Duane L. Martin
Duane L. Martin began his writing career when he started a classic film review website back in 2002 called B-Movie Central. Two years later, he would go on to create another website called Rogue Cinema, which is a monthly online magazine staffed by a wonderful team of volunteer writers that’s devoted to film reviews, articles and interviews with film makers and other industry professionals.
An avid reader, he’s been inspired by a wide variety of authors, including Robert Asprin, Jody Lynn Nye, R.A. Salvatore, Ed Greenwood and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. More recently, he’s buried himself in the various series of writers like Jennifer L. Armentrout, H.P. Mallory and Amanda Hocking.
His aunt, a published author as well, once gave him a book on creative writing that changed his life forever. It was a collection of pieces by various authors, but one piece in particular has always stuck with him. It talked about how to create characters that feel like real people by giving them real backgrounds, likes, dislikes and personalities. It inspired him to create characters that feel genuine and real, like people you may know, or people you’d like to know, and helped him take his writing to the next level.
Aside from his writing, Duane is also a musician. He took his first bass guitar lesson in 1987 and has been playing bass ever since. He also plays some guitar and a little keyboard. As he’s always been a great lover of music, he often has it playing quietly in the background while he writes.
Born and raised in Northern California, he would later move to Idaho, where he currently lives with his wife Sharon and their dogs Buddy and Rusty.
Ok, that’s all the stuff that’s in the “About the Author” section of the books. Now, here’s the stuff I left out… (Warning: This is a bit long winded.)
My life has been full of experiences that have shaped not only my writing, but my view of the world. One of those experiences is the long distance relationship I shared with my wife Sharon for over a year. I was living with my family in Northern California at the time, and she was living with her family in Jerusalem, Israel. Falling in love with someone you can’t be with and only being able to share words on a screen with them or a voice on the phone really makes you appreciate what true love is. I even attempted at one point to pack up my belongings and move to Israel so we could be together, but unfortunately for various reasons that didn’t work out and I had to come back home after a few weeks. Leaving her was the hardest and most painful thing I’d ever done, but in the end I didn’t have any choice. In June of the following year she came to live with me in the U.S. and a couple of weeks later we were married, which opened up a whole lot of immigration garbage we had to deal with, but we managed to get it all taken care of somehow.
You’ll notice that the characters in my books share great loves with one another, and this is the reason why. I know and appreciate what it means to love someone to the point where they’re simply an extension of yourself, and you’re an extension of them, and I’ve given that type of love to my characters. Not just on a romantic level, but on a familial level as well. Is it realistic that they would all share those kinds of relationships? Probably not, and some readers who thrive on reading about other people’s conflict may not appreciate them as much as someone who’s tired of reading such things in other books and is looking for something a little different, but it would be far less realistic to have them in the situation they’re in with them all constantly fighting with and irritating one another. My characters chose to become the family they have. They chose to be together, and as such, they all love each other and get along quite well, which is why their relationships are what they are.
Many of the male characters embody my own personality and experiences, while still having very distinct personalities of their own. For example, Derek and Billy are very into working on cars and other mechanical things. I myself took shop classes in school, including metal shop, electronics and auto shop. Because of that, I had the knowledge to incorporate some of these elements into my characters. For example, in Infestation there’s a scene where Richard applies A/C power to a resistor and causes it to pop like a firecracker to demonstrate something to Jarrod. The only reason I even knew that was possible is because when I was taking electronics in high school, there were some guys in the class who used to do that for fun. It’s just one of many examples of how I’ve incorporated a wide variety of my personal life experiences into the stories and the characters. I’ve noted many others in the trivia section of this site, so you can check that out to find out more.
Something else about me is that I’m a great lover of smoking pipes. I bought my first pipe back in…my god, I don’t even remember how many years ago it was now, but I was visiting a friend of mine in Sacramento and we ended going to The Tinder Box at the mall there. That’s where I bought my first pipe and my first pipe tobacco blends. For quite some time I had stopped smoking pipes, but then about a year or two ago I took up the hobby once again, and I’ve been enjoying it ever since. I’m not one of those people who smokes several times a day. In fact, I don’t even smoke daily, but I do enjoy the occasional pipe in the evening, as I find it both pleasurable and relaxing.
Back in school, I was one of the fat kids. Was I the fattest kid in school? Not usually, but because I was overweight, I suffered through quite a bit of ridicule. Girls didn’t like me and I only had a few select friends because I wasn’t one of the popular kids in school or one of the jocks. I had played little league for a few years until I developed a problem in both knees with dislocating patellas, but after that I was unable to play sports anymore, and as such I continued to put on weight.
