Interview with Craig Martelle

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It’s Craig Martelle on my blog today. He is the author of the Free Trader series and Rick Banik thrillers. You can visit him at his website  www.craigmartelle.com

1) Do tells us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? Your friends and family?

I’m originally from Iowa, but I joined the Marine Corps after high school and started travelling the world. I spent over twenty years in the military. I earned a law degree after I retired and then worked as a business consultant for the next seven years, until I grew tired of the constant travel, so I retired from that as well and now stay home and write.

I married into a Pittsburgh family, although we call Fairbanks our home. My wife is a professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks so that’s how we ended up here. After Fairbanks, I don’t want to live anywhere else:)


2) Tell us about your ‘Free Trader’ and ‘Rick Banik’ series.

Free Trader was inspired by role-playing games of the 70s and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. I love the concept of being able to talk with your animal companions, even more so when they are as intelligent or more than the humans. Equality to me is a concept based on the content of one’s character (Martin Luther King, Jr). I believe that and the Free Trader books take that concept and run. They have enemies who are intelligent, but they battle against ideas and those who would limit the freedoms of others. The Free Trader Series is science fiction and the story line equates to an old fashioned treasure hunt – they are looking for the Ancient’s technology to help them bring peace to the world.

In the Rick Banik Thrillers, I base those characters and stories on my experiences when I served in the United States Intelligence Community. The stories are fiction, but contain enough truth for ultra-realism. The plots are taken right from today’s headlines. Rick Banik falls under the Technothriller genre, as well as espionage and suspense. I can’t be more pleased with how these books have turned out. I am Rick Banik’s biggest fan!


3) You write books in different genres. In which genre do you feel more at home? Can you tell us about the pros and cons of writing in different genres?

Since taking the plunge and writing full time, I had stories that were burning to be told. I’ve written in three different genres – scifi, post-apocalyptic, and thriller. As a new author, I think it’s important to establish yourself, find if the readers like the stories that you tell and the way that you tell them, and then give the readers something to buy. My Free Trader series is far and away my best selling, getting great buy through – as of this moment, over 70% of the people who tried Book 1, read Books 2 and 3. That means a great deal to me.

Writing in different genres has made it challenging to find readers for each of the series. Some people like one or the other. I am building an email list that I have to delineate who likes what so I don’t send a Free Trader email to someone who only likes thrillers.

Advice for new authors – stick with one series until your readership is somewhat developed before branching out. Your new series will get attention through cross-genre readers. If you put out multiple genres at the start, you’ll have a hard time getting any of them off the ground.

4) Who designs your book covers? What about editing?

My Free Trader covers are custom pieces of art designed and created by Tom Edwards (tomedwardsdesign.com). My Rick Banik covers are designed and created by Christian Bentulan (coversbychristian.com). Tom is out of the UK and Christian lives in the Philippines. My wife and I have been to forty-different countries. I love the international flavor and the quality that these gentlemen provide for me.

For editing, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of different people, Mia Darien (miadarien.com), Kat Lind, Monique Happy, Crystal Schall (ohedits.com), Stephen Lee, and James M. Ward.

5) How do you launch a book?

Until my email list is at a decent level, I am doing soft launches. There seems to always be one or two things that hold up the launch for a day or two. That’s because I produce the books so quickly, my editors and cover artists aren’t quite able to keep up. That’s okay, but it results in soft launches. I don’t have any big coming out parties – not yet anyway. There is a benefit to getting huge sales on your first day publishing as it bumps your book up the ranks, giving it greater exposure. That is the here and now. If you are in it for the long run, then quality books with great covers will sell for decades to come. All you have to do is market appropriately. I saw an ad for Dune recently on one of the big book sites.

I will be happy to see the Free Trader Series selling two years from now when there might be as many as twenty books in the series.

6) You are a fast writer. I believe you have had 10k days? Any tips for writing fast?

There are two tips that I have that help me write fast. You must know your story arc and you have to put yourself there with your characters. If you know them well, you simply type what you see, how you feel, the looks, the environment as it impacts them. I am averaging 2500 words per day, but that’s every day this year. In my mind, that’s what it takes to be an author. It also means that I can publish roughly a book a month.

Your imagination is a great place. I only want to create the conditions where you can use your imagination as it best serves you. I don’t outline my story on paper, but I am a serial daydreamer! The story is in my head. I may have to go back on a story and add action here or there, maybe tweak things, but I know the story when I write the first word. I may change how it ends, someone survives who I didn’t plan at the beginning. It’s okay as long as the story arc is sound. Most importantly to me are my characters. I want people to relate without spoon-feeding the readers.

7) When did you start writing?

I hand-wrote a book when I was thirteen, some 50,000 words scrawled through multiple notebooks. Unfortunately, that manuscript was lost over time. I wish I had it so that it could sit on my shelf next to my currently published works. No matter. I started writing full time on October 4th last year (2015). Since then, I’ve written nearly 600,000 words.

8) Which authors have most influenced your writing style?

Robert E. Howard (the original Conan), JRR Tolkien, Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein, Lin Carter, Brian Aldiss, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Anne McCaffrey, and of late, James Axler, Raymond Weil, Jonathan Brazee, Mark E. Cooper, and David Weber. I learned something from each of these authors, story line, compelling issue, characters that you can relate to, the beauty of the prose, unique tendrils weaving through the book’s theme. My writing has been compared to that of Andre Norton and my Free Trader characters to those of McCaffrey’s Dragonriders, the Rick Banik Thrillers to the works of Robert Ludlum.

9) Do you ever plan to coauthor a book?

I don’t actually. I work best independently.

10) You are a devoted writer. At the end of the day why do you write? What does writing give you?

I write because I can. I like telling stories and I like the author’s tradecraft. I learn something new every day and that has value. Being an author is a lifestyle that I like and am comfortable with. I spent so much of my life travelling that it is nice to finally be home.

11) What are you releasing next?

Next up is the End Times Alaska trilogy. This is a rework of my very first published book. I’ll be publishing it through a traditional publisher, Winlock Press in association with Permuted Press. The original was 95,000 words, while the new books will total closer to 175,000 words. This is a post-apocalyptic series, but NOT a zombie book. This is about real people trying to survive after the city of Fairbanks is destroyed.

I’ve written two short stories for anthologies that will be published this summer as well. Both of those are scifi, one is a unique side story with my Free Trader characters.

12) Anything you would like to add?

I value reader input. I would love to get some ideas, so please send them to me – craig@craigmartelle.com. You can look at my website as well to follow what I’m up to – www.craigmartelle.com. I publish a number of short stories in my blog from my memoirs which adds background to me and how I think as well as gives insight into my Rick Banik character.


A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India writing mostly in the fantasy genre. His historical low fantasy short “A Song of Blood” releases shortly. Click here to download his fantasy novella “The Drabird” for free.

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About A J Chaudhury

A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India of fantasy and historical fiction. His short story "A Song of Blood", set in historical Pragjotisha, has released recently, and more tales are following soon.
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