Friday, September 28, 2012

Interview with Elizabeth Baxter

Well we have reached the last full week and the penultimate wrter in out month long series of author interviews.  So today, I am introducing you to Elizabeth Baxter, the author of the already published Circle Spinner and Other Tales.  Here she will tell us about her writing habits and her up and coming work.  I've been a bookworm since I was five years old. The first book I ever read was a crappy story about a boy going shopping with his mum. I picked it up from my brother's bedroom floor and suddenly those strange shapes on the page made sense. I could read! Hallelujah! I was soon working my way steadily through the school library and it wasn't long before I realised that stories about dragons, elves and great big talking lions were by far the most interesting. And that was it, my obsession with fantasy fiction was born.

I wrote and published my first book when I was seven. This was a rip-roaring adventure tale called “The Golden Pheasant,” about, well, a golden pheasant. I wrote out three copies on bits of paper pulled from my school books, bound them in covers made from old cereal boxes, and gave them out to my teachers. And that’s it. I was a writer! (Ahem.) These days I write fantasy novels and short stories, published both in the UK and US.

When I’m not writing I enjoy playing tennis (badly), playing the guitar (very badly) and watching cricket whenever I can. I’m also intent on cramming as much world travel as I can into one lifetime. Funny, but my list keeps getting longer. You can never see it all can you.

1)      Tell me a little bit about your latest book?

Summer Storm is the first instalment of my fantasy series, The Wrath of the Northmen. This is a series about a world in decline, suffering from the clash of old ideas and new. The characters struggle to reconcile opposing forces and find a way for their world to survive. Summer Storm is a novella that introduces the series. It tells the story of Falen, a feisty young woman growing up in a male dominated society. She wants to prove herself and gain recognition from her father but she quickly learns you should be careful what you wish for. 

2)      How did you come up with the title?

I wanted to reflect what the story is about and also the main character. Falen is  a feisty, know-what-she-wants kind of gal so the idea of a storm suited her perfectly.  

3)      Do you write in the same genre you like to read?
Absolutely. I read fantasy. I write fantasy. As a kid my parents despaired of my obsession with it. They thought it wasn’t healthy for me to spend my time reading about elves and dragons. But hey, here I am thirty years later and it doesn’t seem to have done me any harm. 

4)      What are your current projects?

The second book in The Wrath of the Northmen series, Everiwnter, is currently being edited. Then I need to do the re-writes of this (which I hate doing), ready for release in October. I’ve also got another book on the boil called The Last Priestess, the first book in a new trilogy due out in November. The phrase, “there aren’t enough hours in the day,” doesn’t even come close! 

5)      What are your challenges in writing?  What elements do you find difficult?

Dialogue. I really have to work at this. I tend to write just as people speak so I end up with long, rambling conversations that go nowhere. Readers don’t want  to hear all the ums and ahs and pointless small talk that happen in real conversations, they just want the important stuff. So I find myself trimming and tightening my dialogue a lot. 

6)      Are there any downsides to being a writer?

Rewrites. Grrr. I love doing the first draft. That’s when writing’s fun – getting all those words down and creating all these exciting people and places. But when it comes to the rewrites, that’s when writing feels like a proper job. 

7)      How do you come up with your characters?

I think my characters invent themselves. They tend to just show up in my head, suitcase packed and ready to go, saying, “Here I am, come write my story.”

8)      If you could choose one writer to be your mentor, who would it be?

Terry Pratchett. That man is amazing. I read one of his latest book a few weeks ago and thought, right, this guy has written so many Discworld novels, his work must be getting stale by now. How wrong I was. I enjoyed it as much as his very earliest novels. To keep his writing fresh and entertaining for so long shows unbelievable talent.                                                                                    

9)      Favourite book?

The Lord of The Rings Trilogy. What else?

