Sunday, July 14, 2013

Interview with Michael J. Martinez, author of The Daedalus Incident - July 14, 2013

Please welcome Michael J. Martinez to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Daedalus Incident will be published in August 2013 by Night Shade Books.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Mike:  Thanks for having me! And thanks for everything you do to help promote the works of debut authors. It’s never easy being the new kid on the block. Your work helps us a lot!

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Mike:  I started as a reporter, actually, and I’ve been a professional journalist and writer for about two decades now. The fiction was always kind of an idea I had in the back of my brain, but for years, I never seriously entertained the notion of writing a novel until I was already a few thousand words in and thought, “Hey, this isn’t that hard.”

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Mike:  I write in intensive bursts, which seems to surprise most folks. I can sit down and, if I’m not overly distracted, I can pound out 1,500-2,000 words over the course of 2-3 hours. Then I’ll just go and do something else. Maybe I’ll come back to it later in the day if there’s time, maybe it’ll take a few days before I’m able to return to it. But when I’m there, I’m focused on it pretty squarely – so much so that my wife and daughter have to clamor a bit for my attention. I do feel bad about that.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Mike:  Plotter, all the way. I kind of admire pantsers, but man, there’s just no way I could do it. I plot using Excel, and I break up the book into those 1,500-2,000-word chunks I mentioned. As a journalist, I’m used to writing that length in a short amount of time. I suppose that’s my trick, really: My novels consist of 50-75 article-length chunks. It’s not like the book is split into short episodes, but I know within each chunk what I need to accomplish in terms of plot, character arc, etc.

I tried “pantsing” once, and found that the lack of structure was driving me batty. I knew I’d just end up organizing and outlining everything afterward, so why do extra work?

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Mike:  You know, I learned a lot writing The Daedalus Incident. I really hadn’t attempted much in the way of fiction before, certainly nothing as involved as a novel. So the learning curve was pretty steep, especially during the revision process. Seeing as I actually got published, I would say it was all pretty successful in the end. Now, it’s more about finding the time to work on the next thing amid all the hoopla of the first one coming out, and the serial story I have going on my blog.

TQ:  Describe The Daedalus Incident in 140 characters or less.

Mike:  Martian mining colony in 2132 threatened by dimensional incursion from alt-hist 1779, where sailing ships ply the Void via alchemy. Adventure ensues.

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Daedalus Incident?

Mike:  About 10 years ago, I was unemployed and, while looking for work, I wanted some kind of writing or creative outlet. One day, I walked by a video store window with a poster of Treasure Planet. I was immediately taken with the idea, but when I watched the actual movie…meh, to say the least. And I was inspired to do better. Something with grit, more realism, but still with swashbuckling adventure and a world to build out. It actually started as a pen-and-paper RPG idea. Heck, I might still do that some day.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Daedalus Incident?

Mike:  Well, there was a very realistic 22nd century mining colony I had to contend with, so I did a ton of research on Mars, and the ideas and science behind colonization and exploitation of that planet. I did a lot of reading on what futurists think will be around 100 years or so. Then, of course, there’s the whole sailing-ships-in-space thing, so there was a lot of research on sailing during the late 18th century, particularly in the Royal Navy. I even went to San Diego to walk the decks of HMS Surprise, the frigate used in the Master and Commander movie. That alone helped me correct half a dozen mistakes.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Mike:  The easiest character was one of my two protagonists, Lt. Thomas Weatherby of HMS Daedalus. I very much wanted my main character in the 1779 setting to pay homage to the heroes of Napoleonic Era naval literature – Hornblower, Aubrey, etc. So Weatherby is very much a hero in that vein, one who understands the duty before him all too well, but goes and does it anyway, knowing the risks. He’s a very simple hero, which I really enjoyed writing. I’m kind of over anti-heroes and revenge seekers and such.

