Interview with Duane L. Martin

Published 2015-09-20.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I've been playing bass since 1987, and I also play some guitar, a little keys, etc..., so I'm very into music and I always have it playing while I'm writing. I've also become quite a decent bass and guitar tech, which can be a rather relaxing distraction from my writing. Other than that, I have a few television shows I watch and I enjoy going for walks with my wife, spending time online and playing with our two border collies, Buddy and Rusty. I'm actually a pretty boring person in some ways, but if you get me talkin', I got some pretty crazy stories to tell.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
My first attempt at writing a novel was way back when I had an Apple //c computer with Bank Street Writer as my word processor. Yes, I know...I'm seriously dating myself there, but that's when it was and what I had to write it on. The story was a fantasy story about a boy born with the ability to communicate with and control worms, which was actually probably more interesting than it sounds, but unfortunately I lacked the writing skill and the follow through to bring it to fruition. I guess I just needed to reach a certain point in my life where I had the experience necessary to write a full length novel, and the right idea to bring to life. As of my filling out the answer to this question, I'm currently working on the 18th book in the Unseen Things series since October of 2013 (It's now June of 2015), and I have an idea for a completely unrelated book that could potentially turn into a separate series of its own. Hey, if it takes a mid-life crisis to give you the kick in the butt you need to get started, then I guess I got one hell of a kick.
What is your writing process?
My writing process is completely organic. I come up with the basic idea and direction and then I just let the story write itself as I go. This process works for some people, while other people need a more structured approach. I like to think that by writing organically, my books create a realistic experience for the reader rather than them just reading something that comes across as yet another structured story. The dialog in particular is extremely realistic in my books. I write the dialog as real people would speak, not in the more proper "book" speak. I feel that this allows people to connect to the characters on a far more personal level, and thereby it also allows them to connect to the story as a whole on a more personal level as well.

Another thing about writing organically is that things don't always happen that you'd expect. For example, the characters may come up with a plan to do something, and then the way the story plays out it creates a necessity for them to change their plans completely. Again, this adds more realism to the story. Things don't always work out the way you expect, so writing as if they do becomes quite boring for the reader after a while.

Finally, writing organically means that my characters all have back stories, hobbies and quirks that make them feel like real people. I didn't plan those things out ahead of time. I simply wrote what felt natural to the character. For example, one of my characters named Tina is a very beautiful girl with a bit of a flatulence problem that the other characters are always goofing on her for. Sarah likes to write books, Jarrod likes to listen to jazz music, etc... It's these aspects of the characters that go beyond the story that make them real and believable. That's something you can achieve with structured writing, but I personally don't believe it's anywhere near as easy or effective doing it that way.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first REAL book I ever read that wasn't really a children's book was a Hardy Boys novel, but I can't remember what the title was exactly. I read it in the second grade, and I absolutely loved it. I was always an avid reader and I was reading at high school level in the second grade, but that was a big step forward for me in my reading materials. After that, my mom bought me more and more Hardy Boys books, and from that point on I was hooked.
What do you read for pleasure?
Typically I'll read fun fantasy, sci-fi or paranormal novels. I really love Robert Asprin's Myth Series, and I also enjoyed the books of H.P. Mallory. Then there's the Harry Potter series which I quite enjoyed. I used to be big into the Forgotten Realms novels, but there were just so many of them coming out all the time from different authors that I couldn't keep up. R.A. Salvatore and Ed Greenwood were particular favorites of mine however. I also read The Walking Dead comics series, and I used to really enjoy reading the Groo comics by Sergio Aragones.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
None. Next question...

Seriously though...none. That's the answer. I have yet to find some magic formula to sell my books. If I ever do, don't expect me to tell you what it is.

Facebook is pretty worthless for marketing now because of their post throttling, Twitter is only mildly useful at best and there are tons of promotion sites out there that make you pay for promotion that will likely not gain you enough sales to pay for the promotion.

