Interview with Michael Matson, author of The Dancing Boy

  Michael Matson

Michael Matson was born in Helena, Montana, and was immediately issued a 10-gallon Stetson and a pair of snakeskin boots. After formative years spent in New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, California, Hawaii and Japan, Michael earned a journalism degree from the University of Washington in Seattle. Following a brief military stint in Oklahoma, where he first encountered red, sticky mud, heavy rain and tarantulas, he returned to Seattle and worked as an advertising agency copywriter, creative director and video producer.

In 2007 he (regretfully) left Seattle for Mexico to have time to write and has since published The Diamond Tree, a fairytale for all ages; Bareback Rider, an inspirational adventure for children; and Takeshi's Choice, a mystery novel. His short story “Gato” was selected for inclusion in Short Story America’s 2014 anthology. His second mystery novel: The Dancing Boy, was released by Dark Oak Mysteries, a division of Oak Tree Press in April 2014.

He lives with his wife María Guadalupe (Tai), in Morelia, the colonial capital city of Michoacán, where, despite all the bad publicity given the area by U.S. news media, he has never seen a narcotraficante.

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About The Book

The Dancing Boy

TitleThe Dancing Boy
Author: Michael Matson
Publisher: Dark Oak Mysteries
Publication Date: April 6, 2014
Pages: 256
ISBN: 978-1610091411
Genre: Mystery
Format: Paperback

Treat Mikkelson is not exactly a burnt-out case but he’s grown tired of his life as a criminologist, weary of memories of a marriage gone wrong and of his time in Vietnam. Trying to burn the bridges to his past, he finds and remodels a cabin on a small Pacific Northwest Island, settles down to enjoy fishing, setting his crab pot, digging for clams and documenting the lives of his island neighbors.
When an elderly woman in the nearby tourist town of La Conner is found dead however, the victim of what appears to be an accidental fall, Mikkelson is persuaded to look into her death. The discovery that it was murder leads to something even more shocking: the human trafficking of young boys brought into the US and Canada.

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Author Interview

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life! Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process. Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

A. For some time I’ve had the idea of writing a mystery that was strongly linked to an area. A book where the location is almost a character in the book. One of the interesting things about the history of the western islands between Canada and the US is the smuggling of whiskey during prohibition. In more modern times the hard-to- patrol, island-dotted inland waters have seen a variety of other smuggling operations: cigarettes, weapons, drugs and illegals…sometimes Chinese seeking entry to the US. To make the idea work, I combined it with a major problem facing society today…human trafficking. The conflict in Afghanistan provided the perfect answer of which aspect of trafficking to use. Since ancient times several middle-eastern countries have condoned the use of young boys as sex objects, frequently training them as entertainers and selling them to those willing to pay. The Taliban briefly banned the practice but when they lost power the practice in Afghanistan reemerged and is still being carried on.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

A. With the idea in place the main challenge came from research. For this I relied heavily on the Internet, which has many articles on the trafficking of boys. Including quite a few articles on recent busts of pedophile rings in the US and Canada. I needed to learn a bit about computer systems and encrypted messages and was able to find a few people who were willing to share their knowledge anonymously. The Internet is also a great resource for foreign geography and such things as gunshot wounds and ancient Greek battles. Beyond that, the critical problem (I think for all writers) is editing. Don’t rely on your publisher to find your typos. Ask friends to read the manuscript and read and re-read yourself to polish your words.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

A. The Dancing Boy was published by Dark Oak Mysteries, a crime division of Oak Tree Press. I submitted the manuscript to a number of agents first and then decided to concentrate on mystery publishers. Several responded positively and I selected Oak Tree Press. Interestingly enough, after the manuscript was accepted by a publisher I received positive responses from two agents but by then it was too late to accept their offers.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

A. The Dancing Boy is not my first published book. I had gone through the process previously with a tongue-in-cheek fairytale, The Diamond Tree published by Untreedreads.

I’ve also self-published two other books: A mystery, Takeshi’s Choice, and an inspirational tale for young people, Bareback Rider. (Both available at But to answer the question…working with both my publishers involved learning how they worked. Both were different and offered different advantages and disadvantages. The disparity was at times surprising. A new author would be wise to do research on just what services his or her publisher is willing to provide…editing, providing cover art, working closely with the author, distribution, promotion, etc….before committing to any one in particular.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

A. I’m currently working on two-and-a-half projects. One is a collection of western short stories. (Somehow I got bitten by the “cowboy” bug and felt I had to squeeze out 24,000 or so words on the Wild West). The Second is a follow-up to The Dancing Boy…set in the same northwest local and involving many of the same characters. The half project is a spoof involving a world of disappearing frogs and God’s disgust with the way humans are messing up his planet.

I expect the western collection to be available to be offered to publishers by this fall. The second mystery should be complete by year’s end and the spoof...who knows? I hope early next year.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

A. I really don’t hang out much. No games. Not much social media. Rather than hanging out online, I read. The Internet news can be entertaining at times especially when it’s being high jacked by illogical readers commenting and complaining bitterly about today’s world events.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

A. If there is a message it is on the topic of human trafficking. The exploitation of women and children is a horrendous problem and needs far better attention than it is now receiving.

Q: Thank you again for this interview! Do you have any final words?

A. Final words sounds so much like an obituary. So no. But some words, nonetheless.

Thanks for the opportunity to talk to you. I hope those following these interviews remember how important it is to continue to read and to learn. And most of all, if they can, to read to children. Teach them the importance of the written word and the joy to be discovered in books and in using their imaginations.

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