Interview – ‘Dead West’ Co-Creator J.M. Martin
“A Rip-Snortin’, Ace-High addition to the walking buzzard-food genre. Marquitz, Martin and Soward have a hit series on their hands! “
—Paul Martin, Self-Publisher’s Showcase (regarding book 1 of “Dead West,” THOSE POOR, POOR BASTARDS)
Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today, we have the pleasure of sitting down with one-third of the creative team behind Those, Poor Poor Bastards (book one of the “Dead West” series), author J.M.Martin. Welcome to the saloon, Joe!
J.M. Martin: Why, thankee. Mind if I belly on up to the bar?
SPS: Not at all. Whiskey?
JMM: Leave the bottle.
SPS: You bet. So tell us a little about what we expect from a zombie story set in the American Wild West.
JMM: Eviscerations, gunsmoke, clouds of blood spray, pungent odours, screaming dumbasses all running amok. The usual. Originally, Kenny, Tim, and I, we just wanted to write about zombies like everyone else, you know? But during our brainstorm sessions we discussed ways to set our series apart from the typical fare, which I think readers will appreciate. The story evolved in the early stages and headed in a more Lovecraftian direction, so you can expect all kinds of grotesqueries in addition to the ever-present zombie hordes.
SPS: The project, from initially hearing the buzz to appearing in print seems to have been relatively quick. But how long ago was the idea first muted and did you ever really set any deadlines?
JMM: I brought the idea to Tim in late April of this year and the writing began early May. The publication drops today, July 10th, so it took about 10 weeks all told, give or take a few days. And, no, we never set any deadlines other than agreeing it would be great to have it out as soon as possible. We really fed off of one another’s energy, and all three of us are wild about how Those Poor, Poor Bastards has turned out.
SPS: Was there any particular reason that you chose a female character to be the main protagonist for the story?
Perhaps on some subconscious level, with the recent commotion concerning sexist representation of women in SFF, given fuel by the SFWA debacle and the dirt coming out on sexual harassment within the industry by both fans and professionals, I think all of us naturally gravitated toward a strong female lead. It’s not that we’re three manly men feeling like we have to make some kind of apology on behalf of our gender; I think it’s just high time everyone accepts that women can be heroic and, in fact, are heroic. There are plenty of male characters in our story and they do manly things, even cruel things, be they good men or bad, but it’s Nina Weaver’s story, told from her viewpoint, and I know—not think or feel, but know—readers will identify with her and cheer her on throughout. She’s as real as any woman gets, especially considering the shitstorm we put her in.
SPS: The three of you—Kenny Soward, Tim Marquitz, and yourself—writing together, are there any particular individual qualities that you feel each of you bring to produce something unique?
JMM: Honestly, we’re like a new generation of Power Rangers. Each one of us brings strengths to the project to comprise an amazing trichotomy. Yeah, I said it. Trichotomy. As opposed to tracheotomy, something entirely different. But, yeah, we’re like a threefold Action Force Go. That’s what we are.
So, seriously, Marquitz brings the nucleus; he constructs a solid core to build on, injects intense drama, some dark humour, and also writes amazing action (see his “Demon Squad” series). Kenny swoops in and imparts an insane work ethic and layers upon layers of characterization, as he’s a master of making his characters like onions (see his “GnomeSaga” series); then I come in, yawning and late of course, but then slam hefty binders full of fact-checking (not women), and consistency, and general tweakage, plus I pride myself on composing prose and dialogue that is natural, powerful, musical, whatever.
SPS: Brilliant. So how easy did you find the process of co-writing and passing work between the three of you?
JMM: It’s a f**king trichotomy, I said. Power Rangers, dammit.
SPS: Uh, okay. Moving on. How many more novellas can we expect in the series? And where do you see the story going? Will the supernatural element continue to build?
JMM: The first series of “Dead West” is planned for six short novels. I like saying ‘short novels’ rather than ‘novellas,’ because I’m anal retentive, and also because I’m a fan of paperbacks closer to 200 pages than 400.
The supernatural elements will definitely continue to build, as our zombies are (evidently) created by magic, possibly divine faith magic. So supernatural elements of mythology and theology will likely continue to build.
SPS: Finally, where can someone grab hold of a copy?
JMM: You can follow the links on our profile pages here on Self-Publisher’s Showcase and that will take you to Amazon.com. The eBooks are dropping now, and the print editions will soon follow. I’m starting layout on those this week (whenever my three little zombies—my kids—let me).
SPS: Thank you for your time Joe, and good luck with the series.
JMM: Paul, you rock. Anytime, my friend, and thanks for the bottle! Cheers.