Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Matt Archer: Legend by Kendra Highley: Review, Interview, and Excerpt


What is the hardest part of writing your books?


Finding time. With a day job, kids, a husband and two demanding cats, my minutes are fairly restricted. I’d love to have 2 hours of solid, uninterrupted writing time per day, but that doesn’t happen often. So, I just grab time when I have it!

Where do you research for your books?


All over the place. I do a lot of internet searching for Matt Archer, particularly for the Army scenes. The US military is great about posting tech information online, and I’ve found some really cool items on the Army technology site. But I’ve been known to go old school and visit the library, or take road trips to get the descriptions of a scene just right.

Do you have critique partners or beta readers?


I have both. I go through a pretty involved editing process. My group of crit partners usually tackle it in two waves, then the manuscript goes to my editor, then once I have it near final, I send it off to beta readers for feedback. I just feel that if I want the end result to be great, I need to get as much feedback as possible. If two or more people make the same comment, there’s probably an issue that needs to be reviewed. 

How do you describe your writing style?


I’m a pantser struggling to be an outliner. J  I work to get a broad-strokes idea of where the story has to go, including the big game-changer scenes, but after that, I let the characters take me where they will. A few times they’ve surprised me, and the story ended up better for it.

Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?


All the time. I almost can’t write without it. For Matt Archer, I listen to a lot of Linkin Park, Moby, AC/DC, the Transformers soundtrack and Of Monsters and Men.

What book are you reading now?

I just finished Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo, the second book in her Grisha series. I’ve also recently read Forged in Blood pt I by Lindsay Buroker and The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller. All great reads, but completely different in style and story type.


Entice us, what future projects are you considering?

I have two more books in the Matt Archer series, along with a Sekrit Project. I’m also working on some Contemporary YA stories. But…down the road, I have this really fun idea about a teen mystery series, where a guy/girl best friend duo solve twisted mysteries. I read a lot of hard boiled mysteries growing up, and I’d like to see if I can create a modern, teen version.

Young Adult Fantasy/Paranormal
Book #3 in Matt Archer Series

BOOK #1 Synopsis:

Matt Archer, an ordinary freshman living in Montana, discovers something unusual on a camping trip with his uncle. Monsters are real. And living in his backyard.
But that's not the half of it...throw in a mystical knife, a covert military unit of soldiers dedicated to eliminating walking nightmares, and a prophecy about a dark war, and Matt finds himself in a job he never imagined: monster hunter.
All this insanity will leave him wondering which is tougher--killing monsters, or asking Ella Mitchell for a date.

BOOK #3 Synopsis: (May Contain Spoilers)

When Matt Archer was fourteen, he was chosen—by a magic knife—to hunt monsters with a special  paranormal division of the Army. When he was fifteen, he was introduced to a global war that the  rest of the world knew very little about…and he was determined to keep it that way, no matter what  happened to him. Things change.

Now Matt’s sixteen and he’s lost more than he ever thought he would. He’s also learned that the knifespirits have an agenda he doesn’t totally agree with. The only problem? The spirits have the upper hand,  and they plan to control the fight—and Matt.
Now, the next eclipse cycle is starting, a prominent physicist has gone missing, and Matt’s best friend’s heart isn’t in the hunt anymore. If he loses Will—after everyone else he’s lost—Matt’s not sure how he’ll  fight alone. Oh, and there’s one more thing. The SATs are coming.  And you thought high school was hard…
Purchase Links:



“Ouch! Man, that hurts,” Will whined.

Built like an Abrams tank, six-four and weighing two hundred-thirty pounds, you wouldn’t necessarily think my best friend was a wuss. Especially since he made his high-school football career out of slamming opposing quarterbacks to the turf.