As far as reviews go, getting a review on a professional site from a professional reviewer is like pulling teeth, and understandably so. It takes a considerable amount of time to read and review a book, and with the number of requests they get inundated with, they have to be really picky about which ones they select. More often than not you'll find that their submissions have been shut down completely because they're so back logged.

About the best promotional tool I can think of is to try to get as many interviews out there as possible where you can promote your official site and tell people all about your books and where they can get them.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
What motivated me was that I'd never written a complete story before, which was something that always bothered me. I'd get to a certain point in the story and then get a massive case of writer's block and that'd be the end of it. Well, I came up with the basic story idea for my first book in the series one day when I was sitting around trying to figure out something to do to keep me from being bored at the time, so I just started writing. Now eighteen books later I haven't suffered from writer's block at all and I'm pounding through books at lightning speed. I'll tell you something though. Finishing that first one was all the motivation I needed to get through the rest. It was such an amazing feeling to have finally finished something so I could get it out there for people to read and enjoy, that it motivated me to keep on going.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in 1970 and grew up in an unincorporated area in the country between towns in Northern California, though our mailing address town was actually Sebastopol, California since we were the closest to it.

Growing up in the country, I learned all about guns, gun safety and how to shoot from the time I was about ten years old. My brother used to work on cars a lot, and he also used to weld and do electronics work. He was ten years older than me, so I got exposed to a lot of things that other kids my age may have missed out on. My family were just regular folks. My mom was a housewife and my dad worked in construction and participated in rodeos in his spare time. He also coached my little league team and went out of his way to give me the best life he possibly could, even though we didn't have a whole lot of money.

Back then, they thought nothing of letting me and my friends ride our bikes all over hell...and boy did we. We didn't have any stupid bike helmets, and no one worried about us getting abducted or any crap like that. We were free, and we enjoyed every single second of that freedom.

Later, as I got older and gained even more freedom once I was able to drive, I used to spend a lot of time out with different friends, and some of the experiences I had with them have made their way into my books. I was able to include detail into certain scenes and settings because of those experiences that I may not have been able to otherwise.

I'm very grateful for the freedoms I had when I was growing up, because I gained a lot of experience, knowledge and wisdom from growing up that way, and I'm saddened by the fact that kids nowadays don't have that same kind of freedom. Yes, I know it was a different time back then, but in my opinion, it was a far better time than what we're living in now.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is that my characters have all become a part of my family. They're that real to me, and I love each and everyone one of them with all their quirks and idiosyncrasies. I know them as intimately as I'd know any real person, and if there's ever a piece of their background that's missing, I can simply fill it in for them with whatever feels the most natural. That's what comes from knowing your characters so intimately. You don't even have to think about things like that. They just come to you, so you write it and then move on with the rest of the story.
How do you approach cover design?
I use Daz Studio to render 3D artwork for my covers, and use Photoshop for the titling and finish work. I always design the covers before I start writing the books, and often the cover will relate to a scene that I'll later write, and even affect how that scene comes out. For example, on my current book, which is book 19 of the series, I got the cover looking absolutely sweet, but I wasn't diggin' the expression on the model's face. She looks too happy for the scene I had in mind. So rather than sitting here waiting for the figure to re-render with a different expression, I actually decided to make the whole thing a completely different scene in the book. One where she's happy and having fun, instead of upset and worried. It's a trade off really. I could spend an hour waiting for the figure to re-render and then have to incorporate that into all the various graphics I've already done, or I can spend that hour writing an entirely new scene in the book that relates to it. Frankly, I think it's a no brainer. When something gives you an idea for extra content, then go for it.

