Tag Archives: camp arcanum

“Outlaw Hearts” by Josef Matulich


I’ve asked a number of authors I admire to answer the same question–why do criminals fascinate us so much?–and I will be posting each response here on my blog. It’s a question all writers–especially crime writers–should consider every once in a while. In my debut novel, Toxicity, I’ve dug deep into the minds of criminals. I have written about the bad guys. The ones we love but hate at the same time. If you haven’t pre-ordered a copy yet, I highly recommend you doing so for purely selfish reasons.

And now that you’ve done that, we will pass the time hearing what other writers in the industry have to say about the posed question.

Today we have Josef Matulich joining us. Josef is a writer, special effects artist and costumer who once, long ago, was shanghaied into being a Landsknecht commandant. In his copious free time, he operates a vintage and costume store with his wife Kit and son Aidan. They all live in a suburb of Columbus Ohio infested with deer, hawks, and foxes, none of which seem to be reanimated. His novel, Camp Arcanum, was recently published by the same publisher of Toxicity: Post Mortem Press.

Have at it, Josef.

josef matulich

In our hearts and souls, through miscalculations and depraved inaction, we are all criminals. Workaday life has us crossing moral codes, city, state, and federal codes, even God’s Law, and there isn’t a day we don’t come up short. Our society surrounds us with other weak fallible beings that cry out for justice when we cross their boundaries and step on toes. Because we are all good people at heart, we feel bad for it. We’re a guilt-ridden lot and we provide our own tack and saddle.

Things are not the same for the true rogues. They rob banks, eliminate competitors and forget birthdays with an insouciant sneer upon their lips. They are the heroes of their own stories and perform titanic deeds. Though life in the shadows is necessary for any kind of longevity, their deeds are whispered of in small groups and trumpeted on paparazzi TV when the outlaws are put on trial. We follow the exploits of the great criminals because they are both theater and cautionary tale. Though they may disgust us in their depravity, we cannot look away. They think big, push hard and live large.

We want to swagger as they do. We want to push until our dreams come true. We want to not care. We just don’t want anybody to think that we’re mean people.

That is why we love the great criminals: they display a joy and freedom that we everyday petty grifters envy even as we do our best to snuff them out.