Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday Spotlight on author Angel Martinez! Angel will be at our 65 James Street store for a special Rainbow Readers Presents event on Thursday, March 2, at 7:00 PM.
While Angel Martinez is the queer fiction pen name of a writer of several genres, she writes both kinds of queer fiction – Science Fiction and Fantasy (sometimes serious and sometimes not so much.) Currently living in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware, (and inside the author’s head) Angel has one husband, one son, two cats, a changing variety of other furred and scaled companions, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.
Thank you for joining us, Angel! For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists?
I write speculative fiction because that’s my first love. Science fiction, urban fantasy, a touch of paranormal here and there. Not all of my work is serious, but you’ll always find some serious moments amidst the absurd stuff. Not all of my work is funny, but you’ll find humorous moments amidst the serious stuff. Most of my stories have a romance at the core of things though I would describe them as having the speculative fiction plot as the main driver.
Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists is one of those stories that sits comfortably at the intersection of serious and humorous. Some of the situations are absurd – the characters aren’t. Taro Torres is my first asexual protagonist and I took writing him very seriously since I wanted to have an asexual character who is not at all broken and is comfortable in his own skin. And Jack? Jack Montrose is just one of those characters who finds data more comfortable than people.
What kind of research went into writing this book? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
I end up doing a lot of odd research for books, mainly to answer “how does this work” questions and “what does this look like” ones. A couple of questions for UTP included such things as how different state lottery commissions work and what an international first class flight cabin looks like.
The most fun I had with research, though, was getting to visit cities virtually I would dearly love to visit in person. The maps! The photos! The stores! The food! Some of the settings in the story I’ve visited in person—Manhattan (many times) and Prince Edward Island (only once, sadly)—and while I’ve been to Germany, I’ve never visited Marburg.
In trying to find a good spot for a particular sort of house in the Welsh countryside, I came across the lovely town of Hay-on-Wye and thought I would virtually walk into town and find a bookstore. What I didn’t realize about Hay-on-Wye (and everyone who knows Wales already did) was that it’s much more difficult to find something that’s not a bookstore. Book lovers’ paradise, with a book festival every year. Someday, I must go during the festival.
Some cool things found during research that weren’t important to the story:
- Marburg has a lot of grocery stores around the edges of old town. A lot. And German grocery stores look really nice.
- There are people online who review first class intercontinental flights. Who knew? These reviews include things like snooty, condescending reviews of wine served and the quality of linens. Truly an eye opener.
- Elephants are a big part of Thai culture (that was not news to me.) In reaseaching the best places to see elephants in Chang Mai, it became evident that any tourist with a conscience needs to choose their elephant experiences carefully. Some elephant tours are all about elephant welfare and preserving wild populations while others exploit the elephants.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
I write speculative fiction because that’s where I’m most comfortable. I devoured science fiction and fantasy as a child (referred to by my parents as literary junk food but they still supported my heavy reading habit.) As a socially awkward child with an overactive imagination, I needed these stories for oh, so many reasons. I write it because I live in the real world—I’d rather not also write about it.
Readers come to spec fic from a variety of different perspectives, but I think there is one common reader experience in spec fic genres. It allows us distance. We may become enormously attached to the characters and emotionally involved in the plot to the point of tears or heart-pounding anxiety or cheers of triumph, but the characters’ lives, their worlds, are not our own. Because of this, we’re able to take that half step back and examine serious issues both societal and personal from a more objective point of view.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Don’t write in a vacuum. I’ve met too many new writers over the years who think they understand what they’re doing because they’re well-read and have degrees. That’s a good start. But writing is not a solitary activity, all the common wisdom about lonely writers in drafty garrets aside. Writing is a contract between the author and the reader, and if we’re failing to connect on some level, we’re failing to fulfill that contract.
Find people willing to read your work (people who don’t have a stake in your happiness.) Find people whom you know are better at this than you, who have done this successfully. Find a mentor to guide you through the process of publication. Reach out, reach out, reach out—for support, for critique, for fact checking, for sensitivity, for emotional feedback, for simple encouragement. There is nothing more arrogant and more horribly lonely than the solitary writer.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
After a couple of tough years where a lot of energy had to go into reissues, I’ve promised readers that this will be the year of new releases. The third installment of the Offbeat Crimes series, Skim Blood and Savage Verse, comes out March 7 – paranormal humor. The second Brandywine Investigations omnibus with books four and five will be coming up shortly. There will be more Offbeat Crimes, possibly a new fantasy from Dreamspinner, hopefully the return to the shelves of Sub Zero, which is the last missing ESTO Universe novel, and several other things I’d like to get to but won’t jinx by naming them.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
My work lives at Mischief Corner Books, Dreamspinner Press, Pride Publishing and MLR Press – so those publishers’ web stores and all the distributors they use.
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
My website is http://angelmartinezauthor.weebly.com where I have the release schedule on the front page and news every Thursday on the blog.
You can also find flash fiction for the Brimstone crew every Tuesday on the Mischief Corner Books blog (on mischiefcornerbooks.com)
Thank you so much for joining us for this interview, Angel! We look forward to hosting you on Thursday, March 2, at 7:00 PM at our 65 James Street store that’s “bigger on the inside.”