Author interview: Larry Martin
1. Why did you write your first book?
When I went into practice as a pulmonary medicine physician, I found I really enjoyed teaching and explaining things to patients. So my first book was Breathe Easy, a Guide to Lung Diseases for Patients and Their Families. It was traditionally published by Prentice Hall. Since then I’ve written 22 books.
2. What made you get into writing in the first place?
Hard to know. Something I’ve always enjoyed doing.
3. What is your writing style?
Clear, direct, unambiguous. I write what interests me at the moment, and as a result have published books in 8 different genres, from a syllabus on music theory to a text book on pulmonary medicine, from 3 Civil War novels to a middle-grade fiction about climbing Mount Everest.
I’ve always said, if you want to be financially successful as a writer, stick to one genre. Hard to build a following when you jump around so much. But I have no regrets. I only write what interests me, not to make a living at it. After each book I wrote while in practice, my wife would joke, “Larry, keep your day job.”
4. How do you come up with your cover designs?
I get the idea, and hire a professional cover designer. We go back and forth until I am satisfied. So far I have been very happy with the covers.
5. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
6. What are some common traps for aspiring writers?
Oh, my! There are many, depending on who you ask. Here’s three that come to mind. Not reading enough to see what good writing is and is not. Not getting good, detailed feedback on their writing, such as can be obtained in a critique group. Refusing to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite to get it right.
7. What most interferes with your writing?
Desire to do other things: music, golf, vacationing, outdoors stuff. Dangerous to sit at computer all day. I could do it, but not healthy.
8. Do you write each book to stand alone or do you build a body of work with connections between the books?
Mostly the former. See answer to No. 3. The only three books connected in any way are my 3 Civil War novels, which share the same historical time period and some of the same characters.
9. What is your favorite book from another author?
No one favorite. When I was younger I used to love Isaac Asimov and science fiction. Now, I tend to read only one or two novels by the prolific popular writers, (e.g., John Grisham, Schott Turow, Robin Cook, E. L. Doctorow) and then move on. Lately I am only reading non-fiction.
10. Do you base characters on real people and if so what do you owe them?
Not real people. I make up my own characters, who (I think) have no resemblance to actual people I know.
11. What kind of research do you do to write your books?
INTENSIVE. I make myself an ‘expert’ on the subject I write about by extensive reading. Thus I wrote books about Scuba Diving, Music Theory, Pulmonary Physiology. For the Civil War novels I went to original sources, maps, newspapers of the period. My historical fiction books, except for the obviously fictional characters, are historically accurate. My middle-grade fiction on climbing Mt. Everest tracks one of the actual routes to the summit, though I have never been there. Just knowledge gained from research.
12. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?
Not knowing if you got it right. As a male, I always wonder if my portrayal of women regarding sex and love is fair or believable.
13. How do you select the names of your characters?
Just make them up. In historical fiction, I try to use common names of the period, e.g., Belle for the heroine in one Civil War book; Gustav Heinz for a 19th century German immigrant.
14. What was your hardest scene to write?
No one hardest, but generally scenes without dialogue are the hardest, where I have to show details to convey the setting I envision: weather, clothes, smells, sounds, etc. For me, writing dialogue is much easier.
15. How long does it take you to write a novel?
Shortest: 3 months. Longest: 1 year.
16. What format do you find sells best for your work, Kindle, Print or Audio?
Kindle. Have my first audio book coming out soon. But pages read on Kindle beats print books by far.
INTERVIEW by Sandra Olson