Friends, today our guest is Matt Cost, sharing some thoughts about the Maine writer’s tribe and his new books:
Hello, Matt Cost here, visiting for the day. I’m a writer of histories and mysteries. I wanted to share my insight into the fantastic crime writing scene happening right here in Maine.
In 2015 I self-published a historical on Joshua Chamberlain and the Civil War. At that point, I gave up teaching to devote myself to writing and promoting my work. I went to several conferences, Writer’s Digest, Slice Literary, to name two, but never quite felt like I fit in. It was not my ‘tribe’. Nonetheless, I finished another historical, “I am Cuba; Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution”, as I looked for my niche in life.
It was at this point that I stumbled upon the outstanding Encircle Publications who agreed to publish my Cuba book that was released in March of 2020. Right from the start, I was taken in by the owners, Cynthia Bracket-Vincent, and her husband, Eddie. As the primary focus of Encircle was mysteries, I began to think about shifting back to writing in that genre, something I’d dabbled with some twenty years earlier.
It was with that end in mind that I attended my first Maine Crime Wave in 2019. Right from the start, I realized that something was different about this conference. People were just so darn friendly. It didn’t matter whether they were a reader, an unpublished author, a best-selling author, or somewhere in between. There was a sense that everybody was in this thing together.
Over the course of two days, I met and was introduced to countless wonderful authors. There was Gerry Boyle who I’ve since learned worked with my stepmother at the Waterville Morning Sentinel in Skowhegan. The wonderful Barbara Ross of cozy mystery fame. Chris Holm, author of the Michael Hendricks thriller series that I’ve enjoyed. A little-known author named Julia Spencer Fleming chatted with me for ten minutes about this and that.
This was where I first got an opportunity to meet Bruce Robert Coffin, an author I greatly admired for his John Byron series. I’d get a chance to know him, there at Crime Wave, and at two more conferences I’d attend that year. His energy and charisma are inspiring.
Throughout that first mystery conference, I was taken under the wing of Dick Cass, fellow Encircle Publications author of the jazzy Elder Darrow series. I’d just read my first book in his series and the rest would follow quickly. Dick would go on to invite me as a guest speaker to his writing class and would write a blurb for the jacket of “I am Cuba” when it came out the following year.
Later in the summer, I attended Thrillerfest in NYC. There, I overlapped several Maine authors I’d met at Crime Wave, and many more, suggesting that the embrace of the mystery writing community was larger than just Maine. Not that I was in the bar all weekend, but I met two best-selling authors in that venue after hours and had fantastic conversations, aided no doubt by spirits. There were so many more, authors trying to get their foot in the door like me, those halfway up the ladder, and those on the top, reaching their hands down to help others up.
At the bus stop, on my way out of New York City, I had a fantastic conversation with Paula Munier, and while she technically lives across the border in New Hampshire, it is close enough to give her honorary Maine status, if not quite considered a local for another three generations.
I left that conference hungry for more interaction with the mystery writing community. The next opportunity was at a brewery in South Portland where a collaboration of Maine mystery writers was doing short readings while eating pizza and drinking beer. What a great place to be introduced to the fabulous writer, Joe Souza! I was not yet familiar with Joe at the time, but bought my first thriller from him, and was blown away. Not just by the writing, but by the warmth of his personality and support as a writer.
In November, I attended Crime Bake, which really is just a conference for Maine South, and perhaps a few others from around the country who’ve won the highest awards and sold the most books, as well as others who were just as happy writing books without as yet having received the monetary nor critical rewards. At one point, I was having a nice conversation with a woman named Lori, which unfortunately kept getting interrupted by people stopping by to congratulate her on being nominated and winning various awards called the Edgar, Anthony, and Mary Higgins somebody.
While 2020 has been the year of Covid-19 and staying home, my mystery tribe has continued to expand virtually. I’ve interacted through book launches, panel discussions, and presentations over the year, building upon the connections that I’ve made and creating new relationships.
A large part of my burgeoning family is through Encircle Publications, a small publisher here in Maine who has begun to turn out award winning authors, but more importantly, a collection of good people. Through Cynthia and Eddie, I’ve become good friends with the mystery/thriller authors BJ Magnani and Sandy Lee Manning, who don’t quite live in Maine, but Massachusetts and Vermont are close enough to be included. Kevin St. Jarre from Cape Elizabeth, while not a mystery writer as of yet, is a wonderful writer and still holds the promise of being converted. There are countless others, Encircle Publication authors, who get together via Zoom once a week to share, talk, lament, and laugh.
And of course, I must thank Kate Flora, who has done so much for the writing and mystery community that we call Maine. Thank you for having me as a guest writer and thank you all for welcoming me to the tribe.
About Matt Cost
Through this journey, started so late in my life, I’ve found my tribe. My first Goff Langdon Mainely Mystery, “Mainely Power” was published in September, and the second, “Mainely Fear” just came out last week. The third, “Mainely Money”, will be published in March. I’ve also signed a contract for three new Clay Wolfe mysteries set in the fictional town of Port Essex, Maine. Not to give up on the histories entirely, I’ve a historical murder mystery, “Love in a Time of Hate; New Orleans During Reconstruction”, coming out in September.
Over the years, I’ve owned a video store, a mystery bookstore, and a gym. I’ve has also taught history and coached just about every sport imaginable. I now live in Brunswick, Maine, with my wife, Harper. There are four grown children: Brittany, Pearson, Miranda, and Ryan. A chocolate Lab and a basset hound round out the mix. I now spend my days at the computer, writing.