So something really cool happened this week; in the midst of all the SXSWi craziness, I saw a tweet from A. Lee Martinez offering a Skype chat with him in exchange for tweeting a picture with his latest book, Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain. This was an offer I couldn't pass up, so I posted this mugshot-esque picture.
Apparently, my looking vaguely like a serial killer (see above) wasn't a deterrent, and we setup a time to chat. I got to ask a few questions, and learn that he is quite a funny guy. While I didn't think far enough ahead to record things or take amazing notes, I did jot down some highlights below.
On having these Skype calls... The first thing I asked about was why even have these Skype chats; 5 years ago, it would've been next to impossible to ring up one of your favorite authors like this, but now it's possible to reach out to your fans and make something like this happen. His reasons for having these calls were just to try something new to get people excited about him and his work. I think this is a great idea; I love to see authors and creative types using these newer forms of communication to reach out and connect with their fans.
On world building... For those of you that follow Mr. Martinez, you'll remember that, leading up to the release of his most recent book, he wrote a series of blog posts that went into some more detail about the backstory and universe that Emperor Mollusk takes place in. When I asked how much world building he does for each book, he responded that, while he knows where things are going, he doesn't spend a ton of time world building in advance of writing a book, but rather creates as he goes.
On Character Types... He's written a variety of characters/worlds (monster hunters, witches, vampires, robots, gods, and most recently a pulp villain-type character. When I asked him if there was any character type he's always wanted to write, he said he typically doesn't think that far ahead, but tends to write what he's inspired by at the time.
On Being a Writer... We did talk a bit about authors and writing, and he's got a great take on the subject. When I mentioned something about the "gift of writing", he responded,
"people have this idea that writing is this special talent; that what you do is go into a cornfield at night, and you chant, and then you have a book. Anyone can have a great idea for a book; it's the actual sitting down and writing that's the hard part."
I'd argue that he's more talented than most, but that's a discussion for another time.
We chatted for about 20 minutes, but like I said, I didn't take detailed notes; I sat back and enjoyed the conversation. I'd like to say thanks again to A. Lee Martinez again for taking time out of his schedule to do this; he's made me an even bigger fan than I was before. And, if you've not read any of his books, might I suggest you go pick up Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain. NOW.