"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Sir Richard Steele

Monday, March 26, 2012

Interview with Marty Martins and Review of his book The Blizzard

It is my distinct pleasure to welcome Marty Martins to my blog today. He is here to answer some of my questions and to give us some background on his book, The Blizzard. So, without further ado, lets get started.

1- How did you go from being a rodeo star to being a prosecutor?
Well, “star” is over-inflating it by half a universe, but I was in the pro rodeo business for 19 years.  Mostly bareback bronc riding and then, towards the end, some saddle bronc riding.  I didn’t care for bull riding.  Got on 12 and rode six.  A former champion who saw me ride one time told me that was the event I should be in because I was (his words) a “natural.”   But I never liked bulls’ even when I rode them I got hurt.  I was always a student of the sport and when a buddy of mine started his own rodeo production company, he asked me to announce for him, so I became a rodeo announcer the last four years (while still competing in saddle bronc riding).  All the travel cost me my first marriage (you ever heard “Amarillo By Morning”?) and in trying to get back together, my wife said I’d have to quit rodeo.  I always was interested in the law (my Dad was a cop and his father and grandfather were lawyers), so I told her I’d become a lawyer, but before I finished law school she married someone else.  While in law school I decided I wanted to be a prosecutor and was lucky enough to get that wish.

2- How did you become involved with Teen Violence?
When I was a boy in grade school, my mother saw me hit a girl.  Right away, she called me inside and told me, and later my brothers, that “boys don’t hit girls.”  I never did again.  Also, I never liked bullies and came to realize that’s what men who hit women are.  Pick on someone your own size, you coward!  After I became a prosecutor and saw the end results of domestic violence, it just made me angry.  From there, and having two daughters and seven granddaughters certainly helped, combating dating violence was a natural progression.

3- Tell us a little bit about your book, The Blizzard.
Growing up in Wisconsin, I know something about snowstorms.  I think I was a senior in high school when I thought of a story of a boy and girl in a woods who get stuck in a storm and take refuge in a little cabin (probably daydreaming about my high school sweetheart!) and didn’t think about it again for years.  Every now and then over the years, something would remind of it. In December of 2008, while my wife was going thorough chemotherapy, I came down with a cold.  Due to her suppressed immune system, I was sleeping in the guest bedroom to reduce the risk of her catching it.  Well, one night, I woke up and couldn’t fall back to sleep.  Out of nowhere I thought about the cabin in the snowstorm story and started working on a plot.  By morning, I had it all worked out in my head.  Over the next 12 days, writing at night (I was still working then) and on weekends, I wrote nearly the whole story.  Later, upon the advice of my avid reader and schoolteacher mother, I added a prologue and two chapters to the front to provide more background, followed by months of editing and proofreading.
            The story is about Chet, a boy who has to change schools for his senior year, while his dad is overseas in the Marine Corps.  Right away, he becomes enamored with Melanie, a popular cheerleader who isn’t at all interested in him.  Although she knows he’s smart from being in some of the same classes, she thinks he’s a little weird.  After a sledding party that winter, Melanie accepts a ride home from one of the football players, but he stops and tries to come onto her.  When she finally slaps him to rebuff a sexual assault, he punches her.  Melanie jumps out and runs off into a snowstorm to escape, only to end up falling into a frozen lake.  Of course, who do you think is the only one out in the woods that day?  Chet gets her out of the water and to a small cabin he knows about.  The rest of the story might be an example of the old saying “No good turns goes unpunished,” but everything gets resolved in the end.

4- I know there is a sequel coming about Chet and Melanie. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Yes. I already have 85,000 words down on the sequel, which will be a full-size adult (not YA) novel.  I wish my muse was as helpful on this one as she was on The Blizzard!  The sequel starts with Chet and Melanie in their senior of college, still together, but not for much longer.  The story goes on for about three years, including twice when their paths intersect, and ends with a dramatic finish.

5- What has been the most satisfying part of your various careers?
I competed in my first rodeo the day after I graduated from high school and was hooked.  Rodeo is a great sport and America’s only home-grown sport.  And contrary to what some radicals would like people to believe, is not abusive to animals.  Cowboys respect animals and love horses and wouldn’t stand for them being abused, not to mention how darn valuable they are.  Anyway, rodeo was a great life.  It’s a unique subculture with its own clothes, own lingo, own code, and while very nomadic, builds long and true friendships.  I finished college at Cal Poly-Pomona on a rodeo scholarship and won two varsity letters.  (Yes, there is high school and college rodeo, too.)  After I was married, my wife and daughters came along.  The kids had been in 22 states before first grade.  Do you think they have any trouble with U.S. geography?  I remember when was I 23 my Dad telling me I should quit because I was going to get arthritis.  I had to laugh (respectfully, of course) and said, “Dad, I already have arthritis.”  People ask me if I would do it again and my truthful answer is always the same, I tell them, “No, I’d start sooner and go harder.”

