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‘Ask Me’ No. 4

Charles Martin
‘Ask Me’ No. 4

A few of the questions I’ve received lately:

Q: You have said before that you are an introvert.  How does that affect you as a professional writer?

A: I’m pretty happy sitting right here.  Coming out of my shell is a purposeful act.  Interacting in public takes energy.  Note: that’s not bad and it’s not like I dread it, not at all, it just zaps me.  Writing charges my batteries.  Public stuff (appearances) drains them.  It took me a while to figure this out…

I’d go to a signing or festival or school and leave just absolutely exhausted.  Christy came back to the hotel room after a long day at a festival and found me in bed with the covers over my head.  “You okay?”  I nodded.  I love speaking, talking about books etc., I just have to be careful not to stack too many ‘public times’ on top of each other.  Hence, book tours are grueling.  What do I do to survive?  I run a lot.  I book hotels with fitness centers.  I write some but writing a book while on tour is not always the best situation.  Watch movies.  Read books.  Quiet stuff that usually just involves me.

Q: I was just wondering, how do you get started? I always tend to come up with ideas to write, but once I get to the actual writing stuff I don’t know how to begin?

A: Good question.  It’s tough.  Everyday starts with a white page.  Today included.  Books don’t write themselves so we have to pick an entry.  I heard somebody say once, “Write the word ‘the’ and the hard part is over.  Now, you’ve started.  Keep going.”  It’s true but possibly not the best advice.  The thing that I do is remind myself that whatever I’m writing is not set in stone. I can cut and paste.  Move it around. It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around.  (It never is.)  Reminding myself of that, gives me the freedom to mess up.  Having the freedom to mess up, also means I have the freedom to not mess up, to nail it, to write something that sings.  Occasionally, that happens.  ;-)

Q: Any plans to visit the netherlands in the near future, to sign one of your translated books ‘rimpelingen’ (when crickets cry), ‘sporen’ (chasing fireflies) or ‘uit de diepten’ (the dead don’t dance)? You also have fans overseas!

A: Thanks.  I’d love to. Now we just have to talk my publisher into sending me.  ‘Where the River Ends’ ended up in about 13 countries at last count and maybe 8 or so languages.  ‘The Mountain Between Us’ is already in 8 countries.  I say this because it amazes me, like no kidding really blows me away, that somebody in some other country, in some other language, is reading a story I wrote in this shed. I look at the translations and scratch my head. I have no idea what it says but I’m told it’s my book and that other people who don’t speak my language are reading the story that I wrote.  That’s one of the crazy cool things about language.

Q: Was wondering if any of your books are series or are they all single books? The dead don’t dance, Maggie and Wrapped in Rain are the main ones I was wondering about.

A: The only two connected in that way are ‘The Dead Don’t Dance’ and ‘Maggie.’  All the rest are stand along.  And, for that matter, for Dance and Maggie can stand alone but Maggie probably means more if you read Dance first.

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