Book Nerd Interview
Like most writers, every word Jonathan writes -- whether it be screenplay, play or book -- is accompanied by endless cups of coffee with lots of milk and sugar (the ratio changing depending on whether he slept five hours or six hours the night before). He's also regarded as politely relentless by his friends, unbearably annoying by his enemies, and recently discovered he makes a mean fried chicken, often used to placate those aforementioned annoyed ones.
The full-length novel "Martuk ... The Holy" as well as "The Wounded King" and "The Elder", both from "The Martuk Series", a collection of Short Fiction based on characters introduced in "Martuk ... ", are just three of the books in Jonathan's rapidly expanding bibliography.
This is a surprisingly tough question to answer. In all honesty, my life revolves around my writing, leaving very little room for me to be surprising!
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
You achieve a lot more by breaking the rules than by following them. Or at least some of them.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
"Don't focus on sales. Write." I found those five words immensely helpful.
What are some of the common challenges that new and experienced authors face and what advice do you have for over-coming them?
For beginning writers, I'd say the pacing of their narrative and investing their characters with dialogue that sounds like real conversation are two issues I see time and again. And, really, the only way to fix that is to turn to those who do it well and then crack their code. Have a favorite writer whose characters you can imagine eavesdropping on? Read those words, pick 'em apart, dive beneath 'em, and figure out the Why of why they work as well as they do. And then get to work on making your stuff that much better. When it comes to publishing -- and by that I mean self-publishing -- promoting your work seems to be the hardest thing for newer writers. Building a mutually beneficial relationship with bloggers who appreciate and support your genre is one way to go about rectifying that. Another is using social media i.e., Twitter to strike up conversations with other writers as well as potential readers. I'm not saying endlessly auto-Tweet the link to your book, something I consider both shocking in its lack of creativity and annoying in its predictably repetitive redundancy, but let them see the person behind the book. I've gained more readers by being myself on Twitter than possibly any other venue. Used wisely and sincerely, it can be a powerful tool.
For those who are unfamiliar with your novel; The Wounded King, how would you introduce it?
The Wounded King is the first in The Martuk Series, a collection of Short Fiction based on my full-length novel Martuk ... The Holy. My goal was to write a blisteringly fast read that had the emotional resonance and literary heft of a novel, but in less than 100,000 words. I actually love writing these because I'm forced to choose my word carefully and focus on one character with one storyline with all the action, and there's a lot, churning around that one thing. It really is amazing what kind of powerful experience you can create in 20,000 words or less.
Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
Because he had a story to tell, the Wounded King. These people were important in Martuk's journey and I wanted to know more. Trapped in the telling of Martuk's Tale, they didn't have a chance to really speak without his narrative coloring their words. We saw everything through Martuk's eyes. So I wanted to know how did the Wounded King end up where he is? What happened? What was that backstory? What about his family? His hopes and dreams and disappointments? And why should anyone care? An ongoing collection of Short Fiction -- with many of the stories predating Martuk's arrival on the scene thus saving the reader from needing to be familiar with Martuk ... The Holy -- seemed to be the best answer with each character having a chance to explain the How of who they were and the Why of what they ended up doing in the novel.
Do you have a favorite quote that you keep visible in your work environment to help inspire you?
"What we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down" -- Mary Pickford.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I've just released The Elder, the second in The Martuk Series and I'm currently writing Red and Gold, the third installment. I'm also writing Martuk ... The Holy: Proseuche, the full-length sequel to Martuk ... The Holy and chapter mapping The Magi, the fourth in The Martuk Series.
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Don't be another J.K. Rowling or Stephen King or Clive Cussler or James Patterson or any other bestselling author. They are who they are because they poured WHO they are into their work. If you want your work to resonate as strongly with your readers as theirs do with theirs, it's imperative you do the same. So write your words unapologetically. Don't worry about people liking it or wanting to read it. I guarantee you someone out there will hate it and think it's worthless drivel. But someone else will love it and it might even change someone's life. You have no control over how it will be received, so get over it and write. A lot.
Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
Although not the best, per se, the most memorable was in Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris during a suddenly violent thunderstorm. Pouring rain, lashing winds, cracking thunder, and me seeking shelter inside a centuries old crypt. Incredible.
What book are you reading now?
I'm bouncing right now between Stephen King's Insomnia and John Philip Jenkins' Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years. It's research and it's absolutely fascinating.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
"What are you doing right now?"
When was the last time you cried?
When my Mom died in May of 2000. But I'm not really a crier. I tend to take my lumps, swallow once, twice, and then buck up and get back to work. I'm very disciplined that way.
Where can readers stalk you?
I have a blog at http://martuktheholy.com
Or they can find me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Jonathan_Winn
From ancient Uruk, The Almost King tells his tale. Of The Elder and his cunning Priests in their robes of red and gold. Of an Old Woman who can call the power of the Dark Gods. Of his mother, the Queen, and his dying brother, the King.
And of the Darkness, an evil from before the Time of the Moon. Inescapable, its hunger never-ending, its shadow fed by the Priests, slowly overwhelming his family.
Drowning in a sea of red and gold, the Almost King battles an unwinnable war as he navigates the wreckage towards his fate as … The Wounded King.
The Wounded King is the first in The Martuk Series, a collection of Short Fiction based on characters from the full-length novel Martuk … The Holy.