10)   What are you reading now?
       Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson and Circle of Sorcerers by Brian Kitrell. Since I got a kindle I always have a traditionally published book and an indie book on the go at the same time. It’s really broadened my reading horizons.
Circle Spinner and Other Tales
Circle Spinner and Other Tales is available on Amazon

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Interview with Jeroen Steenbeeke

The 27th of September is an important day for many reasons, and not just because it happens to be Google's fourteenth birthday.  It was also the day that the Romans battered down the walls of the upper city of Jerusalem.  It was the day that William the Conqueror and his troops set sail for England.  It was also sadly the day that the legendary bassist Cliff Burton from Metallica died.  But it just also happens to be a very significant date in The Raven's Endgame and Gift of the Destroyer the books written by today's featured author, Jeroen Steenbeeke. 

Today Jeroen is sitting down with us to tell us a little bit about his latest Novel, The Raven's Endgame, and to tell us more about his process of writing.

Welcome Jeroen.  Tell me a little bit about your latest book?
The Raven's Endgame is a fantasy novel, and a direct sequel to my first book, Gift of the
Destroyer. It takes place several decades after the events of Gift of the Destroyer, and follows
a teenage girl with amnesia who wakes up in an alleyway in a foreign city. The only clues about
her origin are a strange accent, skin and hair color that are out of place, and two daggers in
concealed pockets in her sleeves. In many ways, the story explores the ramifications of the
events of Gift of the Destroyer and how they affected the various lives of those involved, and
their families.

How did you come up with the title?
The Raven is an antagonist in both Gift of the Destroyer and the Raven's Endgame, a
supernatural creature that can predict the outcome of events, and change them accordingly.
Most of his plans take decades or even centuries to come to fruition. His master plan, his
endgame, was ruined because of the actions of the protagonists in Gift of the Destroyer, and
now he is forced to act more directly.

When and why did you begin writing?
I've been writing stories in some form or another since I was 7 or 8. It started with attempts to
write comics, but later switched to writing actual stories when I was 11 or 12, mostly because
I'm not that good at drawing.

I've always had an active imagination, so I've always had plenty of stories to tell. I made my first
attempt to write a novel when I was 14, but lacking any sort of outline, or even a climax to work
towards, that effort stranded after eight chapters or so. In retrospect, this was probably for the
I continued to create worlds and stories in my head as I grew older, and used them in various
ways. A fictionalized history for a gaming clan, a background story for a volunteer MMORPG
project, and even a few scary stories to tell my younger cousins (some elements of which
were later incorporated in Gift of the Destroyer). All this time, I figured I'd want to write a book
someday, and I even made a few attempts to start, but never in earnest.

There are two things that served as catalyst to finally start writing. The first was reading
Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks, which was quite an inspiration. The second was
buying a netbook, so I could easily write during my commute by train. This was in early 2009,
which is when I started working on Gift of the Destroyer.

Do you write in the same genre you like to read?
For the most part, yes. I primarily read fantasy, which is also what I write. On the other hand,
I also read a lot of alternative history and science fiction, and I enjoy the occasional vampire
novel. I can't really imagine myself writing any of those. I'd like to explore Steampunk or Urban
Fantasy and/or paranormal stuff someday, but not before I finish my current trilogy.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I tend to write in past tense, from a third person perspective, and I switch to present tense when
writing visions or dreams. I've never felt all that comfortable writing in first person ("I"). I have a
tendency to include multiple points of view in my stories (even if only briefly), which is hard to
pull off in first person.

Do you have a writing schedule?
More or less. I usually write during my commute, so essentially I write "before and after work".
This was true for most of Gift of the Destroyer, but I did a lot of extra writing in the evening when
I was working on the Raven's Endgame.
Do you plan your work or just go with it and start with the initial idea?
I'm definitely a planner. Before I start writing I divide the story into the usual 3 acts, and then
divide each act into sequences and then chapters. Each chapter I then divide into scenes. Each
of these then gets a 1-2 sentence summary of their contents. Once I'm satisfied with these
descriptions, and I feel the story will flow nicely with these contents, I'll start writing.
This outline usually changes a bit as I write, but never that much.