My sophomore year in high school I started working our with some free weights that my brother had, and I discovered that I really liked the feeling of my muscles tightening up the way they did. That inspired me to join a local gym and get into weight lifting. I started losing weight and gaining muscle, and by the end of my junior year two things happened. First, I felt a whole lot better about myself. I looked better, I’d bulked up with muscle and generally I just felt better physically. Second, I had a very distinct change of mindset. Thanks to someone at school who started asking me why when I would express certain opinions, I realized that often times when he’d ask me why I felt a certain way about something, I really had no answer other than that was the way I was raised to think. Once I’d realized that, it opened my mind up completely to experiencing new things. For example, I was raised listening to country music and I was very closed minded about ever listening to rock music. When I started listening to rock, I fell in love with the band Queen, which incidentally led to me meeting my wife on an IRC channel I was running for Queen fans back in the early days of the internet. She was a fan as well, so she came to the channel looking to chat with fellow fans. We hit it off right away and that was that. My love of Queen also got me into playing bass, and then later guitar as well. Being able to not only enjoy music but to immerse myself in it by being able to play it as well has enriched my life in ways you couldn’t imagine unless you’re a musician yourself.
I’ve always had a great love of technology as well. Computers, video games (I had an original Pong system), computer hardware, etc… I was a PC technician for eight years before I moved on to other things. Because I spent so much time on the internet, I’ve learned a tremendous number of things that may have at the time seemed rather unimportant, but they were things that I would later use in my writing. I’ve also learned a lot through having to look up things for my writing, such as how big of an explosion different amounts of C4 would cause and things of that nature.
In person, most would probably find me to be a rather boring person. I prefer a nice, quiet evening at home watching movies and smoking my pipe to going out and voluntarily placing myself amongst large crowds full of annoying people. I’m not the kind of a person who talks just to hear the sound of my own voice either, though I’m not the type to just lurk around either. I speak when I have something to say, and I’m not afraid to let you know my opinions on pretty much anything. I also have no patience for political correctness or hand-wringers who feel guilty about just being alive.
I’m just a regular guy. I’m not one of those snooty authors who tries to come off as being intellectually superior, nor do I write in flowery prose. I write in a way that I hope is accessible and real, so that everyone can enjoy reading my work.
I’m always happy to chat with anyone who’s read and enjoyed my books, so if you’d like to contact me, feel free.
That’s about it I guess. If I think of anything more to add to this, I’ll add it later on.
Why do I write?
Some authors are born to write. From an early age they’re jotting down stories and constantly generating ideas that may or may not end up turning into full blown novels. That’s not me. I wasn’t one of the prodigies that people would fawn over, saying how I was going to be a great writer someday. I was just an average kid with no special talents to speak of.
Early on in high school I had started doodling various cartoons, but always lamented the fact that I didn’t have any real artistic talent to speak of outside of that. I had been raised listening to country music, but when I was seventeen I started really delving into the world of rock, which later inspired me to buy a bass guitar and an amp. I wanted to get the full experience of the music and that was a way for me to do it. Again, I had tried to play guitar in the past, but I struggled with it constantly and had very little aptitude for it. With bass I had finally found my instrument, and I took lessons for a year before I went out on my own. Unfortunately nothing ever came of it. I still play for my own pleasure and I have numerous guitars and basses as well as a multitude of other music gear, but my dream of becoming an actual player in a band never came to fruition.
In school I was never very good at English. I was all right, but I never got more than average grades at best. The fact was that I had very little interest in school, and the teachers, barring a few of the better ones, had very little interest in me. It was a long, painful struggle to get through it, but in the end I somehow barely managed to squeak it out with two and a half credits over the minimum I needed to graduate thanks to spending three summers in summer school.
The one thing I always had going for me was that I was an avid reader. I discovered the Hardy Boys novels when I was in the second grade and I credit them with my lifelong love of reading. They were what really got me hooked, and when I was tested in the second grade, my reading and comprehension were at high school level.
Later on I became enamored with Dungeons & Dragons. I didn’t have any friends who played really, but I loved reading all the reference books, and then when the Forgotten Realms aspect of the game eventually emerged, a variety of novels based in The Forgotten Realms followed. Though I had read many sci-fi and fantasy books in the past, these are the books that really got me hooked on fantasy as a genre. Another fantasy series I fell in love with was the Myth Series by Robert Asprin. He had a way of coming up with elaborate schemes for his characters that were not only entertaining, but they also made you think. His combination of humor, fantasy, science fiction and dimension travel was probably the greatest inspiration for me in my own writing.
My first attempt at writing a full blown novel was when I tried to write a story based in the Forgotten Realms when I was somewhere around fifteen years old. It was about a boy who could communicate with worms and even control them, and it was going to lead to him being able to control the giant, fantasy kinds of worms that existed in the Forgotten Realms. I was writing the story on my Apple IIc computer with a spiffy 128k of ram and a 5.25″ floppy drive built in. I even had an amber monitor instead of a color one, just to complete the awesomeness. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) I made it a little way into the story, and then I got hit with the dreaded writer’s block. Unfortunately, I never went back to it once I hit that brick wall, and never really attempted anything else after that until years later when I tried my hand at writing a few short stories and even some comedy scripts.
For a while it seemed as though short stories were the only thing I could get through without getting a bad case of writer’s block, and even then it was dicey. It seemed as though writer’s block was destined to plague me regardless of what I tried to write, be it a short story, a script or a full blown novel. The more it happened, the more frustrated I became until at last I finally just gave up. That’s when I discovered movie reviewing.
