Where did the month go?
I mean, seriously!
Where did it go?
Then again, in a couple weeks I'll be at Multiverse in Atlanta - so you can actually come see me!
(Go to the home page for details.)
Enough about me, this is all about Martin Kearns.
Ready for the world's shortest bio?
Martin Kearns is an English and Special Education teacher in the Hudson Valley where he lives with his wife and two boys.
"Stories were my first love and during rare moments of quiet my mind turns toward those I've watched, read, and lived. They bring to mind possibilities, which are really where the seeds of a story begin. I truly hope to bring creative tales to readers who, like me, enjoy finding themselves lost somewhere in a world of endless possibilities"
How about some links?
Beneath the Veil
The Sands of Akhirah
And now the interview!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I think this happened during one of the latter awakenings of my youth. I know I deified writers from as far back as the fourth grade or so. Creating worlds and characters does ring of a god, doesn’t it? It seemed so impossible to be able to do what they did.
It was when I was being instructed about the beat writers that it all came into scope for me. Crafting a story comes from emotions, from feeling, and I could wrap my head around that. So, I’d say some of the writers who felt like they didn’t have any hope are the ones who delivered hope to me.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I draw from a few places to inform my writing. There’s no shortage of information out there on the myths, folktales, and religions that I allude to in my fantasy writing, so the short answer for that would be books on the same topics. Thinks like A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits can go a long way to spark inspiration by supplying a fresh entity to learn about. Other ideas, like the nursing home setting for “Terminal Link”, I’ve lived to some degree. I also catalogue information from people who work in diverse disciplines. It informs the broad scope of what I’m trying to accomplish before I scour the internet for testimonials or further information on topics. I almost always seek out spoken first person accounts from people to truly draw in the details I need.
Ideas, though—that’s a bit tricky. Most poke through my mind as barely anything and I scrape around them to reveal the big picture. It can take time and often gets a boost from other great works I’m experiencing at the time.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Yikes. Well, it isn’t healthy. I generally wake up for my teaching career at five-thirty and rush to be at work a little early so I can accomplish something before the day gets away from me. I’ll get home anywhere from three-thirty to five and tag in with my boys so I can soak them in. Once they’re asleep, and if I’m not editing yet, I’ll spend some much needed time with my lovely wife, Kim. If I am editing, we tend to go our separate ways; me to the computer and she to the kindle.
From there, it’s a game of how long I can keep at it. When I penned Beneath the Veil I was able to write from nine in the evening until around two in the morning. The Sands of Akhirah proved much more difficult for me with regard to stamina and I generally wrote from nine to eleven. Short stories are a crap shoot, really. Sometimes I’ll wake up at three and have to put something down before work because the damned thing won’t stop nagging at me.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Anything from outdoor jaunts of hiking and camping to building a pillow fort in the living room so Kim and I can feel like kids while we binge watch some series. I’m down for anything in the right company and have always been that way. I’d say, at least these days, I prefer being with my wife and kids, though. Whatever is in the cards for us on that particular day, I’m game for it.
When I do find myself alone, I generally dive into some form of a story or another. Whether it’s a video game, movie, anime, or book doesn’t usually matter. If I’m wrapped up in a good tale, I’ll be endeavoring to continue it.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Characters can surprise you. I had no idea how much Rose would become when she first emerged on the page, but she started to run and I’d be a damned fool if I tried to reel her in. She grew into a character that would enchant readers and I loved her for breaking the bonds of a stereotypical love interest.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do hear from my readers quite often and they ask me questions about the subtext of my stories more often than not. I think it stems from the fact that I don’t like to give everything away, so there are times when they’ll go right to the source. Wonder and intrigue are two of the great drivers of people, after all. So, they will ask me for some guidance on certain topics pertaining to myths or what happened to characters. Some simply ask me questions about myself. I find that topic a bit more boring, but I’ll banter with anyone on just about anything.
What do you think makes a good story?
Emotion is the easy answer, conflict is the obvious answer, but delicacy is the hidden gem. To make readers feel is a must because if they don’t feel something then they aren’t connected. To make a character real by showing their motivations and obstacles makes them relatable to readers and gives them depth. But, to strike awe in readers by having done all of this without their understanding or consent is true art.
What is the first book that made you cry?
A Tale of Two Cities was the first and it still gives me goosebumps to this day. I cannot think of a more beautiful ending to a novel and Dickens struck me with a sledgehammer with how he landed that tale.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both? It’s both.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
I do, but not in the form it was originally posited. I enjoy horror and am an avid reader of it. I do love fantasy and consume that as well, but not nearly as much. So, I am consistently pressured to read the works of my peers in the fantasy genre when my heart is aching for the next Datlow collection, or Langan novel. I will read fantasy, but I have to be in a fantasy reading mindset to do so.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Have you seen how much money paranormal romance authors are making these days? Keep your eyes peeled for Isabella and the Incubus by Martha Cairn.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
The former and to a financial detriment at that. I refused to conform my cover to the genre norms of urban fantasy and it seems this is only something the well-established are allowed to do. The problem is that he covers of all the books look the same! I can’t distinguish much from a bold character placement on a cover no matter the swirl of ravens or fire that’s been chosen for the background and I just won’t put those on my books. There’s meaning in my stories and there’s meaning in my covers, too. One just has to look closely to glean them.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?
The Valor of Valhalla series will be somewhat expansive. Readers asked for more horror and the series isn’t moving in that direction, so I plan to release an anthology of short stories that are firmly cemented in horror and within the same world as VoV. These will take place during the events of the first book when Lilith allowed her children to run rampant through the living world. I may have a few other ideas scraping at my mind from this universe as well.
That said, standalones are most assuredly in the future.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Hearing Ellie Wiesel’s remarks from when he spoke at the Salem Village Witchcraft Victims Memorial was a standout experience. He captured the essence of how so few words can mean so very much.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Most assuredly a mule. Too stubborn to stop endeavoring.
What do you have coming next?
The Sands of Akhirah is being published on October 11th and marks the second installment of The Valor of Valhalla series. There’s surprises and a little fan service in store after book one left off on a dour note. I think readers will enjoy it.
Beneath the Veil
In a battle between two ancient evils, can one naïve young man become the warrior of hope against powerful creatures of legend? David Dolan thinks he’s already got the world figured out. But when a collapsed bridge plunges him into the icy Hudson, he’s pulled deep into the deadly realm that exists between life and death. And with his earthly form trapped in a coma, he’s vulnerable to the horde of demons hell-bent on his utter destruction. Traversing the road to the afterlife, David seeks the wisdom and skills he needs to fight the demonic forces reigning havoc on his allies above ground. But as one hellish threat closes in on his defenseless body, David must defeat another terrifying fiend waiting in the shadows to use him… Can David escape the otherworld in time to stop the bloodshed? Beneath the Veil is the gripping first book in The Valor of Valhalla dark urban fantasy series. If you like reluctant heroes, infernal myths, and bloody epic clashes, then you’ll love Martin Kearns’s formidable foray into the unknown.