How do you deal with writer's block?
It depends on the situation. If I'm working on a scene and have no idea how to write it, I usually
stare out the window for a few minutes and then it just comes to me. If not, I put away my
netbook and try again the next session. Usually this solves things. A nap also works, if the
situation allows it. Other things I find useful are doing a workout and taking a shower (usually
I can't say I've ever had any cases more serious than this, unless you count a few rather large
cuts I've had to make: 10K words of subplot in Gift of the Destroyer, and restarting from scratch
after 30K words with the Raven's Endgame. In both those cases it was simply a matter of going
back to the drawing board, and things just came naturally.

What inspires you to write? Where do you find your influences?
In music, more often than not. I blog about these things from time to time. I primarily listen to
various types of Trance music, but I've also found that a lot of movie trailer music has a similar
effect. Occasionally other styles of music have a similar effect.
Aside from that I'm often influenced by movies, usually ones that have little or nothing to do with
the fantasy genre. The Terminator was big influence to Gift of the Destroyer, and the movie
Unknown played no small part in coming up with the amnesia plot for the Raven's Endgame.

What are your current projects?
Gift of the Destroyer and the Raven's Endgame are the first and second book in a trilogy, so
now that I've finished these I'll start work on the third and final part. Aside from that, I'm slowly
compiling a collection of short stories describing bizarre dreams I've had (and I have a lot of

What are your challenges in writing? What elements do you find difficult?
I am often too sparse on details in my descriptions. Fortunately, the people who proofread my
work are more than eager to point this out. A problem I struggled with when writing Gift of the
Destroyer was bridging major events: knowing where I wanted to go, but not what happened in
between. I've found that rigorous outlining fixes this problem for me.
And then there are real-world distractions. As I've said before, I write during my commute,
and Dutch trains are crowded. While I usually look for the "quiet area", those aren't always as
quiet as advertised. Additionally, I'm often in the company of co-workers traveling in the same
direction and eager for conversation, and writing makes me rather anti-social.
Are there any downsides to being a writer?
Writing is hard work and takes a lot of time, but aside from that I haven't really found any
downsides to it. Also, the fact that I often write during my commute mitigates the amount of time
I "lose" by writing.

How do you come up with your characters?
I have yet to detect a pattern, and I usually feel they just pop up in my head at the strangest
of times. The characters Brenor and Skayd, both of which I introduced in Gift of the Destroyer,
were based on a scary story I told my cousins once over a decade ago, and have changed
considerably since then, but characters such as Lianna I didn't create until I started writing the
outline. Many of the characters for the Raven's Endgame I imagined while writing Gift of the
Destroyer, and while I was writing the Raven's Endgame I imagined a lot of characters for the
third book, and now that I'm starting the third book I've already figured out a few characters for
books I'll write after that.
Are the names of your characters important?
Most of my characters tend to have short names, most of them two or three syllables. I'm not
sure why exactly, as I usually just go with what sounds right, and the names usually just pop
up along with the characters. I feel a name should fit the character in some way, but this mostly
comes naturally.
Of course, it makes little sense to call your noble hero Garlakk the Annihilator, or your villain
Captain Butterfly.

If there was one thing you could have learnt about being a writer before you started, what would
it be?
The importance of editing. I've revised each of my books a dozen times, but even then a good
editor is invaluable.

If you could choose one writer to be your mentor, who would it be?
Brandon Sanderson. Great fantasy writer with a solid reputation with regard to giving writing
advice. And I happen to really like his books.

Favourite book?
Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks, a really good mix of post-apocalyptic fiction and

Favourite/worst book to movie?
I don't really have a favourite. The worst in my opinion is the Golden Compass. I really enjoyed
reading His Dark Materials, but that movie did no justice to Philip Pullman's work. The worst was
that they left out the ending.

