Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Feature: Shawn Martin, author of Forget Me Not


            Fortune has smiled on seventeen year old Aileen McCormick ever since Addison came back into her life, giving her the love she has so desperately longed for.  That is, until a mysterious man slithers across her path and slips a spellbinding cameo around her neck.  The cameo holds more than just the image of an enchantress who hungers for souls.  It possesses a curse that strangles away every memory Aileen has of Addison.
            Addison, a three hundred year old fugitive from the netherworld, recognizes the wretched woman inside the cameo and the curse she has cast on his unsuspecting love.  The enchanted cameo has but one purpose:  to torment Aileen with hints of love she can no longer recall.   
            Nothing more than a stranger to Aileen, Addison insists that she knows him, that she has felt his lips on hers.  Thinking the handsome young man in his leather jacket and dark Wayfarers is playing some cruel game, she pushes him away and runs into the arms of Geoff, the one person who could ever rival Addison.
            Geoff has waited oh, so long for Aileen.  Before the opportunity slips away, he sweeps her off her feet at the Christmas masquerade ball.  But fate thrusts Aileen into Addison's waiting arms.  One passionate kiss later, she knows beyond a shadow of doubt that she loves the icy stranger with smoky blue eyes.
            Her newfound love is overshadowed by tantalizing hints of the first love she shared with Addison, just beyond her memory's reach.  And remembering comes at too high a price.  Aileen cannot escape the deadly cameo.  She runs for her life with the curse only a breath away.  If she truly wants her memory back, the enchantress is all too willing to restore it.  It will cost her, though.  Cost her everything. 

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What inspired you to write this book?

Forget Me Not surfaced late one night when I couldn't sleep.  I wondered, as I stared into the night sky, what amnesia would do to true love.  If you lost all memory of that certain special someone, what would happen if you saw them again for the first time?  Would you fall in love, or would you simply pass each other by?  Forget Me Not takes this hopeful (or hopeless) notion and explores it.
Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb?

Daggers have always intrigued me, especially the ones with the serpentine blades.  I've always called those assassin's daggers, and one of them finds its way into Forget Me Not.  In no time, we learn that it's more than just a dagger.  The vicious blade is an athame, and it never misses its target. 
How did you choose your title?

I named the book after the flower, the forget-me-not.  It's name, so uncomplicated and ordinary, has always carried such warmth and sentiment to me.  Giving a forget-me-not is more than just handing someone a flower.  It asks, perhaps even pleads, that you not be forgotten.  I wanted to carry that message into the pages of my book, begging Aileen not to forget Addison.
Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.

Elaina Lee, the very talented artist who also created the cover of my first novel Shadowflesh, outdid herself with Forget Me Not.  It all came about when I suggested a certain scene towards the end of the book set in a Gothic church.  Elaina's work truly captured the image I was going for.
Did you self ­publish or publish traditionally and why?

Vinspire Publishing, a traditional publisher in South Carolina, released Shadowflesh and Forget Me Not.  If I had to do self-publishing, quite frankly, I would have fallen on my face.  Before Vinspire, I knew very little about editing, cover design, getting a copyright, marketing, and all the other intricate details.  Dawn Carrington, my publisher, has been a great mentor. 
What do you consider the most important part of a good story?

A story needs a great character, one who rides the plot through the story like an adventurer rides a kayak down the rapids.  The character doesn't have to be a virtuous person, or handsome, or strong.  The character needs only to provoke an emotion from the reader—sympathy, hatred, sadness, joy.  When the reader feels something, the story has the potential to be good.  Maybe even great.
What is your writing process?

Ideas come to me in the late night hours, sometime after midnight, when my inhibitions are low and my mind really should be dreaming.  I let the idea brew in my consciousness for a few weeks.  Subplots form.  Characters acquire their voices.  And the story ties itself together.  Then the writing begins.  I become friends with my characters and lose myself in the story, as it seems to take a mind of its own.  I feel like I'm just along for the ride, typing as fast as I can to keep up. 
How long have you been writing?

I began writing in college but hadn't shared my work with anyone.  It wasn't until a few years ago that I took my writing seriously, writing Shadowflesh and daring to share it with the world.
How did you get started writing?

My day (and night) job is being a firefighter, and it's a career I treasurer.  A few years ago, I was injured on the job and spent a good deal of time mending a few broken bones.  I couldn't really do all the things I'd been used to and was forced to slow down, to calm down.  And I began to take my writing seriously.  I'm fully recovered, but the writing is here to stay.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a pantser.  As much as I'd like to plot things out, write intricate outlines, maybe even have a bulletin board with pushpins and strings tying characters and plots together, it just doesn't work for me.  Sure, I'm capable of the mechanics of being a plotter, but I lose that creative edge.  I love the spontaneity of flying by the seat of my pants.  When my conscious mind is at work, the story becomes predictable.  But when the subconscious takes over, anything can happen.  
What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?

Sometimes when the distractions keep coming, I struggle to find my characters' voices.  Each character has a unique way of expressing him- or herself, and I don't want to cheat the reader, myself, or the character of that.
What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?

A good movie, a good book, and a good night's sleep.  Repeat until blockage is relieved.
What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?

Joy Division, with their cool and eerie echoes, serenaded me through a good deal of Forget Me Not.  Okkervil River and Modest Mouse helped me cut against societal mores.  And of course the Bouncing Souls pumped me up, like hot espresso on a freezing morning.
Who is your favorite author?

A variety of authors haunt my bookshelves, but one stands out as my favorite.  Jack Kerouac.  He wrote several fantastic reads, but produced one truly great work of art—On The Road.  I envy the poetic stream of consciousness that poured itself out unapologetically, moving an entire generation.  Wow!
Who is your favorite character from a book?

Odd Thomas created from the mind of Dean Koontz.  Oddy lives in a paranormal world and is hopelessly devoted to Stormy.  He's a fighter but not a bragger.  I really relate to the guy. 
What is your favorite book?

My favorite book—no kidding—is Candide by Voltaire.  When I open the pages, I take the hero's journey along with the title character, becoming an optimist in a world filled with pessimism.
Read anything good lately?

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files do to the mind what hot pizza and cold soft drinks do to hunger:  satisfy it while simultaneously making it want more.  The series is a lot of fun, and Butcher makes writing look deceptively easy.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?

When I force myself away from the keyboard, a 1965 Mustang harps at me to pay it attention.  I'm restoring the classic, one piece at a time.  It's like writing a novel, only different.
What advice would you give an author just starting out?

Writing is a form of art.  Getting published is a business.  Whether you find a publisher or decide to self-publish, you'll have to completely change your mind-set when you go from writing to selling.  Don't get discouraged.
Have you had anything else published?

Shadowflesh, the first book in the series, came out in February 2013. 
What's your next project?

I'm currently working on the third installment in the series:  Invisible Ink.  We find out a few more of the athame's secrets, receive a strange letter over 100 years old, and see why Cassadaga is one of the strangest places in the world.  If I told you more I'd be giving the story away.




Shawn Martin calls Springfield, Missouri, home.  After graduating from Missouri State University with majors in Economics and Political Science, he bounced around the Midwest only to end up right where he started.


His day (and night) job is being a firefighter.  Aside from rescuing cats in trees and removing burnt pot roasts from ovens, he spends his time finding the hardest way to do the simplest of things.  The rest of his time is spent weaving words into another installment in the Shadowflesh Series.  Visit www.shadowflesh.com for a look into the author and his work.



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