Action Force Mailbag (03/06/15)

Time to open the A. Lee Martinez Action Force Mailbag again. As always, if you have a question or comment, you can reach me on Twitter (@ALeeMartinez), Facebook (alee.martinez.37), or via e-mail at Drop a line. Always happy to hear from fans and almost-fans and people who would like to be fans but aren’t quite sure yet.


@Krankor asks:

“What are your thoughts on audiobook versions of your novels? I enjoyed “reading” all of them that format, but is it cheating?”

No, it’s not “cheating”. We have this weird thing where we consider reading to be a “smart” activity, and we equate “smart” with “difficult”. If it’s easy, it must not be that smart, and if it’s not smart, it must be dumb. It’s a chain of logic that never made much sense to me. Probably because it’s nonsense.

To begin with, reading does not make one smart. Much as it pains me to say that, it’s true. If you read because you think it demonstrates your intelligence, you’re doing it wrong. There are certainly many intelligent books out there, but even reading one of these doesn’t necessarily indicate you are smart. I always think of Kevin Cline’s character in A Fish Called Wanda. One of his defining characteristics is that he considers himself intelligent because he reads philosophy books, but he doesn’t truly understand them.

Audiobook versions of written stories are often more convenient and accessible for people, and while it’s not technically reading to listen to an audiobook, it still takes effort. Maybe someone has trouble getting into reading off the page. Maybe they just don’t have time. Whatever the reason, they’re still absorbing the book, its themes, its characters, its ideas. Audiobooks aren’t even really a huge format shift. Those are still the author’s words you’re hearing. A voice actor can modify the interpretation, but unless they go completely off script, you’re still hearing what the author wrote.

As a writer, I love expanding my audience, and audiobooks are one of the ways to do it. So feel free to “read” however works best for you. It beats the alternative, especially for my revenue stream, and it allows you to enjoy my genius. It’s what we call a win/win.


Scott Weston on Facebook asks:

“If you could take two of your books and do a cross over of the two with characters of both interacting with each other, what would you pick and why?”

This isn’t something I think about much. I’ve created many characters and many worlds, but I do consider them all self-contained. I don’t usually contemplate crossovers because short of the weak “Universes collide” justification, it really doesn’t work. Even my more traditional fantasy worlds don’t quite fit together from novel to novel because I’ll happily redefine what a troll or an orc is from book-to-book.

But since you asked, some characters would certainly fit together more easily than others.

Every character from Chasing the Moon, by virtue of it taking place in a broken and wildly divergent reality, could easily slip into another story or have another character appear in their setting. A hole in space opens up and out steps Mack Megaton. Thematically, however, it really wouldn’t work the same. Chasing the Moon is all about characters being swept along by an incomprehensible universe. Even the cosmic monsters of the story are mostly clueless. An action hero like Mack or a supergenius like Emperor Mollusk would clash with those ideas.

I have had one crossover, in fact, in a short story I self-published in my Robots versus Slime Monsters collection, and it is in the Chasing the Moon shared universe story, Pizza Madness. Not to spoil the story, but Frush’ee’aghov the Lesser from Gil’s All Fright Diner makes an important appearance in a confrontation with Vom the Hungering and Zap. Frush goes unbilled though and not many people seem to catch it. But as an interdimensional horror himself, he fits just fine with the Moon universe.

Mack Megaton (The Automatic Detective) and Emperor Mollusk (Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain) are both inspired by my love of pulp sci fi, so a crossover might work, even though Detective takes place in an alternate past and Mollusk in an alternate present. But they both live in worlds of incredible superscience, so it wouldn’t be hard to engineer a crossover.

Strangely, I think Nessy the housekeeping kobold (Too Many Curses) and Helen the modern day minotaur (Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest) might be a fun story to write as they’re two characters very close to my heart, but again, there would have to be some weird explanation for how they met.

As it happens, I’ve always wanted to write something with space vampires! And an invasion of interdimensional space vampires would be justification for just about anything, really. And if I was going that road, why limit myself? Why not combine all the characters into one giant multidimensional, inter-reality war? Emperor Mollusk as the leader. Mack Megaton, Duke the werewolf, Vom the Hungering, and Helen the minotaur as the muscle. Nessy the kobold as logistics and support. Lucky and Quick facing off against the savage space vampire gods! It all culminates in a final showdown to end all showdowns. Universes will explode! Life as we know it will never be the same!

Y’know what? That actually sounds pretty awesome. I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but as a collection of inter-connected short stories, each portraying the larger tale from the perspective of the established A. Lee Martinez cast of characters, it might actually work. Something to think about, at least.

Weird War of the Space Vampires isn’t beyond the realm of possibility at some point in the future, though it’ll be a while in the making if I do ever start it.

Stay tuned, folks.


Frank McCullough on Facebook asks:

“Will you ever make a sequel to monster?? That book is amazing and seemed like it could use a sequel. Just to expand the characters.”

Honestly, probably not.

There are a couple of reasons for that.

First, the entire universe of Monster undergoes a radical transformation by the end of the book. Since the book is five years old, and nothing is really secret on the internet, I’ll go ahead and say that by the end, Magic (with a capital M) makes a pretty big comeback to what is more or less our universe. This means that much of what makes Monster familiar would start to fade. Everyone would be using magic and much of the world would be unrecognizable. That’s not a tremendous obstacle. I’m known for making the weird accessible.

The second reason is the bigger problem. I’m just not sure either Monster or Judy demand to be expanded. Monster, by virtue of his character flaw, is a jerk incapable of personal growth. Judy is an entirely different person by the end of the book. A good person, sure, but not one that is necessarily very interesting to spend time with. There are the minor characters, but even they seem more interesting in small bits than larger roles.

Then again, I don’t think that far ahead. I did just come up with the idea for Weird War of the Space Vampires literally half-a-page ago, and until just then, I wasn’t especially enthused about doing a crossover with any of my characters. So maybe the world and characters of Monster will get a revisit someday. But not anytime soon.


Keelah Se’lai

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,




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One Comment

  1. Charlie
    Posted March 6, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    The Martinezverse shared reality war is a thing that simply must happen. But with that many people coming together would one of them have to get killed off to sacrifice themselves a la everything Joss Whedon has done except the Avengers or would they all survive the odds together a la the Avengers?

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