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Author Interview: RL Martinez

December 13, 2016

This is the second interview in my series of Author interviews. I have to say, I had lovely feedback from the first so I hope you enjoy this one too.

Introducing RL Martinez author of the amazing In the Blood.

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Imagine if you will, a nice patch of… grass and… dirt. I scrub my hands against my trousers, ignoring the dark smudges left behind. Wow, I did not think it would be so hilly. The view is amazing. Ouch! I slap at the sting on my arm. Damnit! I hate bugs. I’m sweating, my skin sticky. The sun is a little hot out here but I love this old tree and it is just so comfortable sitting here in the shade.

Hi RL, it is so good of you to give a little of your time with me today.

My pleasure! I love doing interviews.

First up, tell us a bit about yourself:

I don’t have a job outside the home currently – Oklahoma has turned out to be a tough job market to break into. So, I spend my days writing, working on art projects, and doing chores around the house. I also do errands during the day. In the late afternoon and evening I tend to work on marketing stuff.

Gee, I really want to ask about your art projects, but I will focus, now, tell me about your writing… What age were you when you started?

In seventh grade, my English teacher assigned our class a creative writing assignment: describe something from top to bottom, side to side. This is the first such project I can remember ever receiving. In fact, until then, I had not given much thought to writing. But I fell in love with the process of writing and the thrill of sharing my work with other people.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I didn’t actually give a career in writing much thought until recent years. I enjoyed writing and used it as a hobby and stress reliever, but actually trying to make a living at it didn’t really cross my mind until about 2010 or so. I don’t honestly know of any specific event that made me consider writing for a living. I simply realized how much I loved doing it and how much I wanted to share my stories with other people.

What was your favourite book as a child?

I had several: The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamara Pierce; The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis; just about anything by Zilpha Keatley Snyder; and The Neverending Story by Michael Ende.

Favourite book as an adult?

The Neverending Story has remained one of my favorite books, even now. But I’ve come to love the writings of Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, Sharon Shinn, Patricia Briggs, Charles Dickens, Toni Morrison, and many others.

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Tell me a bit about In the Blood. How did you come up with the idea?

At the very beginning, it started out as a retelling of “The Twelve Huntsmen”. Through many years of adjustment, it evolved into it’s present state. The only thing that has really remained the same throughout is the relationship between close female relatives. That is the heart of the story – the bond between sisters.

Tell me about the Twins. Let’s start with Ottilde? How did you come up with her story?

Ottilde started out as the only heroine in her own story. If you were to read that early draft of her story, you’d probably think I hated her. Seriously, I piled crap on her that would have made Job finally throw in the towel. But out of all her suffering came greatness. She, in her own tragic story, was a central figure in the world I created, a mythic warrior crippled by her own humanity and suffering. One could have called her an anti-hero since, despite her many gifts and the fact that she was much sought after by those in power, she hated people in general and wanted nothing to do with serving her god or country.

I made her into a bitter loner, tormented by her past. The only people she allowed near her were members of her adopted family, people who took her in after her birth family and community cast her out – and they had to work damn hard to gain even the most rudimentary trust from her.

I actually had a complete novel out of that story. But I put it aside because it was an incredibly dark book and I wasn’t sure anyone would want to read such a depressing story (although it did have a really triumphant ending).

And what about Oriabel?

As for Oriabel, she (like her sister) started off as the only heroine in a story I tentatively called “The Witch’s Bargain”. It came out to be a 70,000 word novel about a young woman thrust into a perilous situation when a new overlord takes over her family’s ancestral estate. Oriabel’s story has remained similar to this original prototype, though I gave her a stiffer spine and a lower tolerance for hanky-panky from certain disreputable persons. In the original version, Oriabel is forced into becoming the new lord’s concubine by her scheming stepmother in exchange for keeping the secret of her witchbreed nature.

I put this novel aside for over half a year. When I opened the document at last and read through it, I fell in love with the characters once more and decided to make something of it. But I felt that a novel confined to just one location might drag a little, so I tried to think of a way to introduce new locations into the plot. It was then I thought of Ottilde’s story and how I could recycle portions of it. I changed Ottilde to a tough, but loving and loyal, person rather than my embittered anti-hero.

I loved both women for their different strengths but admit I really favoured Ottilde, particularly at the start. This is an awful question to ask but… Who out of the two was your favourite to write?

I’d have to say Oriabel. I knew that most people would favor Ottilde because 1. she has more of an adventure story while Oriabel’s story, for the most part, is very quiet and 2. She’s a kickbutt woman! But, for me, Oriabel really spoke to my soul. I think she reflects that part of us that really wants to do good in the world, that wants to make the people around her happy, and is always trying to do the right thing. Her intentions are pure. But, as in real life, the best of intentions often lead to the worst of consequences. Though she’s not a warrior in the traditional sense, Oriabel is definitely a fighter and is up against a lot more than even her sister – with a lot fewer practical tools than Ottilde has at her disposal.

Have you always wanted to write fantasy fiction?

Oh yes. Fantasy fiction has always been my home – as both a reader and a writer. And I’ve come to accept that, even when I start out with a contemporary story, it pretty much always ends up fantastical in some way. I think I start getting antsy with contemporary tales and just look for a ways to twist things around.

