Interview with Don A. Martinez

This week we have special guest Don A. Martinez the author of the Phantom Squadron Series during the Infernal Eighteen Blog Tour.

Welcome to ZB’s Blog of Awesomness!

The son of two 20-year Navy vets, Don A. Martinez spent much of his formative years around the Pacific Rim before settling in the continental U.S., first in Michigan and New York before eventually landing in Texas.He has been writing all of his life, getting his start in elementary school as a two-time Young Authors selection in Oak Harbor, Washington. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and a Master of Arts degree in English from Buffalo State College (SUNY-College at Buffalo), where he wrote his thesis on application of mythic storytelling techniques to the modern media.

Currently, he lives with his wife, daughter, and four cats in Texas, where he is a college English instructor.

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Phantom Squadron is a contemporary fantasy series which follows a team of four supernatural agents has been assembled for a Black Ops team unlike any other.Both separately and together, these agents will face down an enemy of immense evil, rising above their differences and individual traumas and coming together to face a demonic matriarch hiding within one of the holiest sites in Europe. Infernal Eighteen is the fourth book in the series.
So on to the questions!
What inspired you to write?

I come from a family that has creativity ingrained in it, from both parents. My grandmother was an accomplished poet, although she was never published. My father was a great storyteller, but he wasn’t exactly a writer, and he stuck with more of an oral style. I’ve tried to bring both sides of the equation together, and be a fully-rounded storytelling writer. As far as the inspiration for Phantom Squadron, it comes from my coping mechanism with the 9/11 attacks – I spent some time thinking about the events, and how I could come to terms with such evil being perpetrated. Eventually it led me to a concept involving government agents drawn from the ranks of fantasy archetype characters. As I went further along in the series, coping continued to be the theme of the inspiration, as starting from The Insurgent’s Journal I started writing based on my observations of what the nation’s become, in terms of polarized politics.

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What have you learned as a writer?

Perseverance, above all. You have to keep writing, no matter what. The only one who can express your idea is you, so you’d better get to it. Don’t censor yourself either, because no idea is too crazy. You dictate the way your story is told, so do all that you can to bring that story to a well-rounded fruition.

Infernal Eighteen is your fourth book in the Phantom Squadron Series. How did writing Infernal Eighteen compare to writing the first three books?

It was a bit of a chore, actually. I knew where I wanted the story to go … Alanna needs to reclaim her dad’s soul from Hell … but I also needed to be true to the main inspiration for her journey, and keep the spirit of Dante’s poem. Thankfully, there are several sources available on the Inferno, and I wound up using one that retold the poem in the style of a novel. Some things surprised me as I was writing it, some little references to the past books that I could work into the Inferno, such as Jerzaan’s treatment of women and Alanna’s mother’s suicidal tendencies. Writing this one also made me think a little more intensely about the in-universe history of the Sword of the Guardsman, and how it couldn’t be possible for every member of the Sharpe line to be righteous. Readers will find out about these hellbound Sharpes from throughout history, and that they all have one-track minds when Alanna meets them: they all want the Sword back.

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What was some of your inspiration/sources for the series?

I’ve described the series as what happens when Tom Clancy, Gary Gygax, and Hayao Miyazaki get together to write a single story, and that’s pretty much how Phantom Squadron came to be. It combines elements from military technothrillers such as those by Clancy and Stephen Coonts, the character variety of role-playing, and some of the attitude of anime. A direct anime influence on the series is the comedy anime The Slayers and its two subsequent seasons (Slayers NEXT and Slayers TRY).

Who is your favorite character? Why?

They’re all my favorite in one way or another. Alanna and Ariel share elements of my personality, so I have a soft spot for both of them. I like Gabe’s mysterious side, and his inability to speak in anything other than half-truths. Above all, though, I think my favorite character to write would have to be Kitty Salem (Lazarus), just because her personality is just so over-the-top, and it’s a delicate balance to consider that not only is she a woman, she’s also a character type called the “combat monster” in role-playing games. Not to mention that if she gets angry, she gives virtuoso profanity performances …

What is your plans for the series?

Infernal Eighteen‘s the penultimate volume of the Phantom Squadron series. I’m at least starting the final book of the series during NaNoWriMo 2012, which is going to be my attempt at an epic battle to conclude the series. It’ll have every great element to fantasy: a huge, climactic battle, raw emotion, character development, and margaritas!

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What are you reading right now?

A couple things. I just finished the horror comedy book John Dies at the End by David Wong, and I’ll be picking up its sequel (This Book is Full of Spiders:Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It) shortly, once the e-book’s price comes down. I’m also awaiting the next volume of Rosario+Vampire Season II, I’ve just gotten through volume 10 and I’m going crazy about it because each of the last few volumes has ended with monstrous cliffhangers.

Who are some of your favorite authors? How much do you read in the fantasy genre?

The authors I like best are the ones I tend to have the most respect for, and it’s a fairly short list. I’m big on speculative fiction, so I like authors like Harry Turtledove, Margaret Atwood, and the like. As far as fantasy authors, Terry Goodkind’s ability to put commentary into his fantasy is something I aspire to. I also like the big names from graphic novels like Neil Gaiman and especially Alan Moore.

What is your next project?

I’ve got a couple I’m thinking about. One of them would be a Phantom Squadron spinoff involving a minor character from The Advance Guard, the Greek inspector Calista Adamidis, learning that she’s the daughter of the goddess Athena, and trying to claim her rightful place in the pantheon. The other one I’m thinking of is actually inspired by my baby daughter and one of her daycare friends, a children’s space opera story where the two of them go on a quest to restore one of them to a space throne.

Interested in knowing more? Here is the rest of the schedule…

February 1st: Interview @ The Four Horsemen Series Book Reviews
February 2nd: Interview and Giveaway @ The Cult of Me
February 3rd: HIPS Ranch Guest Post and Giveaway @ Reviewing Shelf
February 4th: Interview and Giveaway @ 2nd Book to the Right
February 5th: Interview @ ZB’s Blog of Awesomeness (You are here!)
February 6th: Interview @ Hock G. Tjoa
February 7th: Interview and Giveaway @ On Emily’s Bookshelf
February 8th: HIPS Ranch Guest Post @ Nightwyn.com
February 9th: Author and HIPS Ranch Interview @ The Pen Temptress
February 10th: Interview @ Ramblings of a Creative Double Dipper
February 11th: HIPS Ranch Guest Post, Review, and Giveaway @ Diary of a Fair Weather Diver
February 12th: HIPS Ranch Guest Post and Review @ Chronicles of a Book Addict
February 13th: TBA @ The Daughter of Prophecy
February 14th: HIPS Ranch Guest Post @ Awesome Books
February 15th (Release date): HIPS Ranch Post and Giveaway @ The Hidden-In-Plain-Sight Ranch
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