He just hated needles.
“You’re awful big to be scared of a little tat,” the tattoo artist said. He shook his head in disgust. “I’ve inked little old ladies who complained a lot less than you.”
“Well, good for them,” Will said.
“Dude, chill,” I said, trying not to laugh.
He pulled at his hair with his free hand, his face scrunched up. “Chill? I’m getting stabbed with an ink-filled needle, you butthead! You were unconscious when you got yours done. You chill!”
Then I did laugh. I held out my right hand. Just below the wrist joint was a tiny, silver pentagram. It was the symbol for the military unit we served with…and much, much more in my case. Mine had been inked by a Peruvian medicine man and had mystical properties. Will’s was a more mundane copy.
“Seriously, mister, are you trying to engrave this thing onto my arm bone?” Will howled.
I grinned at the tattoo artist. “Sorry, Jimmy, Will’s a pansy.”
Jimmy grunted, his head bent over Will’s meaty forearm as he worked. “You don’t say.” A few buzzes later and the job was done. “Look here, big guy.”
He set down the needle and raised his t-shirt, revealing a scrawny chest covered in a collage of body art from his neckline to his belly button. Will recoiled and I started laughing again.
“See? You don’t gotta be big to be a man,” Jimmy said, a hint of a smile twitching at his mouth. “Now, do you need some ibuprofen for that little boo-boo on your wrist, or can your friend walk you out?”
“I’ll be fine,” Will said, sounding humiliated.
I whacked him on the back. “Sure you will. Thanks, Jimmy.”
“Don’t mention it. Let me know if you blokes come back to Ottawa. Maybe I can stencil a few more items for you, eh?” He turned to clean his equipment, missing Will’s blanched face.
I led Will outside and we headed across the long parking lot. We’d told the team we were going to dinner, but took the bus here after a Google search described Jimmy as one of the best tattoo artists in Ottawa. As soon as Captain Parker saw Will’s wrist, we’d be in for some trouble but I doubted he’d come down hard on us. All five blade-wielders had the special pentagram tattoo, and several of the guys on our team had gone to get one, too. Will wasn’t the only one who wanted to fit in.
The mid-October night was cold and the wind had a bite to it. Nothing a couple of Montana boys weren’t used to, but I turned up the collar of my jacket anyway, glad I’d worn my hiking boots.
“Some fall break. Not in Canada eight hours and I’ve got a tat,” Will said, air puffing in little white clouds from his mouth. “Millicent’s gonna be pissed. If it wasn’t football season, I’d be looking to run away from home before she finds out.”
“You know, it sucks that I have to go back to school at all,” I said. “Mom’s being way too stubborn about that. So what if there isn’t much activity right now? I could be at the Pentagon, helping Aunt Julie research or something. School’s a waste of time.”
He snorted. “Can you blame her? You lied to her for a year before she found out what we were up to. Keeping you in school when you’re between ops is her way of punishing us and the Army for keeping her in the dark.”
“Look who’s talking.” I stopped and crossed my arms. “You ever planning to tell your parents that we travel the world, hunting monsters on school breaks? Or do you think they’ll keep buying all that crap about the gifted and talented program?”
Will looked away, jaw clenched.
“Dude, sorry. I didn’t think—”
“It’s okay.” He wouldn’t look at me. “Millicent knows now, and that’s enough for me. She seems to get why we’re out here. My parents wouldn’t.”
“True story,” I said. “Doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.”
“I know, man. It’s just…I’m not a completely necessary part of the team; we both know that. If my parents found out, Colonel Black wouldn’t fight too hard to keep me around.”
I shook my head. “They would if I threatened to quit. You’re my wingman. I can’t do this without you and the Army better keep that in mind. Besides, I’m not willing to let all that training we did at your house the last few months go to waste. We have too many badass tricks to try out in the field next time.” I started walking again. “C’mon. I’m cold, and I’m sure there’s a pizza place still open somewhere in this town.”
“Good. I’m hungry enough to eat a brontosaurus.”
“Isn’t that what Fred Flintstone eats?” I asked.
“Yeah, but he only eats a steak. I’d eat the whole thing, except its tail.”
“You draw the line at eating a giant reptile’s tail? That’s your limit?”
Will shrugged. “I do have some standards, you know.”
“Now you tell me.” I wrapped my arms across my chest; the wind had suddenly gotten colder. Jimmy’s tattoo shop was in an industrial park, deserted this late at night, and a creepy place to be out walking after dark. Thin clouds, light gray in the moonlight, raced across the sky. I started walking faster, trying to cross between the amber circles of light from the streetlamps more quickly to stay out of the dark.
I could see the bus stop in the distance when a blue flash came from my backpack, catching my eye at the same time a voice crossed my mind.
“Here?” I asked the knife-spirit.
Look. She sounded agitated, which usually meant we were about to be in big trouble.
The hair on the back of my neck prickled and I glanced back at the walkway between the metal buildings. Fog oozed from all four directions, tinged a phosphorescent green and stinking of a sewer.
“We got incoming,” I whispered, not like it wasn’t obvious. Monsters were rarely subtle.
Will already had his phone out. “…Yeah, northeast corner of town…No, no idea how many….You picking us up on GPS?...No, we didn’t go to dinner….Look, can I explain that later?”
An other-worldly screech, like ten-thousand metal nails dragging across concrete, filled the air. Will whispered, “Gotta go, Parker. Hurry up, will ya?”
“How long?” I asked.
“Parker said ten minutes.” Will glanced at his watch. “No bus for the next fifteen. Looks like we’re stuck.”
We are not stuck. We fight. Prepare.
Why did I know the knife-spirit would say that?


5 Stars

I absolutely love this series!  Matt continues to grow and mature, but still has a certain naïve quality that resonates well with me.  The monster world continues to expand and broaden under Kendra’s magical direction, as well.  There are some super cool “pincushion” monsters that I never could have dreamed up in a million years –fanciful and frightening.   I really like that Will is evolving into a force to be reckoned with, too, instead of just Matt’s friend and follower.  As a matter of fact, all the characters continue to grow and change as the story gets increasingly more complex.  The humor is still there to lighten the darker moments, and twice I got so emotionally involved that my eyes teared up during particularly moving moments. Another thing that I very much appreciate about this series is that Kendra has ended each book, so far, logically and after a satisfying story arc. While there are always new challenges for the team to face in the future, there have not been any super-frustrating cliff-hanger endings.  I am, as usual, eagerly awaiting the next adventure.
This book was given to me by the author in exchange for my honest review.
Reviewed by Laurie-J

Here are my reviews of the first two books on Goodreads

Matt Archer: Monster Hunter

Matt Archer: Blade's Edge


Kendra C. Highley

Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to two self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most important job.
Kendra believes chocolate is a basic human right, running a 10k is harder than it sounds, and that everyone should learn to drive a stick-shift. She loves monsters, vacations, baking and listening to bad electronica. 
More information about the Matt Archer universe, works in progress and the nature of the Higgs Boson* can be found at www.kendrachighley.com
(*Yeah…not really. We’ll let the scientists handle that part.)



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