Q: Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, and what do you do when you're not writing short stories or novels?
MTI: I was born and raised in a quiet, rural corner of eastern Maine. It wasn't the most exciting upbringing, but it gave me a fertile imagination. I was gifted with a great intellect, and I learned to escape into my own mind at an early age, perhaps a little too much. However, it gave me the raw talent I needed to write fiction, and that coupled with determination and attention to detail gave me the skills necessary to compose quality works of fiction.
When I'm not writing my own stories, I am, in many cases, reading other people's work. My reading diet mainly consists of sci-fi & fantasy, though more history has been supplementing that lately.
I have a few hobbies that take up my time sporadically. Coin collecting is an old favorite, and I've also dabbled in horology (the study and repair of mechanical time-pieces). I have a knack for mechanics, large and small, and I've most recently begun working on antique autos. I have a 1954 Chevy Bel Air sitting in my yard which is sucking up way too much of the time I should be writing, but the time away from the computer screen could be helpful. Heinlein liked to build stone walls to cure his writer's block, and there's nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty doing constructive labor.
Q: On your blog you describe yourself as a writer of science fiction and fantasy. Would you say you have an equal love for both genres or is one more your favourite?
MTI: I'd say there is a mutual attraction to both genres, and selecting a "favorite" from amongst them often depends on my mood. As of late, I have been reading more Sci-Fi, though I do have a copy of George R.R. Martin's "A Game of Thrones" sitting on my desk, just waiting to be read (and I've never watched the tv show, so it'll all be fresh for me).
Q: You have a new book coming out later this year. Can you tell us a little about it?
"The Curse of Selwood" is the sequel to my first Fantasy Western novel, which takes some familiar elements of traditional sword and sorcery and interjects them into the American west of 1882. In this world, history is pretty much the same as it is in our own world. You see the same key historical figures, the same nations, the same geography; only, the world is not just populated by ordinary humans, but by elves, dwarves, warlocks, and all manner of mystical beings. It's a very parallel Earth, just with some added variety.
In this second volume, we peer deeper into the lives of the main characters, including Warlock Sheriff James Doliber, gunslinger dwarf Ron Grimes, and the very independent lady elf, Joella Talus, who continues to serve as a deputy. We also peer into the seedy past of the town of Selwood, and discover the origins of the "curse" which now comes to rear its ugly head.
Q: Would you like to share an excerpt with us?
MTI: Here are the first few paragraphs from my latest book, The Curse of Selwood:
The dry wind of the arid expanse blew up tufts of dust against the stony hillsides. At a glance, most people would see a lifeless frontier, but scratching the surface, a larger ecosystem would be exposed. Tiny life scurried around amongst the underbrush—lizards and snakes that had adapted to survive in the harsh landscape; insects and worms that lurked in plain sight, too small to be easily spotted. All the while, old horse tracks revealed the presence of man. The desert is never as dead as one would assume.
A faint whistle blew in the distance, a sound of civilization. The train was several miles off, hauling passengers and cargo across southern Nevada, to the various trading centers of the burgeoning west.
The creature crawled out of his cave, the thin, emaciated being in the rough form of a humanoid. While proportioned much like a human being, he was certainly not a man. Bony protrusions jutted out of every joint, forming a crusty exoskeleton over his slim body. The face was parched and flaking, akin to white sandstone, and the skin was sucked so tightly against the skull to appear ghastly. No hair could be found upon his scalp, but a few black tufts sat along his jaw line.
One might assume the creature to be native to the desert, and in recent years he had been, though that had not always been the case.
Hearing the train, the bony being moved to action, rushing across the dusty landscape like a jackrabbit. Speed increased with every lurching leap until the creature came to the top of a ridge and saw his quarry, the metal machine of man spewing black smoke from its stack, towing a dozen boxcars along the steel rails.
The train was picking up speed, going faster than any horse could run, though that did not deter the creature from continuing the pursuit. Racing down the hillside, the being rushed faster, darting along at remarkable velocity—soon matching, and then surpassing the rolling wheels of the locomotive. He was within striking distance of the caboose before long, and made his move onto the back deck, reaching it in one leap.
