Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Blog Tour + Guest Post + Giveaway - The Summer the World Ended by Matthew S. Cox

Find the schedule here.

The Summer the World Ended by Matthew S. Cox
Published by: Curiosity Quills Press
Publication date: June 29th 2015
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult


As far as Riley McCullough is concerned, her best friend getting ‘dragged’ off to Puerto Vallarta for the first two weeks of summer vacation was the end of the world―at least until the bombs fell.

Life in suburban New Jersey with her mother has been comfortable, not to mention boring, to an introverted fourteen year old. As if her friend’s surprise trip wasn’t bad enough, her expectations for the ‘best summer ever’ disintegrate when she gets sent across the country to stay with a father she hasn’t seen in six years. Adjusting to a tiny, desert town where everyone stares at them like they don’t belong proves difficult, and leaves her feeling more isolated than ever. To make matters worse, her secretive father won’t tell the truth about why he left―or what he’s hiding.

Her luck takes an unexpected turn for the better when she meets a boy who shares her interest in video games and contempt for small town boredom. In him, she finds a kindred spirit who might just make the middle of nowhere tolerable.

Happiness is short lived; fleeing nuclear Armageddon, she takes shelter with her dad in an underground bunker he’d spent years preparing. After fourteen days without sun, Riley must overcome the sorrow of losing everything to save the one person she cares about most.


How to Make Your Characters Believable

Thanks for inviting me to do a guest post on how to make believable characters. I’ve been told by several people that my characterization is pretty good, and it’s one of the aspects of writing I try to focus on. Characters who are unbelievable (in the sense of ‘no real person would behave like that) or cardboard (overly archetypical) can turn the serious into the comedic or the dramatic into the satirical.

Imagine reading a story with a bad guy intended to be a mob boss, but he comes off feeling like Joe Piscopo’s character from Johnny Dangerously. (Which was hilarious, but if you’re not going for funny… you see the problem.)


The first thing I do when constructing a character is come up with their core concept. Identify who this person really is. (This can be different from who they appear to be to the reader and to other characters.) Before you can portray a character, you have to know them. Each time a character has a decision branch (how do they react to X) the answer to that question is going to initially form as a response to who they are. There may be a secondary reaction based on who they are attempting to be – but the first response will always speak to their core.

For example, a character who is, by nature, a timid soul, wouldn’t leap headlong into a dangerous situation while trying to ‘act’ brave without a sign of their true self showing. A little hesitation, a little internal worry. When you have a character that’s been a mouse for the past 75 pages develop an abnormal sense of bravado with zero sign that something’s changed or there is hesitation… feels false.

Little Things

Another thing that can help bring characters to life and help them seem ‘real’ is to add small quirks or gestures that ground them in a ‘normality’ the reader can relate to. I had someone comment to me about one such quirk from a character in the Awakened series. Althea, a 11-and-change year old girl with great powers of healing, is cooking. Her foot itches, but she doesn’t want to get her hands dirty.

Althea rubbed her foot up and down her shin, trying to scratch an itch on her sole since she had to keep her hands ‘food clean.’ She grabbed another tortilla and laid it flat. “That’s silly. I can’t eat before I eat?”

The reader’s comment that these ‘little things’ the characters do make them feel like real people made me smile. It’s a little gesture that almost anyone can relate to; and when you have a character with special powers in a fantasy world take a moment to do something so… normal, it makes them a person.


Characters can develop from or enhanced by fragments of the author’s life and experience. Often, a writer’s memory of an event can help them get into the head of a character going through a similar experience. Tap into the feelings/emotions/and memories, and run them through a filter of the character’s core nature to make it unique to them.

Gotta Feel Right

Finally, whenever a character does something or thinks something, it’s got to fit the character. Readers are adept at picking up on characters who are untrue to who they are. A 4.0 GPA college student who decides to go outside, alone, at night after hearing news of a murderer in the area because she left a replaceable piece of electronics at a coffee shop… doesn’t make sense.

Evaluate the characters decisions as if you were in their situation. Granted, the author isn’t a superhero, trained spy, assassin, hacker, or vampire – but underneath all the bells and whistles should be a personality. If you were a 19 year old girl with no particular skills at hand to hand combat, survival, or perception – would you go out, alone and unarmed, while dangerous things were roaming about over a $100 item? Probably not. Now, if the young woman was Superman’s daughter and had no reason to fear the serial killer in the area – then by all means, she goes out. That would make sense.

Happy writing!



Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.

Hobbies and Interests:

Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it.

He is also fond of cats.

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