The Matriarch Matrix: An Interview with Author Maxime Trencavel
Title: The Matriarch Matrix
Author: Maxime Trencavel
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure
The Matriarch Matrix – A speculative fiction novel of origins, faith, passion, and the pursuit of peace.
It was always his destiny to save her. It was always her destiny to die. The fate of the world hangs on their choices…
The past foretells her future…
What does it take to change a loving child of peace into an assassin for a dangerous and powerful oligarch? Zara Khatum knows. Once a fighter for her Kurdish people, the memory of the atrocities inflicted by her captors has Zara seeking one thing: vengeance. But the voices of the ancients call to Zara. In the past, in another life, she knew the secrets of the artifact…
Twelve thousand years ago…
She is Nanshe, revered matriarch of the family she led away from the monsters of the north. In the land that would one day mark the treacherous border between Turkey and Syria, she created the temples at Gobleki Tepe and founded a dynasty, heirs to a powerful object. For millennia, Nanshe’s descendants have passed down the legend of the artifact: “The object can save. But only a man and woman together can guide the salvation of others.”
Heirs to destiny…
By fate or destiny, Zara is thrown in with Peter Gollinger, a quirky Californian from the other side of the world and the other side of everything she believes. But he, too, is heeding the voices of his ancestors. Joined by Jean-Paul, a former Jesuit priest, these three people—from wildly different religions and cultures—must find a way to work together to solve a twelve thousand-year-old mystery of the powerful object that spawned a faith. The world teeters on the precipice of war. The outcome depends on them. And one of them is living a lie.
The Matriarch Matrix is a rich and deeply layered epic story – a spiritual odyssey with a heartbeat of an action adventure. It may make you think, ponder, reflect upon where we came from and where we are going. It blends our past with a speculative future of things that are not so far-fetched. It blends the drama, the comedy, the romance, the tragedy of three protagonists with different cultures, traditions, and beliefs – a Sufi woman, a Jesuit priest, and an alien origin believing atheist. Their journeys separately and together will be a test of their respective faiths and their inner search for personal and family redemption.
An Interview with
Science Fiction / Metaphysical & Visionary
Maxime has been scribbling stories since grade school from adventure epics to morality plays. Blessed with living in multicultural pluralistic settings and having earned degrees in science and marketing, Maxime has worked in business and sports, traveling to countries across five continents and learning about cultures, traditions, and the importance of tolerance and understanding. Maxime's debut novel was written and edited in different locations in Belgium, including the Turkish and Kurdish neighborhoods of Brussels, in Peru, and on the two coasts of the United States
Welcome to Jena’s Bookworms
Tell us about your writing career. How long have you been writing?
I am a debut author or as one of the reviewers said “storyteller not novelist”, which I take as a
complement. It feels like I’ve been writing forever after completing The Matriarch Matrix. I started
seriously considering attempting a novel in spring of 2016 when the good fortune of a more open
schedule came my way. My writing proclivity started in primary school when I attempted to write an
epic emulating the Hornblower series. I never finished, but the teacher was generous with my grade. I
continued to write stories and plays through secondary school. Then that fateful moment comes when
your parents ask “what do you want to be when you grow up.” Philosopher, historian, or writer as an
answer does not play well in those conversations. So STEM I went until I completed a very successful STEM based career. And now, I am blessed with opportunity to be that philosopher, historian, and writer that I had once aspired to be.
How did you choose your genre?
What genre is this book? That is a question I am watching for insights in reader reviews. At a recent
writers conference hosted by a chapter of the Romance Writers of America, I heard the best articulation of different genres definitions. It was there that I realized that I had pulled what I need from different genres to create this story. One lunch I sat with a well-published author and shared with her this story. And she affirmed that is what a debut author should do. Write the best story they can regardless of genre definitions.
Kindle lists the book as Religious Mystery and Metaphysical Fiction. Why? Originally it was listed as Science Fiction/Action-Adventure and Metaphysical Fiction. As I saw the first thirty reviews, I saw the words “suspense” and “mystery” come up often. So I asked Amazon for a change. Why Religious and Metaphysical? The origin of faith and the religious beliefs of the characters are foundations of the conflict created in the story. It is not “Inspirational Fiction” as I have heard it defined at RWA conferences, but it is a story about characters with deeply held religious background – a Sufi Kurdish woman, a Jesuit priest, and an alien believing atheist – and their need to overcome their differences to solve the problems in the storyline. Ironically, Amazon Books also lists this book as Romance/Science Fiction and Romance/Action-Adventure. Did what I learned from RWA shine through?
Tell us a little about the books you’ve published. Series, or stand-alone?
If you had asked me after the second of three rounds of beta-readers, I would have said a stand-alone.
