Friday, February 1, 2013

Let's welcome author Don Martinez

Hello Don and welcome to my blog. Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am the proud son of two 20-year Navy veterans, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing, and a Master of Arts degree in English with a focus on myth and folklore, both from Buffalo State College (New York). I work as a college writing professor in Texas, where I live with my wife, daughter, and four cats.

Please tell me about your novel. Who or what was your inspiration behind it?

Infernal Eighteen is the fourth book of my contemporary fantasy series Phantom Squadron, continuing a story thread from the previous book, The Insurgent's Journal, about central heroine Alanna Sharpe's search for her father, which takes a shocking twist at the end of the previous book. As far as my inspiration for this one, it's mixed, really. I've picked up things around from the news, particularly the political scene, which serve as the background for the world Alanna and her friends live in, but at the same time I'm looking to classical literature for parts of my plotlines. In particular, what would be the ultimate place to hide someone's father, the worst possible place to search? Why, the Inferno, of course ... Dante's version of it.

What are some of your favorite genres to read and to write?

Primarily fantasy and speculative fiction is what I read and write. I've dabbled in sci-fi prior to Phantom Squadron, and some of that sci-fi work tends to make its way into my books' technology sometimes. As far as reading goes, I'm very influenced by authors who use the speculative environment to comment on modern life.

Compared to when you first started writing, have you notice any big changes in your writing style or how you write compared from then to now?

I've always tried to inject my work with heart and humor. As I've continued writing Phantom Squadron novels, I've found that heart and humor taking a decidedly darker edge to it. It's like I'm letting pessimism color my work, which sometimes can create great stories when that dismal environment is overcome and hope wins out, but it occasionally scares me. I've delved into some dark places in recent years while writing Alanna's adventures.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?

I have a shortlist of favorite authors I look for first ... Harry Turtledove, Terry Goodkind, and Alan Moore are at the top of the list ... but then I look at the description on the back cover or inside flap, and if there's an intriguing concept behind the book's writing, I decide to pick it up. Strong storytelling and good writing will keep me, too.

What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?

By far, the least favorite part has been attempting to promote my work. Because I keep a day job, and especially since my daughter's birth last year, I've had none of the time other authors have had to promote, and been left to rely on social media and websites to get word out, which leads to frustration at times. But I have to say, those times when I get reviews, and people write positive things, and credit me for my storytelling ... those are the favorite moments for me as an author.

 Did you get to quit your day job and become an author or do you still have a day job and writing is something you do for fun? If you still have a day job, what is it?

I still do my day job, but it's kind of related to my work as an author, as in my regular life I'm a writing professor at a Texas community college. I need the job to help supplement my household income, and partly to function my little publishing exercise.

 Did you have any teacher in school that encouraged you to write? Did you take their advice?

The best advice I received came from a professor I had as an undergrad, but it didn't come from class. Among my professors was an English and writing professor, Dr. Ralph Wahlstrom, who published a book a few years back titled The Tao of Writing, which posits that writing is all about flow and allows you to use writing as a form of meditation. I do find myself zoning out from time to time while writing, mainly so that I can allow the story that's been building up in my mind to flow through my fingers and out into the keyboard.

We all have our little things when it comes to reading, is there anything that bugs you when you read a novel? What is it?

Above all, it's hackneyed dialogue and unrealistic characterization. Mary Sue characters in particular ... too perfect, too admired author proxies ... make my teeth grind more than anything, but I also will complain loudly to anyone who can hear me whenever I read, for instance, a modern teenage girl speaking like an Elizabethan duchess.

What do you listen to when you write? Do you find one type of music over another that inspires you to write? Why?

I tend to listen to music that fits whatever it is I'm writing. Among the many ways I brainstorm my work is by creating "soundtracks" for the stories, if they (hopefully) ever get made into films. For my NaNo this past year, for instance, I found myself listening to Skillet, Big & Rich, Five Finger Death Punch, Halestorm, Meat Loaf, and the soundtrack to Pippin because each album had particular songs that, in my head, matched scenes I wanted to write.

Who was your current novel dedicated to? Any particular reason?

All of my novels have been dedicated to my wife up to this point, for obvious reasons ... she inspires me and I still consider her to be my muse, even after eight years of marriage. Infernal Eighteen is dedicated to both my wife and our daughter, mainly because it's a story about a daughter's love overcoming the greatest dangers imaginable to reunite with a father she loves dearly and has missed for years.

What 7 words would you use to describe yourself?

Imaginative, loyal, loving, quick-witted, dedicated, patriotic, and funny.

Is there anything else that you would like to share or say to those who will read this interview?

This is the first stop on my Blog Tour for the upcoming release of Infernal Eighteen. The book will be available on February 15th, in paperback and e-book formats, from Desert Coyote Productions, at many on-line retailers and at the official series website. In addition, four of my characters blog from their hiding place on Tumblr at the Hidden-In-Plain-Sight Ranch, and will be participating at several stops on the Tour. The other three books in the series ... The Advance Guard, Dinetah Dragon, and The Insurgent's Journal ... are currently available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and at the DCP and Phantom Squadron sites.

Oh, one last thing ... thank you, Pam, for letting me have this time with your readers and being on the Tour. 

Infernal Eighteen Phantom Squadron by Don Martinez
Publisher: Desert Coyote Productions

Book Synopsis:

Alanna Sharpe is going to Hell …

In hiding for half a year after discovering her father Cole Sharpe has become General Tyrelius Scolar, her feared enemy, she is brought back into the fold of the insurgency against the New Empire of America by Gabe Francis … a man she distrusts because of his habit of holding back vital information.

Her friends still support her in her mission to reunite her family, but that mission takes an unexpected turn when the insurgents capture Scolar. Gabe reveals to Alanna that Scolar is indeed Cole, but is also simply a body lacking its original soul, that of her father.

In a quiet moment, alone with the comatose body, Alanna catches snippets of a message.

“Find me …”

The search for her father’s soul will cross over many planes of existence, from the world of the living to the mystical realm of Avalon, ultimately leading into the Inferno of Hell. Led through the many circles of damnation by a former family enemy-turned-guide, Alanna must now endure all of Hell’s torments and follow her father’s path if she ever wants to be reunited with him.

To have any chance of reuniting her family, Alanna must bring her father back from damnation’s grasp. 

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