Author’s Roundtable: J.C. Martin


How long have you been writing? Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I have been writing on and off ever since I created my own comic book series as a kid, based on the adventures of my pet dogs. On top of all the stories I used to write in English class, I also wrote a YA mystery in the vein of R.L. Stine’s “Fear Street” series whilst in high school. Throughout university, I wrote fan fiction. So yeah, it’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing, but it was only recently that I decided I wanted to do it full-time.

Photo courtesy J.C. Martin

What books or stories have you written?

Apart from what I mentioned above, which I’d be ashamed to show to anyone today, I wrote a few short stories and flash fiction that have been published in anthologies by New Asian Writing, Pill Hill Press, and Static Movement, among others. As an experiment in self-publishing, I also released a horror novelette, “The Doll,” available on Amazon and Smashwords. My crime novel, “Oracle,” will be released by J. Taylor Publishing on July 30, 2012.  

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

I taught science in secondary school for five years. I enjoyed my job, loved the kids, but what with all the extra tuition, after-school clubs, marking, meetings with parents and project assessments, I had zero time for writing. My work days used to start at 7:30 a.m., and I got home around 7 p.m. Sure, there were lots of holidays, but the term always used to drain me so much that I ended up doing zilch once vacation started. Now, I could have done what many people do and write tiny bits over long years until they complete their manuscript, but my story was eating at me. The fact that “Oracle” is set in London in the run-up to the Olympics, I wanted to release it in 2012.

So, I quit my teaching job, one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. I became a self-employed martial arts instructor instead. Although it’s still something I enjoy, it pays half of what I used to get as a teacher, but that meant I got much more time for my writing.

Here’s hoping it’ll all be worth it! 😉

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

You know all those rules on writing? They’re not so much rules as guidelines: generally wise to follow them, but sometimes, when it feels right, feel free to disregard them.

Want to start a sentence with a conjunction? Need to use an adverb? Why not? Getting bogged down with following each and every writing rule will cripple your style, and your writing could lose its voice and soul.

How do you get inspiration for your books? Are there life lessons you have used as inspiration?

I get inspired by random things I see and hear. My inspiration for “Oracle,” of course, came amid the excitement in London when we won the 2012 Games bid. Soon after, the press reported all sorts of hoo-hahs about stadium building schedules, budget deficits, transport and congestion problems, you name it. I thought, why not add a serial killer to the mix? That’d really stress out all those PR experts!

So far, I’ve been inspired by computer games (fan fiction), real locations (“The Doll” was inspired by the creepy but very real Island of the Dolls in Mexico; my “WiP,” the sequel to “Oracle,” was inspired by the many disused old London underground stations dotted around the city), and as scientist by recent developments in science. I’ve even been inspired by my own writing: a minor character in “Oracle” just refuses to get out of my head, and I’m planning a thriller series with him as the main character.

Who knows where my next flash of inspiration will come from?

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Apart from the fact that it keeps me from going insane from all the voices in my head and that I can kill people who annoy me in real life (without using their names, of course)? Like any craft or art form, the benefits come from the sense of fulfilment and achievement one gets from creating something beautiful, that could be appreciated by someone else. Like music, art and pottery, it is both a hobby and a passion, a skill you continuously hone, and if you’re lucky enough, one that you could make a living out of.

Has writing made you a better person? Was there a point in your life where writing helped you deal with something, a death or a problem relationship perhaps?

I’m afraid my life is a bit more boring than the life of my characters. It has never helped me through any rough patches in life, but it is something I turned to often, because I have a story to tell. But I have definitely benefited from writing, especially online, where I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful fellow writers!

Photo courtesy J.C. Martin

About J.C. Martin

J.C. Martin is a butt-kicking bookworm: when she isn’t reading or writing, she teaches martial arts and self-defense to adults and children.

After working in pharmaceutical research, then in education as a school teacher, she decided to put the following to good use: 1) her second-degree black belt in Wing Chun kung fu and 2) her overwhelming need to write dark mysteries and gripping thrillers with a psychological slant.

Her short stories have won various prizes and have been published in several anthologies. “Oracle” is her first novel.

Born and raised in Malaysia, J.C. now lives in south London with her husband and three dogs.

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8 thoughts on “Author’s Roundtable: J.C. Martin

  1. J.C.,greetings from a sleety-rainy upstate NY. It’s always fun to read about you! I agree, a writer writes because of a never-fading passion, plus as the great prolific Nora Roberts says, it’s cheaper than paying a psychiatrist ☺

  2. Hello, Jason. Good to meet you.
    J.C. sent me over to check out this interview. How could I not? I just had to see that martial arts photo! Other than that, as a new author, I am always intriqued by the hows and whys of other authors. Thanks for posting this insightful interview.

    -Jimmy

  3. “You know all those rules on writing? They’re not so much rules as guidelines.” <– That totally reminds me of Barbosa in Pirates of the Caribbean!
    I know exactly what you mean about having zero time for writing when you're a full time teacher. Fortunately, I was able to stop myself going insane by getting a part time teaching job instead, and you're making use of your martial arts skills, so we both found a way to fit some writing in!

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