It’s been a while since we’ve opened the official A. Lee Martinez Action Force mailbag. Before we dive in, I just want to remind all the members of the Action Force that if you have a question, comment, mindless fawning, whatever that you’d like to share, you can reach me on Twitter (@ALeeMartinez), Facebook (A.Lee.Martinez.37), or via e-mail (Hipstercthulhu@hotmail.com). I’m always happy and eager to hear from fans because novelology can be a lonely profession. Yes, I sit here in my solid gold mansion with my solid gold robot butler, debating on what snacks to bring to the next Illuminati meeting, but there are times when I feel as if I’m sitting here in an vacuum. So feel free to write sometimes. Who knows? If I like your letter I might even get your name on the protected scrolls for when the planets align and the mole people rise from . . . I’ve said too much. Just write me. You’ll be glad you did.
Seems like Self-publishing your book was trying at best – what did you enjoy about it?
An excellent question. Honestly, not much.
I enjoyed writing the stories very much. And that’s about it.
This gets back to what I and some other writers have talked about when it comes to the subject of self-publication. It takes a hell of a lot of work, and most of it isn’t very interesting. It’s technical and dry, and there are a ton of headaches. My short story collection, Robots versus Slime Monsters, is finally off to reach all its backers, and while I’m proud of the collection, I’m not particularly proud of both the length it took to complete the project and the book itself from a technical perspective. It has types (obvious ones), and in the end, while it’s not a bad looking book, it’s still obviously self-published.
My e-book experience was better, and I imagine I’ll do another one of those, but I don’t think I’ll ever do another physically printed book. It was a tremendous pain in the ass, and I’m not sure I ever would’ve finished it if not for the sage advice and patient help of Russell C. Connor, good friend and horror master. Check him out at Darkfilament.com.
In the end, as an artist I want to be able to create and self-publishing is a great distraction from that. I’m not faulting anyone for choosing that path, but if you think it’s a way to avoid the frustration that comes with traditional publishing, it’s not an easy answer. It removes some elements while adding others, and in the end, it can be an overwhelming, difficult, endlessly frustrating experience without much reward. So it’s really not that much different than traditionally publishing, except where you have a lot more responsibilities that you might not necessarily be great at.
It’ll probably get easier in the future, but for now, I’m just glad my experience is over.
With your next book being the start of a trilogy, have you found your writing process to be much different?
It is a little weird to finish a book and realize that I’m doing more with the universe and characters within its pages, but when embarking on this project, I was certain that I wanted to keep one of the most important goals when writing a book. The book should be self-contained and not blackmail the reader into buying the next one by ending on a cliffhanger or force the reader to go back and read the first simply to understand what’s going on. That’s vital to me, and one of the reasons I don’t read nearly as much science fiction and fantasy as I used to.
I’ve mentioned before that I often lose interest in traditional epic fantasy. It’s not that I don’t like elements of it, but I’m just not that into it. Maybe I’m too impatient. Maybe I simply prefer stories with fewer characters, less distractions, and more focus. Regardless, The Endless Adventures of Constance Verity isn’t meant to throw away important writing philosophies simply to meet expectations.
Nearly all of my stories could spawn a sequel. I just haven’t chosen to do so before. So I’m writing these like I would write any of my stories but with the knowledge that there will be another story after. About the biggest difference is my attempt to incorporate a larger story and character arc into the trilogy itself while writing three books that could reasonably stand on their own. That’s a new challenge, but one I’m confident I’m capable of. Time will tell.
Elizabeth Rogers asks:
When robots take over, will they look like dinosaurs?
Your assumption that I have any knowledge of the upcoming Dinobot Uprising is laughable. Ridiculous even. In order to know about that, I’d have to be some sort of time traveling cyborg, and everyone knows cyborgs can’t time travel. That’s science fiction nonsense.
Clones can, of course, but what are the odds I’m a clone? 20 percent at best.
Andreas Ravenwell asks:
Do you think now that an off beat film like Guardians of the Galaxy was a mega hit that you might have a better chance of seeing some of your books transformed into movies or other media?
Short answer: Nope.
Guardians was indeed a fantastic film and a major hit, and I wouldn’t have imagined it being made even four years ago. But I think it’s fair to say it succeeded more because it was a Marvel production than any interest in its off-beatness. We are fiercely loyal to brand naming, and Marvel has built up a reputation and status that allowed a movie featuring a talking tree and a gun-toting raccoon to succeed. Without that, I’m pretty sure the exact same movie would’ve flopped. Or at least been a mild hit at best.
I’d like to be optimistic and say that now a major motion picture has proven to be a hit featuring only one human character and a great outer space adventure that the world is ripe for an Emperor Mollusk or Mack Megaton movie, but I just don’t see it. In the end, I’m an obscure writer, and no one’s clamoring to bring my peculiar brand of weird fantasy to the big screen. Nor should they. I certainly wouldn’t object if someone tried, and there are always surprises at the box office, but for the most part this is a period of creative stagnation, where marketing is key, and everything else is secondary. And trying to market a movie based on an obscure book by an obscure writer isn’t impossible, but it’s a hell of a lot of work when you can just crank out another Transformers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film and count your cash.
It’s true that Marvel is continuing to expand and reach deep into its roster of characters, but that’s only because it doesn’t own the rights to a lot of the popular characters. If Marvel owned the rights to X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man, there never would’ve been a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Probably not a Thor either. Or Iron Man even. Let’s face it. It’s about making money, and taking chances isn’t usually worth it. Guardians happened because Marvel is confident in their brand recognition (as they should be), but I don’t have that.
Yes, the loyal A. Leegion is a great group of fans, but we all know I’m not exactly setting the world on fire yet.
Of course, when Constance Verity comes out and becomes the next big cultural phenomenon, I’m sure we’ll get a Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest and a Divine Misfortune movie. Until then . . . we’ll simply have to content ourselves with the knowledge of how awesome I am and how the world would be a much more wonderful place if there were more minotaur women in our movies.
Kerry Kellam asks:
What are your favorite kinds of foods?
I enjoy solids most. Then liquids. Usually gasses are not very filling.
Perhaps that’s not what you mean by “Kind”.
In which case, I’m a simple man with simple pleasures. Also, almost no sense of smell and a muted sense of taste. Consequently, my food demands are surprisingly boring. I like plain foods without much flourish, which sounds weird but is the most satisfying to me. I don’t enjoy whipped cream on my pie, for instance, and pineapple on my pizza is bordering on heresy.
I like food that’s not too complicated to eat. Burgers. Fries. Pizza. I think in my ideal world we probably never would’ve even invented silverware.
I was also vegetarian for over a decade, so I like a lot of vegan and vegetarian dishes.
It’s not the most exciting thing about me, but it’s true.
Gabriel Guerrero asks:
That’s it for the Action Force mailbag this time, A.Leegion. Catch you next time.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,