What are you reading now?
At any given point I'm usually reading several novels, though my current focus is the Soldier
Son trilogy by Robin Hobb. I'm also reading A Dance of Death by David Dalglish, as well as
Redshirts by John Scalzi.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Either go the traditional route or be prepared to spend quite a bit of money on editing and
covers and such. Contrary to what you may believe, you will make a lot of mistakes, and you
won't realize all of them without outside help.

How tough was the decision to self-publish?
It came naturally over a period of time. At first I didn’t consider it at all. Then someone pointed
out Joe Konrath’s blog, and for a while I considered it as an alternative should I face rejection
from agents. Then, as I came closer to finishing my first novel, I started compiling a list of
agents and noticed there weren’t that many that accepted fantasy. And then I started to wonder
if I really wanted to be at the mercy of a bunch of people half a world away, and figured I might
as well publish it myself. I’d be at the mercy of readers regardless of the route I chose, and I
figured I could manage things myself. Many people were having success, so I figured there was
no harm in trying.

How do you perceive the world of self publishing?
Very diverse. There are thousands of people writing books and self-publishing in every genre
imaginable. My contact with other self published authors has been positive, especially on the

Thank you so much for joining us today.  If you haven't already done so, head on over to the Amazon links and pick yourself up a copy of The Raven's Endgame and Gift of the Destroyer. 

More about Jeroen Steenbeeke
Jeroen Steenbeeke (1983) is a fantasy writer from the east of the Netherlands. An avid reader
as well as a daydreamer blessed with an overactive imagination, it was only a matter of time
before he started writing.  English is his second language after learning the basics at the age of eight courtesy of Captain Kirk, Mister Spock, and the BBC.  For more information visit Jeroen Steenbeeke's blog.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Interview with T.B. Crattie

Today I am introducing you to one of my own lucky finds!  I stumbled upon a Kindleboards thread about an author who happened to mention he was finding it difficult to get reviews.  Knowing how hard that can be, I replied, saying I would be more than happy to swap books and write him a review.  Well, a couple of days later, and after one hell of a hard time with my mobi pocket creator (grrrrr.) he beat me to it.  Not only did I find a gifted copy of his book in my inbox, I also found that he had purchased a copy of The Loss of Deference!  So I set about reading To Save the Realm and I can tell you that I was in no way dissapointed.  I thoroughly enjoyed following the laid back American Brock through his journey of 1950's Britain.  But don't just think it's a romp through the history of my own rain soaked island.  It goes much deeper than that.  I only give five star reviews to anything that won't let me stop reading.  To Save the Realm got five stars.

So lets make a start by getting to know a little bit more about T. B. Crattie, and jump straight into his interview.

1)     . HI!  It's great to have you joining us today.  Tell me a little bit about your latest book?
       To Save the Realm is the story of a young World War Two veteran from the American South who is called to England in 1959 to inherit a fortune from his aunt, who has died in the West Country in strange circumstances. In London, he has several odd encounters with characters that might or might not be Russian spies or who are actual cultural or historical figures of that time.  He finds that his aunt may have been murdered, so he decides to go to Somerset to find out what happened to her. In a Great Western Railway car traveling through the Box Tunnel, someone tries to kill him. After he settles himself in the little village of Nether Penketh in the Quantocks, things just get really strange. I’m not saying anything else.

2)      How did you come up with the title?
       The title refers to a secret in the book. It is very nearly the motto of MI5, To Defend the Realm.

3)     When and why did you begin writing?
       I’ve written all of my life. I remember sitting happily, pecking at a Remington manual typewriter when I was eight. I enjoy the physical process of putting words on a page (with pen and paper at first), and I enjoy being able to investigate other places and times that interest me. I enjoy putting characters into mundane or extreme situations and seeing what they will do.

4)    Do you write in the same genre you like to read?
       I’m afraid I read mostly nonfiction. But I read and re-read the novels of John LeCarre. My book is spy fiction of sorts.

5)    Do you have a specific writing style?
       I write, I think, in a spare, non-flashy way. My writing style is a bit sly.

6)     Do you have a writing schedule?
       I write early in the mornings in as much spare time as I have.

7)     Do you plan your work or just go with it and start with the initial idea?
       I usually think a lot about the story so that I know in general what will probably happen. Then I plot out a chapter and put down a few things about the characters. And then I begin writing a fast first draft. Chapter by chapter. I revise until I’m kind of happy, and then I start a new chapter.

8)     How do you deal with writer’s block?
       I write. There was only one chapter in To Save the Realm that I had a hard time beginning.

9)     What inspires you to write? 
       Where do you find your influences? My influences come from my favourite books, from my experiences growing up in the South and traveling in Britain, from reading about the period I’m writing about.

10)  What are your current projects?
       I’m kicking around ideas about a sequel for To Save the Realm. I have a couple of other novels in mind that are totally unrelated.

11)  What are your challenges in writing?  What elements do you find difficult?
       I revise each chapter five or six times after the first hand-written draft. I find knowing when to stop revising to be difficult. Even now, I think I’ll go back into my manuscript and add and change a few things.

12)  Are there any downsides to being a writer?
       If one doesn’t expect to get rich off it, I think it’s a perfectly fine way to spend one’s time.

13)  How do you come up with your characters?
       My main character in To Save the Realm is a mix of several of the old guys (even though Brock is young) I knew growing up in the South. Some of my characters are based on people I’ve met traveling. Some are perhaps real people of the time, the late 1950s, thinly disguised.

14)  Are the names of your characters important?
       Yes. I put a lot of thought into names. Every name for a character in my book has some sort of meaning.

15)   If there was one thing you could have learnt about being a writer before you started, what would it be?
       It is absolutely necessary to just sit down and write. No matter what else is going on in one’s life.

16)   If you could choose one writer to be your mentor, who would it be?
       I love J. P. Donleavy and John LeCarre, but I couldn’t imagine them being my mentors. I’ve never wanted a mentor. I want to do it my way. Ha ha.

17)   Favourite book?
       Three-way tie: The Ginger Man or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy or Watcher in the Shadows by Geoffrey Household.

18)   Favourite/worst book to movie?
       I think the recent film of Tinker, Tailor was execrable. The work of an angry adolescent taking revenge on the grown-up world.

19)   What are you reading now? Nonfiction: Battles of the Dark Ages

20)   Do you have any advice for other writers?
       I wouldn’t presume. Other than to say, write and don’t be too hard on yourselves.

21)   How tough was it to find a publisher/agent/decision to self publish?
       I think it’s damn hard to find a publisher or agent unless one is well-connected, son or daughter of so-and-so. Since I’m not well-connected in any way whatsoever, self-publishing seemed like the thing to do. Marketing my type of book is fun, but I’m finding it difficult to connect with my audience.

22)   How do you perceive the world of self publishing?
       Chaotic anarchy, it is!

Author bio: T. B. Crattie is a geologist and a Latinist. He was born and raised mostly in West Tennessee, but has had a lifelong interest in all things British (and Irish). In his books you will find Cold War espionage, post-war British history, British rock and roll and youth subculture, British folklore, and Arthurian legend. His favorite time and place is post-war Britain. His favorite authors are J. P. Donleavy and John LeCarre.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Interview with Louis Bertrand Shalako

We are starting out last week of Bak to School, our chance to meet a new class of writer Louis Bertrand Shalako lives in Canada. He studied Radio, Television, and Journalism Arts at Lambton College. He enjoys cycling, swimming, and loves good books. He writes full time. His work appears in six languages. A writer since 1983, Louis knocked about at various jobs from the time he was 15 until he went back to school at the age of 25, which gives him a remarkable perspective into regular working folk’s lives. As for the college stint, which included a year of fine arts, virtually every course involved some form of human communication, whether it was writing for the news, advertising and marketing, local radio, or art history. According to Louis, he ‘just wanted someone to teach me how to write.’ Journalism skills serve him well considering the modern emphasis on social networking.

