Interview: Angel Martinez

angel-martinezAngel Martinez – Renaissance Woman – Interview with Diane

I believe Angel Martinez is a renaissance woman – if you have not already spoken with her or read her work, I highly recommend it as she is very interesting, very smart, funny and can talk to you about SO many subjects!  I was fortunate enough to attend a publisher session at the Albuquerque Gayromlit retreat in 2012 and got her book “A Different Breed”.  We got to meet up again in Atlanta, which is where I was able to sit and talk with her, it was also the GRL where the antigravity cows became a hot topic and hot item in the swag room.  I am already a fan, but the more I am able to get to know this lady, the more amazed I am with her and her accomplishments.  Angel was gracious enough to grant us some time to answer a few questions about the various hats she wears that are amongst the reason I call her a renaissance woman!

A few years ago, you left the corporate world to be a writer full time, since then, you are part of an independent publishing company (Mischief Corner Books); one of the administrators of Queer Sci Fi; you have been a judge in various writing competitions; write and speak regularly on tips for writers working with publishers; 2016 has been a record year for you and conferences and you seem to be highly respected in the industry and always working on improving and expanding the LGBTQ fiction industry.

Do you think the decision to leave the corporate world to write full time has made you a better writer?

Good grief! That’s a lot to live up to! I can’t speak to how well respected I am, though I try to keep a level head in professional life. Maybe that helps. Honestly, my decision to leave the corporate world has kept me sane-ish. It wasn’t quite an all-or-nothing deal. I left a high-paying, high-pressure banking job many years ago because I felt like I was dying inside. I did take a few months off while I looked for work, but with the intention of finding a lower stress, leave it at the office kind of position. My last years in the work force were much more worker bee than middle management, so I had some time to step down slowly before I retired to write. Has it made me a better writer? It’s certainly given me more time to devote to writing, to develop new environments, and to think about how I write.

downloadFor the few people who may not know how Mischief Corner Books came to be, how did that company come about and who is involved with it?  And perhaps you can share what the MCB quarterly is?

Mischief Corner Books was an experiment at a secret biotech facility that escaped one night… Oh. You want the serious answer. MCB is a small press that had its beginnings at a retreat in the mountains of Tennessee – bunch of authors in a resort cabin having way too much fun. It grew out of a desire to write anthologies together and soon after evolved into a publishing company. While not open to outside submissions just yet beyond the core of authors who make up MCB (see the Author page on the website for all of those folks) MCB has accepted submissions for the Quarterly and for the Collections. The MCB Quarterly is a periodically published e-magazine of queer short fiction, all genres. Volume 5 just came out last summer with 6 and 7 to follow next year. (Response has been at times overwhelming – MCB is not currently taking Quarterly submissions.)

The Collections are themed anthologies geared toward M/M Romance – new ones pop up every few months on the Submissions page.

Mischief Corner Books also has a weekly serial running on the blog that involves four of your authors, you, Freddy MacKay, Toni Griffin and J. Scott Coatsworth – how has that been working, are their plans to publish the series when it is done and do you have a timeline of when the series will be complete?  Would you also participate in another one when this one is done?

We’ve been having all sorts of fun with our urban fantasy serial, Marionettes in the Mist. The challenge was getting four authors to agree to how a world would work before we could get started—learning curve city, not afraid to say. I’ve certainly co-authored before, but a group setting is much different than partnered writing.

There are indeed plans to publish it as a novel or perhaps two if we feel this story arc is too long once it’s cleaned up. There will be expansion by all the authors to fill out character development and relationship development for the novel format. Don’t quote me, but it should wrap up around March of next year?

The world is there if any or all of us want to play in it again, either singly or in any combination.

 

It is often said that authors have a bit of themselves in their characters, to look at it a different way, do you have any of your characters you wish you were more like?

Oh, I think most of my characters are braver and more resourceful than I am. I wish I could face adversity like they do—be clever like Shax or charming like Hermes or steadfast and courageous like Hades or even wonderfully comfortable in being different like Dionysus. Most authors probably build something into characters they wish they could be themselves, even those characters with huge flaws.

The Pill Bugs of Time is your most recent release and it is a re-release as part of the Offbeat Crimes series, how has the response been to this series coming out again?  (I know I quite enjoyed the character interviews and getting to know the other characters, as well as the additional content in the books)

Overall response has been wonderful. The first two books are re-releases, but I think they’re getting to a wider audience this time due to a number of factors. Those readers who understand absurdist humor get a kick out of it. Those who don’t are sometimes a little puzzled by it, but still seem to enjoy the characters.

Do you have story ideas started for more books in this series?  And do we dare ask what other books or series are also in your working pile?

I’ve promised Pride Publishing four more Offbeat Crimes books. Which I need to start work on soon. Ahem. I can tell you that the next book will be Carrington’s, our skim-blood vampire. After that things are fuzzier, but I do have ideas in place.

