I’m delighted to hand over Bloomin’ Brilliant Books to Michael R Martin today. The author of three novels and a collection of short stories, Michael tells us about the inspiration behind his writing.
The Inspiration Behind My Writing
I write thrillers in a variety of genres: horror, paranormal and science fiction. But I like to blur them whenever possible. My narratives mostly play out in fictitious locations based on actual towns and places I know well. “Write about what you know” is sound advice. So I try to make the settings as real as possible. But what happens to the characters that inhabit them is a different thing altogether!
I was born in Lancashire in North West England. I left home at eighteen to study and spent the next twenty years living and working in different parts of the country. I returned in 2000 and met my long-term partner, Lez. She’s an avid reader of crime thrillers and gives all my manuscripts a thorough critique.
So far, I’ve worked as a design engineer, a volunteer IT tutor and a medical records officer. Currently, I’m a freelance graphic designer and computer animator. And, of course, a writer.
As a child, The Enid Blyton books were the first proper stories I read from start to finish and really enjoyed. My junior school headmaster read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens to the senior class every December. The very nature of Christmas, for me, was changed in a positive way by this story, and I came to realise just how powerful the written word can be. When I started Grammar School, we were issued with a recommended reading list. My father bought me two at random: The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien and The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner, and I couldn’t put them down. Both took me to other worlds I didn’t want to leave. A couple of years later, a friend introduced me to the Pan Book of Horror Stories anthologies, which steered my imagination into far darker places. At fourteen, all the seeds had been sown.
I enjoyed writing assignments at school and was encouraged by a teacher to hone my ability. But instead I chose to study engineering and worked in product design for many years. I did try my hand at short stories on numerous occasions but never felt confident enough to contact an agent or publisher. I started writing Screams in the Woods in 2009.
I’m a committed indie author. I have been published, but the publisher went bust without paying out any royalties. Once bitten, twice shy. I’m always prepared to talk to agents and publishers should they show an interest, but I’m not actively pursuing any.
The writers that are of particular inspiration to me now are H P Lovecraft, M R James, R Chetwynd-Hayes, Stephen King, Arthur C Clarke, John Wyndham, Philip K Dick and Alan Garner. I also enjoy the works of Martin Amis, Saul Bellow, Irvine Welsh, William Goulding and J G Ballard amongst others.
I draw inspiration from film and TV, too. The late Nigel Kneale is one of my favourite screenwriters. It’s hard to say which genre exerts the greater pull. I love both, to be honest.
As a graphic designer, I create my own cover artworks. The concept takes form as I write the narrative. That said, it takes quite a while to settle on a final design. I also create covers for other writers, and I’m keen to expand this business.
My first novel, Screams in the Woods, begins when a private investigator is tasked with finding two men who have been missing for over a year. As the case unravels, she realises that, despite her initial doubts, their research into a local, 19th century mining accident is directly related to their disappearance. She soon reaches the point of no return, with little choice but to confront a shadowy group hell-bent on changing the world to their design.
Area 62 is the story of an entrepreneur confronted by the evidence of something truly bizarre in a derelict shop he purchased to expand his internet-based business. It embroils him in an international conspiracy and leads to a quest for answers to some deep questions about the nature of reality and the destiny of the human race.
13 Dark Tales: Collection One is just what is says on the tin. The working title was Darkness at the Edge of Town because the majority of the stories were envisaged during long walks in the local countryside. My imagination became entangled with childhood memories, urban myths and sinister folklore. And the ideas took form along the ragged boundaries between town and country: bleak fields and lonely woods set against swathes of grey boroughs studded with church spires, industrial chimneys and steam-belching cooling towers.
Zombie World, my latest short story, involves four guys who are fans of The Walking Dead TV series and jump at the chance to indulge in an ultrarealistic virtual reality game that lets them fight and kill zombies. It’s intended to be a stag weekend to remember, but the experience turns out to be much more than they bargained for. This is the first time I’ve published such a short narrative, but I plan to release another in the not-too-distant future.
I’m always open to constructive criticism and feedback about my work. I can be contacted on social media where I’ll always respond to genuine people.
If you want to discuss a book cover design, you can find me here: