Benedict Martin’s imagination can take you in so many different directions that you may just wonder how it is even possible that the stories all come from the same man. A family man, trusting his children as readers and critics, he bravely walks the path of becoming an author to be counted on and followed. Meet Benedict!
1. OK, Charlie Robot is an absolute hit. Why the name Charlie?
I have a soft spot for classic names. Things like Edward, Richard, George, Anne, Gwendolyn. There’s something timeless about them. And I had a great-great Uncle Charlie that my mum used to talk about often. I’m sure that influenced me. And there’s something childlike about the name Charlie, which suited the character.
2. Did you first envision it as a satire or an SF thriller? Did it go as planned or did Charlie steer the book where he wanted it?
To tell you the truth, I didn’t have any particular genre in mind when I wrote it. I remember being at the bottom of the stairs in my old house in BC, and I was struck by how ridiculous it would be if a person had to pretend to be a robot. I don’t know why. I wasn’t thinking about robots. It was like a mental non-sequitur, and I wound up thinking about it for the rest of the day.
The majority of the story went as planned. The ending, however, turned out to be much different. I envisioned something much darker, but about two-thirds of the way through, I had a change of heart. I don’t want to give too much away, but I found myself taking pity on Charlie and decided he needed a happy ending.
3. Your rat Moochie supposedly whispered a novel plot to you. So how do you split royalties? Do you let your wife be the judge?
I like this question. Moochie is a lazy rat. He spends most of his day asleep in his hammock snacking on num-nums. All he asks in return for his ideas is that I clean out his cage.
4. The Nannak is a fantasy tale. How did you come up with the idea? Is fantasy easier to write than SF?
The Nannak was born from a writing exercise. We had moved across the country, and for some reason I felt like I had lost my creativity. So one day I challenged myself to write a short story, and the first thing that popped into my head was an image of a boy forced to live with orcs.
Fantasy is definitely easier to write than Science Fiction. I approach storytelling from a fanciful point of view. Facts and figures tend to get in the way. It’s much easier molding a story around something completely imaginary than following specific scientific rules. Does this make me lazy? I don’t know.
5. Do your children read and criticise your books? Do you take their suggestions into account?
I read my books to my kids. They’re my sounding boards. I love it when I read something to them, and then they bring it up later, asking questions about this-and-that. My oldest daughter has a wonderful imagination. I don’t think I’ve swiped any of her ideas, but she’s come up with some great concepts, and I fully expect her to write a book one of these days.
6. Do you take writing seriously? Have you always? At what point did you start seeing yourself as an author?
I take writing seriously. Probably too seriously. I used to keep myself entertained writing a blog when my youngest was born. It was fun, and somewhere along the way I decided I would write a book. And it kind of sprung from there. I always knew I wanted to do something creative with my life, I went to art school for a few years, but I guess the writing bug really hit me somewhere around 2007. It’s taken me a few years to find my voice, though. Only now do I feel like I know what I’m doing. Even then, I often stare at the computer monitor, wondering, what the heck am I doing?
7. Do you and your wife teach your kids the importance of reading or does it come natural?
My kids are polar opposites. My oldest has always gravitated toward reading. When she was one-year-old she used to enjoy tracing the letters on my shirts. By the time she was four, she was reading full-fledged stories. Now I rarely see her without some kind of book in hand. My youngest is completely different. She loves being read to, and adores watching movies, but when it comes to sitting down and reading, it’s a fight. But everyone’s different, and I’m hoping as she matures, she’ll grow to enjoy reading, too.
8. Which genre would you like to try writing and why?
I have a story brewing that’s relationship based. Everything I’ve written in the past has been through the eyes of a single protagonist, but this would be about a married couple. The idea of writing from both the man and woman’s point of view is intriguing. It would be urban fantasy, or paranormal, I always get those mixed up, buy it would be an adventure writing it, I’m sure.
9. You also draw funny comics. When and why did you start?
I’ve always drawn cartoons. I went to art school with the intention of becoming a painter, but things happened and I got into writing instead. My cartoons are a holdover from my art school days, I think. Plus they’re fun to do, and they’re much more immediate. I just wish it didn’t take me so darn long to draw them.
10. Who is more fun to create – villains or heroes? If you could be any of your characters, who would you be and why?
Those are good questions. I think I like heroes over villains. Especially flawed heroes. My favorite character is from my first book, Finding Demons. His name is Harold Fendeneez, and he’s a mysterious nobleman who enjoys his tea and toast and can beat the tar out of anything.
11. Would you like to add anything about your current work or send a message to the readers?
I’m busy working on a new novel that may or may not take place in Purgatory. It’s darker than what I’ve written in the past, but at the same time, the main character is far more dangerous than any of the protagonists I’ve created in the past, and it’s made him kind of fun. And to all those that have read and enjoyed Charlie Robot, or any other of my writing, THANK YOU!
I hope you have enjoyed the interview! Keep reading books and don’t forget to rate and review them to help your favourite authors!