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.
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.