Author Spotlight – Nick Martell
Joining us for today’s Author Spotlight is Nick Martell !
Nick Martell was born in Ontario, Canada before moving to the United States at age 7. After graduating high school on Long Island, he majored in Creative Writing at Pennysylvania’s Susquehanna University. He started writing novels regularly in fifth grade, and his debut novel, The Kingdom of Liars, sold when he was 23 years old. Currently, he lives outside Allentown. Follow Nick on Twitter, @macmartell or at nickmartell.com
Welcome to the Hive, Nick. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
Hi! Thanks for having me!
Recently I’ve finished AN ECHO OF THINGS TO COME by James Islington. I don’t really know how to talk about it without spoiling stuff, but WOW. I’m eagerly and impatiently waiting until I can get my hands on the third in the series. Which should be in a few days assuming the mail arrives on time. And judging by how much I’ve enjoyed the first two, I’ll likely lose out on some sleep when it does.
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
I’m definitely a Paladin, albeit a reluctant one that probably follows the Oath of Ancients. It’s not in my personality to charge recklessly into things, sneak around, or even be super talkative—my roommate handles that part for the both of us—so that leaves me with only a few options. And the bright side of being a Paladin is that they always seem to have super cool armour and can heal others if it all goes belly up.
As for my weapon, I’d probably want to go with something like a trident and tower shield. For literally no reason other than that I think it would be pretty awesome!
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, how do you like to work? (In silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit?) Tell us a little bit about your writing method!
Normally if I’m at my computer, I’m listening to music. For me, my goal while writing is to not think and let the words flow. Else I slow down or second guess what I’m doing, so listening to music helps drown out that part of my brain. On the flip side, I usually freehand my initial plot-lines on scraps of paper. They’re always a mess with arrows and scratch outs and stain marks that’s anything but civilized, but it works for me. Much to the worry of the people around me at the thought of what would happen if I ever lost one of these random pieces of paper.
As for how I write, I’ve always considered myself something between plotter and pantser. I’ve always called it roadtripping. I know I want to start my journey to Berlin in Dublin with stops in London, Marseille and Venice, but I’m not sure how I’m going to get there specifically. Will I take the ferry or a plane to London from Dublin? And is it best to take a car or a train down to Marseille? When I begin writing, I don’t have the answers to any of these questions, but it allows me to plan out a lot of the big moments in a book while having room to explore other plot-lines or see where character’s go. It could be a little more efficient, but there’s beauty in the chaos.
What (or who) are your most significant fantasy influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
Oh man, this is a hard one. I love so many authors it’s hard for me to pick just a few, but I’ll try. Some of the writers I feel like I’ve learned from are Brandon Sanderson, Ursula Le Guin, NK Jemisin, Ken Liu, Ben Arronovitch, Patrick Rothfuss, and Robin Hobb. And that’s without mentioning all the great authors that are just at the beginning of their careers that are really innovating the genre right now. I seriously can’t wait to see where fantasy and sci fi will be in five years, let alone a decade.
I don’t know if I could cowrite with someone, but I could definitely write against someone. I forget who proposed the idea—so I can’t claim any credit for it—but I’d love to write a character who is trying to kill another author’s character with a third party judging who won.
Well that sounds pretty cool, Nick!
Now… what was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it? Alternatively, what games have you enjoyed recently?
Money Heist! It’s so good!
Not only is the general premise of the show fantastic—criminals breaking into the Royal Mint of Spain to print their own untraceable currency—the characters are just as good, if not better. In particular, The Professor is ingeniously written. I usually have difficulty believing mastermind characters in tv shows or books because their plans always rely on holding information from the audience, but the Professor just seems so smart in everything he does that it’s believable that he has a plan for every possibility. The show deserves more recognition than it has.
As for games, I’m currently playing through the Final Fantasy 7 Remake. I’ve never played through the original, so I’m excited to see what all the hype is about.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
I’d want to swim. I don’t get to as much as I would like to nowadays, but if I had an extra day, I would find a pool and just chill. There’s something calming and serene about being underwater and sitting at the bottom of a pool. Weirdly enough, it was how I relaxed during college when I didn’t have practice. I really miss watching bubbles float to the surface.
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
I’m currently finishing up edits on the sequel to THE KINGDOM OF LIARS. It takes place about a month after the first as Hollow and the Kingman family deal with the aftermath. I think readers are going to love all the new twists and turns as the characters delve further into forgotten history, the truth recently unveiled, and even the origins of magic as a magical serial killer hunts them down. And the best part? My favourite character finally takes the stage and they will stop at nothing to get vengeance…
Ooh that’s very exciting to hear!
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Best: Read widely and often. It sounds simple, but you can’t be a writer if you don’t read.
Worst: Don’t write fantasy since it was all elves and dwarves and nothing of substance. Clearly, I didn’t follow that advice.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
Usually it depends on whether it’s an actual issue with my writing or not. Some days I have difficulty writing simply because I’ve made a mistake somewhere and need to fix it before moving forward and haven’t figured out how to yet. On those days, I spend a lot of time thinking, and even though my word count might not reflect the work I’ve done—I know it’s important.
Alternatively, some days I’m just burnt out. Ideally, I like to write somewhere between 2k to 3k words a day. This keeps me at a healthy and happy progression where I can sit down every day and be continuously adding to my WIP. But for days after I’ve written a particularly hard scene/chapter or written more than normal, I’m can be a little useless. So sometimes I play video games or read a book and let my mind rest so I can come back the next day stronger.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
New York City at the beginning of the French Revolution.
It sounds weird but let me explain. From what I’ve heard about my family’s older history, we used to be French nobles and then, well, the revolution happened. But before every noble began to have their head cut off, a father and a son traveled to New York on a military ship they had zero right to be on. The father ended up catching a fever and was buried somewhere on Long Island. Afterword the son went to Canada, had a family, and generations later I was born. I would love to hear either one of their stories about how they ended up in the Americas before the revolution began. Without time travel, I doubt I will ever get the answers.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
One book I think is underappreciated is SHATTERING THE LEY by Joshua Palmatier. It’s this really fun and cool mix of sci-fi and fantasy where the source of all magic runs beneath the city and is used—among other things—to create skyscrapers. It’s got an explosive ending and the whole trilogy is already out! Can’t recommend it enough.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with an elevator pitch? Why should readers check out your work?
Alright, so take Jamie Lannister from Game of Thrones and mash him together with Bakugo from My Hero Academia, then throw in a blatant unreliable narrator, a magic system that costs memories to use, a society on the verge of overthrowing the magic-wielding nobles with gunpowder, and then finish it off with a jaw-dropping ending and you’ve got THE KINGDOM OF LIARS. Oh, and there’s a shattered moon in the sky that pieces of fall to the ground from.
Thank you, Nick! That sounds incredible! THE KINGDOM OF LIARS is out today, you can order a copy HERE!