Interview with Leandra Martin, Author of Dark One Rising
This interview is being included in the 2013 Women in Horror Interview Series. Every February, Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. You can find out more about WiHM here:
Leandra Martin was born in Natick, Massachusetts. From early on she was a book worm, reading anything she could get her hands on, but her biggest love was fantasy/science fiction, such as the works of David Eddings and Roger Zelazney.
As a child she wrote a couple of children’s books, but knew that writing a novel was what she wanted to do. She received an AA degree in Broadcasting/Communications, spent a few years in radio, and participated for many years in community theater.
She currently lives in Oregon with her husband, two boys and their blue eyed canine named Jett.
Q. When did you first start writing novels? What made you want to start writing?
A. When I was in elementary school, my best friend and I used to love the TV
show Battlestar Galactica. We used to play like we were characters in the show. When I got older I wrote a story about us. When she read it, she told me it was pretty good, but wondered if I could create a new story using the characters we had made up, in a whole different story. I did that, for her eyes only. She told me I should try and publish, but I pooh-poohed her. I also wrote a couple of children’s stories.
As I got older, into high school and college, I thought about revisiting it again, but never thought it would be good enough. Then a few years ago I attended a writers workshop on the coast and the main inspiration I got out of it was that everyone has a story to tell, and writing should never be because you think you’ll make money or be famous, but because it brings you joy to tell a story. I decided that even if no one read it, I wanted to do it. I took out that old manuscript and honed it, and revised it, and rewrote it. After much research I found a company I thought would work for me, and had the book published. That was in 2010. The following year I returned to that same workshop with a finished product. I have done three since then and I have enjoyed every minute.
Q. What inspires you to write? How would you describe your process?
A. I’m usually inspired to write when I’m in the oddest places; walking, driving, or in bed settling in for the night. When I used to go for daily walks at my job, people would tease me when they drove by cause they could see me talking to myself. What I was really doing was reciting a scene that I had in my head and I wanted to keep it fresh so that when I got back to a piece of paper, I could jot it down. I eventually got a small recorder so I could record and keep it instead of going by memory.
Sometimes my process is scattered. Sometimes I can sit down and write and know exactly where my story is going, but sometimes, I see something in my head and I write it down, but it doesn’t necessarily fit in with where the storyline is at that moment. If that’s the case, I’ll put it to the side and later fill it in where I feel it best fits.
Q. What was it like writing “Dark One Rising”, a fantasy novel, as compared with your early work in science fiction? Do you think the two genres have much in common? How do they differ for you?
A. I have read fantasy novels my whole life so I thought I could easily sit down
and write one. To tell you the truth, Dark One Rising was a lot harder than writing my first two sci-fi books, even though it was my favorite genre. Science fiction you have certain liberties you can take. You can make a lot of stuff up and throw in words, phrases or mechanisms that come into your head. With fantasy, although it’s made up in some aspects, has to follow some realistic rules. You have to have your lineage right, for example; how does the feudal system work? Or, the names of parts of a castle. You should have a map to give your readers a visual of your kingdom, and there are battle scenes with swords, horses, armor, etc. These you have to know something about in order to make them more believable, even though you’re tossing in creatures, dragons, magic, etc. It takes more thought and more research. I found writing the science fiction easier, and feel I will probably shift back into that again.
Q. To what degree do you think that writers are stuck with one genre? With the advent of ePublishing, self-publishing and the expansion of small publishers, you think it is easier for writers to produce works in multiple genres these days than it used to be?
A. I think that sometimes it’s hard for writers to produce different genres, only because your audience has certain expectations from you. They know you for writing science fiction let’s say, then you turn around and write a mystery. They’re going to have a hard time reading it because you are their sci-fi gal. But with self-publishing, which is the direction I went, I think you have more opportunity to explore different genres. You can change your pen name for example with a different genre, which many mainstream authors have done, i.e. Anne Rice. If you have a different story inside you, I don’t see why you can’t tell it, even if it’s not what you’ve done before. Getting your stories into the hands of readers is the best way to find out what they like and what genre you write best. Give them a chance to see different sides of you.
Q. You have a degree in broadcast communications and you spent some time working in community theater – I was wondering if either experience impacted your writing process, or the ways in which you visualize characters?
