One would have thought writing a book was the hardest part. But the worst was not knowing as you finished the first draft how the world will perceive your work. Magic emanated from my fingers. Love formed for the words and they danced on the screen. And yet, would anyone else like what was being created? I did as recommended by veteran authors -- edit, and edit, and edit, until you think you have the best possible you can do. And then I passed it to my first alpha reader.
And those ten days that she took to read the 210,000 word draft were the hardest. Not knowing if she would hate me forever for what I wrote or would she even like a littlest amount that it was worth pursuing further edits. And then she dropped the bomb. She loved it. Real page turner. Yes, there were some character issues. But there was a great story that grabbed her. And then another rewrite, another even more critical, but trusted alpha reader later, more positive feedback that there was a real engaging story here.
Can you give us a short synopsis of your book?
The premise of The Matriarch Matrix is there exists among us today those with genetic and behavior links to a pre-neolithic matriarchal family who had found an object which revealed to them a guiding monotheistic voice. Their saga spans a millennia tracing from the Crimea to the 12,000 year old temple of Gobekli Tepe at the border of modern day Turkey and Syria, the middle of the next world war in 2021.
In 2021, a yin-yang relationship builds between a strong determined Kurdish woman of deep faith, Zara, and her exact opposite, an atheistic alien believing naïve editor from California, Peter, whose clashes are moderated by a former Catholic priest. A series of oral traditions and family artifacts brings these three culturally and religiously diverse people together to solve the 12,000 year old mystery of an object which spawned a faith which could bring peace or destruction to their times.
The principal female characters, Nanshe in 9600 BCE, and Zara in 2021 CE, are both survivors of capture and sexual slavery by brutal patriarchal forces of their times. Nanshe’s story follows how through faith and determination she rebuilt herself and her family from her captivity, which ultimately provides Zara a vision of her way of rebuilding herself fully in the midst of impending chaos in her world.
Tragedies that befell Zara’s family, her friends, herself, led her into a life of retribution and violence. Until a moment of truth. A moment when a senseless murder cracks her. Bringing her to understand violence only begets violence. Love is the only truth. And her exact opposite from the other side of the world would be her savior to understand the importance of peace and tolerance.
What inspired you to write this book?
My desire to write a book came at an early age during primary school. A blessing in life came when I found the time to be able to write in my adult life. I originally imagined an epic built around the builders of the ancient monolithic sanctuary, Gobekli Tepe, at the cross roads of modern day Turkey and Syria, and how their words were passed down a patriarchal lineage to form a mystery to be solved by those who repeated their words today.
But the person who would become my first alpha reader challenged me to break the stereotype and write about a matriarchy. After I re-shaped the Gobekli Tepe founders around a matriarch, the character of the 2021 Kurdish female character took shape. As I research the Kurds, their centuries of oppression and genocide, and the plight of Kurdish women, I became so compelled, so empathetic, that I changed the story line to focus on Zara Khatum – a woman who suffered great tragedy, who held on to sanity through her faith, and who was pitted against everything she believed in order to fulfill the destined words and vision of the founding matriarch from Gobekli Tepe.
But the inspiration to complete this epic came from the words of a 22 year old beta reader from Germany: “I would actually like to extend my gratitude. I can't explain how touching it has been to read about a character like Zara. I think it sends a really strong message home that people seem to really forget. We can all be subject to rape. The world isn't pretty. And it doesn't matter how strong you are. But through everything, Zara is so incredibly beautiful. I think that's important. Whether she agrees or not, she's a stronger person for everything she's been through. Thank you for not writing her as some typical rape victim. Thank you for creating something so much more powerful.”
What the portrayal of Zara did for her as a person gave me the conviction to bring this story to market.
Name your top five favorite books.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho A book which has inspired millions to find that which they seek in life. Inspirational fiction at its non-denominational best.
The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle Complex, rich, layered. Weaving isolated bits of history into a plausible story that you would have never imagined. Mixed reviews but over a million copies sold since 2013.
Louisiana Longshot (Miss Fortune Mystery #1) by Jana Deleon Sometimes you just have to have fun and Jana Deleon’s Miss Fortune Mystery series is such a delight. A very capable female CIA assassin finds her match in women like her from another era. Set in a deep-south town. An absolute hoot.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier Simply beautiful. Her writing. Her prose. Her story. Deep POV at its best.
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Azlan His previous book, No God But God, is a corollary companion. His analysis helped me understand how two of the world’s greatest faiths arose from the circumstances of the times. From need to find light, peace, and unity among darkness, violence, and chaos.
Do you write every day? Once a week? What is your writing schedule?
When I’m in the draft creation mode and re-drafting mode, it is non-stop writing. A chapter a day. Day in, day out. I make a schedule to put everything but exercise, eating, sleeping aside. I have that luxury now. But then when the draft goes for review, for edit, I get back to other life issues when were put aside until the next round for which I thank my family for their understanding.
Veteran writers say you should never stop writing and keep writing your next book while you wait for feedback on the first one. Sound advice that I will do going forward. But back then, I did not know if my book would be worth the time investment to write a second one. I now know having seen the first three dozen reviews that there are many good reasons to write the second book.
What are you working on 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!”
The ideas for the sequel started last February as the sixth draft went into the second round of beta reader review and I naively thought my manuscript was close to publication ready. As I awaited their reviews, I began to sketch out the sequel. As history tells, the feedback from that second round said there were significant areas that needed to be recrafted. But having that sequel sketched out helped me in the re-crafting process and set up the bases for the sequel in this first book. I have most of the second book’s synopsis drafted and will meet with my alpha readers shortly. I hope to have a draft ready for my editor by end-of-year and ready to go to first round of beta readers by mid-winter.
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.
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 South America, and on the two coasts of the United States.
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