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By L. Dean Murphy

With fourteen previous titles, Matt Forbeck now delivers an intriguing tale of a magic “show” on the Vegas Strip, only college freshmen Jackson Wisdom and Bill Chancey try using what they learned in Magic 101 to snooker the Big Boys. This is no mousy Rat Pack!

Think Ocean’s Eleven, using magic as an instrument for the heist. What happens in Vegas is that these two young men should never stay in Vegas, which harbors a dark, magical secret all its own. The whole place is run by magic—it’s founded on magic—and Jackson and Bill won’t believe who’s in charge. Forbeck added: “The young protagonists believe they’ve figured out a way to beat the system, just to find that their edge lasts only for so long.”

William King, the author of Trollslayer, said, “Vegas Knights is a smart, slick, noir fantasy,” as though Elmore Leonard had written the Harry Potter series. Alan Cranis at Bookgasm said Forbeck’s “portrayal of the glitz and excess of Vegas is equally strong.” Vegas Knights is a cutting-edge paranormal thriller made real in the city of secrets.

Forbeck added, “Breath-taking chase scenes involve innovative use of magic to escape from gun-toting thugs and even zombies. Mojo Poker is the type practiced by real-life magicians, and that figures prominently in the novel. Many of the characters are historical. Harry Houdini, for instance, plays a large role in the book, though more about the way the heroes decide they’re going to outfox the all-powerful villains.”

Regarding writing Vegas Knights, Forbeck said, “What inspired me to write it actually started out as a background for a collectible card game I’d designed. The publisher decided to scrap the backstory I’d come up with, but they gave me back the rights to it.”

As for the mechanics of writing, Forbeck said, “Not much is rewriting, actually. I like to get through the first draft as fast as I can, but I spent many years as an editor before I started writing novels. My first drafts come out pretty clean. I always write straight through. If you stop to polish a chapter to a fine sheen, you’re wasting your time. You’ll probably come up with something later. That means you’ll have to go back and alter that text again, anyhow. Leave it until later, and respect your forward momentum.”

He continued: “My stories always change as I go along. I write a loose outline before I start any book, but I often find I’ve gone perpendicular to it at one point or another. I just re-outline the book from there and go back at it again. I can sometimes manage this several times in the course of a book.”

Before becoming a novelist, Forbeck “read just about anything I could get my hands on: fiction, nonfiction, thrillers, fantasy, horror, science fiction, literary fiction, roleplaying games, screenplays, and so on. My favorite authors growing up were Hemingway, Tolkien, William Gibson, Robert Heinlein, Fritz Leiber, and Raymond Chandler. Now, I feel John Scalzi, Tobias Buckell, Jonathan Lethem, Dan Simmons, and James Rollins are among many other excellent writers.”

As with most successful authors, Forbeck has advice for aspiring writers. “Keep at it, be persistent, and never throw away an idea. You never know when you might be able to use it. If writing hadn’t panned out for me, I’d probably be coding for computer games.”

Many writers fear reviews. Forbeck has little to fear. “My latest favorite came from a review by Eric Brown in The Guardian, where he wrote, ‘Amortals is Chandler by way of Blade Runner, with the pace of an express train.’”

Forbeck added: “My latest novel, Amortals, just hit US shelves in January, so the ink’s practically still wet on that. After Vegas Knights, I have a novella in GI Joe: Tales from the Cobra Wars, which is edited by Max Brooks and Jeff Conner. Then, I have a non-fiction book called Star Wars vs. Star Trek. For later in the year, I’m working on a trilogy of novels based upon Dust, an alternate-history WWII boardgame that pits walking tanks against each other in 1947.” Forbeck clarified that “walking tanks are armored vehicles that move on hydraulic legs rather than treads like traditional tanks, similar to the vehicles in Star Wars.”

The multi-talented author offered an interesting observation about what motivates him to write.

“Besides my fans and family, it’s the bank that holds my mortgage. Seriously, I’d probably still write if there was no money in it, but I’m happy that enough people enjoy my work so I can make a full-time living at it. Since my wife and I have five young children, including a set of quadruplets, I appreciate it more than I can say.”

Hey! Why not write between nightly bottle feedings, burping and diaper changes? No chance of sleep.

Dean Murphy
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