Interview – Martin Skate
– When did you start writing, what moved you to start writing?
I’ve always written bits & pieces, but I only started to think about publishing books in the last few years, I had someone that pushed pushed pushed and encouraged me constantly to actually write books. Everyone needs encouragement and I’m thankful for the extra shove to actually get a couple of books out into the world!
– In what genres do you write? Do you plan writing in other genres?
I wouldn’t say I was bound to a genre so far but humour is a strong theme always, I enjoy the comical and ironic sides of life, so humour I suppose is always present in a lot of my writing. My first novel has science-fiction elements in it, but sci-fi is such a broad term, I wouldn’t like to describe the book as solely sci-fi, the novel is more about the characters who just happen to ummm time-travel and have strange abilities that they try and use in order to make the world a better place!
Short stories are fun too, they give you a chance to try-out different genres and experiment, I’m always starting short stories here and there, great for trying new things and keeping your pencil sharpened.
– In your books you always have a good amount humour. How important is humour for you as an author and in your private life?
Very! One of the first authors I read all the works of was Tom Sharpe, his books are wall-to-wall comedy, they start off funny and grow more and more hilarious with every page, they’re properly filled with many laugh-out-loud moments, I think that was the first time I realised that books had a deeper resonance than film and TV.
– Tell us about your books. Why should everyone buy them?
When you start reading a book you are wholly engaged and captivated… with a book you really like. Finding books you enjoy can be tough, but when you find something you really like it is like striking gold, a book reaches further into your psyche than other mediums.
I use the classic advice of ‘writing books you would like to read yourself’, my two books are based on that premise, I think they’re books that I’d be happy to discover and read… whimsical, comical, interesting, and hopefully entertaining.
My short stories (the Spike Collection) are an assortment of random situations, hopefully they’ll make you giggle and identify with some of the characters and their quick and quirky tales. Sometimes instead of getting deeply involved in a book I find that it’s fun to dip into some short stories, that’s what I tried to do with this collection, is design them so that they’re easy to read, a fun distraction, but with some memorable consequences and hopefully thought provoking moments.
My novel (Start Right Here) is a fun adventure from the very beginning, Lou runs a bar but is being shot at, Wendy is frustrated at the banality of life (until a monkey appears out of nowhere during a conference), and the story is a rollercoaster ride of how Lou & Wendy meet, and why they meet, and maybe just maybe they can use their talents to make the world a slightly better place! Ummm, there’s also a dog, London in the future, Chicago in the late seventies, what’s not to like! Hopefully it’s an easy and fun read, where you’re entertained. I deliberately wrote the novel in the first-person of several different characters, and also used each character to progress the time-line a little. To me that has all the ingredients of a fun read, again, something I’d like to pick up and discover, and something that is slighhhtttlllyyyyy different to other books!
– What is your all time favourite novel? What makes it special?
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. It doesn’t get any better than that. Every time I read it it seems to get better and better, funnier and funnier. It’s got it all, poignancy, wit, style, life and death, it’s all there. I am Yossarian!
– Tell us a bit about your writing process.
Hmmm, ummmm, well, ha, you see, the thing is that….. ummmm, it’s a cunning combination of procrastination, coffee, and soul-searching. Ok, you’re serious, ok… For both books so far I’ve felt very good about what they were going to be. I didn’t map them out page by page but I had a fair sense of what they would be from end-to-end. The first book (the Spike Collection) I wrote within a couple of months, the second book I wrote on and off for a few months, maybe a year, however, with the second book the editing process was just as long, it felt like 100 drafts, then editing, then proofing, then drafting, editing, proofing, over and over until I lost my mind!
As for writing anything, I can sit at my desk for hours and write nothing (but very easily waste endless time on facebook and twitter), and other times before I’ve even sat down I’m writing and it doesn’t stop for hours. Who knows why!
– Which authors would you love to have dinner with?
I’d invite Tom Sharpe, Douglas Adams, Brett Easton Ellis, Miranda July, Bill Bryson, Paul Auster,Tess Rosa Ruiz, Steve Toltz, we’d need cases of red-wine and I imagine the ‘dinner’ lasting for days. Can Prince come too? Then after it all I’d definitely have something to write about!!
– Tell us about your hobbies and passions other than writing.
Music’s my first love, Prince is my favourite but I listen to a lot of different music, I think diversity is the hallmark of a true music-lover, then there’s running! Running running and more running, did I mention I like running? I’ve run a few marathons, and I try to go running at least 3 times a week minimum, plus there’s the dog-walking (great for catching up on podcasts), and reading of course lovvvvve the reading. But seriously don’t get me started on talking about running, and how it changed my life, just don’t get me started talking about running, I could go on for days about it… and I think I’ve found that whereas running is the best thing ever (!) I realised long-ago that runners talking about running is boring with a capital yawwwwnnnnnn.
– We have many followers who would like to start writing a book or are already writing their first novel, any advice for these brave people?
Never ever give up, keep the momentum, write a bit at every opportunity, jump up and down, do a back flip, dance around like you are fire, then ice, then fire AND ice, clap your hands once twice three times, keep at it and do not stop until it is done… then relax and start it all over again. Do whatever you do that works to keep yourself writing. Writing is allllll about the three W’s, writing, writing, and writing.
If I can write a book then anyway can, I think the trick is 1. Motivation, you got to have it strong, 2. Encouragement you need someone to push you, to remind you, to kick ideas around with, and 3. Just stop talking about it and do it.
– How often do you write, daily, every other day or?
Like anything writing takes practice, I found for a while having and writing for a blog is a great way to keep practising, you get great honest feedback to hone your skills, and guess what… the more you write the better you get at it (same as running… did I mention the running?).
– Do you keep a notebook with ideas for your novels? If so do you carry the notebook with you so you won’t forget any ideas?
No, I’m an idiot, you just reminded me and I’m going to start doing it! What I used to do (not recommended) is when I had ideas or little scraps of dialogue or a joke, I would type it on my phone and then email it to myself, but it’s not a great mechanism, notebook is better, gonna start today!
– What are you reading at the moment?
This interview, and the cooking instructions for a roast chicken I’m cooking tonight (the dinner guests from above have just confirmed).
– Has there been any unexpected bonuses about becoming a writer?
There is nothing greater than someone excitedly talking to you about your book, or tweeting about it, or them leaving an Amazon review, but yes… one of the greatest things that has come from being a writer in the last three years is the writer network on social media, I’ve made some genuine friends, learnt a lot, and know that that little network is there for me to plug into whenever I want, whether it’s for writing advice, encouragement, or just for giggles, the friendships and support within the writer’s circle is breath-taking, there’s a lot of love out there, it’s amazing.
– A final message for our circleofbooks.com readers.
Sincere thanks for taking the time to read this, feel free to give me a buzz on FB or twitter, I’d love to hear from you, + I’m always looking for great books if you have ones to recommend. Big smiles & cheers from London.
Thank you Martin. We at circleofbooks.com wish you much success!