Meet the Author: Martin Eastland
Good Morning Everyone,
How’s the world treating you? Good I hope.
I’m happy to post another author interview, and this time I’m chatting with Martin Eastland, horror author.
I actually met Martin after my interview with Kelly Blanchard. She has a great supportive writing group on Facebook (click here if you’re curious) and many authors jumped at the opportunity to chat with me about themselves. How lucky am I? Very!
Born in Glasgow, Martin Eastland started writing at age 12. First published in April 2019 in Flash Fiction Addiction (Zombie Pirate Publishing, AUS) and in several subsequent microfiction anthologies (Black Hare Press, AUS) and other short story anthologies by Nocturnal Sirens Publishing, USA) and one online eZine, he has focused his time on seeking a new publisher for his most recent solo anthology, OUT OF THE ASHES, while currently writing the follow-up anthology to it.
He lives with his wife and four children in Shropshire, England.
Hi Martin, thanks so much for stopping by. To keep things interesting, I like to ask my interviewees a random question to get the blood flowing. Here’s yours!
Through an unknown magic, you are teleported to a world in a book you have recently read. Where do you end up?
Martin: Feudal Japan of 1600. I’ve always had a childhood fascination with Japanese history, culture and traditions, most notably the Samurai.
Jonny: Oh, great choice! Interestingly enough, I also share a love of Japanese culture. I took a class on it in community college way back when.
Hmm, it looks like I’m headed to the world of Burn by Patrick Ness. With impending war between dragons and humans, I hope I can help stop it from happening!
Martin and the Writing Process
How long have you been writing?
Martin: Would you believe it? 30 years, and was only published April 2019. 1987 and I was a tender 12 years old (laughs). I had seen a re-run of the 1979 two-part mini-series of Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, when I was 11. It scared the hell out of me, and the rush of fear was so intense that I remember it to this day. I went to the local library and borrowed the novel. Christ, it was so much better than the tv version. I read it over 2 nights, and I knew then and there I wanted to be a writer. A year later, the high school librarian had a large, heavy manual office typewriter in a little side-room which she let me try out. It was like I was demon-possessed. Words flew out of my fingers like they were being channeled through me by God. An English teacher read what I had written and encouraged me more than anyone else ever had. I took his advice and here I am. A little older, a little wiser, and not quite as handsome. Hell, two out of three ain’t bad! (Laughs).
Jonny: Oh my gosh, we’re publishing twins! I was also first published in April 2019. What are the odds? Go us, haha!
I can see why you were so inspired by Salem’s Lot. That was quite the mini series and definitely a favorite of mine.
I also had teachers that inspired me to continue writing, mainly my music appreciation teacher in community college who loved the story I wrote inspired by Death and Transfiguration. I still have that short story hanging around.
Lol I like your sense of humor. It’s good to laugh at life every once in a while.
What genre is your favourite to write in, and why?
Martin: I have a fascination with the darkness of the world, and the demons that hide in the shadows of the unquiet coffin. Horror was not generally something I read a great deal of as a child. You had the standard fare of Dracula, A Christmas Carol and an occasional copy of a Stephen King novel or two hanging around the house. But my interest in choosing horror was borne of horror movies and the few horror books I was aware of growing up. It wasn’t till I visited an old friend in adulthood that I was re-introduced to King’s work. It re-awakened my old love for the master’s words and forged my choice to focus on the creatures of the night. I just like trying to scare the crap out of people and, as far as I’m told, I’ve been somewhat successful in that, which is all you can really ask of a horror writer.
I tend to focus on cinematic atmosphere and tone combined with the unholy trinity of dread, terror and horror. Gore’s my last resort but I use it if I need to. I want my work to remain with my readers looong after they finish the stories. The old standing the test of time chestnut! (Laughs) But as to how that will work out depends entirely on how they affect people in general after they finish them.
Jonny: Very interesting. I too didn’t read much horror as a kid. My parents got to oversee my book choices, so instead I mainly snuck behind their backs to watch late-night horror movies on TV.
I honestly didn’t think I would ever write anything horror-related, but life kinda hits you in the face with inspiration sometimes, doesn’t it? Ha!
I’m interested in checking out your work, and I bet you really know how to create a scary scene. I try not to focus on the gore too much either. It is present, but isn’t the focal point.
Describe your writing style.
Martin: I’m what you call a ‘pantser,’ because I write right off the bat without any real thought being put into it. Character, setting and cinematic atmosphere drives it and I allow those to dictate the tale to me. If I interject with plot, it takes the fun and the life breath out of each sentence I write. I want to be able to just drop a vicious car crash in the next paragraph if the urge takes me. Plotting is too mechanical for me. I keep an eye on the horizon, sure, but the monsters are lurking in the back seat, keeping the suspense going. As long as it keeps ‘em turning pages, terrified, that’s all I want out of it.
Jonny: Ah, the age old question or pantser or plotter.
Everybody differs a little bit, but I’m technically more of a plotter myself (I blame it on being a Taurus!). I have to outline everything, and if I don’t have a strong idea going for each story I write, then I probably won’t write a single word.
