Welcome to the three hundred and fifteenth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with contemporary romance author Marina Martindale. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello Marina. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Marina: Thank you for inviting me, Morgen. My name is Marina Martindale. I’m based in Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A. I came to be a writer through a series of life events that would be too long and boring to list here. I’ll just say it was a mid-life career change, and my only regret is that I didn’t start writing sooner.
Morgen: You’re so welcome. It’s lovely to have you here today. This may sound trite but I appreciate every interviewee’s time because my blog really wouldn’t be what it is without everyone else. I can talk for England but not sure about the whole world. What genre do you write?
Marina: I write contemporary romance. However, I’m considering writing historical romance and possibly romantic thrillers as well.
Morgen: All very popular. I’ve had a couple of agents tell me they want more historical (and crime). What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Marina: Aha, the truth comes out, but I’m laughing as I write. Marina Martindale is a pseudonym. I’ve written and published a series of historical novels for young readers under my real name, and I’ve built my brand as a children’s book author. However, I’ve wanted to write more adult material and branch out into the romance genre for sometime now. The problem was that readers in this genre expect some steamy, if not somewhat graphic love scenes. Now granted, I’m not writing erotica, but some of the material presented in my new novel, The Reunion, is definitely not for younger readers. I didn’t want to risk a parent, familiar with my earlier work, picking up this new book and thinking it would be suitable for their child to read, hence having to write under a pseudonym.
Morgen: That’s the thing about starting with one genre. I’ve never stuck to one so I think people don’t know what to expect when they read my stories… good or bad as that may be.
Marina: It’s like Disney and Touchstone. Same company, but the two products are branded for two different audiences.
Morgen: Oh, I didn’t know that. They’re both great companies. So how did you pick your pseudonym?
Marina: Marina Martindale is a play on my middle name and last name, and I created that name exclusively for writing my romance novels.
Morgen: Ah ha. You’ve mentioned ‘The Reunion’, what format is it available in?
Marina: It’s available in print and on Amazon Kindle. It will soon be coming to Smashwords as well.
Morgen: Mine are Smashwords only and I found it really easy (once I’d ploughed through the 70-something page style guide :)). Do you have a favourite of your books or characters?
Marina: I’ve based Gillian Matthews, the female lead, loosely on myself. Like Gillian, I attended Arizona State University, and I studied fine art. I see Gillian as what my life might have been like had I chosen a different career path. Ian Palmer, the male lead, was inspired by someone I knew many years ago. Several of the other characters were also inspired by friends and family members. However none of my characters, including Gillian, are clones of any real persons. Each and every character I create is a unique individual.
Morgen: It must be easier getting inside their head if they’re familiar. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Marina: I’ve just finished writing the treatments, (short summaries) for two planned books. One will be a sequel of sorts to “The Reunion”. Three of the minor characters from “The Reunion” will become the lead characters this time around. The book is tentatively titled, “The Long Journey Home.” My other book, “The Deception” will have a new and completely different cast of characters.
Morgen: I love creating new characters but equally being able to go back to ones you know already is such fun. Do you manage to write every day?
Marina: I try to write everyday, and it varies. Some days I post on my blog or write articles or newsletters, other days I work on manuscripts. It all depends on whether I’m on a deadline, or what pops into my head on a given day.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Marina: A little bit of both, actually. I’ll write the treatment, or summary, first, but it’s only a guide. New ideas will come along as I work with the manuscript. Oftentimes the end product will be very different from the original treatment.
Morgen: I found that. I plotted my first novel (for NaNoWriMo back in 2008) but it deviated quite quickly. You mentioned characters earlier, do you have a method for creating yours, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Marina: My characters are, more often than not, inspired by real people that I’ve known. However I make sure to give them different names, different physical descriptions and different backgrounds. Most of my characters are composites, meaning they are inspired by more than one person. For instance, Ryan Knight, one of the villains in “The Reunion” was inspired by a very moody ex-boyfriend, my ex-husband, and a good friend’s ex-husband. He came out as a truly despicable character who my readers love to hate. I then name my characters whatever name pops into my head first. If I get stuck trying to come up with a name I’ll open up the phone book. That will usually give me some good ideas.
Morgen: It’s a popular method; that and baby names books. Do you have to do much research?
Marina: Yes. I spend a lot of time researching and fact-checking. Generally speaking, fiction has to be based on fact to be believable. For example, as the plot for “The Reunion” unfolds, two of the characters will end up in the hospital emergency room. A close friend, who is a former emergency room nurse, co-wrote those chapters with me.
Morgen: Ah, very handy. They do say it’s not what you know but whom… What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Marina: Find an editor you can work with and have your work professionally edited. I cannot stress this enough. As authors, we need a fresh pair of eyes to review our work and look for the gaffes, errors and other problems that we’re unable to see because we cannot look at our work objectively.
Morgen: We do, although it does help to leave your writing to marinate. My editor not only finds the errors but comes up with some great suggestions. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Marina: In many ways there has never been a better time to be an author. The advent of ebooks, indie publishing, and self-publishing means that we writers now have options that we’ve never had before. We no longer have to deal with the gatekeepers that traditional publishers use to keep most prospective authors from ever being published. However, as traditional publishing continues to wane, we must become our own gatekeepers. That means we hire the best editors and proof readers that we can find so our work will be on the same level as those whose work is published by traditional publishers.
Morgen: We should, although I was reading a traditionally-published book today and found a typo (two words stuck together) which should have at least been flagged in the spell-check. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Marina: Please visit my website at http://www.marinamartindale.com.
Morgen: Yes please do, folks. Thank you, Marina.
Just like Gillian Matthews, the heroine in her debut romance novel, “The Reunion”, Marina Martindale began her career as a graphic designer and artist. Over time, however, she discovered that writing was her true life’s passion. In The Reunion, Martindale draws her inspiration from her own life. The story itself, however, is fiction.
”Not all of us are lucky enough to marry our true love and spend the rest of our lives living happily ever after,” says Martindale. “I think many of us have someone who we think of as, ‘the one who got away.’ We may stop and think about them from time to time, but have we ever really sat down and thought about what would happen, if just by chance, we were to run into our long lost love? That’s the premise for The Reunion. It’s a story of love, forgiveness, and second chances.”
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