1)      Tell me a little bit about your latest book?

I’m just putting the final polish on ‘The Art of Murder,’ the second in my Inspector Maintenon mystery series. I liked the noir feel of Georges Simenon’s Maigret series, and one or two other French detective stories I have read over the years. This series gives me the opportunity to exercise what I call dense prose. Since the series is set in the ‘20s, it’s challenging enough that I can’t just dash it off from the top of my head. I do the research and learn about the era at the same time.

2)      How did you come up with the title?

During the research I stumbled across a source, a book entitled ‘Surrealism and the Art of Murder.’ Since the artistic influences, especially painterly ones, are pretty strong in my work, it seemed I had my title. French Impressionism and German Expressionism are greater influences than Surrealism, but it is good title.

3)      When and why did you begin writing?

At some point in my mid twenties, I must have been fooling around with writing, but once I realized that I had a really bad lower back, and that construction and other unskilled professions would be essentially closed to me, I had to put some thought into what I was going to do. Selling insurance or baking doughnuts had no appeal. There was some youthful idealism involved. Most people end up with jobs they can do well but never would have chosen out of romanticism. But I had some notion that writers don’t work too hard, and I’ve always loved my freedom. I was a young man who left school halfway through grade ten, and working with a group of other people, most of whom were either fools or perfectly content with their lot in life held no interest for someone like me.

4)      Do you write in the same genre you like to read?

I read whatever was on the bookshelf in the family home when I was growing up, and there were quite a few mysteries in there. Now I read a lot of history, as well as non-fiction on the internet. My mystery series is historical fiction, as for the sci-fi and horror, a knowledge of history, and human nature is essential.

5)      Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style is first of all concise, and secondly, quite psychological. I like to push people’s buttons, and more than anything, I like to make them laugh. I want to make them feel something.

6)      Do you have a writing schedule?

I have self-imposed deadlines but no schedule. I used to write until noon and then quit, but lately it’s mostly in the evenings before eleven o’clock. I’m getting older now and routine and those afternoon naps are extremely helpful in coping with life’s daily challenges.

7)      Do you plan your work or just go with it and start with the initial idea?

I need to know more or less where the story is going. I call it the ‘art of the gag.’ I am never more uncomfortable writing than when I don’t really know how it ends, and I’m just treading water.

8)      Are there any downsides to being a writer?

If there is a downside, it’s that no one really understands what we actually do, also, everyone thinks it’s easy to come up with a good book or story. If we’re not bestsellers, we don’t get a lot of respect. We are perceived as failures in life, which most of us are most certainly not. We are pursuing a dream which means everything to us, and nothing to someone else.

9)      How do you come up with your characters?

That’s a very good question, but the story demands certain things to work, and we simply invent characters that fit and do the job. Most characters are a pastiche of people we know and people we have met through books and film.

10)   Are the names of your characters important?

Yes and no. Some names carry connotations—like Butch for example. A cab driver, or a tough cop, might be appropriate for Butch, but maybe not a doctor.

11)   If there was one thing you could have learnt about being a writer before you started, what would it be?

Nothing. I knew everything about writing before I started. The unlearning process is essential to development as a writer. But if I thought I was going to be bad at it, why would I have ever started in the first place? We need some optimism or idealism to carry us through the tougher days.

12)   If you could choose one writer to be your mentor, who would it be?

They are all mostly dead now.

13)   How do you perceive the world of self publishing?

I see it as a wonderful opportunity to blaze a trail, and to learn a lot about the art of selling books. I owe nothing to mainstream publishing. What is disaster for them is a chance for me to do what I was meant to do. And I’m going to take it to the max, bearing in mind that I have the slenderest of resources to work with.

