Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Meet the YA Writing Duo: J.R. Matheson & Lee Bice-Matheson

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes the mother-son writing team of Lee and J.R. Matheson who co-write a supernatural fiction series.

First, a bit about both:

J.R. and Lee are co-authors of Destiny’s Gate, Book Two in the Paige Maddison series, which is a literacy series and included in The Battle of the Books, 2012-2015. Destiny’s Gate holds a special place in Lee’s heart as it is her dream to write with her son, J.R., and they are the first Mom-Son supernatural fiction series writing team.

J.R. has always enjoyed writing. His first story—at the early age of 7 or 8—was a horror story about a young family being tormented by gremlins. At 11, he wrote his first full-length novel about a haunted island, but scrapped the project when a similar TV show was released (Lost). Now, over a decade later, he is overjoyed to be taking on a series project: co-authoring the Paige Maddison Series with his mom. He plans on pursuing graduate studies in pharmacology and neuroscience, with aims to improve the quality of life for people living with psychiatric illness.

Lee Bice-Matheson is the author of Wake Me Up Inside, Book One in the Paige Maddison Series, and is the recipient of the Literacy Award from the Readers' Advisory Panel of the Orillia Public Library. She has also contributed narratives to The Big Book of Canadian Hauntings. She found inspiration for the Paige Maddison Series through the encouragement of her beloved son, J. R. Matheson, and her husband and best friend, Kevin. Lee began with storytelling as a way to ward off bears along the trails her family often hiked. Lee is passionate about exploring ghosts, spirituality, family relationships, and higher awareness in her writing.

Why did you pick to write books for YA?

Lee:  I began to write for Young Adults as our home was a haven for our son and his friends. I thought if I’m going to write a series, why not for teenagers who have so much to deal with in this turbulent world we live in. Our series is an outlet and escapism for teens who deal with so much stress and pressure. And I am a teen at heart.  J.R. and I are happy to report that tweens are also reading our books and as are readers of all ages. That’s been a wonderful development for us.

What types of books do you like to read?

J.R.: I don’t necessarily have a favourite genre – I tend to freely float between horror, mystery, fantasy, and even some literary fiction – but I tend to be drawn to books with relatable, well-developed characters. I like books about friendship, loyalty, and love, but always set against the backdrop of some horrific events or dark worlds.

Lee: I like to read ghost stories, some horror, family relationships, but mainly non-fiction for me. I do not like to read fiction while writing our series.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

: When I’m not writing, I’m usually studying. I’m fascinated by neuroscience and psychiatry, and even now that I’ve graduated with my B.Sc. and have a little bit of a break before I go off to graduate school, I’m still always learning about advances in neurology and neurobiology. Occasionally, you can also catch me playing video games or watching TV series online. I probably play League of Legends too often, and I think I’m watching about 5 or 6 shows at the moment.

Lee: My husband and I hike on trails. We love to explore Georgian Bay by boat and enjoy nature. I love loons, so anytime there’s a sighting, I’m overjoyed. We like to ‘unplug’ over most long weekends to experience life and travel often.

Tell us about Destiny's Gate and how the story came to be.

Lee: Destiny’s Gate is a continuation of the first book in the series titled Wake Me Up Inside. It begins exactly where the first book ended. I’ve read ghost stories since I was a little girl, and it is natural for me to write about this genre. I am fascinated by the idea that there is life after death and what it means to human beings. I am very lucky that J.R. loves the supernatural too.

Here's a peek at Destiny's Gate:

Live from a place of love. It conquers all that is evil.

Shaken by the haunting from Conall, Paige Maddison hopes to put it behind her. When Paige’s premonitions, nightmares, and ghostly visions return, however, she realizes there is no way of getting back to the normal she once knew. Try as she might to adjust to her new life at the O’Brien Manor, dark forces begin to brew on the grounds of the haunted O’Brien estate. Paige becomes the unwilling target of the Earthbounds, anguished souls who seek revenge and retribution.