As I attended writers conference after writers conference over the past year, many told me to break up
my manuscript into two books. Yes, it is long. Like a Dan Brown Robert Langdon series book or Mary Doria Russell’s Sparrow. I did an extensive re-write trying to make Part 1 stand on its own, but thought it would have been a weak stand-alone book without Part 2 which the third round of beta readers concurred with.
But I always thought there was a follow on story for which I have most of the synopsis underway now. The premise of ancient giants, of mysterious objects, of the origin of our faiths, permeates through cultures and myths around the world. I did not wrap up The Matriarch Matrix as tightly as some reviewers would have liked, which may have left some not fully fulfilled. But I left the threads open for the second book. And maybe a third.
What inspires your work?
I want to inspire readers to re-think the world, the past, and where we are going together. I believe for
sanity sake we allow ourselves to be lulled into “safe” mental patterns which can lead us down paths
that are not healthy for humanity. We judge very quickly and dismiss ideas, people, cultural differences. We can forget that we are more alike than different deep inside. This includes what we perceive as religious differences. In the ending chapters of The Matriarch Matrix, this is the lesson that the omnipotent oligarch Alexander Murometz tries to enlighten Peter Gollinger after Zara Khatum leaves. What is tolerance if not the open mindedness to see below the surface, beyond the fear?
In The Matriarch Matrix, I lead readers down one path only to have the world turn on them. It is
uncomforting for some, as we can read in the reviews, but I do this to help the reader breakthrough, to see the world just a little differently, and perhaps have a little more compassion for fellow humans in distant lands away or perhaps down the street. For some it works. For others, it is just unsettling.
Who are your favorite authors, and what is it that draws you to them?
I’ve been simply fascinated by the rise of A.G. Riddle, an executive who took to writing. I read The
Atlantis Gene a few months after it was published in 2013. The reviews were mixed, but it was just
starting to take off. He wrote a great intertwining plot story that linked human history back to the
Neanderthals with pieces of real history with alternative rationale linking us to alien being who have
guided our past. I remember the critical reviews hitting on his editing and the unrealistic love story.
And yet it has sold millions of copies and is one of the leading science fiction romances today. Goes to show that story trumps all.
I’ve read a lot of Glenn Cooper’s books. He’s an infectious disease physician who became a biotech
executive. He studied archaeology at Harvard. His smarts and historical proclivity show in his complex plots. Something happens in history and someone in today or tomorrow’s world has to solve it. His written style is not an easy read and sometimes you need to read a section twice to get the full
meaning. Intertwined plots that come together in the second half. The Matriarch Matrix takes after his style.
In their vein, I wrote The Matriarch Matrix. I spend a lot of time studying top romance writers’
techniques in person, listening to their talks, and reading their books. As such my hope is the underlying love story is stronger than that found in these authors’ book as well as Zara’s character development being much more 3D and complex.
And then there’s Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. Almost like an Aesop’s fable on finding your place in life, your inner happiness that sits right beneath your nose. A story that has inspired millions. I can only hope to have captured a little inspiration for folks who read The Matriarch Matrix.
Are you working on a story now?
The sequel to The Matriarch Matrix. I jokingly told one of my alpha readers that I would name it The
Matriarch Mamas. And she screamed “No, you can’t do that!”
I purposely left loose ends in The Matriarch Matrix. Who really were the assassins chasing our
protagonists? Were they Alexander’s goons? Were they a rebel Kurdish group? No, no, and no. You
will be very surprised who. What happens to Zara and Peter? Will they truly be “man and woman
together” for the salvation of mankind? And there’s Sister Magali reunited with Father Jean-Paul.
The story will travel to China, the Crimea, Russia, Israel, as well as revisit Zara’s homes in current day Turkey and Iraq.
And finally, we will come to understand what the object was and how it affected Zara and Peter. The
god gene complex is only part of that story.
What do you anticipate your release date to be?
Perhaps next spring. I was stunned at how long the editorial process for The Matriarch Matrix was. I
hope I learned something from last time around. However, I will still use a couple of rounds of alpha
and beta readers which will take time for the right quality reasons. Real reader feedback helped me find the path for The Matriarch Matrix, for understanding how the story truly centered around Zara.
Any stories sitting on the back-burner?
I have the whole back story of Nanshe and Orzu’s ancestors and the origin of the object. It all links to
historical paranormal searches in Russian history. I’m unsure if this will neatly fit into the next book or do I make a small novella.
Do you have a website?
What will we find there?
The Matriarch Matrix is as well researched as a Dan Brown book – the technology, science front, history, and ancient anthropology and sociology. Much of this is discussed in blogs on this website. Readers can learn more about Göbekli Tepe, about aliens in SciFi, about banana slugs, about Kurdish feminism, and more. These topics were edited out of The Matriarch Matrix, so I put them into the website. I add a new blog post about twice a month.
Do you have an Amazon Author Page?
Where else can we find you?