Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Interview with Mike Martin

Today we get to welcome an author from across the northern border.  Canadian writer Mike Martin is the author of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, and he's joining us to talk about the third installment, Beneath the Surface, and to share what he's learned within the realm of fiction.

Welcome, Mike!

DAB:  Was there a point in your life that prompted your desire to write or have you always wanted to be an author?

MM:    As long as I can remember I wanted to be a writer. I loved books and reading and the adventures that they brought to me as a child and that continued with me from children’s books into the classics and modern literature. My work have always included some aspect of writing but it wasn’t until much later in life that I was finally willing to take the plunge into full-time writing.

DAB:  Where do you come up with ideas for your novels?

MM:    I am inspired first by an image or scene and that is usually the starting point for my imagination to kick in. Then it is all about connecting to the creative flow or current. In the case of the first book in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, The Walker on the Cape, it was a lighthouse that caught my attention one foggy night. It seemed to me to be the perfect setting for the beginning of a mystery series.

DAB:  Were there any characters you found difficult to write? Do you ever have difficulty writing from the point-of-view of a member of the opposite sex?

MM:    I find it difficult as a man to write about a woman, or from a woman’s perspective, so Sheila, Sgt. Windflower’s lady friend and confidante was difficult to write. So I tried my best to be respectful and when in doubt I checked with an expert, my partner, to make sure that I was at least close to getting it right. I am going to venture out of my comfort zone in the next book in the series however, because Sheila’s character has a big role to play. I’m not sure exactly what that is yet, but it’s coming.

DAB:  How long did it take for you to craft this novel?

MM:    It took me five years to write the first book and almost a year to complete the final version of the second book in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, The Body on the T. Now I’m down to about six months for the latest book, Beneath the Surface. I’m not sure if I can do it any faster than that and I’m not sure that I would want to. There is a natural fermenting process for both good wines and a good book. You can write faster but can you right faster and better? I don’t think so.

DAB:  I agree wholeheartedly on the faster/better scenario!  I also like your analogy of writing and wine - very true.  Tell us about a typical day in your writing world.

MM:    I usually write first thing in the morning. I have a couple of paid projects that I like to look after first, blogs and freelance articles. It’s important to do that if I want to pay my bills and continue to eat three meals a day which I have kinda grown accustomed to. After that I spend most of the rest of the morning on my personal writing projects. If I’m writing a book then I commit to writing from 1,000 to 2,000 words. They won’t be final and will need editing and revision. But it’s much easier to re-write than that first creative thrust. After I reach my goal I take a break and do something completely different. I may do a bit more writing later but I like the freedom of not having to if I’ve done my work in the early part of the day.

DAB:  There's the eternal debate whether to outline or not.  What is your preference?

MM:    I cannot imagine sitting in front of the computer and trying to plot out the whole story from beginning to end. To me, that sounds like too much work. The fun of writing, IMHO, is in watching the story unfold from your imagination, just like the reader does. The characters come. They tell the story. I write it down. I get to say where the story begins, and where it ends. At least for now.

DAB:  My belief as well.  I like to inhabit the skin of my characters in order to translate onto the page.  How do you handle negative feedback about your novel(s)?

MM:    I have only ever gotten one bad review of my books. That surprised me but I realized that was a person’s individual and personal choice and that they had a right to their opinion. So I didn’t take it personally. I learned a long time ago that if you wanted to be a writer then you had to deal with rejection, lots of rejection. It happens, you don’t like it, and then you move on to the next reader or reviewer or book or writing project.

DAB:  What are some things you’ve done to get the word out about your novel(s)?

MM:    It might be a better question to ask what I haven’t done. For independent or small press authors the writing life is about 30% writing and 70% marketing. So I have six blogs, three Facebook accounts and a brand new Twitter hash tag. Plus I am in an endless loop of promotion that only slows down, and then only a little, when I am in full-fledged book writing mode. One of the best things I did to promote my books, at least I felt the best about it, was that I gave away 100 copies of my first book right out of the boxes. That got people’s attention and even some media.

DAB:  Definitely!  Do you have any writing pointers for the authors in our audience?

MM:    I had no idea of where to even begin writing a novel so I did what was suggested to me, which I offer as advice to all aspiring writers: Read about how other writers did it. One book that really helped was Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” and in this book and others I learned that the way to write a novel was to start and then to keep at it until it was finished. It didn’t matter about the weather, or money, or the economy, or relationships, or even family or sickness or anything. If you want to write a book, you just get up every day and you do it.

DAB:  I've read that one as well - loved his 'devil may care' attitude at times.  Care to tell us what is next on your writing horizon?

MM:    As you can see I am busy doing interviews and promoting my new book, Beneath the Surface. That takes a lot of time and energy, along with trying to manage a life and relationships and other responsibilities. And I continue to write on three blogs of my own along with guest blogs and a few paid gigs. But already in the back of my mind the ideas are pooling for the next Windflower mystery. I will take a short break over the summer, and then get back to work to see where those ideas take me and Sgt. Windflower.

DAB:  Now’s your chance – give us the final plug for your novel.

MM:    Beneath the Surface is the third installment of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series. In this book Sgt. Windflower is back on the scene of the crime.  He is joined again by his trusted ally Eddie Tizzard, his rock-steady girl, Sheila, and a wide cast of supporters.  Together they face down an international crime syndicate operating on the East Coast, and help Windflower deal with the modern challenges of sexual harassment and corruption while re-discovering his roots and inner strength.

This book is a little deeper and a shade darker than the first two books in the series, simply because the issues involved are more serious.  But that is just part of the story because Sgt. Windflower is the eternal optimist and even as he struggles with some of his inner demons he still loves the food, the people and the culture of Newfoundland.  Especially the food!

I would humbly suggest the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series for anyone who likes a good story, who likes Canadian fiction, and would like to learn more about the food, customs and culture of Newfoundland.  All three books are fun to read and if anyone doesn’t have fun reading them I will gladly refund their money.

There you have it, folks!  Thanks again to Mike for visiting with us and taking us on the writer's journey.  Best wishes and much success on this release.  To pick up a copy of his books, click on one of the links below or to check in with him directly, click on this link


  1. Thank you so much for having me here today. It was so much fun!!
    Mike Martin
    Author of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series

    Twitter @mike54martin

    You can follow Sgt. Windflower on Facebook at

    1. Thanks, Mike! Once again, I owe an apology for not getting your interview posted in a timely manner. Sometime I lose things in this vast world called technology. I appreciate your patience!