Read our review of Night Crossing when it posts on Friday, August 15, 2014.
It is always a pleasure to speak with an author about their work and process, but Mary's interview was especially interesting. She gave our readers a fair amount of personal insight into what motivates her as an author, as well as her writing process for the Trilogy of Remembrance. Today's excerpts will only include questions and answers pertaining to the Trilogy of Remembrance.
Mary E. Martin is the author of two trilogies The Osgoode Trilogy set in the corridors of power in the world of the law, and The Trilogy of Remembrance set midst the glitter and shadows of the art world.
This excerpt has been taken from the Ink Slinger's Whimsey blog for, August 24, 2011.
|Author Mary Martin|
A writer friend/mentor of mine challenged me to write something other than a mystery novel. And so, I tried to write a romance, with little success. I had a man and woman meet while travelling on [believe it or not] the Orient Express to Venice. After thirty pages, I was getting bored. I knew enough to say that if the writer is bored, heaven help the reader!
At that moment in time, I envisioned a mysterious character who pretty much appeared in the room in my imagination. At once, I knew he was the protagonist for the book. It took a long time to get to know him, but after innumerable character sketches and other jottings, he became Alexander Wainwright, Britain's finest landscape artist. He would be the main character around which the next trilogy would be built. So, I suppose it was Alexander, himself, who inspired the trilogy. Once I got to know him a little bit, I found he had a great deal to say.
My experience has been that the characters an author creates are a part or aspect of oneself. Consequently, the growth of Alexander — a person who believes that there is much more to this world than meets the eye — probably is my inquiring, prodding, reflective self. I present him with many questions to which I personally want to find answers.
The next novel in this trilogy—The Fate of Pryde—will published this fall on Amazon’s CreateSpace. Again, Alexander is the protagonist and I’ve presented him with a new character from whom he has much to learn, Jonathan Pryde. Pryde is an extremely wealthy patron of the arts who wants to commission Alex to create a vision in stained glass for his residence in Vence in the south of France. Alexander hesitates. After all he is a painter, not a glass cutter. But Alex is drawn into Jonathan’s strange and murky world. At the foot of the garden of Pryde’s chateau-like home, stands a bunker protecting his secrets. In this novel, the question posed to Alex is—How can the very best and the very worst of humankind reside in one’s man breast?
And so, I love to present my protagonist with all sorts of problems to reflect upon. I have a few ideas for the next novel, but the trick, as always is to create a driving plot to find all the questions and— a few answers.
Faroqui: How do your books evolve? Do you get a creative burst which eventually matures into a novel? Do you pick a theme and lay a foundation? How do you approach the creative process?
Martin: I think each novel evolves in its own way. A lot like raising children—each one is quite different. It seems I do a lot of work “in the back of my mind” and so, when it’s ready, I sit down and get started. The growth of The Drawing Lesson was quite unusual. In fact it started out as a novella or even three novels and so the structure of a full novel was not really in place at the outset. Parts or scenes of the novel kept “floating up” to me and I would write them down without really knowing why. And so, I made a rule for myself—not to throw anything out until much later. It was like walking on a beach and coming across different shells and having to decide whether to pick one up and carry it home or not. Not until the end of the process did I cut out or change significant portions of the manuscript.
So, sometimes it starts out as an idea or a kind of character or a bunch of questions. I think I’m a pretty “organic” writer in the sense that I like the natural flow of the story to take over and guide me where it wants. I’m a great student of Carl Jung and consequently really believe in the power of the subconscious, which I think is a lot smarter and more creative than I am.
Faroqui: Some people believe that in order to be truly creative a person has to be tormented, or have deep inner turmoil? What do you think of that notion?
Martin: No! At least I certainly hope not. Much is made of battles with inner demons. But it’s interesting you should ask. In fact, Alexander Wainwright does have a battle like that in The Drawing Lesson. Suddenly, this artist, known for his beautiful landscapes bathed in an ethereal light, starts painting trolls—ugly humanoid creatures—along the riverbank of his most recent painting. Of course this heralds a breaking up of his art so that he can advance creatively. I guess I’ve inflicted that on Alex so that I don’t personally have to deal with it. But seriously, I don’t think you have to suffer in order to create. I guess you do go down into the subconscious where wonderfully creative stuff resides, but so does a lot of stuff of nightmares.
Faroqui: What do you hope readers will come away with when they read one of your books? Do you send messages through your work, hoping to inspire perhaps?
Martin: I hope the reader will enjoy looking beneath the surface of life for various layers of meaning and have found moments of quiet reflection. But, I also hope the reader has also been fabulously entertained with a great story and fascinating characters. In the weeks and months to come, he or she will think back to something in The Drawing Lesson or The Fate of Pryde and say— "This person I've just met in real life reminds me of a character in that novel like Rinaldo or Daphne or Jonathan Pryde."
Link to the full interview, 8/24/2011.