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Five artists: Matt Cairns




Five artists who have helped shape the course of my life


C.S.Lewis (deceased), author of children’s dreams

As a kid, I couldn’t get enough of the Narnia Chronicles. I owned the entire series, reading each book more than once.

Monsters, magic, mythical creatures, with real human kids in amongst it. Real human kids! (You have no idea how many wardrobes I climbed into, and how gutted I was when the back wall was, well, a back wall.) And then there was Aslan, the talking Lion. How cool was he?

Everyone had their favorites. Mine was The Voyage of the Dawntreader. I can’t quite remember why (old age does that), but I think it was because it was darker and scarier than the others, or at least I thought so. Could be why I soon moved on to the king…


Stephen King, storytelling God


What can I say, that hasn’t already been said? In my humble, star-struck opinion, the greatest novelist of all time.

I can’t remember if I started reading his books after watching the movies, or vice versa. The former, probably, as I was still reading kids’ fantasy type stuff while movies like Firestarter and Salem’s Lot and The Shining were popping up. And what better than a cool scary movie, but a kick-ass book to go with it. Oh, hell yeah! I was hooked, reading everything he wrote, and holding my breath for the movie.

Fast forward to now, and King’s influence is paramount; not just the work itself, but his work ethic—his attitude to the craft. Any new writer, regardless of genre, should listen to what he says. I believe he knows what he’s doing.


John Hughes (deceased), teen film genius

When asked recently who my favorite director of all time was (I’m a movie buff…or geek…whatever…), I was surprised when John Hughes popped into my head.

My first choice of movie is usually something dark, with plenty of action. Hughes’s are anything but, unless the problems of teens can be considered somewhat dark – to the teens themselves at least.

The bulk of his work came out in the eighties, during my own pimply red-faced years, and so of course resonated strongly.

The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful, and my personal timeless favorite, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

There are plenty more—too many to list—all loaded with depth. Great stories, great characters, true to life issues, and usually some well placed humor.

All good stories need humor.


The Eagles, great American rock band

I grew up with music in the house. Nothing heavy—except perhaps for Carlos Santana’s guitar. Lots of pop, a bit of rock, the silky smooth coolness of Motown. Real Motown that is, the good stuff from the 50’s to the 80’s: The Platters, The Drifters, Diana Ross, Roberta Flack.

And as always, there were The Eagles.

Lyin’ Eyes, Desperado, New Kid in Town (rumored to be about Springsteen)and the iconic Hotel California.

Perfect tunes, perfect lyrics, perfect five-part harmony. Background tales of hard work and hard play, failure and success, fallouts and friendship.

I hear them in the car, I hear them in the house, I hear them when I’m walking through a mall or riding a lift.

They help me relax. They help me write. They make me want a beer and a steak.

>Don’t ask me why, ‘cos I really can’t tell you…


Sylvester Stallone, The Italian Stallion

The consummate ‘desperate artist’.

 So broke that he sold his dog for $25 and walked away crying. Later he saw a boxing match between Mohammed Ali and Chuck Wepner, inspiring him to write a film script called Rocky. He tried to sell it to a studio, with the condition that he star in it. They refused the condition, saying he ‘looked funny’ and ‘talked funny’, offering $250,000 for the script only. He turned it down. They offered $350,000. He turned them down again. Eventually they agreed, paying $35,000 and allowing him to star in it.

Rocky won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Directing, and Best Film Editing, and was inducted into the American National Film Registry as one of the greatest movies ever made. Stallone was even nominated for Best Actor. He bought back his dog for fifteen grand.

Never give up on your dreams.

Matt Cairns

Matt Cairns grew up reading action and fantasy novels. As an ex-soldier and ex-cop, he needed to write a story he wanted to read. A mix of crime and crack soldier. Bad folk vs. small town. With an element of the unreal… He grew up in such a place: a small military town called Waiouru, where he spent his childhood roaming the local woods and countryside. He soldiered there, and later policed it, often on his own. In the depths of winter Waiouru snows, at times heavily enough to isolate it from the outside world. There’s nothing better, thriller or horror, than snow soaked in blood. This is the setting for Cold Blooded… Cairns has also written a semi-autobiographical nonfiction book titled “How To Live With Anxiety, Depression, and A Little Known Condition Called Cervical Dystonia”, which he describes as a sort of “profile extension” He can be found on Facebook and Twitter.