Today on the blog we have Jonathan Winn author of Martuk The Holy for an interview. Let’s find out more about this author.
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
Actually, I was an actor first, mainly on the New York stage and a bit of television and independent film. The writing happened by accident, primarily with screenwriting and then writing "Martuk ... the Holy" (as in "two" with a hard "k" at the end ... Martuk). The acting will be something I'll gladly revisit once my films go into production, and the writing will never stop.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
The moment a friend of mine, who's a film producer, read my first script and didn't tear it to pieces. She's a notorious critic and actually, sincerely loved what I did. Her support surprised me and made me take myself seriously as a writer.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
I chose the self-publishing route, so it was a fairly quick process. I have found, though, because of the high quality, that most mistakenly believe the book was traditionally published. Now I'm finding myself with some interesting traditional publishing opportunities, so we'll see what happens. Still early, but I'm definitely open to having those conversations.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
I'm incredibly lucky that writing IS my job. From morning to night, it's what I do and what I get to focus on.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My debut novel is called "Martuk ... the Holy" and it's about an immortal man in modern Paris who, tormented by demons, is forced to revisit his violent past.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
I have several books in various stages of planning -- random thoughts, chapter maps, treatments, finished manuscript --, so I tend to work on whatever feels "right" to do. As for writing the book, I average 2K words a day, so, ideally, it takes a month -- give or take -- to write a full-length novel. But I'm also balancing my fiction writing with writing screenplays and plays, rewriting earlier screenplays and teleplays that are in development with producers, rewriting the rewrites, etc and so on. So although I don't get to work on my books every day, I do focus on them at least three times a week.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Definitely more books of the same genre. I have "Martuk ... the Holy: Proseuche", the sequel to "Martuk ... " slated for release in late-2013/early-2014, and the sequel to that, "Martuk ... the Holy: Shayateen", slated for a 2015 release. Plus I'm continuing The Martuk Series, a collection of ongoing short fiction based on "Martuk ... the Holy". The fourth installment, "The Tall Priest", should be ready in a few weeks and I'm still hoping to have the series adapted into graphic novels. That's an ongoing conversation. As for changing genres, I don't think so. There's something quite fantastic about writing horror. It's an endless world of possibility. Plus it's always nice to take something ordinary and turn it into something terrifying.
What genre would you place your books into?
It's safe to say I'd be placed in the Dark Fiction, Horror, Literary Horror corner of the market. Probably with a dunce cap on and facing the wall in a Time Out, but, still, that's the corner I'd be in.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
Like I said, the possibilities are endless. Not only can you create beings that could never walk the earth, you can recreate what we see as "normal" into something that gives you pause, makes you doubt, and then remind yourself that, No, no, it's only a chair. A simple harmless chair. ;-)
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
I do have an affinity for Martuk, of course. There's something intriguing about his constant struggle between wanting to be "good" and royally screwing up in a very bad bloody way. Plus you can't help but feel for him, this soul trapped by time through no fault of his own. But I'm also fascinated by The Magician and The Wounded King as well as The Elder and Mot (aka Mother of Time). And Shamisé, in "The Elder" (Book Two, The Martuk Series) is someone I definitely need to write more about. What's fascinating is that these are characters who started out as brief pieces in Martuk's narrative puzzle and ended up, in my mind -- as well as in The Martuk Series -- as something much, much more. There are just so many layers to these people. And they have such fascinating histories. You can't possibly peel that all away in just one book.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I started with screenwriting in the summer of 2004 and from there I just kept going. I kind of accidentally fell into my niche. When it comes to Martuk, I woke up one morning in the spring of 2008 and had the whole series of books right there, ready to go. I made coffee, sat down, started cluttering up a Word Doc with random thoughts and musings, and it all fell into place.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I sit on the couch with my laptop on my lap, my 16-year old dachshund Cinnamon sleeping next to me, plop my headphones on -- I simply cannot write without music -- and, coffee within reach, just go at it. That's literally how I spend my days, all day, every day. Even weekends.