Follow this link to find the author page for Louis B. Shalako

You can find Louis B Shalako on Barnes and Noble and here at iTunes

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Interview with C. E. Martin

Well for the final day of week three of the 'Back to School' month we are heading north west from North Carolina on an adventure hero journey to Southern Indiana, USA.  We are joined by the action loving C. E. Martin who is on a secret mission to infiltrate the self publishing world with his 'Mythical' series wrapped up with a cool as ice pulp fiction feel. So, let me do right to all, and wrong no man, by handing you straight over to the man in question.
C. E. Martin
Tell me a little bit about your latest book?
My latest, "Mythical: Brothers of Stone" continues the story of a new generation of super soldiers defending America from the paranormal. It takes place in a world where costumed super heroes gave up crime fighting to pursue private careers. The general populace knows about magic and monsters but doesn’t feel they’re much of a threat.
The antagonists of the book are twin giants, from the Antediluvian period, who can shapeshift- they eat the hearts of victims to take their form, their memories and even their powers.
In the first book in this trilogy, only one brother was awake in the modern age, and was tracked down and ultimately believed killed. This time he’s back, having resurrected his brother, and they are taking the fight to the super soldiers- who consist of the last super soldier of the 20th century and a new generation of super soldiers he is training.
How did you come up with the title?
I thought long and hard, seeking a one word, catchy title that encompassed the theme of the trilogy (which I might expand into a series). "Mythical" seemed to work perfectly, since the world the series takes place in has magic and monsters and other mythological people, places and things.
When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing back in 1986- my dream was to do Men’s Adventure novels- the successor at that time to the 1930s Pulps. I never managed to break past the slush piles of editors and agents though. With the self publishing craze at it’s peak, I decided to brush off some of my old characters and ideas and redo them, but with more of a pulp feel.
Do you write in the same genre you like to read?
Absolutely. I love the pulps best of all- Tarzan, Doc Savage, Conan. Those were always the most fun books to read. I still re-read my Doc Savages, and carry about a hundred of them on my smart phone at all times.
Do you have a specific writing style?
It’s changed a lot over the years, but yes, I think it is distinctive. I play with sentence structure and like to shift perspectives in my third person narrative a lot. I’m trying to emulate the quick pace of the pulps.
Do you have a writing schedule?
I work full time, have house chores and two kids. But no schedule. I write when I can. Most often that means staying up on a friday night and writing until almost dawn. I write until I can’t write or my wrists start to hurt.
Do you plan your work or just go with it and start with the initial idea?
In the 1980s and 90s, when I was aspiring to be a writer, I would get a vague idea and seat of my pants it, writing long hand. I'd find myself stuck in someplaces, not knowing what to do.
Now that I’m writing again I decided to be very meticulous- I thoroughly plot out my chapters, adding in events for foreshadowing and even coming up with specific lines for specific scenes. When I do write, it's at a computer with my notes in one window, and the rough draft in another.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
I haven’t really had writer’s block lately. When I work on a project, I am excited to work on it and can write and write and write once I get started.
What inspires you to write? Where do you find your influences?
For "Mythical" I got the idea of using giants from the internet- there are a lot of websites devoted to giants and alleged finds of their skeletons. But since I was writing a pulp-like novel, I had to go completely over the top, so I had to amp up the giants. I fist considered making them vampires, but the idea of shapeshifters seemed more extravagant and pulpish.
What are your current projects?
I’m finishing up the "Mythical" trilogy with "Mythical: Blood and Stone". I should start the actual writing today. I’ve been doing research on it and outlining for a little over three weeks and am excited to get the story finally written out. In the conclusion of the trilogy, one giant remains and he’s going to set himself up as a god in Mexico, preying upon the populace’s legends of Kukulkan and triggering an almost-civil war. Our heroes then have to enter Mexico and help the government there stop the shapeshifter.
