Independent author Henry Martin has been kind enough to take part in an interview for this blog. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.
For those of you who have been following this blog for a bit you will be familiar with Henry Martin and his work. For those of you who are new to the blog Henry is an independent author and has recently finished publishing his last book in his Mad Days of Me Trilogy. I highly recommend this series to everyone. It is a refreshingly different trilogy that is hard to place into any particular genre. Reviews on this trilogy can be found on this blog just click on the Indie Author tag.
I will stop prattling on and let you read the interview.
Each book has a completely different feel to them. Was this your intention when you started writing or did it evolve as you went?
First, please allow me to express my gratitude to you for this opportunity to talk about my work, and for your great reviews of the entire trilogy.
As to your question, the answer will have to be a yes and a no. When I first started writing Rudy's saga, all I had in mind was a short story. That short story became the foundation of chapter one in Escaping Barcelona. About halfway through the first book I knew there would be more, and I set my mind on a trilogy. For me, there is a certain charm to trilogies, a certain closure ahead. At that point, I decided that I wanted each book to have its own distinct feel, its own emotional landscape. I have nothing against characters that retain their traits throughout an entire series, but I wanted to create something different. In Escaping Barcelona, the reader meets Rudy under duress, so the reader is offered only a limited aspect of his personality. Human beings are extremely complicated, showing different aspects of their personality under diverse conditions. I wanted to create a whole being, a multifaceted being with strengths and weaknesses. In Finding Eivissa Rudy becomes vulnerable, which is something he could not afford in Escaping Barcelona. Likewise, in Eluding Reality Rudy shows a character growth he could not experience had it not been for his encounters in both Barcelona and Eivissa. In reality, my goal was to create three separate books tied together only by their protagonist and his journey. So yes, it was my intention.
The first chapter of the series and the last one are both extremely powerful pieces of writing. Were these chapters always in your mind from the outset?
Thanks for the compliment. The first chapter was in my mind from the onset of the story. I wanted an event that would shock without offending, that would make the reader care, while, at the same time, opening possibilities as to what comes next. I mean, had the opening been weak, why would the reader care? Had Rudy just decided to stay in Barcelona, there wouldn't have been a story. As for the final chapter in the trilogy, that one evolved along the way.
You mentioned something to me in an email about having to kill Rudy so you could move on. Does this mean that Rudy had become a part of your life during the writing process? If so do you miss him?
I have to watch out what I say in my emails. :)
Let me answer the first part first. When I mentioned I had to 'kill' Rudy, it was because I could not envision a closure without doing so. Not only a closure for the reader, but for myself as well. I believe that between writing and editing, I spent about six years working on the trilogy, not counting the break I took in between the books. For me, that's a very long time. Did Rudy become a part of my life during the writing process? Absolutely. I spent more time with Rudy in my head than conversing with actual live beings. That's part of the reason behind the ending. Not that I was attached, but spending all that time writing in a specific voice started to migrate into my other writing as well. Do I miss him? No, not really, although there are times when I think of him. It was a fun ride while it lasted, but it was time to move on.
Your choice of location for the books was an interesting choice. You seemed to have a great feel for the life of these areas. Have you spent time yourself living in these places?
Unfortunately, I did not live in all the locations where the trilogy takes place. Nevertheless, many years ago while I worked in the travel industry, I was fortunate enough to see most of them, and I've got to spend some time in Europe. I wish I would have seen them all, but the lackluster truth is that most of the little towns and places mentioned in the trilogy I just found on maps and subsequently researched.
I found the romantic arc in the book very realistic in the interaction between the two. Was this a hard part of book for you to right?
There were two continuous romantic arcs in the trilogy, so I'm not sure which one you are referring to. The obvious one was between Rudy and Dominica, but there is the other, subtler romantic arc between Rudy and Michael. The one between Rudy and Dominica was fairly taxing. I mean, their relationship was rather intense, and there were times when I found myself subconsciously comparing my real romantic life to that one. The romance between Rudy and Michael was easier to write because it was so subtle. Still, it played an important role in Rudy's development.
Is there any of you in Rudy?
Is there? There must be. The problem with writing in a first-person, stream-of-consciousness narrative is that the writer must think like the character. Given enough time, a part of the character migrates into the writer and a part of the writer migrates into the character. It's a weird relationship where the real and the fictional clash, no matter how separated you try to keep the two.
As an independent author do you feel that the e-book revolution has opened up doors to aspiring authors?
Absolutely! I, myself, do not own an e-reader because I prefer the feel of a real book. However, looking at my sales e-books vastly outnumber regular books. Perhaps it is the ease of obtaining e-books, the instant delivery, or the price difference between e-books and paper books that allows readers to sample new authors without paying a premium. I'm not sure why, but it appears that many new authors benefit from the e-book market.
Can you see independent authors in the future grabbing a larger piece of the market?
I would like to, however, it depends on both the authors and the readers. What I mean is that authors must not take the reader for granted, and must do their best to provide the best content possible. At the same time, the readers should realize that they are the 'gatekeepers' with the power to weed out the bad seeds, so to speak. I do not want the readers to become the test ground for new books, but unlike in traditional publishing where books are edited and proofread by numerous professionals, the independent market does not have any set standards. There are many great authors who care about their work and produce books that are as good or better than traditionally published works. Unfortunately, there are also authors who put out sloppy work. The reader has the power to make or break an author by sharing his or her thoughts about the book that they just read. Review, share, and, most importantly, be honest. If the reader feels cheated, the author should know. Likewise, if the reader appreciates a book, the author should know as well. That's the only way the great books will remain available, and the author who may not yet be ready will take a second look.
How would you describe your experience of writing and publishing your work?
It was hectic, exhausting, tiresome...and it was all worth it. Writing is something I've done for as long as I can remember. The publishing part was all new to me. A small, independent publisher originally published Escaping Barcelona in 2007. Unfortunately, the business closed its doors only a few weeks after the release day. After some major rewrites and edits, I decided to try publishing it on my own because the traditional publishers were turning me away left and right. It did not matter to them that I was submitting new material, the most frequent response to my queries was, "Why should be publish a second edition if the first one did not sell a million copies?" OR "Why should we publish books two and three if we don't have book one?"
I used Create Space for my print books and paid someone to convert my print files to digital formats for e-books. Create Space was great to work with. It was fairly easy and their platform is very user friendly. I did all my own typesetting, formatting, and cover design, which was quite challenging. Nevertheless, I've learned many things I would not have learned otherwise, and for this, I'm grateful.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Find your own voice and don't try to be like someone else. Keep writing no matter what life throws at you, but listen to your critics. I was fortunate to have a friend who is also a writer. While rewriting Escaping Barcelona, I would send her whatever I wrote the night before, and she would look it over the next day. There wasn't a week I wasn't told that I could do better, that my grammar sucked, or that my story line needed improving. She was my harshest critic, but you know what, she was the best one as well. Had it not been for her, I would probably be still sitting on my behind sulking over the first book deal that went wrong.
Finally what can we expect from you next?
Well, there is the short story collection you haven't read yet :)
I'm currently working on a single volume novel with the tentative title 36 Days. It takes place in a detention center for illegal immigrants where the protagonist lands after he is mistaken for someone else. My writing process is somewhat complicated, so this may take me a while.
Thank you again for allowing me to talk about my work.
I would like to thank Henry for giving up his time and allowing me to pester him with numerous questions. As always I encourage everyone to get behind Indie Authors and give them the support they deserve.