- full-time author, hunter, photographer, rabble-rouser, father, friend, marksman, storyteller, frightener of children, carnivore, engineer, fool, philosopher, cook, and madman.
Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Martin Wilsey!
Before Martin turned to writing full-time, he was a research scientist for a government-funded think tank. Those skills doing detailed, in-depth research, and whiteboard usage, come in damn handy now. He and his wife Brenda live in Virginia with their two cats Brandy and the famous Bailey.
Martin, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!
If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?
I would love to have a Black Eagle as a pet. One that was more like a friend than a pet. One that had a large vocabulary of words it understood, even though he could not himself speak. He would feed himself and, when asked politely, would also bring me rabbits for the grill. He’d be great during the pending Zombie Apocalypse. I’d name him Elvis.
Oh wow! What a majestic choice!
What do you write and how did you get started?
I write what I love to read: Science Fiction and Fantasy. I like to bring the science back into science fiction. I like to keep my physics as real as possible, so when I cross the line to fiction with things like artificial gravity and faster than light travel, it’s more believable.
I always get started the same way. I create a detailed outline. My outlines always begin the same way. With this:
Fill in the blanks: When [INCITING INCIDENT OCCURS], a [SPECIFIC
PROTAGONIST] must [OBJECTIVE], or else [STAKES].
That expands into three acts, and eventually into nine acts. In the end, I usually have a scene by scene, bullet list, detailed outline.
I love this process because it is so creative. I am not worried about spelling, or grammar, or punctuation. All my creativity goes into the story and characters, and settings.
I do my outlines in longhand, on paper with a pencil. It’s odd to have a favorite brand of pencil and a favorite pencil sharpener.
Favorite Brand of Pencil and Sharpener?
My favorite brand of pencil is a Palomino – BLACKWING 602. They are so worth it, and you can get them easily on Amazon. I was turned on to them by a fellow aspiring writer—very old school. He still does his writing on an actual typewriter.
My sharpener was my father’s. It is older than me, and I was born in 1959. Built to last. Like me.
My entire journey has been documented on my writer’s blog. It has a ton of lessons learned along the way. It has tips and tricks from several other authors, as well as me. It also has a pile of stuff just for fun, even a weekly webcomic about me and my cat Bailey, who thinks he is my editor and agent.
I don’t always start off with that stakes sentence — but I definitely write mine before I do my first revision. I’ve gotta admit, although I have decent handwriting, I am much faster at typing than writing and can write much longer by computer than by hand. I may not have a favorite pencil or sharpener, but I do love my Bic pens.
What do you like to read?
I love to read. I read about a hundred books a year. I’ll never get to read all the books I want before I die at 116 years old. I read many kinds of books. Scifi mostly, and I switch between reading classics like Heinlein, Asimov, and Clark, to new SciFi, Indie published Sci Fi, and even beta-reads of as yet unpublished works.
I like to read the same books my family reads so we can talk about them. I have read a lot of romance titles and paranormal romance my wife enjoys. I have read a lot of young adult titles that my kids enjoyed, like Harry Potter.
I also read non-fiction on politics, religion, philosophy, and advances in science.
I even have seven sets of encyclopedias that STILL get read and used a lot.
Oh wow! 100? What a great mix of writing. Before I started writing, I may have read that much. But these days, I often feel like I need to put my time in, in front of my manuscript before I’m ‘allowed’ to read.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.
Write what you know
What fun is that? That would pretty much eliminate EVERYTHING I write. I will never know what it’s like to travel through time, or fly a ship in space, or survive on a future battlefield, or fall in love with someone that is not quite human.
That being said, my experiences do color my writing. I have fallen in love. I have been horribly injured. I have fired a belt-fed, full-auto machine gun. I’ve slept in a monastery. I have cooked over an open fire. I’ve known hunger and regret and joy. I have flown alone in a small plane on a clear night under a sky full of stars. All these experiences inform my writing.
One day I will finish writing my memoir. There is where I will write what I know. Well, maybe more like what I believe.
Exactly! What you know and what you’ve experienced should definitely influence and add relatable depth to your story, but don’t be bound by it.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.
I was plagued for decades with the most common type of author self-sabotage. I never finished anything. I would get most of the way through a project and paint myself into a corner. I would have another good idea and start working on that project, lying to myself that I could work on more than one at a time. Pure self-sabotage, never finishing anything.
Interestingly, the most important skill I have learned to be successful is not talent, and it’s not inspiration, it’s not the muse striking. It’s discipline. It’s doing it whether you feel like it or not. It’s like wearing your seatbelt or brushing your teeth. If you do it every day, inspiration learns where to find you. People hate to hear it. It’s work. Treat it like a job. The best job in the damn world, and I am living proof.
Drink coffee, make stuff up, and people send me money. How awesome if that!?
But first, you must Finish Things.
Definitely a key step in creating! I’ve finally sorted out the ‘finish things’ part — at least when it comes to finishing the drafts of the project. I just haven’t been able to give up on any of my stories — so I keep revising them every so-many-rejection letters.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
Solstice 31 Saga
Barcus is a working stiff looking for a good paycheck. When the Ventura and its crew enter orbit for a scheduled planet survey, the ship activates an automated defense system protecting the planet. Although the Ventura is destroyed in the attack, Barcus alone survives the harrowing fall to the remote planet surface. He struggles to remain alive and sane and to discover why everyone he knew and loved on the Ventura was deliberately murdered.
Swinging between despair and fury, Barcus discovers that for every answer he obtains, there are more questions raised. Barcus is assisted by the Emergency Module, Em, his most useful tool. It is an artificial intelligence system contained in an all-terrain vehicle specifically designed to help him survive. Barcus soon finds himself in the middle of a planetary genocide of the local native population. He is unable to stand passively by as more people die, even if they are long lost colonists who fear “the Man from Earth” like children fear the monster under their bed.
Will Barcus ever find his way home? Will he find out who is responsible? Will his rage just burn this world down? Or will he find his soul in the eyes of a starving, frightened woman?
Solstice 31 Saga Short Stories:
Virtues of the Vicious
Elizabeth Cruze came to Earth for one reason: to buy weapons. She never counted on ending up in prison. Never fear, though, she’s not planning on staying there long.
Special Investigator Neal Locke has made a career out of catching the most elusive and dangerous criminals. He’s never failed to “get his man.”
When Cruze escapes from prison, Locke is tasked to track her down. She should be easy to find…all he’s got to do is follow the trail of bodies.
But Locke has been an investigator for a long time. It doesn’t take him long to figure out that there’s more going on than what he’s been told…
The Once Damned – (Novella)
A disgraced royal guard who failed in protecting his King hunts down those who cost him more than just his honor.
The trail of blood that follows him doesn’t all belong to someone else.
He walked away once. Now there is nowhere else to go.
Anthologies with Short Stories by Martin Wilsey:
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