Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Same Six Questions - S. Arthur Martin

Hi, and welcome back to “The Same Six Questions”! Today, we have author S. Arthur Martin. 


Before we begin with the tough stuff, Arthur, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure, Andy! Well, I'm from the Pacific Northwest. I've lived in this area all my life and I'm currently attending college to learn stenography. When I'm not in class or writing or reading books, I enjoy film and gaming, and I dabble in sketching and digital painting. Growing up, I was sure that I wanted to be a graphic artist and even attended the Art Institute at Seattle to learn animation, art and design. I have a pretty good grasp on the arts, but I've realized that I enjoy them much more as a hobby rather than a way to make my way in the world.


Ok, now for the “tough” questions!


1. Have you published a book yet?
Yes! I published my first novel, Hollenguard, just recently on July 1. It is the story of an odyssey across a world that is being consumed by an unnatural and all-consuming storm that is constantly nipping at the heroes' heels. While it does take place in a colorful, epic fantasy world, I'm truly proud of the story because of the strong characters and relationships and the themes of hope, friendship
and love that are in counterpoint to the growing darkness and hopelessness of the storm.


I was inspired to write it by the lifelong love I have had for all things fantasy. I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on. I've found I love world-building in novels and in junior high a series that really stuck with me was the Death Gate Cycle by Weis and Hickman (Dragon Wing [The Death Gate Cycle, Book 1]). Those books have some of the most imaginative world-building I have ever read. Nowadays, the fantasy I read is notably grittier and far more dramatic than that, but the whimsy of the novels that influenced me as a young adult still find their way into my stories, and I think they're all the better for it.


2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?


Is it silly to say I've always known? Have you ever read a book and thought about how you would have written it? Not to get pretentious, of course, but I would find my mind drifting along the lines of, "Wow, but wouldn't it have been really interesting if..." when I read fantasy.


The narrative in books and role playing video games has always fascinated me. I eat it all up. You can't get me to shut up if you mention a narrative that I enjoy without literally interrupting me to get your turn. Characters, relationships, drama, I can't get enough of it. Don't mention the game "Mass Effect" or the book "Survivor" without expecting a twenty minute dissertation from me as to why they are so unbelievably awesome.


Having the opportunity to express that love has always been a passion of mine, and usually my outlet was through tabletop gaming. After a while, as you grow up and your friends grow apart from you, the opportunities for that outlet get fewer and farther between. Finally, the only real medium left for me to tell a story was to sit myself down in front of a blank word document and start writing.


3. What was your first lengthy piece of fiction? What was it about? When did you write it? Do you still have it?


I wrote a story in Junior High for extra credit in an English class that I was failing because I wouldn't pay attention to the assignments. I think my teacher took a bit of pity on me and gave me the opportunity, and I ate it up. I made sure it was turned in inside of a nice project folder, neatly typed, justified, and with my perfectly awful illustrations all over it.


She gave me a good grade on it while simultaneously criticizing it endlessly in red ink comments all over the pages. I still have it, but I can't force myself to read how bad it is. You can literally see what books I was reading and what games I was playing at the time, as the references are everywhere. Despite all that however, I can very vividly remember the joy I had in writing it and the elated nervousness I felt as I waited for her to read it and give me her opinion.


4. When was your first indication, "I can do this (write)?"


That is a very good question. As I said, I've always wanted to write, but I've had the standard excuses every time I got the notion that I'd start.


In 2009 my friend, who happens to be a very talented singer/songwriter, told me about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It was halfway through November so I had another excuse not to participate, but throughout that year the thought that I'd like to participate next time it rolls around kept nagging at me. It was that year that I also gave up my customer service job and went to school to learn skills for a career that didn't involve a telephone and minimum wage.


I was ready when NaNoWriMo came around again. Throughout the month I pushed myself despite heavy classes and working at the school. I used all my free time to pound out a story. Rather than have an excuse not to start, I made sure I had excuses for everything else in my life for that one month. "I'm sorry, I can't hang out tonight, I have to work on NaNoWriMo".


At the end of the month I finally had a rough outline of the fantasy story I'd always wanted to write. It was one of the most gratifying feelings I've ever felt. The hard part was over, I thought to myself. But after seven months of wall-to-wall revision and editing, maybe that wasn't the case after all.


5. If you could meet one of your characters in real life, who would it be?


Definitely Nijal. He quickly grew into a character that I could relate to in the same way as I related to my father, who passed away a few years ago. While Kamil is the everyman character in my story that the readers can really imprint on and experience the world through, Nijal was the emotional cornerstone that kept the story grounded for me. I always loved coming back to him and writing him, imagining how my father would have acted as the story unfolded. There are emotional moments in my story, and being an emotional guy I tend to get wrapped up in the same feelings as my characters. With Nijal, I felt the most empathy. I think, ultimately, he's the kind of man I'd like to be when I'm looking back on my life.


6. It's a dark and stormy night... you're alone in the house... there's a knock at the door... you open it, look out, and proceed to scream like a little boy. What's on the doorstep?


Honestly, the first thing that popped into my head was a Halloween basket filled with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and me screaming in unabashed, childish delight. Seriously, I can't get enough of that stuff. I have frequently offered my services as an artist, orator, etc. and only ever charged folks a nice, four-pack of Reese's. I swear, if I'm ever famous enough where people would want to queue up to talk to me and get a book signed, those folks who come with a peanut butter cup for me are getting preferential treatment.


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Thanks so much for stopping by, Arthur! Was not expecting Reese's on the doorstep!


Be sure to check out S. Arthur Martin’s book and his website, www.sarthurmartin.com.


Don’t forget to come back on Monday, when we’ll hear from author Anne Holly!