Back in May of 2002, I started a website called B-Movie Central, where I did humorous reviews of classic b-movies. As the site and my list of reviews grew, I started finding my love of writing again. I even joined a reviewers group called The Rogue Reviewers, and from that created an online film magazine which I still run to this day called Rogue Cinema. B-Movie Central still exists as well, but I’ve retired from reviewing there simply because those reviews are really involved to put together and can take the better part of a day each, which I simply don’t have time for anymore. Anyway, the point of all this is that I still had a desire to write, but I wasn’t really sure what to do with it outside of what I was doing with the websites. My dream had been to actually write a full length novel so I could get it out there and leave something behind that I could be remembered for after I was gone someday, but the more I wrote for the magazine, the more burned out I started getting on writing. It all started feeling like work, and the more it felt that way the less I wanted to do it.
Jump ahead now to October of 2013. I’d been reading a lot of young adult novels by female authors that tended to involve paranormal elements, fantasy, romance and all the other stuff that’s been so popular in the young adult market of late. I started delving into this area by reading authors like Amanda Hocking, and then moved on to Jennifer L. Armentrout and H.P. Mallory. They inspired me to give it another go, but I had three problems.
1. Like Jake from State Farm, I’m a guy, so… Yeah, I’m a guy, so I really didn’t have the flare for romance that these ladies I’d been reading had. At least I didn’t think I did, but more about that later.
2. I didn’t have an idea for a story.
3. I didn’t want to write young adult. Much like my aversion to PG-13 movies, I would find writing in the young adult category far too limiting. So where did that leave me? I came to find out that it left me in a different category that was more for 18+ folks called new adult.
Ok, so I had an age range I wanted to write for and one that I knew would allow me to make my characters and their interactions as realistic as possible without having to mute their actions or their personalities for the sake of a younger audience. That left me with problems one and two to contend with. I also wanted to include some fun, over the top violence and gore for the guys, as well as other aspects of the lives of the characters that would appeal to a female audience.
Problem one was a tough one, because I wanted my books to have an appeal for as wide of an audience as possible. That meant including an element of romance, and also non-explicit sex since I didn’t want the stories to end up being considered erotica. To that end, I made a conscious decision to keep the romance aspects more serious, but to keep the sex parts non-explicit and fun. There are a lot of relationships in my novels between the different characters, but more than anything there’s an overarching sense of family among them that I hope people will find every bit as appealing.
As for problem two, that was even more difficult to overcome simply because I had to deal with that before I dealt with anything else. The solution came when I came up with an idea for a teenager whose family was abducted by a creature that had entered into his bedroom through a portal. The ideas that started stemming from that were dropped for the most part because, if I’m being honest, they were rather lame. However, those poor, discarded ideas about how that basic plot would play out led me to far better and more involved ideas, and that’s how the Unseen Things series began. I published the first book, Origins in November of 2013. As of this writing it’s September 2014, and I’m working on the thirteenth book in the series, Companions.
So how did I reach a point in my life where I was able to pump out thirteen full length novels in less than a year? Well, there’s two answers to that really, and both of them are involved in the answer to the question I asked in the title of this piece.
First, I’d finally reached a point in my life where I was ready to write novels. You never realize it at the time because of your frustrations over writer’s block and everything else, but if the writing isn’t flowing out of you easily then perhaps you just haven’t reached that point in your life yet. I realize now that I wasn’t really ready for it…until I actually was.
Second, in order to really break through and make it happen, you need an idea for a story. I’m not talking about some random idea either. I’m talking about one that flows out of you like a river. One that leads you to create characters that feel like real people, and who you eventually come to know far more intimately than even your own family. So much so that you feel compelled to write them simply so they can exist. Then one day, thirteen books later, you realize that you’ve created something that’s really quite special. That’s how it was for me. One day I realized that like Star Trek, I had created something massive. Something that had its own canon, history and other details that had become far more than I ever could have dreamed of when I started working on the first book.
For me it was initially about making some money, since writing is my only source of income, meager as it is. Now it’s about far more than that. It’s about the personal satisfaction of knowing that there are people out there reading my work and becoming a part of the world that I created for them. It’s about, as I said above, writing my characters simply so they can continue to exist. They’re my friends…my family. I know each of them intimately and they each have their own individual personalities and histories that shaped them into who they are. I created that, and for me that’s really the answer to the question right there. I’ve created probably somewhere close to sixty characters throughout the course of the series, and each one of them is as individual as anyone you’d meet in your day to day life. How can you put into words just how special of an experience it is to create something like that? That’s not even mentioning all the different dimensions and their inhabitants, including the histories and conflicts that have created the rich tapestry that is the Unseen Things universe.
I’ve heard some writers say that they write because they can’t not write. In my case, I write because it’s who I am now. After a lifetime of searching, I’ve finally found myself and my purpose. I’m an author. It’s what I am and what I do, and I’ll continue doing it for as long as I can, because without purpose, life is meaningless.
By Duane • About the Author • 0