The moment was approaching at last; the time of retribution!
If anyone wants to continue reading, the first 6 chapters of this are posted online for free here.
Q: You’ve had six novels published so far, which would you recommend as a good place to start for a new reader?
MTI: I suppose the best place for readers to start would be with my first Fantasy Western novel, "West of the Warlock." Most of the text is available to read for free online, and it gives a good example of my writing style. For those who are after a hard sci-fi story, however, you can't go wrong with "The Guns of Mars."
Q: From being a regular reader of your blog, I know you have a growing family. How do you find the time to balance your family life with writing? Do you have any tips to offer other writers?
MTI: Balancing family life can be a trial at times, but it helps to have a wife who is good with the kids, and is willing to keep them out of my hair for a few hours when I need to write. Without sounding too self-centered or selfish, I would say that it's important to have people around you who are willing to give you time to write when you need it. It can be difficult, as there are only so many hours in the day, but if you aren't willing and able to set aside time to write, it will be increasingly difficult to be successful on the literary scene. It's important to put family first, but part of that must also be reciprocal. To care for a writer, you must let them write (i.e. your spouse/children should understand that you need to spend time with your imaginary friends on the page, instead of watching tv with them).
Q: You are currently accepting submissions for an exciting new anthology called The Temporal Element: Time-Travel Adventures. Can you tell us how you came to be the editor for this Halls Brothers Entertainment publication?
MTI: The Temporal Element anthology is something I conceived of quite a while ago. I've always been a huge fan of time travel stories, and the very concept has fascinated me since early childhood. A few years back, I noticed the relative scarcity of story anthologies based on the theme of time travel, and thought it would be nice to put together my own collection.
So, after two years of serious contemplation, I finally decided to move forward, and that's when the Hall Brothers came on the scene. They are familiar with the high quality of my work, and when I asked them if they wanted to team up with me in creating this time travel anthology they jumped at the chance.
Becoming an editor is a logical supplement to my writing career. I love a good story, and I will now be able to discover exciting tales from my fellow authors during this anthology endeavour. I also have a finely honed penchant for proofreading, so I'll be able to fix whatever minor typos present themselves.
The original deadline for submissions was set as November 30, but in an effort to acquire the best stories possible, I've extended the deadline by 2 months. Writers may now submit time travel related stories until January 31, 2013!
Q: Do you have a specific vision for it and if so, has that vision changed in any way since you started receiving submissions?
MTI: My initial vision for this collection was to form a balance of stories based in the past, present, & future. That is still my intention, but it will all depend on the type and quality of the submissions I receive. This is part of the reason I'm extending the submission deadline.
Q: Where can we go to read the submission guidelines?
MTI: The complete list is here.
Q: What would be the key piece of advice you would offer someone before they submitted?
MTI: Other than keeping your grammar correct and watching for typos, try to be a bit objective with your story. I've seen a few submissions that are kind of preachy, trying to demonize or chastise some facet of modern society, and that can get old in a hurry. I'm more likely to accept an "adventure" story, as opposed to a moral object lesson thinly veiled as speculative fiction.
Q: Now for the compulsory random question: if you could live in any fictional setting, where would it be and why?
MTI: If I had to pick one, it would probably be the Star Trek universe. It's a pretty idyllic future, almost illogically so. I doubt I'd fit in that well. I'd probably end up like Reginald Barclay, nervous around everyone, afraid of everything, often misunderstood and marginalized. Plus, the money-less society thing still drives me nuts. What do you mean you don't get paid? I guess I'm more Ferengi than Federation at heart.
But, barring a freak Borg attack or a Dominion war, life would be pretty sweet in the Federation, and if you're bored with that (or want to find a planet where they still use money), you can always go exploring.
Hey, speaking of that, when is Paramount going to finally get their act together and bring back a new Star Trek series for television? It's been too long since Enterprise ended. If they'd only hire me to write for the new series; now that would be a fantasy world worth living in!
Thank you, Martin. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your answers. If Paramount ever come knocking on your door, remember me. Khaannn!!!