Michael L. Martin Jr. is an author of fantasy who believes magic should always be magical because it's, well, magic.
His tales combine fantastic monsters, magic and mystery with a dash of whimsy. His characters embark on dark journeys and fun adventures through wondrous worlds.
He currently lives in Baltimore, MD
Bio provided by author's site
We were very fortunate to be asked by Mr. Martin to interview him. His writing are thought provoking and intriguing. His use of taking you along in the story revealing a bit at a time, pulls you along to the very end. Please give a warm welcome to Michael!
1. What makes for a good hook in your stories? Where does your inspiration come from?
A sense of wonder. I try to invoke a sense of wonder in my stories. I'm a fan of the mystery box. I like to raise questions in the reader's mind and resist answering them until the reader is begging to know. And when they finally get an answer, it only leads to more interesting questions.
My inspiration comes from all things. Sometimes inspiration finds me on it's own. Sometimes I have to look for it. Often, it likes to play hide and seek. Which I'm not really a fan of. But inspiration comes from multiple places.
2. Are you an organized writer? Do you do things like take notes and make lists of characters? Or do you free write and work it out as you go?
I am notoriously meticulous when it comes to the details of the worlds I build. I have a story bible where I keep things like timelines, genealogy charts, and character charts. 90% of that stuff never even makes it into a story, but I enjoy building all of it. It's one of the most fulfilling parts of my writing process and I believe the extra attention given to certain details makes for a better experience for readers.
I'm also an outliner. I outline my stories before I write them. But at the same time, I'm not overly strict about it. As I write, I do try to be open enough to discover new pathways of plot, and sometimes I allow my characters to go on tangents just to see where they take me. That keeps my writing sessions fresh and surprising. My outline helps me get back on track if I stray too far off the path.
3. What is your normal writing day like? Do you write when you are inspired or do you have a schedule?
I used to write only when I was inspired, but now I keep to a schedule. Nothing real crazy. It's a schedule that's realistic for me and my writing habits. And I've found that following this schedule has made me more productive. I'm writing every day, my daily word count has increased, and I write more effectively.
My basic schedule looks like this: Turn Internet off. Write [for a specified length of time]. Read [for a specified length of time]. Take a break [for a specified length of time]. Repeat.
Like I said, nothing fancy. But before I had laid out this easy to follow schedule, my writing day went something like this: Check email. Browse Internet. Write for 15 minutes. Research. Tumble down the wormhole of time-suck that is Wikipedia. More Internet. Get board. Take the rest of the day off.
The right schedule makes all the difference.
4. Who is your favorite author and how did they inspire you to write?
Reading Beowulf in high school inspired me to write. But J.K. Rowling actually made me sit my butt down and write. But not for reasons you might think. Ignore her success for a moment. As I described my writing process previously, I'm a world builder at heart. And J.K. Rowling taught me that all these crazy ideas I had in my head could actually turn into something interesting. I learned from her that I could write the kind of stories that I truly wanted to write and not what I was "supposed" to write as decided by gatekeepers.
Burn in Hades (and the saga that it introduces) is that story for me. So much so that BiH was never even intended to be put out into the public. It started out as just a fun novel that I wanted to write for my own pleasure as I was taking a break from revising another novel that would be more "accepted" by gatekeepers. Eventually, BiH fell into the hands of readers (the true gatekeepers) who insisted that I publish it.
5. It’s easy to see that you have a passion for writing but is there any part of it you don’t like?
I used to think that I disliked the editing process until I realized that all I've ever really done is edit. For me, writing is editing. It's one in the same. Whenever I'm writing, I'm also editing. And from that perspective, I love everything about my writing process.
But now, I'm discovering the downsides of being a brand new author. It's tough to get readers to try out your stuff when they've never heard of you. So far, all of my early readers have been awesome and I'm extremely grateful for each and every one of you who have taken on my work. But there's still a huge mountain for me to climb to get more eyes on my words. I'm excited to meet the challenge though!
6. Do you make time to read and if you do what are you reading right now?
I read everyday. It's built into my daily writing schedule. At the time of this interview I'm reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman.
7. How did you get started in writing in the magical fantasy genre? Is there personal life experience in the writing?
Fantasy has always been my favorite genre of books/movies so it was natural for me to write within that genre. Even when I consider writing in other genres somehow all my stories end up as fantasy anyway. That's just the way my brain works. I love anything magical, fantastical, and whimsical.
I think all writers draw from personal life experiences when we write, both subconsciously and consciously. On occasion, I'll intentionally include personal life experiences in my stories only when it makes sense. I might have a real life conversation that fits a scene or some real life drama that I can draw from and infuse onto my beloved characters. But most of the time, I completely make stuff up. I don't have too much personal experience with living in the underworld and battling monsters.
8. Your books have been published with Amazon.com and Kindle Direct Publishing, Does this mean you see the publishing industry headed this way?
I try to stay away from making predictions. My decision to publish Burn in Hades as an eBook through Amazon was due to a variety of factors. After much critical thought I simply went with my gut. It felt like the right direction for me to go in with this particular novel at this particular time. And I feel I made the right choice in this instance.
But that doesn't mean I won't pursue traditional publishing with another book sometime in the future. At this point in time, traditional publishing appears to be declining and looks as if it may lose to a new kind of publishing, but on one knows the future. Traditional publishing may survive. It isn't dead until it's dead, dead. I don't root for its demise though. That doesn't help anyone, especially me.
The only thing of importance to me is writing the best books that I can write and placing them before the eyes of readers, using the most efficient means. If that means e-publishing, great. If that means traditional publishing, awesome.
9. Do you have any online sites where others can read more of your writings?
I have other online sites as far as social media, but I have yet to display any of my writing on them. I'm not against it or anything. I may do so in the future, if it makes sense. So far, I just haven't done so for no particular reason.
10. Do you have any more stories in the works? What kinds of stories do you plan to write next?
Burn in Hades is book #1 of the Life After Death Trilogy. I'm currently writing the two sequels. I'm also working on another novel called Monster Bakery which is also the first book of another trilogy. More information about those stories can be found on my website mlmjr.com.
11. Who would be your first choice to play Cross in your book "Burn in Hades"?
During the writing stage of Burn in Hades, I never imagined any particular face or actor who could be Cross. It wasn't until after the story was finished did I begin to consider who could potentially fit the role.
There are two actors I have in mind who have different characteristics/acting styles/appearances but are equally talented, both whom I believe could bring Cross to life amazingly: Chiwetel Ejiofor (2012) and Idris Elba (Thor)
Over the years, both actors have given me so much pleasure in wonderful films. Both of them would bring something unique to the character and either would be awesome in the role.
I'd also love for actress Viva Bianca (Spartacus) to play Diamond Tooth, the villain in Burn in Hades. I didn't envision her as I wrote the character, but I've come to appreciate her magnetic on-screen presence, and I believe she would bring a tremendous amount of insight to the character.
12. If you could meet anyone from any time who would it be and what would be your first question?
Can I pick more than one? I would love to meet Khufu (Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt's Old Kingdom). I would like to ask him why the hell did he build the Great Pyramid of Giza and how? I would also like to meet the unknown builders of Stonehenge, the makers of the Nazca Lines, and those eater island folk.
I'm not an ancient alien theorist (although I do like the show). The direction I'm going with this answer goes back to the very first question in this interview. These ancient constructions are real life mystery boxes. It's fascinating to ponder over such things and fun to try and put the puzzle together. These ancient people have invoked a sense of wonder in many of us who are begging for answers. And who knows? Maybe we'll get some answers one day. But I suspect they will only lead to even more questions.