What are your challenges in writing? What elements do you find difficult?
For me the most difficult aspect of writing is location. I want detailed maps of a room, an area, etc. to describe to the reader. I don’t like making it up as I go. I do a lot of research and even draw maps and floorplans myself so I can firmly keep a grasp on the locale.
Are there any downsides to being a writer?
For those that do nothing but write, it has to be frightening, wondering if they’re going to make enough money to support themselves. I work a 40 hour a week job and have health insurance and a steady check, so that’s reassuring. Even if I paid my house and cars off, I’d still be worried about selling enough books to keep my family fed. But it sure would be great to get to do nothing but write.
As an aspiring, self-published writer, the downside is that I have to publicize my work myself and hope I can get it out there for readers to see. That is way harder than the actual writing.
Are the names of your characters important?
Some are, some are just names that sounded good and work well with the other names of characters. I literally thumb through a phone book sometimes looking for names- open it up and stab at a name and there I go. I also name some characters after people I know, so I can have a ready-made personality for them, without having to invent one.
If you could choose one writer to be your mentor, who would it be?
Will Murray. The greatest ghost writer of all time. He’s written "The Destroyer" novels and "Doc Savage" novels and is my favorite author. While I’m not normally a person swayed by celebrity, that is one person I would really like to meet. I also think Steve Alten would make a great mentor, as he struggled and struggled then hit the jackpot with "Meg". Also, he's a dad, and surely must know about the difficulties in finding time to write and be with his family.
Favourite book?
The Bible. And not just for religious reasons. It has some great stories in it. I tend to favor the Old Testament, but I like a lot of the things Jesus said as well. He has some great lines and some amazing analogies.
But if you mean my favorite novel, I have to go with "Doc Savage, Man of Bronze". It has it all, and without it a lot of other fiction might not exist today.
Favourite/worst book to movie?
I haven’t read many books that got turned into movies, and for the most part, I am always unhappy with the screen adaptions. In particular, "Jurassic Park" infuriates me because the movie kills off the super-cool Robert Muldoon character. However, the greatest let down of all time, movie adaptation-wise for me, has to be "2010: Odyssey Two". I remember rushing out to buy that book the day it came out and reading it in one weekend. I kept thinking "there’s no WAY they can fit all this in a movie." And I was right. They cut out a LOT.
I guess the one movie adaptation that makes me excited everytime I watch it is "Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins" an adaptation of "Created, the Destroyer". While they botched this so badly, it is still thrilling to see Remo on the screen after reading his hundred-plus series of books. And it is way better than the terrible Doc Savage movie attempt.
What are you reading now?
"The Land of Always Night", a Doc Savage story from March, 1935.
How tough was it to find a publisher/agent/decision to self publish?
I have tried, off and on, for over twenty years to find a publisher, on a variety of projects. I had a nonfiction contract in 2003, but the publisher had to suddenly downsize and mine was one of several books to get axed. Deciding to self-publish was a no-brainer.
How do you perceive the world of self publishing?
I think it’s the future and it’s here to stay. Consumers shouldn’t have to pick from only a few offerings some agent or publisher thinks are good. Readers should get more variety and be able to pick what they want.
Self-publishing is like a buffet- it lets readers pick what they want, with no regard to any menu of narrow choices.

More about C. E. Martin:
After dropping out of college my first semester, I had a variety of jobs before enlisting in the USAF and serving from 1990-1994 as a law enforcement specialist. I was stationed at Rhein Main AB, Germany, then McClellan AFB, CA.
After the service, I worked in a video store then as an alarm monitor for a local office building complex. Finally, in 1997, I was hired as an investigator for a local law enforcement agency, and I’ve been there ever since.
About to turn 45, I am married with two daughters (ages 7 & 13), a dog and a mortgage.
"Mythical: Heart of Stone" is available at, and Barnes & Noble.
"Mythical: Brothers in Stone" is available at, and Barnes & Noble.