Being hired as a Deputy District Attorney began a different chapter of my life, but it was another dream come true.  The prosecutor is not the victim’s lawyer.  He or she represents all the people of the state whose laws have been violated, but they are the ones who help individual victims get some sense of justice.  Believe me, there is a lot of satisfaction putting bad guys in prison.  I also had two of the best assignments during my time as a Deputy DA.  For five years I was in a drug and gang task force, where prosecutors and cops worked together building cases.  Under the terms of our grant, whenever the prosecutors weren’t in court, we were expected to be in the field with our cops.  It’s hard for a defense attorney to give the court some fable about what took place during a search or an arrest when the prosecutor was right there when it happened.  For nearly half my career I was the DA’s liaison to 12 law enforcement agencies, training police, being available to answer legal questions 24/7 (God bless my understanding wife!), and reviewing search warrants.

Now I’m a writer.  I guess I always have been, as I have written scores of articles for rodeo, police, and prosecutorial publications, but writing fiction is a different beast.  For example, even though The Blizzard is in the Young Adult genre, I refuse to be condescending and wrote it so adults could appreciate it, too.  I’m blown away by some of the comments from adult readers.  When a 40-something guy tells you he was surprised how emotionally invested he got in your book, an author can’t help but feel he did something worthwhile.

6- I know much of your legal career centered around prosecuting drug dealers, do you see a future book there?
Absolutely!  In fact, I already started and put it aside.  Sixteen thousand words in that draft already.  And, yes, there is a rodeo novel simmering on the back burner, too.

7- What does Marty do for fun and relaxation?
I love to snorkel and I love Hawaii, so I try to go there at least once a year.  I collect ancient Hawaiian artifacts, and have been learning the Hawaiian language for over a year.  Next fall, I hope to be a student at Kapi`olani  Community College on Oahu.  I also enjoy reading (every writer should be a reader, too).  Once a month I go to dinner with a bunch of other retired prosecutors, which is always a fun time.  I have two rescue dogs, which I walk daily about a mile and a half.  Even though they can be aggravating sometimes, I love them and they never fail to make me laugh at least once a day.

8- Who is your favorite author and why?
Vince Flynn.  Well, he’s a Catholic boy from the Midwest like me (even though he roots for the wrong NFL team) and he self-published his first novel, like me.  I read his first book, Term Limits, on friend’s recommendation and went hunting for more.  The Mitch Rapp series started and I devoured all the rest (except the brand new one) in order.  Besides having always liked political and international espionage thrillers, I like Flynn’s books because they are well-plotted, action-packed, suspenseful, and strongly pro-American.

You can reach Marty through the Contact link on his website at http://www.martymartins.com/ .

If you should have any questions for Marty, please don't hesitate to ask. I will pass them along so he can respond personally. Make sure to check back for your answer.

The Blizzard
Marty Martins
Mano Pa'ele Publishing 2010
ISBN 9780984568062

   Melanie Hondel is the cute girl in the graduating class. She is on the cheer leading squad and is involved in all sorts of school activities. The boys flock to her like bees to honey. Tommy is the tough guy on the football squad who has his sights set on Melanie. She doesn't really pay him much attention because he is the dumb jock. Chet is the new kid in town who also has his eye on Melanie; but even though he is kinda cute, she finds him a bit strange because he is so self-reliant.
   Melanie goes with a bunch of her friends sledding on a nearby property. When her friends decide to go home, Melanie stays and Tommy offers to take her home. On the way home. they get into a fight and Melanie flees the truck. She ends up getting lost and falls through the ice. Chet is out checking his traps and hears her calls for help. She is near frozen when he locates her. He ends up carrying her to an isolated cabin where they spend the night. They sleep in the nude wrapped in each others arms to stay warm. They are found the next morning by the local sheriff's department and Melanie's father. What ensues will change the course for all concerned.
   This is a wonderful YA coming of age novel that is sure to please young and adult alike. It is a story of learning to listen to your children and the need to trust in them if good values have been instilled into them. It is a story of developing romantic love and what it means. The storyline is well written and flows smoothly from beginning to end. The first chapter or two was a little slow; but once it started, I could not put the book down. Chet is an upstanding young man, who despite what he is put through, he maintains his dignity and respect for adults. Melanie is a well rounded young woman who is down to earth despite her popularity. Mr. Hondel is another story. He is a piece of work and I had no problem disliking him. If you are into young adult reads or just like an excellent story, I am sure you will enjoy this one. I highly recommend it. I am anxiously awaiting the sequel to this book.
   I wish to thank the author for providing me with a copy for reading and reviewing purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in anyway except for receiving the book to review.

I give The Blizzard 5 out of 5 stars


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