That being said, some of my best executions in writing have been when I question my original plan while reading over it and making a change on the spot. There’s something to be said about pantsing for sure.
What do you think makes a good story?
Martin: A good story is one in which the readers experience a change in themselves by the end of it. In between, its my job to give them a vicarious jolt of terror now and then, to experience the dread of not knowing what’s coming. As I don’t have any real idea of what I’m going to put in there, the reader’s senses are completely vulnerable to my whim, as opposed to my plotting it all out where its predictable to the point of ‘why did I even bother?’ I feel my way, as long as I have suitable pay offs and things are resolved, offers far more interest than anything I could outline. It offers no ambiguity or flexibility on my part – or cathartic release on the reader’s.
Jonny: Nice answer!
For me, as long as the story is full of action and mystery, I’m game. I like plot-driven stories that keep me guessing until the very end. Oh, and a first page that draws you in. To me that’s absolutely necessary. Hit me in the gut with that opening!
Where do you get ideas for your stories?
Martin: Ah, the question that should never speak it’s name! All I can say is that I don’t know. They just float around my head like snow on TV Station break until one or three get sucked down into the vortex of my warped mind. Some fall through the filter to be consigned to the ‘little black book’ in my mind, and some hang around a while, nagging me like an ex-wife to write them. Those are the ones I develop and frequently have the most potential. The idea is immaterial – its whatever I can do with it that makes it worth reading.
Jonny: Yep, I totally agree with you there.
Ideas just kind of float into existence, some more vibrant and detailed than others. I always write my ideas down, but it just depends on how the ideas develop as to whether or not I’ll pursue it. It has to have a certain level of detail and strength for me to move forward with anything.
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
Martin: I have one 18-short story collection ready for a publisher (assuming I can find one that isn’t afraid of the truth of modern life being laid bare for all to see) and I’m currently and leisurely writing the second collection, possibly even stronger story/character-wise than the first. Both books will have bonus features at the rear for readers who like the little ‘extras’ in life.
Jonny: Whoa, 18! Very nice. Finding a publisher can be tough, but keep submitting. I know you’ll find the right one for you. It’s just a matter of time and effort. Looking forward to seeing your stories!
Fun Facts About Martin
Who are your favorite writers?
Martin: Stephen King, James Clavell, Eric van Lustbader (Nicholas Linnear series), Mario Puzo, and others such as Dickens, Stoker, Shelley and LeFanu.
Jonny: Wow, lots of great names here. My favorites are always changing, but in recent times my favorites have been Teri Polen, Emerald Dodge, Martha Wells, TJ Klune, and J.P. Jackson. I tend to favor indie authors over more established ones.
If you could meet anyone that ever lived, past or present, who would it be?
Martin: Hands down, Stephen King. I have achieved my childhood dream because of his influence and I would love to thank him personally for writing the book that changed me forever.
Jonny: Oh, I bet that would be an amazing experience. If you ever do meet him, tell me everything!
I have a ton of author friends, so I’d simply like to meet them someday, any really. We always have great chats, and it’d be nice to actually meet one of them in the flesh.
What are your favorite TV shows and movies?
Martin: I haven’t really watched much TV in years. I do binge-watch a lot of 70’s/80’s shows on dvd, though. Airwolf, Shogun and ‘Salem’s Lot mini-series, The A-Team, Miami Vice, The Saint, The Persuaders and Starsky & Hutch being my favourites.
Movies would be Superman The Movie, The Godfather Part II and 80’s comedies such as Caddyshack, Stripes, and such like. It’s a fairly wide church. But my all-time favourite is SUPERMAN THE MOVIE (or, SUPERMAN 1 as most people still seem to call it). The sheer technical ingenuity (learned years later) of it is still staggering to me.
Jonny: I hear you. With writing and just normal life taking up so much time it can be difficult to make any for watching movies and tv. I like your classic picks!
Lately I’ve been in a rut, but recent favorites have been Vampire Diaries (I’m rewatching and it’s everything!), Castlevania, Are You Afraid of the Dark (reboot), and Unsolved Mysteries (also reboot).
What kind of music touches your soul?
Martin: Film scores, without a doubt. I get goosebumps when I hear certain cues by John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and John Barry, for the most part. I’m lost in them.
Jonny: Very nice! I do listen to some here and there, but anything ambient without words I can get into quite easily. Depending on my mood my tastes can change vastly, but there’s always something I can enjoy.
If you could take a vacation anywhere, where would it be?
Martin: Without any need to think, a month in Japan – 2 weeks in Tokyo, a week between Osaka and Kyoto, and a week in Okinawa – with excursions throughout the city weeks by train to historical/cultural sights of interest.
Jonny: Oh my gosh, that would be amazing! Take me with you lol. I think at this moment I’d like to take a nice cool trip to Canada. I hear they have nice temperate summers unlike the wall of humidity that is Missouri (more like misery). That and I have a few friends in Canada I’d love to meet.