Other things…yes… I’m working on the fifth Brandywine Investigations book now. That first. Then the next Offbeat Crimes. After that, we need to get back to Shax and Co. in the Brimstone series since I’ve left them in a rather precarious place. There are too many sequels to write that have been neglected for too long. I hope to get to them soon.

Is there a particular character or series that is more challenging to write?  On the flip side of that, is there a character or series that the ideas and story ideas just keep flowing?

I tend to believe whatever I’m writing currently is the most challenging thing. When I think about it, though, alien characters are hardest to write. In a way. The trouble with writing alien characters is stepping outside one’s own human brain. They aren’t human, so they don’t think human. This can get tricky and reactions to all sorts of everyday things have to be taken into account. General Teer’s reaction to high heels, for instance, is not what a human mind’s reaction would be.

Brimstone has probably been the easiest so far. It’s a fun cast of characters that live easily in my brain and thinking about new stuff for them to do, especially in short fiction, is easier than some of my character groups. Getting the Brimstone crew to sit still nicely and create a cohesive plot line isn’t always quite as easy.

Do those challenges or ease make a story or character more endearing to you?

Sometimes? Familiarity probably makes the author heart grow fonder more than anything else. The better we know a character, the more imprinted that character is on our hearts.

For your readers, are there other books with tentative release dates we can impatiently wait for?

Coming up this year, I have two Tilted Fairytales coming from Pride Publishing. For my long-time readers, these will be reissues. But they’re older stories, so I expect a lot of readers haven’t seen them. Boots (based on Puss in Boots) comes up for pre-order on 10/25/16 and Wild Rose, Silent Snow (based on Snow White and Rose Red) starts pre-orders 11/15/16.

Beyond that, MCB has Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists (a folk tale inspired story) coming out 1/11/17.

The Queer Sci Fi facebook page and group seems to have grown quite a bit in the last year, and has led to two books of the annual flash fiction contest – what has been the best part of seeing that group grow as it has?  Do you feel the growth of the group has helped the genre grow in exposure as well?

The best part? Knowing that so many geeks out there love the same stuff I do. There is no better feeling. The growth has come during the perfect storm of circumstances, both when the general readership is becoming more interested in speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, paranormal) and when the queer fiction sector is becoming more aware of what’s being written. For so many years, I heard all the moaning about no gay fantasy and science fiction. Here we have this wonderful vehicle to share just how much there is out there now.

So it’s been something of an echoing feedback loop. The desire for it is out there now, the readers need to find it. The books are out there now, we help signal boost them.

Conferences – I’m not sure if you have kept track of how many shows and conferences you‘ve been to in 2016, but do you have any comments or tips for authors or readers out there on what kind of things to look for – besides a good breakfast option!

When we finish up this year, I’ll have done seven conferences/show things. It doesn’t sound like that much over the course of a whole year but the planning and the logistics of each one takes a lot of energy and time. Seven is definitely more than I should have attempted.

What works well for one person isn’t going to work well for another, so there’s no definitive list of “these are the best conferences.” You need to be clear about what your goals are for a conference. Sales? Exposure? Networking? Education? Fun? Different types of conferences are going to be better or worse for any combination of the above. Don’t go to the huge conferences if crowds make you too anxious. Don’t go to the small ones if you’re focusing only on expanding your audience. Mostly, look at what the con offers to see if it matches your goals. And really? If you’re doing it for business purposes, this is the time to plan for next year before everything starts to fill up.

You have had a few re-releases in recent years for getting rights back from a publisher that went out of business.  Do you have tips for authors who may be going through that situation – with a publisher who is providing rights back or may not be?

Just a few. Ha. Yes. Over the ten years I’ve been published, I’ve had five publishers close. One before they were even open. Two did it the right way, with proper notice to authors and reversion of rights. Three were not so neat and clean.

For publishers who do it the right way:

  • Ask when the final day will be
  • Make certain all of your works are on the reversion letter (or that you have letters for all of them if they send under separate cover.) Save. Those. Letters.
  • Start planning the moment you hear the publisher’s closing.
  • If you plan on self-publishing, great! More power to you. Get good cover art.
  • If you’re approaching a publisher about the work, think what you’re going to bring to the table. Can you promise expansions? Can you promise more books in a series? Publishers are businesses – what’s in it for them?

For publishers who don’t do it the right way:

  • If at all possible, get those rights back. Something in writing from them saying they’ve given up all rights to your work. I’ll be honest. I’ve had to get attorneys involved. Twice.
  • If you can’t? It’s quite likely that another publisher won’t consider the work. Even though the rights do revert to you when the publisher closes its doors, (they’ve broken contract, shut down the business, and probably kept your money) another publisher may very well not be comfortable picking up the work. Please keep in mind that these works are yours. Self-publishing is a viable option these days.

Thank you to Angel Martinez for taking the time to answer our questions, we have reviewed several of Angel’s books on the site and I highly recommend reading them all.  Brandywine Investigations, AURA with Bellora Quinn and Offbeat Crimes are my favorite series, but I’ve never been disappointed in one of the stories, hence the recommendation of any and all!

 

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