Matt Phillips – Countdown Q&A

San Diego > Toronto Communiqué

A large part of my interest in noir crime fiction is the background story. Why these characters, why this place.

So Matt and I did a little Q&A for you regarding Countdown.

Here’s what went on in his head for this book. And can you equate that smile in his picture with the plot of Countdown?

Countdown Q&A

In Countdown, several of the characters are war veterans. Why them?
For me, crime fiction is very much about testing the bonds that join people together. Veterans tend to have a bond that rarely extends to those who haven’t been to war. Obviously, I’m speaking in a general sense—but, in this case, the war vets have a close connection and that gives them the opportunity to engage in crime together. They trust each other. They know each other. One brother will always follow the other into the void..Or so we think. In Countdown, I try to test the bonds that bind these men to each other—the result is an action-packed crime novel that delves into the human condition.

What do these vets want?
What does anybody want in a crime fiction novel? They want some money! Okay, they want a lot of money. And they’ll stop at nothing to get it. In fact, there’s plenty of double crossing in Countdown. Kind of a surprise, given the bonds these men share…But like I said, crime fiction is all about testing binds between people. The interesting thing here, though, is that my vets go after the money in an odd way. They’re after money that flows through the semi-legal marijuana trade. And it just so happens they have a unique set of skills that helps them acquire the money. In a way, Countdown is a twisted heist story…And it all goes wrong!

California where you live, is the landscape of this book. Intrinsic or extrinsic?
Intrinsic! I live in San Diego, where I set the book. I know these streets, these back alleys, these neighborhoods. I know this city like an old friend!

How long do characters live in your head before your get them into a book?
Oh, man—who knows? I feel like I’m always tossing stories around inside my head. A character can live for years before he or she makes it to the page. Sometimes, i just can’t get around to writing a particular story. Other times, I just have to whip through one project or another. Most of my characters make it onto the page though…One way or another. Especially the evil characters.

It’s a foggy Thursday at 2PM and you’re sitting at your local. What author would you like to tip a glass or share a mug with
Oh, tough question. Tons of folks come to mind…Today, I’ll say the great French crime writer Jean-Patrick Manchette. He wrote some amazing stories, had an incredible life, and I bet he had some stories to tell with his leftist political leanings. For some reason, I feel a kinship with his work (and with him). I bet we’d order drinks and shoot the breeze like old, tired friends.


Thanks Matt, it’s been good getting to know you.

~ June Lorraine is a Feedspot Top 100 Crime Novel Blog

10 responses to “Matt Phillips – Countdown Q&A”

  1. Good Q&A. Vets do have that bond that no one outside of battle can experience. As I read the Q&A, it felt somewhat like the bad guys in the Westerns I so love. Good luck with the book!

  2. Very thoughtful interview. Kudos for landing it. The veteran bond is an interesting story arc. The underpinnings of that bond, e.g., trust, vulnerability, violence that is both endured by and perpetrated by brothers in that bond is intriguing.

  3. Interesting questions–his thoughts about testing bonds, you can see how that would work in a plot! And San Diego, best weather in the U.S. Thanks, June!

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