Martin McConnell is a writer who is truly following his heart and making every attempt to live life on his own terms. I just wrapped up a copyedit of his second novella Viral Fire. His writing effortlessly pulls readers in, and the characters in the dystopian future of his novellas are ones worth knowing.
Official Bio: Martin McConnell holds a Physics degree from SIUE, and when he isn’t writing speculative fiction, he’s motivating other authors, stargazing, reading, or playing Kerbal Space Program. He’s also starting a sustainable homestead in Southern Missouri, on the property where he hopes to live out the rest of his life. He avidly encourages everyone he meets to seize control of their dreams by driving their own plot.
1. Please provide a brief synopsis of your book.
In the future, kids leave home early for finishing school, which requires working to pay rent while studying. Robert works on robots for the market on the first floor of his building, but something is causing them to glitch. Through wooing the girl he likes, dealing with her crazy ex, and fixing the robot problem, he’ll discover a new kind of computer virus, and a greater problem to solve. Viral Spark is a Sci-Fi for young adults, with a touch of love, a dose of culture, and curiosities around every corner.
2. Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing.
I used to draw. My writing habits were mostly non-fiction. One day I thought I’d try my hand at a historical fiction comic. As the research piled up, the story outline grew, and work got in the way, as it always does. The project was too big for me to take on.
I thought, “I’ll write a novel about it instead.” Forty-five days later I had a 76,000 word first draft, and I was hooked on writing from that point on. The people and information that inspired me was instrumental in that first book. My favorite part has to be inspiring and helping other writers to reach their goals, and to get all these stories out of my head and on paper. I love a first draft.
3. Writing aside, what passions drive your life?
I’m passionate about driving my own story, staring my author above in the eye and saying, “I’m not following your outline, I’m in charge of my life.” I really want to live on a sustainable homestead someday, and it isn’t an easy life. Everything is driving me to that plot of land. Nurturing it. And living on my own terms, even if it doesn’t make much money.
I’m also an eternal tinkerer, and love dabbling with electronics, telescopes, photography, RC helicopters, or anything that allows me to learn new skills. I suppose my biggest passion is a good challenge.
4. It’s hard to pick just one, but what do you consider your favorite novel and why?
Master and Commander. I love everything about 18th and 19th century sailing vessels, and Patrick O’Brian is an expert at bringing that world to life. I like to learn as I read, even if it’s fiction. I like to be inspired. I want an author to leave me with something to think about. Master and Commander has all of those elements, even if most people wouldn’t class it as a “page-turner.”
5. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?
WriteFarmLive.com. Those three little words sum me up pretty well. I try to make it a helpful place, where writers, or anyone else can go to be inspired, or sometimes just browse a couple of my lousy webcomics from years ago. If I can help someone by sharing parts of my life, if I can inspire them to improve their own, that’s what my blog is all about. It caters to writers, but the lessons there could enrich a lot of people’s lives.
6. What does your drafting and/or editing process entail?
First, the writing challenge group on Twitter has been a blessing in keeping me on track. Having a daily goal, even if I miss it once in awhile, is a must for me. When I draft, I go straight through, without missing one day of writing, even if it’s only a sentence. I don’t stop till the book is done, and I don’t look back. I’ll usually do a quick pass next to check for structure issues, pacing, or anything else I want to change (or changed halfway through the draft). Then I do anywhere from 2-6 edits before I send out for Beta, followed by another edit. I try to start drafting another story when I have one out for Beta.
7. Are you traditionally published or self-published?
My case is a little weird. I spent years mailing off query letters, and it was a short story sample sent to a new publisher just breaking out that landed me a contract. So, there’s basically one guy that’s my publisher, publicity manager, agent, and now days, my friend to enjoy the bumpy road ahead with. Since signing with Tyler, I’m glad I didn’t self publish, because I don’t think I could have done all of this “other book stuff” and still had any time to keep writing.
8. Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity?
Business cards and bookmarks. Even if a store doesn’t want to put you on a shelf, they are typically more than happy to let you leave a stack of bookmarks. Also, let your friends and family know what you are doing, as well as co-workers. Start building your Twitter following now, and any other social media platforms that you like. Make sure you enjoy it, because you need to be engaging, not just sending automated messages. Pass through your update list once or twice a day and comment on people’s posts.
