Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Angel Martinez – Angel Martinez writes both kinds of queer fiction – Science Fiction and Fantasy. Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware, (and full time inside the author’s head) Angel has one husband, one son, three cats, a changing variety of other furred and scaled companions, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.
Thanks so much, Angel, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: You seem to really know who you are as a writer – you’ve found your niche. How would you describe it to readers?
Angel Martinez: If you’re looking for contemporary, move along? Ha. The easiest description would be science fiction and fantasy with queer characters. I’m not sure that’s a niche, since it covers a lot of ground – science fiction, space opera, urban fantasy, paranormal, both humorous and serious, more often than not (but not always) with a strong core romance.
JSC: One of the things I love about your work is how so much of it is infused with humor. You seem to enjoy writing comedy in your sci fi, paranormal, etc – does it come easily for you? And how did you get started in this vein?
Angel Martinez: Oof. Comedy is never easy, but I do enjoy it. In non-comedic fiction, it generally comes through in dialogue here and there. I don’t connect well with people who don’t have an active, quirky sense of humor in real life, so this bleeds into my characters.
As far as writing humor – I started with a short story challenge for a Goodreads group where readers tossed random, strange things at me that had to be included in the story and I had to make it a cohesive whole. (Hearts and Flowers: A Tale of Hayfever and Bad Décor, for anyone interested.) I was pleased to manage a sustained humorous story in the short form and wondered if I could write a longer piece. My humorous pieces tend toward theater of the absurd rather than slapstick/situation comedy.
Basically, what’s the most absurd thing you can think of and how do characters react/interact with it. Inspiration comes from all over for this. When I started the Brimstone series for example, it was more or less on a dare. I was grumbling about writing for an angels/demons anthology, and it was suggested that I write a science fiction story and throw a whole mess of tropes together. Demon space pirates who rescue an angel from a deserted island and so on.
JSC: You have a number of series going – wanna give us a quick rundown?
Angel Martinez: “A number” being a euphemism for “we may have lost count…” OK, going to stick with the series that have more than one book involved so far:
- Brimstone – SF humor, demons in space, a prequel, 4 novellas and a collection of short (500-1K word) stories so far.
- ESTO Universe – SF (space opera), ESTO is more of a universe than a series, the stories are all standalone so far.
- Brandywine Investigations – Urban Fantasy, gods in the modern world. The first volume, Brandywine Investigations: Open for Business, contains the first three stories in the series (about 125K words total), while the second volume, BI: Family Matters, contains #4, 4.5 and 5 (about 136K.)
- Offbeat Crimes – Paranormal humor with a most unusual police department. The first “season” is complete, books 1-6.
- Endangered Fae – Urban Fantasy, the adventures of a lost pooka and his novelist rescuer. Books 1-4 will be available again this year starting in May.
- AURA – Urban Fantasy with Bellora Quinn. Creatures from myth/legend and fiction fall through holes in the universe right smack into ours. 3 books currently, probably more to come.
- Lijun – Paranormal with Freddy MacKay. Enclaves of two-spirit beings live among us, unbeknownst to their human neighbors. The first trilogy involves an uktena clan leader who believes he’s found his destined mate in an otter lijun. The otter has other ideas.
JSC: You have a new book coming out – a rerelease of some of your Brandywine stories in omnibus form. What is Brandywine, for those who don’t know? And How did you come up with the name?
Angel Martinez: Re-release” probably is overstating things. The first story in the volume, Books, Bulls and Bacchanals, was available for a little over a month before the previous publisher shut down. The second full-length novel that’s included, Pack Up The Moon, is entirely new – and that one’s over 72K words long.
Brandywine Investigations is urban fantasy – the old gods no longer have enough worshippers to sustain them, so most of them have to live among us and get *ominous music* jobs. The lynchpin of the series is Hades, who begins the series recently divorced and kicked out of the palace and then goes on to open a private investigations firm. The stories involve him, his family and associates and while there are necessarily tons of Greek gods involved (Hades’s family, after all), a lot of other traditions appear as well.
One of the things I wanted to do with this series, besides play around with mythical figures, was to base a series in my own home state of Delaware. I’ve read a couple of romances based in Delaware and it was so obvious that the author(s) didn’t know much about the state that I cringed. The only way you get what you want is to write it yourself sometimes. Anyway – the Brandywine River is one of the rivers running through Wilmington (Delaware, not North Carolina.) Hades buys property overlooking this chatty, rocky little river and names his new business after it. Hades, Lord of the Underworld, PI wouldn’t have been terribly marketable.
JSC: I understand you may have a love of red pandas. What do you love about them the most? Wanna share your favorite YouTube video?
Angel Martinez: I defy you not to love red pandas. They’re such expressive, mischievous, inquisitive critters. (And so cute!) I fell in love with them when we went to visit the panda reserve outside of Chengdu. A whole colony of them playing and exploring.
This one’s probably my favorite as a young red panda encounters a rock she doesn’t think should be there.