A. Being in the radio business is stressful- especially if you’re a woman. There’s a certain dynamic out there for radio personalities, as well as actors, but acting is more flexible. When you’re an actor, people almost expect you to be odd, or eccentric, radio you have to be entertaining, but be professional. There are lines to be drawn with both, less so with acting, but being a writer, you have a lot more area to work in, and having a pen name, you can be anonymous as well. Neither of these things has impacted my life as much as people in my life, or (and this is embarrassing to admit) TV and movies. I love reading, but I love movies and TV just as much. I have written so many scenes from my favorite TV shows throughout my life, just to be writing something. I have favorite shows that I know the characters so well, I can write them so clearly and get every mannerism and nuance the character has, like the way they talk. I would never try and get them used in a show, I’ll leave that to the brilliant writers the shows already have, but I like to play around with it, if for nothing else than to keep my writing brain turning. J
Q. Up until the 1970s, Science Fiction was considered a male oriented genre, in much the same way horror is now, but since then there have been a number of successful female sci-fi writers. Do you think that the playing field is pretty much level now, or do you think sci-fi is still a bit more male dominated?
A. I think science fiction is still a bit male dominated even now, but the field is expanding. Women are changing their feelings on male dominated jobs and professions. There are so many more female mathematicians, scientists and engineers out there now. It’s no longer male only, and in the years to come I think it will grow even more. Women have finally been given the opportunities they hadn’t before, so I think we will see a lot more in the future. My sci-fi books are less technical and more adventure and relationship related. I wanted my female lead characters to be strong and independent, but keep the feminine side as well. Just like male protagonists, they can take care of themselves and be heroes, but still need love to make them strong. I wanted the characters and stories to be for everyone to enjoy. You say sci-fi and people cringe. “I don’t like Star Trek”, or, “I don’t understand all that technical jargon”. I wrote my books in a way that you know it’s in space, with words and phrases that are science fiction, but not so much that it’s not understandable. I have trouble with technical stuff as well, so I wanted to make sure that all levels of readers, and readers who are not all that jazzed about this genre, could enjoy it.
Q. What advice would you give to new writers?
A. The advice I would give to new writers is, don’t give up. Decide if you are strong enough to get all those “no thank you” when sending to publishers, or if you are willing to self-publish and let your readers be the judge of whether or not they like you. Keep writing, something, even if you sit down and all you can pump out is nonsense. Writing is an art, but it’s also work. Whether you do it full-time, part-time, or as a hobby, you still need to practice to hone your craft. Also, be sure you’re ready to hear not so nice feedback. I got some on Amazon from a stranger who happened to take a chance and purchase the Kindle version. It was, to say the least, a very daunting review. I read it many times, and I finally told myself that it’s only one person, and not everyone is going to like what you write, but there will be people who do. Just think what would have happened if J.K. Rowling had given up and not taken the chance on the last publisher. Where would she be now, or the world of Harry Potter? Write, write, write, persist, persist. Also- if you decide to self-publish and go a less expensive route by doing all the work yourself (editing, cover, typesetting, etc) make sure you make everything as perfect as possible. I would suggest finding someone to edit (I am horrible at it so I got someone who is great at it), or a talented cover artist. The cover really brings the whole book together, so if you want to splurge- those are the two areas I suggest spending money on. The rest- typesetting, formatting, etc. you can learn.
My favorite quote that I keep by my desk- “If the only reward I obtain from my writing is the writing itself, let it be sufficient.”
Q. Is there anything you’d like our readers to know about you that we haven’t covered yet?
A. I wrote my first two books, each just one year apart, while I worked full-time and raised two active boys. It can be done. Reach out to other writers, editors and book store owners, or attend a workshop or class, they can all be a tremendous asset. You can accomplish it if you persist.
Where To Find Her Books
You can read about her books on her website: http://www.leandramartin.com
You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Her books can be purchased at Amazon.com or if you want a signed copy, you can email her your information and she will send you the order form to purchase any of them.
Her first two titles: L’Landra’s Tale, A New Day for the Dauntless, and the sequel: Ghosts, Past and Future can also be purchased in Kindle edition. Dark One Rising is available only in print form currently. The sequel to Dark One Rising- Aelethia’s Hope will be available by the end of the year.
~ by Sumiko Saulson on July 4, 2012.
Posted in Interviews, WiHM 2013, Writing Advice
Tags: Aelethia, Author, Dark One Rising, Fantasy, L'Landra's Tale, Leandra Martin, literature, novel, novels, sci-fi, science fiction, Tanith Prophecy Series, WiHM 2013, women in fiction, Women in Horror Interview Series, Women in Science Fiction