But where there is darkness, there is also light. Through an enigmatic string of events that has her questioning who she truly is, Paige soon learns that she is not only being watched over by guardians of both the spirit and mortal realms, but also being called upon by a greater power beyond her wildest comprehension. As her world is turned upside down, Paige faces a life-changing dilemma: Should she embrace her special gift and fulfill the destiny that is unfolding before her? Or will she succumb to the evil that surrounds her and deny her true identity? 

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
J.R.: I wrote a novel when I was a wee lad about a haunted island. I’ve gone back to it a few times, but it needs so much work I don’t know if I’ll ever consider publishing it. It was about a group of students who end up crash-landing on an island in the Atlantic, only to find out that there are dragons, zombies, and other horrific creatures inhabiting the island, and that the ruler of the island has drawn them there with a special plan in mind.

Lee: Not before starting this series. Previously, I wrote Wake Me Up Inside, Book One in the Paige Maddison Series. I took a writing course from the Children's Institute, and my mentor advised me upon graduation that I could begin writing a novel. I was thrilled to hear this endorsement from Cheryl Zach, author of over 40 books! http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/z/cheryl-zach/

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
J.R. & Lee: We are working on Book Three in the Paige Maddison Series, and we think it’s going to be our best yet. Sorry, we don’t want to give anything away about our next book, so we’ll leave it there.
J.R.: I’m also working on a solo novel (or rather, have been working on and off for years), and I would really like to get that out there one of these days. It’s about a girl in her mid-twenties who inherits her parents’ estate after they die in a car accident, and her subsequent realization that there’s something wrong with the house she grew up in. It’s not a ghost story, by the way! I leave that area to my mom.

What advice do you have for other authors?

J.R.: The best advice I can give is to never give up and to stay positive about your writing. You will inevitably get some criticism because not everyone is going to like your work, but that doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer! I believe there’s an audience for everyone’s work, so just never forget that, and keep writing no matter what happens.

Lee: Practice, practice, practice. And write daily! Even when you think you have nothing to write, sit at the computer, or at your notebook, and see what happens. You’ll be surprised at what can come to mind.

Anything else you want readers to know?

Thank you so much, Cheryl, for hosting us on your blog! We were delighted to be asked and  thrilled to be a part of your world. We are also grateful to all of the Independent Bookstores that host us as well as the Canadian chain, Chapters.Indigo.ca.

Where can readers find you and your books?

Destiny's Gate
Friesen Press
Amazon CA
Amazon US
Chapters Indigo CA


  1. What a great interview. I hope my son and I can write together someday.

  2. This sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the great interview. Interviews often inspire me to seek out a book I might have overlooked.

  3. Thank you kindly Gregory. I hope you get to write with your son as well. It's the best! ☺

  4. Thank you so much Alex. If you decide to read our series, we'd be honoured indeed.
    Best, Lee & J.R.

  5. Nice interview! I am in awe of how much writing it takes to make a book! Very inspiring :)

  6. Thank you Resh. It's a lot of work but a passion of ours. We love writing. Thanks for your kind words.

  7. Oh Georgian Bay! My hubby and I vacationed in Owen Sound before we had kids - it is so beautiful there. Thank you for introducing us to this Mother-Son team of writers. What a lovely way to connect. :-)

  8. Georgian Bay is the best, isn't it? We love it too. Thanks for your nice post Renee. And many thanks to Cheryl! :)

  9. Love that this series is by a mom and son writing team! Thanks for sharing at the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  10. Thank you so much PragmaticMom! I read to our son while pregnant, made up bedtime stories, browsed bookstores for hours with him, & now we write together & are being hosted for book signings by the very bookstore chain he grew up in - Chapters/Indigo. Hard to believe it even for me. #grateful Thanks again for your kind comment. Thank you Cheryl & Kid Lit Blog Hop ☺