The hardest was the other main protagonist, Lt. Shaila Jain of the Joint Space Command, the deputy commander of the Martian mining colony in 2132. I wanted someone who was an astronaut, someone who dreamed of real exploration, but ended up babysitting a bunch of miners at the ass-end of Mars. The trick with her was in not making her bitterness overwhelming or, worse, stereotypical. I wanted her to have complexity without falling into any number of tropes. Honestly, I’ve no idea I was successful, but I gave it a shot.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Daedalus Incident?

Mike:  Since we kind of gave up a big reveal in the marketing copy, I suppose I can mention it here, because it’s a definite favorite. Shaila and her colleagues find an old 18th century journal on Mars, of all places. It’s an extremely improbable event, though at least marginally explicable – “OK, who brought the antique to Mars? Fess up!” After a bit, they kind of forget about it as seismic activity and rioting miners take up more of their time.

Then, finally, at a very key moment, they catch words spontaneously writing themselves within the journal, describing this impossible other dimension. And there’s just no explanation for it, and they all become very quiet, almost reverential, because they’re struggling to just wrap their heads around the fact that these written words are appearing out of nowhere.

Odd things happen in SF/F all the time, and the strange becomes almost commonplace. Too many works have their characters taking crazy stuff in stride. I like this scene because it gives, I think, a very human reaction to something that is completely unprecedented.

TQ:  What's next?

Mike:  Well, right now I’m serializing a story up on my website ( that’s set in the Daedalus universe, about a very young Horatio Nelson and his first command…on Ganymede. It was fun to write, and I think gives a nice introduction to the setting folks will see in The Daedalus Incident. I’m also working on something else…that I can’t quite comment on yet. I’m hoping I have something to share soon, though!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Mike:  Well, again, thanks for having me on!

About The Daedalus Incident

The Daedalus Incident
Night Shade Books, August 13, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
(the eBook was published in May 2013)

Mars is supposed to be dead…...a fact Lt. Shaila Jain of the Joint Space Command is beginning to doubt in a bad way.

Freak quakes are rumbling over the long-dormant tectonic plates of the planet, disrupting its trillion-dollar mining operations and driving scientists past the edges of theory and reason. However, when rocks shake off their ancient dust and begin to roll—seemingly of their own volition—carving canals as they converge to form a towering structure amid the ruddy terrain, Lt. Jain and her JSC team realize that their realize that their routine geological survey of a Martian cave system is anything but. The only clues they have stem from the emissions of a mysterious blue radiation, and a 300-year-old journal that is writing itself.

Lt. Thomas Weatherby of His Majesty’s Royal Navy is an honest 18th-century man of modest beginnings, doing his part for King and Country aboard the HMS Daedalus, a frigate sailing the high seas between continents…and the immense Void between the Known Worlds. Across the Solar System and among its colonies—rife with plunder and alien slave trade—through dire battles fraught with strange alchemy, nothing much can shake his resolve. But events are transpiring to change all that.

With the aid of his fierce captain, a drug-addled alchemist, and a servant girl with a remarkable past, Weatherby must track a great and powerful mystic, who has embarked upon a sinister quest to upset the balance of the planets—the consequences of which may reach far beyond the Solar System, threatening the very fabric of space itself.

Set sail among the stars with this uncanny tale, where adventure awaits, and dimensions collide!

About Mike

Photo by Anna Martinez
I’m a husband, father and writer living the dream in the Garden State. I’ve spent nearly 20 years as a professional writer and journalist, including stints at The Associated Press and After telling other people’s stories for the bulk of my career, I’m happy that I can now be telling a few of my own creation. I’m also a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

When not being a husband, parent or writer, I enjoy beer and homebrewing, cooking and eating, the outdoors and travel. If you’re curious about our travels, my wife does a far better job of describing our adventures, so check out her blog at

Website  ~  Twitter @mikemartinez72  ~  Goodreads

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed the interview and the chance to learn more about The Daedalus Incident. It caught my eye the first time I saw the cover and now I'm really interested in reading it.