It's been a long time since I ran my series of interviews with authors I've met at conventions or online. In fact, it's been too long... way too long. So, let's get the party started again with C.E. Martin
Tell us a bit about your latest work.
My latest release, Shadow Raiders, is sort of a spinoff/continuation of my main series I've been writing since 2012, Stone Soldiers. It's the first in what I would like to expand into a new series (if sales support that).
In Stone Soldiers, the modern military fights supernatural threats with a little assistance from the magical world: supersoldiers and psychics work alongside one another, with scientists and conventional forces. The 11 books out in that series so far have kept the action small-scale, with the elite unit squaring off against this or that threat. In Shadow Raiders, the unit, Detachment 1039, travels off-Earth by means of an ancient, arcane portal, to the home of the "gods," Asgard. There they fight evil on evil's own turf, trying to prevent an invasion of Earth and the start of Ragnarok. It's sort of equal parts Hellboy and Stargate.
If I do get to continue the series, I have a number of similar missions planned to other worlds, all populated by other mythological entities.
What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?
Evil is REALLY evil, and the good guys always win. I hate tragedies, and I hate depictions of the military as the heavies or incompetent; possibly because I'm a veteran myself. I always try and make our real heroes (military members) into super heroes in my stories.
What would be your dream project?
I'm already writing it--unfortunately not enough people are reading it. I'd love to be able to churn these out monthly, but without enough readers I have to keep going to a day job and find time where I can to write. My dream is to secure a good 10,000 steady readers and to keep them supplied with red-white-and-blue, over-the-top, two-fisted tales on a regular basis.
If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?
When I was in the USAF, I came up with several premises for novels, and one really grabbed me, but I never wrote it because back then as there was no self-publishing. The story was a scifi adventure about two detectives in a world similar to our own, but significantly improved. They stumble across a murder scene and eventually discover the killers are from an alternate reality--our reality. The big reveal is that the story takes place in a carefully-engineered alternate timeline, and that someone wants to eliminate that timeline and return the world to a less-than-perfect version where good rarely wins out over evil. I like to think of it as religious time travel murder mystery.
What inspires you to write?
Good stories. And royalties--those are fantastic. When I don't sell much, I get discouraged. Not because the money is important, but because royalties I can spend on my family help me to justify the time I spend writing instead of spending time with them. Nothing has been greater than that extra money to indulge my kids in a shopping spree, buy my wife something extra nice, or take the family on a vacation we otherwise wouldn't have taken.
What writers have influenced your style and technique?
Style-wise, I'd say that at first, I was most influenced by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir and their ghostwriters from The Destroyer series. As the years have progressed, I've worked in a lot of cliffhangers taken from films and developed my own fast-paced style.
As for technique, I like Jackie Chan's the best. I once heard Mr. Chan say that he imagines a scene first, then builds a story around it. A kind of what-if process that has worked fantastically for me. I get an idea for something I think would look great on-screen, then work out how to incorporate that into a story and then how to tell it in written form. In other words, I start with action, rather than concept or premise.
Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?
Definitely art. The problem with so much writing today is the sciencing of it. Writers tables brag about how they collectively work on TV shows, and I think it hurts their story telling. You don't have a committee of Directors on films, so why should more than one writer be needed to tell a story? I think communicating your story is indeed a matter of art and skill far more than rules and precise "beats". Too many authors now follow the rules and their writing is like mass-produced, artificially-sweetened foods, rather than the carefully prepared cuisine of the literary chefs of just a few decades ago. if i can predict how a story is going to end, or even how it's going to progress as I read it, that takes me out of the story. I want stories I can completely immerse myself in, forgetting that I'm reading a book or watching a movie/TV show. All a reader/viewer should be thinking about is "What happens next?!"
Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?
I'm currently working on two more products for this year:
The first is a continuation of a new series (also a spin off of Stone Soldiers) called Spectral Ops. It's a series of adventures with the supernatural military fighting spectral forces around the globe. I like the idea of being able to wage war on the written page but not have to kill anyone (the bad guys are already dead!). Last year I did the first book, Spectral Ops, which had the team going to France to fight an army of angry spirits accidentally dumped on a small town. I could have called it Stone Soldiers #12, but given that Stone Soldiers has always been about soldiers turned to living stone, and now I've got a vampire, werewolf, and psychic on the team, I thought a name change was called for.
My other project is a major departure for me. I've been very intrigued by post-apocalytpic fiction of late, and am going to try a bit of it myself: Defenders of the Faithful (a working title for now) will be a story set in middle America just a few months after a major event that changes life as we know it. The story won't be supernatural or science fictiony, but rather a more satirical, men's adventure tale about a group of regular Joes who "cling to their guns and their faith" to survive in a new world. I'm doing a lot of research on it, and am looking forward to finally get to do something that will be considerably more humorous than what I've been writing for the past five years.
www.StoneSoldiers.info -- my supernatural military thrillers page
www.Troglodad.info -- my author blog
amzn.com/B01NBUVELA -- a link to Shadow Raiders