9. What future projects can we look forward to?
I just finished the first draft of book III in the viral series, so there will definitely be two more novellas coming down the pipe soon. Tyler and I are discussing some novels that I drafted up last year, so if he likes one, that might be our next project. I’m also considering stretching the Viral series out further, but I’m not sure yet.
10. Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know?
I like waxing inspirational, so I might as well finish this interview as myself, with a pep-talk that applies to everyone that might stumble across it.
There isn’t a moment to lose, so start living your life now, and do it on your terms. For me that meant sweating in the oilfield for ten years and saving every dollar I could to secure my property. It meant writing for an hour or two each day in pursuit of authorship. It meant making some sacrifices. But right or wrong, I try to live on my terms, and when it feels right, I’m usually on the right track.
My best advice is to figure out that one thing in life that you really want, and focus on it with tunnel vision. Make every mundane daily activity about that. Drive your own plot.
You can connect with Martin McConnell and his social media accounts via his website.
Is there anything else you would like to know about Martin McConnell?
Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2016
I love the idea of driving your own plot, or story. I’m still trying to figure out how to do that! This book sounds really interesting, thanks for introducing us to Martin’s work!
Really enjoyable interview, and refreshing to hear a different approach to publishing.ni like what you said about leaving books with a store, and thanks for the heads up on the writing challenge group on Twitter.
76,000 words in 45 days – that’s fast! There’s something to be said about living life on your own terms. I hope you get that plot of land. Your book sounds great. I know some YA who might really enjoy it. Very interesting interview, Jeri.
Yet another great interview!
Good advice on how to market and publicise your book. I am in the process of writing a short book and am not entirely sure of the process I will take once it is complete.
Always encouraging to receive tips from authors.
Loved the pep talk:) Nothing more interesting than someone driven by curiosity. Another interesting introduction to another author., Partcularly enlightening to hear his path to publication. Book sounds wonderful!.
Thanks for the motivational interview. I love to read stories about people in the process of fulfilling their dreams. It makes the story more realistic.
Sounds like the YA plot will appeal to the youths, so best of luck getting that launched. Always interesting to hear how other writers write and what their path to publishing looks like.
Intriguing author AND book!
Jeri, great interview! Martin, I love that you live your life on your own terms. We only have one life so why not live it the way we want to. I never thought about giving out book marks. That is smart. That is great that you have a publisher in your corner helping you with everything. It seems so overwhelming doing it alone. Good luck on everything. Although I do not think you need it. You seem determined and never give up. =)
Thanks. I’m trying my best. Sometimes life slaps me down but I always manage to climb back to my feet.
Another great author interview. It is interesting to see someone who has education in physics, writing a futuristic novel. There is a thin line between fiction, and reality. The more accurate in terms of reality, the more it becomes real to the readers. Thanks for sharing.
I love Martin McConnell’s advice on life and living. It is nice to hear reminders that it is your life and you have to live your life for you and not for what other’s think.
Sounds like a good book with an original and interesting concept. I tend not to read sci-fi or fantasy (A Wrinkle in Time ruined these genres for me all the way back in the fourth grade), but this sounds like a good read.
Well, lots of great advice there! I get so distracted trying to please everyone else that I often forget why I write in the first place. There are projects near and dear to the heart which must not get neglected, even if it takes a little discipline to stay the course. You did a great job, Jeri, in asking the right questions and getting to the heart of the matter. (as you always do!)
The book sounds interesting, but not quite as interesting as the author himself. Robots and relationships sounds about right for appropriately topical young adult fiction.
I loved Martin’s message of ‘start living your life’…I wish we could do so much earlier when the hopes and aspirations are young and soaring! But it is never too late! 🙂
76,000 words in 45 days! I’m impressed. Martin really does waste any moments. I enjoyed the interview. I’m interested in the Twitter writing challenge.
A Good interview to go through. I too believe writing my own story and trying hard to become and achieve what i want to.
Well this part caught my eye: “Forty-five days later I had a 76,000 word first draft” – wonderful! I enjoyed learning about the writing process of this author in this interview. Thanks Jeri for always bringing great creatives to our attention. Nice to meet you, Martin!
Thanks for the sentiment. Nice to meet you as well.
Another awesome interview. It’s always nice to hear other authors feedback on how the write and how they get published. That number of words in short a such time is amazing! Wish I had that skill. Lol
I didn’t think I had it either, but I was on a slow job and granted a little extra time each day. If you think about it, it’s around 2000 words per day. If you can type fast and have a story in mind, it’s do-able. Sometimes I just follow the characters around and see what happens to them.