Sunday, November 9, 2014

Meet Author Matt Cook and Sabotage {+ Giveaway}

SABOTAGE_HiRezCoverI’m delighted today to welcome debut novelist Matt Cook to Thoughts to talk about his first non-fiction release, SABOTAGE, which has been compared to the dramatic narratives of authors Clive Cussler and Robert Ludlum.

Matt, who is currently pursuing a doctorate in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, is offering a signed copy of SABOTAGE to a lucky visitor here. Please see the end of the post for more giveaway details.

This breakout thriller delivers an action-packed tale of espionage on the high seas, featuring a hijacked cruise ship, a kidnapped Stanford professor, and a plot to bring economic disaster to the U.S.

        A cruise ship loses power in the North Atlantic. A satellite launches in the South Pacific. Professor Malcolm Clare—celebrated aviator, entrepreneur, and aerospace engineer—disappears from Stanford University and wakes up aboard an unknown jet, minutes before the aircraft plunges into the high seas.
        An extortionist code-named “Viking” has seized control of a private warfare technology, pitting a U.S. defense corporation against terrorist conspirators in a bidding war. His leverage: a threat to destroy the luxury liner and its 3,000 passengers.

        Stanford doctoral student Austin Hardy, probing the disappearance of his professor, seeks out Malcolm Clare’s daughter Victoria, an icy brunette with a secret that sweeps them to Saint Petersburg. Helped by a team of graduates on campus, they must devise Trojan horses, outfox an assassin, escape murder in Bruges, and sidestep treachery in order to unravel Viking’s scheme. Failure would ensure economic Armageddon in the United States.
        Both on U.S. soil and thousands of miles away, the story roars into action at supersonic speed. Filled with an enigmatic cast of characters, SABOTAGE is a surefire thrill ride for those who love the puzzles of technology, cryptology, and people.
Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Matt. Welcome Matt and thanks for answering my questions.

It’s a pleasure to be here, Ms. Canyon. Thank you for having me.
Mason - What do you hope readers take away from reading your latest release?

The story features a team of students whose different academic backgrounds enable them to solve a puzzle of international consequence. One of the themes in the story is the idea that outsiders to a field can view problems through a different, creative lens. These outsiders may be less informed, but their solutions are not anchored by convention.

Mason - How did you channel your research into the story for SABOTAGE?

During my sophomore year in college, I was interested in reading about the ways our infrastructure and economy are vulnerable to EMP attack. Almost every aspect of our civilization relies upon the use of electricity. I found it interesting to think about how EMP technology could be used in warfare, and what impact EMP weapons could have on politics and the international balance of power. Research on the topic helped me develop a plot for a villain in possession of a stolen EMP weapon. My villain would test the weapon on a cruise ship, holding its passengers hostage while facilitating a bidding war between the United States and terrorist conspirators. Most of the material I was reading was land-centric, giving me the opportunity to extrapolate and imagine the consequences of an EMP attack at sea.
Mason - Now that SABOTAGE has been published, what surprised you the most about this project and its outcome?
It’s always fascinating to learn how something goes from concept to reality. This was my first book working with a traditional publisher, and my first experience learning how many people are involved in the creation of the final product. I’m fortunate to be working with talented teams and people, including my entertainment attorney, literary agent, editor, publicists, and many others—and have enjoyed learning about the various stages of production, from developing a premise to seeing a book on the shelf.

Mason - Do you have any habits/rituals you follow when writing such as a certain place to write, favorite beverage to drink, quiet verses noise, etc.?

It depends on the stage of writing. I believe travel is the best education a person can get, and to me—during early thinking and brainstorming—there’s no greater muse. As for thinking through scenes, there’s something peaceful and grand about sitting at the beach, listening while the waves roll in. For putting words on a page, any quiet room will do, but the experience is enhanced by a warm ambiance. There’s nothing like sinking into a cushy sofa by a fireplace to write.
Mason - What do you enjoy reading aside from thrillers?

I enjoy a story from any genre, as long as it is consistent with the view that happiness is achievable to those who live a good life. Nonfiction of all kinds—lately, astronomy, history of science, and military history—also fascinates me.
Mason - Are you currently working on any new projects, like a sequel?

Yes, though it’s not a sequel. SABOTAGE was written with a series in mind, and the end of the book sets up that potential; I’d like to revisit Austin Hardy and the gang eventually. Nonetheless, I felt the best way I could grow as a writer was to develop an independent premise for the next book. The one in progress takes place in a different time, and has a new cast of characters. It’ll be darker, and a bit sexier.
Matt, thanks so much for joining us today and graciously answering these questions. It’s always interesting to learn how research plays a role in developing a book.

Now here’s a bit of background on Matt.

Matt Cook is a 25-year-old writer from Los Angeles. He wrote the first draft of his debut thriller novel, SABOTAGE, at nineteen while an undergraduate at Stanford University. A close-up magician trained at the Magic Castle, Matt has performed in Hollywood and across the globe. 

For his support of the military, he was honored with the President’s Call to Service Award. In 2010 Matt cofounded California Common Sense (, a nonprofit dedicated to government transparency and data-driven policy analysis. 

Matt’s hobbies include scuba, piano, and travel. He now pursues an Economics doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania as an NSF scholar. 

To entice you even more to check out this thriller, here’s the book trailer for your viewing pleasure. It was featured as “Book Trailer of the Day” on Shelf Awareness. 

This giveaway is for one signed copy of SABOTAGE. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only and will end on Monday, Nov. 17.

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few minutes, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Matt Cook’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks so much for stopping by during Matt’s visit. What do you think about economic disaster to the U.S. as a plot? Do you enjoy thrillers that feature espionage?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Matt, thanks again for visiting with us. Your new thriller definitely gives readers something to think about. Wishing you much success.

  2. Congratulations on your debut, Matt. You have a long career ahead of year.
    EMP used on a cruise ship - clever idea.
    And travel is indeed the best experience. I've been fortunate to live in dozens of places across the globe and that's really expanded my views beyond one narrow slice of living.

  3. Mason - Thanks for hosting Matt.

    Matt - Thanks for sharing your writing experience with us. I wish you all success in your career and with this novel.

  4. My favorite genres are mysteries and thrillers, so I would love to read this book!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  5. One of the many genres that I enjoy.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  6. Congratulations - and good luck Matt.

  7. Thrillers and mysteries are a favorite since they are intriguing. Congratulations. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  8. Sounds like an intriguing story! Congratulations to Matt.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.