What is your writing process?

It usually starts with a concept (taken from a dream, folktale, or even things I see in the news). I usually jot the idea down and then put it away so it can germinate. The length of germination varies from story to story. Once it starts flowering, I write a very short blurb and start creating character studies. Once the characters are fully solidified in my mind, that’s when the story really gets going. I like to write the first draft as quickly as possible – no more than three months (one if I can manage it). Then put that away for a while (usually about 6 months). After taking it out again, I decide if I want to proceed with revisions or if it needs more time to steep. Books usually go through at least 2 revisions drafts before I show it to anybody.

How long did it take you to write In the Blood?

Because of its convoluted process, In the Blood took a long time – years. But once I had the two threads written, it took maybe a year or so to braid them together and get them into a readable draft.

I understand this is a series? What are your plans for book two? (Please tell me there is a book two?) How is that going?

Book two is written and now with my editor at Lakewater Press. I’m waiting on her edits (not sure when the release date will be) and then will go through the book incorporating her suggestions and cleaning up any lingering rough spots. I have at least two more books planned after that (so four altogether). But it might be as many as 5-7 books in the entire series. Of course, I say that at this time and place. Who knows how it will actually turn out.

Oh man, you mean I have to wait? I am really not good at waiting. 😦

To distract me tell me what else have you written?

I’ve written some science-fiction (I had a short story called “The Sacrifice” published by Luna State Quarterly). I also have the first book in what was supposed to be a contemporary fantasy romance series written. But, now I am attempting to turn it into a steampunk romance (I’m telling you I just don’t do contemporary – even when there are fantastical elements). And this past October, I wrote an expanded universe story set in the Witchbreed world. It tells the story of the woman Ottilde saved from the prince she killed. That story is being offered as an exclusive Thank You for those who sign up for my mailing list.

I loved reading about these women, I hope to see more strong, resilient women in fiction who don’t need a man to rescue them. But tell me about the men in In the Blood? They are still strong and determined. What did you want their story to tell?

I love romance. Stories of passion and devotion always push my buttons. But, I think a lot of romance available today (starting from the 70s and the advent of the modern romance novel, courtesy of writers like Kathleen E. Woodiwiss) contain very distressing elements: nonconsensual sex between the hero and heroine, spousal abuse, women belittled by their male counterparts, and the perpetuation of the helpless damsel in distress.

Both strains of In the Blood had a romantic element in them from the very beginning. However, I wanted my heroes to be men who enjoy intelligent, capable women. I wanted the main attraction between them based on actions and abilities rather than looks or sexual desire. Hito and Wilder are both warriors who have a tremendous sense of honor. While Hito is gentler and more emotionally open than Wilder, he is capable of great and terrible violence – but never against the woman he loves. Not even when he is furious with her. The very thought of acting violently towards a woman or child is repugnant to him. Even violence against other men feels unnatural to him.

Wilder and Ottilde do have an element of violence in their relationship because, at the beginning, they see each other, not as a man or a woman, but as an enemy. For a good portion of the book, Wilder refers to Ottilde by her prison number – she’s not even a person to him. Conversely, Ottilde sees Wilder as merely an obstacle, something to be gotten over (or rid of, if he doesn’t take care). And she’s not a passive recipient of violent force either. She is an able opponent who sometimes has to initiate a fight if more peaceful means prove inadequate.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone wanting to write a book?

Just do it. Don’t obsess about how well you write or if you story logically works. Just get it out and worry about refining it later. I think a lot of people who want to write talk themselves out of it for years because, for some reason, they think that someone is actually going to read their first draft. No one will see it if you don’t want them to. So, write the story you want to tell. If you decide later you want to share it with other people, then you can obsess about getting the details right.

About RL Martinez.

I write mutant stories – you know the kind that are a little of this and a little of that – that have dark edges and corners. My favorite scenes to write are about death and destruction – gotta let the inner killer blow off steam SOMEHOW – followed by scenes with lots of witty banter. Comedy and death make my inner killer very happy. Yep, that’s right, instead of an “inner goddess” (bleh, by the way) I’ve got an inner killer and she has her eye on you.

And now the boring stuff: I live in Oklahoma with my husband, two small sons, two naughty puppies, and a mouse-killing cat. Now you know why I write FANTASY with lots of mayhem in it.

Thank you so much for your time RL. It’s been a joy talking to you.

If you want to find RL Martinez go to the below sites… and make sure you buy In The Blood!!

Gee I am stuck, my muscles have locked up sitting on the grass or so long, and the sun is setting so its probable time to find an Inn or Alehouse. Somewhere where I can get a drink!

Holy crap, what was that… Was that a roar?

 

Website: robinlmartinez.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RL-Martinez-349488135424525/?fref=ts

Twitter: @RobinLMartinez

Amazon product page for In the Blood: https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Witchbreed-R-L-Martinez/dp/0994451113/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481505495&sr=8-1&keywords=rl+martinez

Goodreads In the Blood Page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29389293-in-the-blood

 

If you would like to read my Review of In The Blood… go HERE

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