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My First Novel
Discover the classic man loves woman, woman loves man, man loves man murder mystery.
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Find out how a single document has the power to save the world.
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Matthew Ulmer

A Question and Answer Session With Matt Ulmer

How did you come up with the idea for Murder, Revenge, Betrayal - A Comedy?

Great question. First off, I am a major film buff. I look forward to the Academy Awards every year. I see all the Best Picture nominees and try to see all the Best Foreign Film nominees. I also love books and try to read everything I can get my tiny, soon to be carpel tunneled little hands on. After years of absorbing detective movies and books, I decided to write a novel parodying film noirs and whodunits, with my own take on the genre. I was watching a film (I won't tell you which one) when I thought to myself, I thought, "Self, why do the same elements and scenarios crop up in every single story like this? Doesn't that get old?" I wasn't able to answer myself, but I was able to craft a novel that exploited that fact. I wanted to take all those old elements and make them new again. Murder, Revenge, Betrayal - A Comedy takes all of those familiar elements and then totally flips them on their head, making a truly unique version of a detective story that I know I, for one, have never seen before.

How did you come up with the idea for Angel of Life?

Ah, this is a tricky one. You see, I actually died and went to Hell. It's true. Awful place, that Hell is. But while there, I played Satan in a game of poker. He's got quite a poker face, let me tell you. That is, if you can stand to look at it. He's a helluva monstrosity. Anyway, we kept raising the stakes as we played, and eventually he had nothing left to put in the pot, so he bet my eternal soul. Luckily, four of a kind beats two-pair, and now here I am, writing about a man dying and going to Hell and coming back to life.

Actually, I woke up from a deep sleep one day and suddenly a thought crept into my head. It was this voice saying, "Hell is worse than you could ever imagine. Fortunately I escaped two weeks ago." Somehow I turned that into a novel.

What makes you qualified to write a novel making fun of the murder mystery genre?

Whoa, someone's a little bent out of shape. What makes me qualified to write it is that I went out and wrote it. What? You need more details than that? Sheesh, just ask for the world, why don't ya? Fine, while at La Salle University I minored in English to learn more about literature and to hone my writing skills. I also took as many film and criminology classes as I could, both of which factor very heavily into this novel.

A strong love and knowledge of film and good storytelling, as well as a great deal of time devoted to studying forensic science, and some guidance from the U.S. Marine son of my hometown's chief of police, has allowed me to craft a satirical, insightful, and touching portrayal of an over-the-top homicide detective. My parents are both professional writers, and I have been constantly crafting poems, short stories, essays, and now novels since I knew what the written word was.

How did you write these novels?

With my unbelievably amazing ability to write, of course. But if you mean what is my process, I don't really have one. I come up with a concept, I sit at my computer, and I start typing furiously. Sometimes an interesting idea will pop into my head and I'll jot it down on a Post-It note or anything that can be used as paper. Then when I'm near my computer I type what's on the note down at the end of my book, under a section I cleverly label "notes." When there is an appropriate place to put that note into the story, I stick it in. When the book is finished, I go back and edit it so many times I have the entire manuscript memorized.

Also interesting to note, I wrote the entirety of Murder, Revenge, Betrayal - A Comedy on a 17 inch Apple iMac and the entirety of Angel of Life on a 15 inch Apple PowerMac. Does one computer make you a better writer? I don't know, which book is better?

Why are all your answers in this FAQ so poorly written? Aren't you supposed to be a writer?

Wow, that one hurts. Yes, I'm supposed to be a writer. I've been writing since I was like five, if that's even possible. I've written poems, I've written essays, for work I write press releases and newsletters and blogs and you name it. And apparently they really like my writing over there. Plus, I've written two giant novels. But right now I'm sitting in front of my computer in my underwear and I'm answering these questions and I guess the creative juices (or at least the funny ones) aren't flowing.

I was going to go back and edit my answers, but I didn't want that. I wanted raw, on the spot reactions, and so that is what you got, in all their completely unfunny and downright annoying glory. Plus, after reading this rubbish you can flip open one of my books and see what real writing is supposed to be like. It'll make you appreciate it so much more.

What is it like being Matt Ulmer?

This is the question I get most often. First, imagine you are a man (and if you are already a man, pretend you're a very short one. If you are already very short, well then you're more than half way there). Then add stunning good looks and a well-defined physique to a witty and charming personality with a tremendous sense of humor and an unfathomably large heart, throw in a hint of modesty, stir the pot with a wonderful and supportive girlfriend and obnoxious and abusive parents (just kidding...see, there's that sense of humor) and you have me. Or, if this were you with all those traits, you'd have you. But either way, it's me. Just me as me or me as you.

If you would like to ask Matthew a question and be featured in this section, please e-mail UlmersGlueCo@ShiftedVIEW.com.

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