If you could be any superhero, who would it be?
Martin: Superman – mostly for the flight aspect, if I’m honest. He’s the most unique one of all. He was born Superman and Clark Kent is his costume, whereas the others became their alter egos out of their own necessity.
Jonny: You bring up a good point. He really does stand out in that way, and he’s got so many useful powers. Today I’d go with Jean Grey/Phoenix, if not just for the practical uses of telekinesis and telepathy. TV remote out of reach? Not anymore lol!
Martin and His Works
Tell us about your new book.
Martin: It’s a solo anthology of 18 suspense-horror stories of variable length, with a few bonus extras at the rear for those who like or might expect that of their authors, but rarely get it. There are some pretty interesting and provocative tales in here in terms of story and character traits. Should be a good read, but for those too easily offended, well…a few of the stories ain’t for the faint hearted.
Jonny: I’m really excited about this for you, especially curious to see the end goodies you mentioned. It’s like an added present. Haha, you won’t scare me away, that’s for sure! Bring on the horror!
What was your favorite part of writing this book?
Martin: The way the material seemed to write itself, in most cases, at least. One story I was stuck on, and I moved onto another. No sense in wallowing in ‘writer’s block delusion’ – just start writing something else. It was a good six months before the answer came to me and I finished it off in 3 days.
Jonny: Isn’t that just the best? *sighs dreamily* Sometimes things just work, and I’m glad you felt so inspired. Of course there’s always little bits that are hard to sort out, but it just takes time to mull it over a bit.
What other projects do you have in store for the world to behold? Anything you can share with us?
Martin: I’m working on a second collection of short stories, but hopefully this will include a few different genres, but that’ll depend on how those pan out. Most will be in the suspense-horror field, but it could have a straight sci-fi or straight western in there – as I said, it largely depends on how they turn out as to whether they are included or not.
There may also be a novel in the pipeline, but I want to concentrate on refining my craft, as you don’t want to rush your inaugural novel to market until you can compete with the sheer volume of work in the market at present. It’s a minefield to say the least – too easy to make a fatal error in timing, just for the sake of having a novel out there. No, I’m holding out for a solid story to come along. Plenty of shorts and drabbles to keep me sharp in the interim.
Jonny: Yay, more anthologies for Martin! I’m rooting you on friend, you’ve got this! I like that you’re branching out a little bit more with this one. By expanding your horizons just a smidge you might be gaining a more diverse crowd of readers.
I hear you on the novels. I have one I’ve been sitting on for a while, not just because of the timing it will take to work on all the other books, but that’s a large part of it. I simply don’t have the time right now. Hopefully soon.
Most writers use their own lives to help them create. How much of this book is based on your own experiences, or those of people you know?
Martin: Surprisingly very little on the whole, but that’s largely unavoidable. There are viewpoints, minor things that may offer an aura of verisimilitude to my work, but I do try not to allow author intrusion to rear its head too often unless its related to character or the way the world is at this moment. The truth has to be told in fiction, or you’ll be morally bankrupted by your own self-censorship. There are too many out there ready to point out your errors and, with that, all credibility is lost. Truth of life hurts – deal with it. Don’t crucify the scribes – they’ll be the only true source of truth left in a world going mad with fake news and distorted reality. We should offer the hard truth of real life in the most brutally honest, but unobtrusive, manner that we can.
Jonny: I agree with you. I did start out writing characters based on people I’ve known, but in time they broke away from that mold, making themselves so much more than that. Nowadays I try not to model any characters after people I’ve known and would rather start from scratch.
What criteria did you select for the cover of your book?
Martin: I dare say, the cover will have to be changed as the design may well be copyrighted by my previous publisher, but that’s easy to find out.
As to the criteria, as long as it was simple, creepy and ominous, with a simple, easy to read text font, I was satisfied. I don’t think having mind-blowing artwork helps as it quite frequently isn’t an accurate reflection of the quality of the work obscured within it. As with most art, less is more. It just has to be compelling enough to catch the eye of the potential buyer.
Jonny: Yeah, sometimes the KISS method works best. I will admit that I like some stellar artwork on my covers, but it doesn’t have to be super detailed all the time. It really just depends on what my vision is for the cover. Once that image is in my head, that’s the way the cover has to be. Color me a control freak lol.
Well, that about wraps it up, Martin. Thank you so much for stopping by, and don’t be a stranger about your future releases!
Martin: It was good for me, too. (Laughs) Thanks for having me.
That’s a Wrap!
All righty book worms, that wraps up my interview with Martin Eastland. I had a great time chatting it up with him, and I hope you enjoyed the experience too!
If you’d like to learn more about Martin and his work, he can be reached at the social media links provided below.
Thank you for stopping by, and have a great day!
Social Media Links
Can’t get enough of Jaunts & Haunts?
Subscribe to my newsletter for in-depth updates on my writing, reading, and watching experiences, special deals, and important announcements regarding upcoming publications.
Also, feel free to check me out at the social media links below!