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Yes, mostly. Sometimes. I read the good and the not so good. Fortunately, with Martuk, the reviews have been very kind and generous. But the thing about reviews is you can't take them seriously. I've seen reviews heaping effusive, breathless praise on the most inane, poorly written drivel and reviews cruelly blasting books that were simply fantastic! So you have to take it all with a pinch of salt. Now, that doesn't mean you sometimes won't find some really good advice in the not so good reviews. But, good or bad, you can't accept it as gospel truth. Keep an open mind and put it all in perspective. Someone's opinion of your work shouldn't decide whether or not you find the courage to write again.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I've found the titles come first and, from there, the books comes.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
This is a bit difficult to answer because I'm not sure how I came up with the characters' names. They were just kind of there and I ran with it. Of course, in the case of people like The Elder and The Magician, they wear their titles because that's how they're known to Martuk. His dealings with them are so brief and so horrible, there just isn't time for names. As for place names, I write of real places that actually exist or existed -- modern Paris, the ancient city of Uruk, 1st-century Jerusalem, Antioch --, so it's just a matter of doing the research to make sure I get those small details right.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I believe the key to great writing is knowing who's who and where the story's going, and then getting out of the way and letting it do what it's going to do. Just letting Martuk and The Magi and The Old Crone be who they're going to be and do what they're going to do is, for me, the real joy of writing. And I tend to find that the "good" people do "bad" things and the "bad" people do "good" things. No one is just one or the other, and that's how I like it. I want them to surprise me, shock me, upset me, disgust me, make me proud, and prove me wrong. None of that can happen if I'm holding the reins too tight. Writing fiction is a great exercise in learning to let go and trust your creativity.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
If I'm at home and rewarding myself with a bit of time to read for pleasure -- these days, much of my reading is research for the sequel to Martuk --, I do love my hardback books. I have way too many, all remnants of my travels over the years. If I'm flying from A to B, though, obviously it's great tossing my iPad with my Kindle into the carry-on bag and having a whole library to choose from.
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
I've often said Anne Rice's "The Witching Hour" is a fantastic read. I remember just being stunned by the scope and the scale and the sheer ambition of her storytelling. It's been awhile since I've read it, though, so it'd be interesting to pick it up and, as someone who now writes, see how different it feels.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
It depends. In my opinion, Game of Thrones, though not a movie, has transferred very well from a written medium to a visual one. The Harry Potter series was better as a string of movies, again, in my opinion, than as books. Since I straddle both worlds, film and books, and know how easy it is for great ideas to get lost in the shuffle of "helpful" Hollywood Executives, I understand how important it is to find the best screenwriter to adapt that particular book. Not all screenwriters are alike, and some will adapt certain books better than others. And then it's up to the Studio to green light a final rewrite -- and then a final edit -- that's as true to the source material as possible, assuming they're familiar with the source material. You'd be shocked how few Studio execs actually read the books they're making into films. They live in a world of scripts. That's the language they understand.
Your favorite food is?
Yikes! How do I answer this? I kind of love everything. I'm one of those people who'll try anything once and will often enjoy the most bizarre dish on the menu. But, to answer your question, how wrong can you go with a fantastic burrito? Or an amazing slice of key lime pie? Or chocolate? See? It's impossible for me to choose. ;-) When I'm locked in Writing World, I do tend to focus on simple meat/rice/vegetable dinners. Can't go wrong with that. Or pizza!
Your favorite singer/group is?
Another tough one. I don't have a favorite singer/group per se. What I do enjoy doing -- since I tend to write to remixes of songs and not the original song itself -- is scour YouTube for remixes of popular songs done by DJs people haven't heard of yet. Seriously. There's a ton of untapped, unknown remixing talent out there.
Your favorite color is?
Anything bright. Or maybe brown. Blue? Red? Wow, I really gotta get answers for easy questions like this!
Your favorite Author is?
I enjoy the storytelling prowess of Anne Rice and the "effortless" writing style of Stephen King (although he's an amazing storyteller as well) and I love, love, love how Allison Weir recreates history into something vibrant and exciting. So, that's three authors when you only asked for one. Consider the extra two on the list bonuses. :)
remember to check out today’s spotlight to find out more about Martuk The Unholy.