers. I also felt a lot of pressure because I was wrapping up a trilogy. But with The Miranda Project, things went pretty smoothly once I was able to get going on it.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

The Miranda Project by Matthew Cesca on The Table Read
The Miranda Project

Alex is a bit of a cross between Jason Bourne and Nightcrawler from the X-Men. He’s a former wet works agent who worked for a fascist government in the future that controls not just Earth, but the entire solar system. He also happens to have psionic powers which allow him to teleport to anyplace he can see. When the story begins, he’s on the run and hiding out on Mars.

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Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

Much like Alex, his former commander Callum Wright has psionic powers. In his case, he’s a telekinetic—able to more things with his mind. He works for an agency that somewhat resembles Treadstone from The Bourne Identity mixed with the Psi Corps from Babylon 5. He’s a bit of a bull in a China shop and wrecks a lot of carnage on the people under his command. He also plays into both Alex’s backstory, and the reason why he went rogue.

What is the inciting incident of The Miranda Project?

When the story begins, Alex has been hiding out on Mars for a while. He’s been keeping his head down and working on the terraforming effort. An act of sabotage sends him on the run again. But in escaping, he ends up also saving the life of his boss. However, when he makes to leave Mars, she wants to go with him because she has her own secrets that she’s running from.

What is the main conflict of The Miranda Project?

While there is certainly an antagonist in Callum Wright, the majority of the conflict in this book is internal. It’s also fair to say the two are linked. Alex’s mind has been tampered with as a part of his training and indoctrination—which Callum Wright oversaw. There’s an event in the story that caused him to break free of his conditioning, but it also created more damage to his mind. Now he constantly relives his past in the form of dreams. The more traumatic flashbacks tend to manifest as night terrors. So really Alex has to battle his own demons as much or more than he has to fight the forces that are chasing him.

Did you plot The Miranda Project in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

Oh, I’m a pantser for sure. I usually start with a character and a scene or a situation and then I explore from there. I usually know the beginning and the ending going in, and maybe I’ll have a couple of story beats I want to hit along the way. But I let the characters lead me. They absolutely have a life of their own.

The Stairs In The Woods by Matthew Cesca on The Table Read
The Stairs In The Woods

I find that sometimes if I try to railroad them into what I want them to do, they stop acting like the characters I’ve created and start reading like plot devices. If I let them get to where I want them to go naturally, it tends to flow better and make more sense. It does often mean that I don’t know what’s coming next until I type it out though.

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Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did The Miranda Project need?

Developmentally, no. I have an alpha reader and some beta readers, but editing-wise everything I have done is copy editing and proofreading. My editor, Vanessa Redmon, is fantastic and is significantly more versed in the proper use of commas than I am.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

Do it. Sit down and write it. Then write the next one after that. Even if none of your work ever sees publication, give your creativity that outlet. And then don’t listen to every piece of writing advice. Parse out what works for you because there’s no right or wrong way to express yourself creatively.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

Well, I’ve got two works currently in progress. There’s the second book in the Miranda Project, which I’m excited to get out to everyone. I also have as a new fantasy novel that I expect to be a standalone as well as rather dark. I started working on that while the first book in The Miranda Project was in editing. It’s a story of a young woman who unwittingly ends up serving the interests of a shadow demon as an assassin.

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Of course! I have five books with my name on them out in the world now. It’s hard to explain the feeling you get every time I get my hands on that first copy of a finished book. It’s exciting, it’s invigorating, and I hope that feeling never goes away as I put out more books. And it’s the same feeling when someone reads one of my stories and then reaches out.

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