Folks, please welcome Martha Reynolds to the blog today. We chat about every day inspiration, self-promotion, tasty food, famous folks, and much more. If you’re interested in the giveaway, scroll to end. Enjoy!
How does modern pop culture influence your work? Do modern cultural references date a piece or add touchstones for the reader?
I try to limit my use of pop culture references when I write a story set in present time. It’s not that I don’t want it to be relevant, but I’ve read books with too much name-dropping, and yes, it dates that book (and out-dates it, too). At the same time, some things can’t be ignored – like the prevalence of cell phones and the way people interact with each other.
Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?
The important thing is not to lose the reader with these mundane occurrences! Life as it happens can be vital to a story, and if there’s meaning in what is routine, then I’ll weave it into the plot. If it helps the reader to understand the character, then it’s important.
Who are your non-writer influences?
I’m influenced by everything around me, so it could be the woman in front of me in the grocery checkout line, or the guy who serves me my coffee at Starbucks. When I’m out among people, I tune in for inspiration – it’s all around me.
With the modern popularity to ebooks, a book is no longer limited to a specific genre shelf. It is now quite easy to label place an ebook in multiple genres (i.e. YA, Fantasy, Horror). How do you see this affecting readers? Have you been inadvertently lured outside your reading comfort zone?
Ultimately, I think it’s beneficial to readers. I mean, who wants to read only thrillers or only chick lit? And yes, I’ve read books that have multiple genres (paranormal romance, Christian fantasy) – if the book is well written and compelling, I’m on board.
In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?
I still don’t like self-promotion. Maybe it’s the way I was raised, but I’m uncomfortable with it (even though I know I write good books – there, see? I did it – a little). But it’s necessary. So when a reader sends me a message or posts a kind review, I connect. It’s important.
The most challenging side of self-promotion is being different. Standing out among the thousands of other books – finding the line or blurb or title that will make a new reader click.
Well, I’m not going to take a picture, so you can guess. Not neat. Piles of books – on the side shelf, on the floor. I’m looking at my thesaurus (even though I use the online version), the Chicago Manual of Style, and a pile of novels I keep meaning to bring to my library or donation bin. I write in a little alcove at the top of the stairs, on a regular desktop computer with a giant monitor (my poor old tired eyes).
If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table?
What would they order?
Ha! Great question. Okay.
Hemingway would order oysters (with their strong taste of the sea).
Fitzgerald would order a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings, then ignore the food and just drink wine.
Rawlings would most definitely NOT order venison! She’d opt for the vegetarian entrée of ratatouille.
William Faulkner wants salmon croquettes (his favorite food), made with canned pink salmon, crushed Saltines, minced onion, and dill pickle relish. Very 1950s Mississipppi.
And Flannery O’Connor would skip the meal and go straight for dessert – in her case, peppermint chiffon pie.
I’m not sure if you want examples, but strong contrast really pops. I’m thinking of The Hunger Games – you know the black background, white lettering, and the gold mockingjay pin on the cover? And Catching Fire and Mockingjay worked also.
Cover art can be tricky. What might work on a traditional hardcover book in a bookstore might be illegible in a thumbnail viewed on a tablet.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I read. So many books, not enough time! I take walks for some quiet time, where my mind is open to new ideas and inspiration. And, of course, the house doesn’t clean itself. Laundry, cooking, cleaning.
Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?
In my own novels, Erika Stangl in Chocolate for Breakfast had quite a following (several readers wanted a book just from her point of view). Camille in Bits of Broken Glass, and possibly Andrew in Best Seller.
Set in New England at the time of the American Bicentennial, BEST SELLER is the poignant story of a displaced young woman struggling to figure out who she is within the context of her hometown and the carefully masked dysfunction of her family.
“Everything can be fixed by writing a check.” Words to live by for Robin Fortune’s wealthy father, until he can’t buy her way back into college after she’s expelled for dealing pot. Now he chooses not to speak to her anymore, but that’s just one of the out-of-whack situations Robin’s facing. At nineteen, she feels rudderless, working in a diner by day and sleeping with a buddy from high school by night – all so strange for her because she was always the one with the plan. While her college friends plotted how to ensnare husbands, she plotted a novel, which she scratched out into a series of spiral-bound notebooks she hides in the closet. But now, there’s nothing. No vision, no future, no point. In fact, the only thing she feels she has to look forward to is that her favorite author, Maryana Capture, is paying a visit to the local Thousand Words bookstore. Robin surmises that if she can convince Maryana to help her get her novel published, she’ll finally get herself back on track. Except that life never takes a straight path in this intensely satisfying coming-of-age novel.
Martha Reynolds ended an accomplished career as a fraud investigator and began writing full time in 2011. She is the author of five novels, including the award-winning Chocolate for Breakfast (her debut novel), Chocolate Fondue, Bittersweet Chocolate, and the Amazon #1 bestseller Bits of Broken Glass. Best Seller is her latest release. Her essays have appeared in Magnificat magazine.
She and her husband live in Rhode Island, never far from the ocean.
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