Not all my covers relate to something specifically in the book however. Some of the covers are representative of an overall theme, such as the cover for Division that shows two people's hands separated over a night sky with the moon in between. That represents the group splitting up, with one group staying in Washington state while the other group moves to Scotland to work from there. Travelers was another one that was more representative than specific. I have a car out in the wastelands with Jake and Lana standing in front of it. He looks like he's in trouble and thinks it's funny, while Lana looks like she's heard enough of his crap. This wasn't a specific scene so much as a representation of the characters and their relationship. I had their personalities in mind before I made the cover, but having a visual representation of them like that only solidified them even more in my mind as I wrote. It also affected the story in some small ways as well.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The fact that I didn't wake up dead. You gotta admit, that's pretty inspiring. ;)
Describe your desk
It's an L shaped desk. To my left I have a shelf with two Behringer monitor speakers sitting on top of it that I use when playing music here in the computer room. Up on top of those is an Alesis MIDI keyboard, and below them on the upper shelf is a grab bag of musical instrument tech tools, knives, Chinese figurines, boxes with more tools and guitar picks, CDs, blu-rays and a variety of other stuff as well.

Below that I have a couple of storage things, each with three drawers, along with a variety of other items and nicknacks including a couple of coffee mugs, another knife, a Zippo lighter box, some blu-rays, etc...

I have a 5.1 speaker system, so I have the five speakers around my desk in front of me and the sub-woofer down by my feet. My 24" monitor is in front of me, and then on the right side of my desk is the server where I host my official site as well as two other sites that I run.

Oh, and over on the left side of my desk I have a portable heater to blow hot air on me when I'm cold and cool air on me when I'm hot.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Honestly, I don't have time to read anymore. I know that's really sad, but I spend all my time writing now, so I really don't have the time. I know i should probably make time, and I will eventually, but right now I just want to focus on my own writing.
What do your fans mean to you?
Dunno if I have any "fans" really (though I do think quite highly of myself). I'm sure if I ever do get any serious fans however, I'll appreciate them very much and go out of my way to make myself accessible to them.
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Books by This Author

Cindy's Story
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 122,550. Language: American English. Published: August 17, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
After walking out on yet another convenience store job, Cindy needed to find herself a new job as quickly as possible. When her apartment manager tells her that his private investigator brother is looking for assistant. She jumps at the chance, but quickly finds that she's in for a lot more than she bargained for.
Immortals
Series: Unseen Things, Book 5. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 93,730. Language: English. Published: February 8, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Fantasy » General
Not only was their rep, Jan Brewster, finally able to make contact with them, but she came bearing an unimaginable gift. The backers had authorized her to offer them a serum, that would not only make them immortal, but would give them abilities beyond imagination.
Revenge
Series: Unseen Things, Book 4. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 105,120. Language: English. Published: January 15, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
When word started to spread among the tribes in the Faranox dimension about the raid on one of their villages by five humans who killed many agaronin and freed their captive slaves, they came up with a plan to combine several of their villages into one massive settlement, so they could defend against any such attacks in the future.
Exploration
Series: Unseen Things, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 118,720. Language: English. Published: December 29, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Fantasy » General
With their mission to rescue Jarrod’s family now behind them, the group begins to focus on other things, like Jarrod’s birthday, learning more about their blue fin friends, and testing the boundaries of their relationships with one another. However, before they do all that, they have a little unfinished business with Diedre, the girl responsible for Derek’s brother’s suicide.
The Hunt
Series: Unseen Things, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 104,800. Language: English. Published: December 11, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Now that they've finally graduated from high school, Jarrod, Derek, Tina, and Sarah have all moved in with Patricia, and with her help and support, they make their first forays into the Faranox dimension. Mistakes are made and dangerous lessons are learned as they look for a way to bring Jarrod's family back home.
Origins
Series: Unseen Things, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 104,410. Language: English. Published: November 23, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Fantasy » General
No one believed fourteen-year-old Jarrod Grant when he told them what happened to his family. They said it was just a coping mechanism to deal with what he'd seen, but no matter how hard they tried to get the truth out of him, all he could talk about was the portal that had opened in his room, and the creature that had come through it to abduct his mother, and his little brother.