JSC: Which authors or books (or both) most directly influenced your writing style, and how?
Angel Martinez: Not sure I can really answer that question. There are a lot of authors I admire enormously, but I don’t know if any actually influence how I write. It’s probably more accurate to say that everything I’ve ever read influences what I write.
JSC: Many of your books include interesting pairings – my favorite so far had to be a centaur and a demon. Which pairings grace this new Brandywine book, and were there any challenges writing such diverse characters together (I mean the sex). 😛
Angel Martinez: The stories in Brandywine Investigations: Family Matters involve a humanoid god and a minotaur, and Charon the ferryman of the dead and a raccoon god (dual aspect being – no anatomical issues there.) You do have to make choices when you write non-human characters, though—how far from human anatomy do you want to go and how do you make that work. Size definitely matters, but it matters more if you’re dealing with an actual human character rather than an immortal being. The biggest challenge with the minotaur was trying to figure out where his horns were at all times.
JSC: How do you make a librarian sexy?
Angel Martinez: Librarians are naturally sexy. Many of them, at any rate. Think of Giles from the Buffy TV series. Also—kilts.
JSC: As my co-admin on Queer Sci Fi, you see a lot of new books and talk to a lot of authors. Any trends (stories, industry, etc) you see on the horizon?
Angel Martinez: One of the biggest trends I’ve seen in the past couple of years is authors taking charge of their own careers, their own writing fates. The days where authors were at the mercy of publishers’ and agents’ whims is no more. That’s not to say that publishers and agents are a thing of the past – but most authors I know realize they have choices and are becoming more savvy about what will and won’t work for them. I do think that the author relying exclusively on a publisher or publishers will become rare.
JSC: After Brandywine, what are you working on next? Give us a rundown on what to expect from Angel in 2018.
Angel Martinez: The Lijun series has three books scheduled with Pride Publishing for this year – one due out in June (Fireworks and Stolen Kisses), September (Trysts and Burning Embers), and December (Detonation and Devotion.)
I also have the Endangered Fae re-releases coming out at Pride throughout the year and hope to work in some Brimstone for Mischief Corner (though that’s not on the calendar yet.)
My release calendar—which I do keep updated—is on the front page of my website.
And now for Angel’s new book: Brandywine Investigations: Family Matters:
The second Brandywine Omnibus contains books #4 and #5 (both full-length novels), plus a short story as a bonus.
With his career firmly established and his reputation as a successful PI growing, Hades should have the perfect life with his human lover, his faithful ferryman, his dogs and the parts of his family still speaking to him. But murder and chaos are never far away for death lords as his nephew Dionysus and his oldest friend Charon are drawn into the maelstrom.
Includes: Books, Bulls, & Bacchanals: Brandywine Investigations #4
The god of wine and orgies teams up with the librarian of the gods to investigate a murder. Should go well, don’t you think?
Midwinter Dancing: Brandywine Investigations #4.5
Ing’s grandmother has always told her about meeting the old gods. She’s never believed it until one snowy midwinter night.
Pack Up the Moon: Brandywine Investigations #5
Death isn’t working within normal parameters. Charon the ferryman needs to figure out why before it’s too late, with or without the help of a certain, paws-in-everything raccoon god.
Please note: Books, Bulls & Bacchanals has been re-edited with a few story adjustments for this edition.
Pre-order links (release date February 28, 2018)
Dio returned to the shelf-lined corridors, soon found himself at a dead-end, and had to backtrack. He returned to Uncle Hades’s reading room and tried another direction only to find himself stuck in a book cul-de-sac again. When he retraced, a book on the right caught his eye. Thrace could have been in the title, though the printing on the spine was too small to be sure.
Tongue protruding from the corner of his mouth, Dio stood on tiptoe and stretched, trying to snag the book. “Damn shortness. You’d think being divine would come with a minimum height requirement.”
He wedged his right foot between books on the bottom shelf to give himself another half inch, and just as his fingers scrabbled for the book, a rumble vibrated through the floor and the shelf jerked. Dio lost his balance, pinwheeling and landing on his ass in the middle of the aisle, watching in disbelief as his section of shelf descended and vanished below the floor.
“Now that’s not fair. Absolutely not cricket at all. Or grasshopper. Or praying mantis.” He picked himself up, rubbing at the bruised spot on his butt. “Why do they call it cricket anyway? Crickets never get to play.”
Abandoning the sinking shelf in disgust, he wound his way through the corridors of shelves, finally coming across a path that appeared to lead farther into the interior. After several more right-hand turns and a couple of joggy things to the left, he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. On a shelf between stacks of scrolls, lay a beautiful champagne-colored tabby, tail twitching as she slept.
“Library kitty!” he exclaimed in delight and took a break from the maze to pet her.
She opened one eye and yawned, batting at him with her forepaw. With a chirping purr, she turned on her side, stretched, and abruptly turned into a parchment scroll.
Dio yanked his hand back. Clearly, this library didn’t like him. “I think my feelings are starting to get hurt.”
