J.C. Martin worked in pharmaceutical research, then in education as a schoolteacher, before she decided to put the following to good use: one, her 2nd degree black belt in Wing Chun kung fu; and two, 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. Her debut novel, Oracle, was released by J. Taylor Publishing on July 22nd, 2012.
J.C. met me at The Slaughterhouse where we talked about the E Book revolution and marketing.
Tell us about your new book.
Oracle is a crime thriller set in London in the run-up to the Olympics. A series of bizarre murders around the city is seemingly linked to the coming Games, and Detective Inspector Kurt Lancer is put in charge of investigations. As he struggles to balance care for his own family and the safety of a growing population of potential victims—one of whom could be his own daughter.
I am currently working on the second book in my Detective Lancer series, which is again set in London, but centred around the London Underground.
What do you make of the E Book revolution?
I think it’s great! Writers, especially mid-list and indie authors, are reaching a wider audience thanks to the availability of e-books. And while it may be true that there are some pretty dire self-published works out there, there have also been some delightful gems, and it’s been fun discovering new favourite writers who may not have published through conventional means. Certainly, I still love the feel and smell of a paper book, but I believe that writers need to embrace the e-book in order to maximise their exposure and reach.
Do you think genre is limiting fiction?
Not at all. Everyone has their own individual taste in books, and genre is merely there to help inform readers of what they’d expect to read between the pages, and it’s a way for bookstores to place titles in easily navigable categories. Nowadays, the line between many genres are starting to fade anyway, with the increasing popularity of ‘hybrid’ genres. Whatever the genre, the key to good fiction is a good story and good writing.
Who are your literary influences?
I was an avid reader of James Patterson’s earlier Alex Cross novels, and I believe the fast pace and high action in my stories are a result of Patterson’s influence. However, I also like to think that my stories are edgier, darker, and more cerebral, like the works of Boris Starling and Richard Montanari, another two of my favourite crime writers.
Is there a particular incident that has changed your life and influenced your writing?
Being a writer is something I’ve always wanted to do, even as a kid, so there was no particular incident that made me decide to try and write a book. However, a couple of writing courses I attended a couple of years ago, especially the crime writing workshop at Crimefest, followed by the critique of my writing sample after, really helped improve my craft, and gave me the confidence to tackle a full-length novel.
If you were to give advice to yourself as a younger woman what would you say?
Forget waiting for flashes of divine inspiration. Discipline is key. Just get your butt in that chair and WRITE.
What sort of marketing do you find most effective as a writer?
My first book has only been on the market for four months, so I’m not sure yet just how effective any of my marketing efforts have been. However, there was a spike in sales the month I was told by a few readers that they enjoyed my book and decided to recommend it to friends or relatives. So it seems that old-fashioned word-of-mouth may still remain the most effective form of marketing.
How much sexual pathology do you think is involved in the psychology of a killer?
Wow, tough question! I’m no expert in criminal psychology, but I think that every case is individual, and that it really depends on the killer’s past experiences. However, I do believe that the psychology of the majority of killers will most definitely involve sex or violence in some form. But you’ll have to speak to an expert to confirm my belief!
Graham Greene said writers have a piece of ice in their hearts. What do you make of his observation?
We probably do! Writers are probably the only people who enjoy imagining bad things happening to good folks. The way we subject our characters to all sorts of unspeakable horrors and suffering, we must be pretty cold-hearted and sadistic!
How would you like to be remembered?
As a mother first and foremost, and a kung fu kick-butt writer second.
Thank you J.C. for a succinct and informative interview.