Another right, then a left, and still he hadn’t run into another being who was not a book. A strange rustling came from up ahead. He cocked his head to the side, listening. It sounded like…
He barely had time to throw himself to the floor before a swarm of mini-books burst from around the next bend and zipped by overhead, their tiny covers flapping madly as they raced through the air.
“Fucking fuckity fuck! I hate this place!” Dio curled on the floor with his arms over his head until the last of the biblio swarm passed. Cautiously, he sat up, scrubbing both hands over his face. “Hate it, hate it, hate it.”
A dark, oddly shaped head poked around the next bend, a head that looked vaguely like a camel with giraffe knobs. “Dionysus? You seem a bit stressed.”
“Oh, hey, Set. This library is conspiring against me.” He picked himself up for the second time and rushed to hug Set on a sudden realization. “A person! Who probably knows stuff! Oh, thank the holies.”
“Well. It’s nice to see you too, oh lovely god of orgies. But the enthusiasm is rather unexpected,” Set said in his dry, ironic way. He kissed Dio on the nose. “Are you propositioning me, or are you just lost?”
“I’m just freaking glad to see a familiar face in the funhouse. Not that it’s fun. Because it isn’t. I just had a cat-scroll diss me. A rabid flock of bird books tried to run me over. And a bookshelf decided it would rather sink into the floor than let me look at a book.”
Set, damn him, laughed. “Careful. I’ll conclude you don’t like my cycling shelves.”
“What… Oh, seriously? You made the stupid moving shelves?”
“I did help build the library.” Set disentangled himself, moving papyri around from shelf to shelf as he talked. “With all your stuffy relatives involved, I had to have some fun.”
“My relatives aren’t stuffy. Okay, some of them are. Most of them. Fine.” Dio took a breath, fascinated by the swift, sure movements of Set’s dark hands. “What are you doing?”
“Probably working on giving Thoth a fit, since this is his favorite part of the library. He’s so easy to annoy, I can’t resist.” Set finished and closed a hand on Dio’s shoulder, drawing him back to a table set in the middle of the aisle. “And setting up something you might enjoy watching. Be patient.”
Dio leaned back against the table, glad for even such dubious company. Of course he knew Set was neither a compassionate nor a kind god. He perpetrated some bad shit sometimes. But Dio’s past was riddled with violence on behalf of his friends and followers, so glass houses and all. He’d never had a personal problem with Set, unlike most of his relatives. Chaos gods, Set said. They understood each other.
Yeah, but I’d never kill for fun or just to see what happens. Does that make me a part-time chaos god? Quasi-chaos? Chaos lite?
“So what are we waiting for?”
“Patience.” Set patted his arm, looking way too smug.
Dio was beginning to wonder if Set had planned some horrible surprise for someone, some spell in his rearranging, when the swift click-click-click of small claws on stone approached. A red-furred face with white markings poked around the nearest corner, pointed furry ears twitching. Dio nearly clapped his hands in delight as a red panda turned the corner, but he forced himself to remain still and silent.
The panda approached the shelf Set had rearranged, making disapproving chuffs and growls. It twittered loudly, bushy ringed tail twitching, and was soon joined by two more.
“Holy vines and seedlings,” Dio whispered. “They’re so damn cute!”
The pandas climbed the shelves, chirping and muttering what sounded like complaints. With their clever forepaws they began to move papyri about, handing them down to a panda above or below, switching the order on the shelves they occupied, giving every indication that they were putting things back in order. More joined them until there were six red pandas reshelving papyri in adorable grumpiness.
“I knew you’d appreciate them.” Set chuckled.
“They’re the best things ever. Makes the trip to this stupid place worth it. Are they really—”
The clop of hooves interrupted him. At first he thought it was George looking for him, but the hooves were obviously too large, the sound made by a creature far heavier than a faun. A centaur? Did centaurs use the library? But no, it was two hooves, not four. The creature that hove into sight around the bookshelf made Dio gasp and shove Set behind him in an automatic protective response. Stupid, of course, since the god of storms was far more powerful than he would ever be.
The thing was huge, taller than Set and far broader in shoulder and chest. It had a human torso and a human face, the eyes hidden by a fall of shaggy russet hair, but bull’s ears bracketed the head. It walked upright on hoofed feet, the bull’s legs and tail partially covered by a many-pocketed utility kilt. But the horns were the worst of it—long, sharp horns worthy of a Highland bull—pointing forward aggressively. The thing stopped, snorted, and stamped a hoof.
“My Lord Set,” the bull thing said in an absurdly soft voice for such a huge beast. It shoved the hair from its eyes and adjusted a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles on its nose. “If you persist in tormenting the library assistants, I will be forced to ask you to leave.”
Angel Martinez writes both kinds of queer fiction – Science Fiction and Fantasy. Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware, (and full time inside the author’s head) Angel has one husband, one son, three cats, a changing variety of other furred and scaled companions, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.
For more information on Angel’s work, please visit:
Website: Angel Martinez